BBWAA Awards finalists announced on MLB Network …


The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) is announcing the top three finalists for American League and National League Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player during a one-hour special airing right now (6:00 p.m. ET) on MLB Network. We will post those names here as they are rolled out …

National League Rookie of the Year

Jacob deGrom, SP, Mets
Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds
Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals

American League Rookie of the Year

Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox
Dellin Betances, RP, Yankees
Matt Shoemaker, SP, Angels

National League Manager of the Year

Bruce Bochy, Giants
Clint Hurdle, Pirates
Matt Williams, Nationals

American League Manager of the Year

Buck Showalter, Orioles
Mike Scioscia, Angels
Ned Yost, Royals

National League Cy Young Award

Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds
Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals

American League Cy Young Award

Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
Corey Kluber, SP, Indians
Chris Sale, SP, White Sox

National League MVP

Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates

American League MVP

Mike Trout, OF, Angels
Michael Brantley, OF, Indians
Victor Martinez, DH, Tigers


The official award winners will be announced next week. Here’s the schedule:

  • Monday, November 10: AL & NL Rookie of the Year Award
  • Tuesday, November 11: AL & NL Manager of the Year Award
  • Wednesday, November 12: AL & NL Cy Young Award
  • Thursday, November 13: AL & NL Most Valuable Player Award

Pouliot’s 2014 National League awards picks


There companion to yesterday’s entry on the AL awards winners, here are my choices in the National League.


It’s one thing to vote for a pitcher for MVP. I have no problem doing that. But a pitcher who missed a month of the season? That makes things pretty difficult. Let’s look at the hitters first.

.952 – Andrew McCutchen: .314/.410/.542, 25 HR, 18 SB in 146 games
.950 – Giancarlo Stanton..: .288/.395/.555, 37 HR, 13 SB in 145 games
.931 – Corey Dickerson…..: .312/.364/.567, 24 HR, 8 SB in 131 games
.913 – Anthony Rizzo…….: .286/.386/.527, 32 HR, 5 SB in 140 games
.863 – Yasiel Puig…………: .296/.382/.480, 16 HR, 11 SB in 148 games
.860 – Justin Morneau… : .319/.364/.396, 17 HR, 0 SB in 135 games
.852 – Matt Kemp………….: .287/.346/.506, 25 HR, 8 SB in 150 games

That’s everyone with an .850 OPS and 120+ games played. But let’s add in the catchers:

.893 – Devin Mesoraco: .273/.359/.534, 25 HR, 1 SB in 114 games
.848 – Buster Posey…..: .310/.363/.484, 21 HR, 0 SB in 146 games
.837 – Jonathan Lucroy: .310/.373/.465, 13 HR, 4 SB in 153 games
.832 – Russell Martin… : .290/.402/.430, 11 HR, 4 SB in 111 games

And three other guys worth considering:

.837 – Josh Harrison…..: .315/.347/.490, 13 HR, 18 SB in 143 games
.833 – Carlos Gomez…..: .284/.356/.477, 23 HR, 34 SB in 148 games
.824 – Anthony Rendon: .287/.351/.473, 21 HR, 17 SB in 153 games

That’s the offensive field, in my opinion. I know Jason Heyward and Jhonny Peralta crack the top 10 in WAR because of their exceptional defensive ratings. I’m skeptical in both cases. Adrian Gonzalez led the NL in RBI and thus will be named on several ballots. He’s not one of the NL’s 20 best players, though.

Strangely, McCutchen hasn’t had the narrative on his side this year, even though he’s hit better than he did on his way to MVP honors last year. In 2013, he ranked sixth in the NL with a .911 OPS. This year, he finished first at .952. He doesn’t have big RBI numbers, but then, he didn’t finish in the top 10 in the NL in RBI last year, either. This year, he probably would have had he not missed 16 games. As is, he finished 13th.

Instead, the narrative belonged to Stanton until he was drilled in the head by a Mike Fiers pitch, costing him the final two weeks. Had Stanton ended up playing 15 more games than McCutchen, perhaps one could justify giving him the nod. However, in the end, they both had the same OPS in the same amount of playing time. McCutchen is the more valuable defender and had the better OBP, making the best argument for Stanton being that he played in a gigantic cavern of a ballpark. However, McCutchen’s home in Pittsburgh is just as tough of a home run park for right-handed hitters and has been a worse park for run scoring overall. Advantage McCutchen.

So, that leaves me McCutchen versus the catchers. I favor Lucroy as the best of the bunch. I think he’s the better defender than Posey, and he caught an extra 24 games (Lucroy started 133 games at catcher and 16 at first, Posey started 109 games at catcher and 30 at first). That makes up for Posey’s advantage offensively (though it is greater than OPS suggests, considering the difference in ballparks). Martin was terrific defensively and one of the very few players this year to post a .400 OBP, but missing 50 games makes him a bottom-of-the-ballot option at best.

For what it’s worth, Baseball-reference WAR has Lucroy at 6.6 wins, followed by McCutchen, Stanton and Rendon all at 6.5. That’s a wash. Fangraphs WAR has McCutchen at 6.9, Rendon at 6.6, Lucroy at 6.3 and Stanton at 6.1.

With all due respect to Rendon (it was a terrific season, but it’s still an .824 OPS from a guy who played third base the vast majority of the time), McCutchen and Lucroy are my favorite candidates; the best hitter versus an excellent hitter and excellent defensive catcher. Lucroy ended up eighth in the NL in OBP and 10th in OPS. He hit 53 doubles. He played in seven more games than McCutchen despite doing all of that catching. Only Miguel Montero, at 130 games, rivaled Lucroy in workload behind the plate. No one else started more than 110 games.

But then there’s Clayton Kershaw. Despite not pitching in April, he lapped the field in rWAR, coming in at 8.0. fWAR was closer, as he finished at 7.2 to 6.9 for McCutchen. Kershaw’s 1.77 ERA is historic. He won 21 of his 27 starts, with a 239/31 K/BB ratio and just nine homers allowed in 198 1/3 innings.

I still don’t like declaring a sub-200 inning starter as the MVP, but whether I like it or not, the numbers back it up. And it’s not as if luck factored into Kershaw’s performance; he was simply that dominant. I can’t bypass him.

1. Kershaw
2. McCutchen
3. Lucroy
4. Stanton
5. Posey
6. Rendon
7. Rizzo
8. Gomez
9. Harrison
10. Martin

NL Cy Young

After Kershaw, both Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright ended up with identical 20-9 records. Cueto edged Wainwright for second place in ERA, 2.25 to 2.38. Cueto also struck out 242 batters in 243 2/3 innings, compared to 179 in 227 innings for Wainwright. FIP will say Cueto was lucky to give up so few hits, but Cueto has always been that “lucky.” He’s No. 2 for me.

I’m not sure Jordan Zimmermann would have taken fourth on my ballot prior to Sunday’s no-hitter, but he might have. Afterwards, it was an easy call. That leaves the last spot for either Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels. Hamels beat Greinke in ERA 2.46 to 2.71. They threw the same number of innings. Greinke had an extra nine strikeouts and 16 fewer walks, but he gave up five more homers. Greinke also allowed an extra four unearned runs. Hamels gets the nod.

1. Kershaw
2. Cueto
3. Wainwright
4. Zimmermann
5. Hamels

NL Rookie of the Year

The American League got most of this year’s rookie talent, much like the NL’s big advantage with the Puig-Jose Fernandez class last year.

1. Jacob deGrom
2. Billy Hamilton
3. Ken Giles

This was Hamilton’s award to lose all year long, but he gave it away by hitting .200/.254/.257 after the All-Star break. DeGrom made just 22 starts, but he was terrific in them, posting a 2.69 ERA and striking out 144 in 140 1/3 innings.

The third spot goes to either Giles or Arizona’s Ender Inciarte, a superb defender who hit .278/.318/.359 in 418 at-bats while playing center and left. Giles, meanwhile, did a nice Dellin Betances impression once he got his chance, finishing with a 1.18 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings.

Pouliot’s 2014 American League awards picks


If the American League MVP race doesn’t provide as much intrigue as usual this year, at least the Cy Young competition still offers some controversy. Here are my AL picks for the three player awards, with the NL selections to follow on Tuesday.


1. Mike Trout
2. Michael Brantley
3. Robinson Cano
4. Victor Martinez
5. Adrian Beltre
6. Jose Altuve
7. Josh Donaldson
8. Jose Abreu
9. Adam Jones
10. Jose Bautista

Trout wasn’t quite as good this year as he was the previous two, but he’s still the AL’s best player and he’ll finally get his much deserved first MVP award, thanks to the Angels’ ascension. It’s not a particularly close race for first. Trout was third in the AL in OPS behind Martinez and Abreu, but the margin was minuscule. In fact, in OPS+, they graded out at 169 for Abreu, 168 for Martinez and 167 for Trout. And if Trout wasn’t as valuable defensively or on the basepaths as he was in previous years, he still obviously had much more value there than Martinez or Abreu.

Brantley is the clear No. 2 in my mind: 156 games with the AL’s seventh best OPS, plus 23 steals in 24 attempts. WAR isn’t fond of his defense, but I don’t find any fault with him in left field. It gets a whole lot more difficult to separate the candidates after that. Both versions of WAR favor Donaldson and Alex Gordon because of their defense. I’m going Cano third because he was a better hitter than both and still an above average defensive second baseman in my mind. Martinez comes in fourth despite his total lack of defensive value; it was just an awesome offensive season. Particularly nice is that he grounded into a modest 17 double plays, despite the fact that he’s slower than molasses, he was always putting the ball in play (just 42 strikeouts) and he so often had Miguel Cabrera on first base ahead of him.

Abreu’s lack of defensive value, combined with his early DL stint, drops him to eighth on my ballot, though I’m guessing he’ll finish third behind Trout and Martinez when the actual results are revealed in November.

Tough to leave off the list were Kyle Seager, Gordon and both Cy Young candidates.


AL Cy Young

Felix Hernandez: 15-6, 170 H, 68 R, 56 ER, 16 HR, 248/46 K/BB in 236 IP
Corey Kluber……: 18-9, 207 H, 72 R, 64 ER, 14 HR, 269/51 K/BB in 235 2/3 IP

That’s awfully, awfully close.

Fangraphs WAR, which is based strictly on homers, strikeouts and walks, obviously favors Kluber. Baseball-reference WAR, which isn’t FIP based, also prefers Kluber.

The ERA crown went to Hernandez, who finished at 2.14 after having four earned runs from his next-to-last start taken away over the weekend (it was his own error that led to the runs, and yes, it was clearly an error). Kluber finished at 2.44. Even with the extra four earned runs, Hernandez would have come in at 2.28, though he would have lost first place to Chris Sale at 2.17.

As for Sale, I’m discounting him from this discussion. He was more effective than either Felix or Kluber, but he finished 60 innings shy of both. The other two pitched 33 percent more than Sale did.

Hernandez led the AL with a 0.915 WHIP. Kluber’s was a much more pedestrian 1.095.

Kluber faced the tougher competition; his opposing batters had a .715 OPS, whereas Hernandez’s came in at .704.

In the end, I think this comes down to defense. The Mariners’ had the second best defensive efficiency in baseball, behind only Oakland. The Indians ranked 25th. That goes a long way towards explaining how Kluber gave up 37 more hits despite recording 21 more strikeouts and surrendering two fewer homers.

If you buy into that — that the gap between Seattle’s defense and Cleveland’s defense was that huge — then you have to give the Cy Young Award to Kluber. If you don’t, then you might prefer Hernandez. Personally, I don’t think the Mariners’ defense was quite that good — the outfield was something of a mess until Austin Jackson arrived and Brad Miller isn’t anything special at short — but I do believe the Indians defense was that bad and perhaps worse. For that reason, I’m throwing my support behind Kluber. It’s still close, but I think it’s the right call.

1. Kluber
2. Hernandez
3. Sale
4. Jon Lester
5. Max Scherzer


AL Rookie of the Year

1. Abreu
2. Dellin Betances
3. Collin McHugh

A year ago, I had Jose Iglesias edging 3 1/2 months of Wil Myers atop my ROY ballot. Neither of those seasons would have cracked the top five for AL rookies this year.

Just look at the starting pitching options:

Collin McHugh: 11-9, 2.73 ERA, 157/41 K/BB in 154 2/3 IP
Yordano Ventura: 14-10, 3.07 ERA, 153/68 K/BB in 179 IP
Masahiro Tanaka: 13-5, 2.77 ERA, 141/21 K/BB in 136 1/3 IP
Matt Shoemaker: 16-4, 3.04 ERA, 124/24 K/BB in 136 IP
Marcus Stroman: 11-6, 3.65 ERA, 111/28 K/BB in 130 2/3 IP
Roenis Elias: 10-12, 3.85 ERA, 143/64 K/BB in 163 2/3 IP
Jake Odorizzi: 11-13, 4.13 ERA, 174/59 K/BB in 168 IP

Only one of them can make the cut, and I’m choosing McHugh. Betances was probably the AL’s best reliever, or at least he and Wade Davis were 1 and 1a. Abreu was Abreu. Honorable mention goes to Danny Santana and Kevin Kiermaier on the offensive side. Santana hit .319 and swiped 20 bases in 405 at-bats. Kiemaier’s .263-10-35 line in 331 at-bats doesn’t look like anything special, but he played some terrific defense in right and center.