Miguel Cabrera Getty

And the MVP Awards will go to …


Awards week concludes tonight when, at 6PM Eastern, the winners of the MVP Awards, as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America, will be announced on MLB Network.  Let’s break it down:

The Finalists

American League:  Adrian BeltreMiguel CabreraRobinson CanoJosh Hamilton, Mike Trout

National LeagueRyan BraunChase HeadleyAndrew McCutchenYadier MolinaBuster Posey

The Favorites:

Everyone agrees that the AL Award is going to come down to the Tigers Miguel Cabrera and the Angels Mike Trout.  The National League is thought by most to be a three-horse race, with either the Giants Buster Posey, the Brewers Ryan Braun or the Cardinals Yadier Molina poised to take home the hardware.

The Arguments:

The American League MVP has been argued about for a couple of months now.  If you’re familiar with the arguments, you’re likely tired of them. If not, know that it comes down, as these things so often do, to a difference of opinion about what constitutes value.

Those who support Miguel Cabrera note that he did something which hadn’t been done for 45 years: win the Triple Crown by leading the league in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBI (139), all while leading the Tigers to the playoffs.  He is given extra credit by his supporters for moving to third base after playing at first base for several years, and such a move is no small trick, historically speaking.

The Trout supporters, meanwhile, point to his overall game, noting that his offensive numbers were almost as good as Cabrera’s — he hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBI and posted an OBP of .399 and slugged at a .564 clip — but that he (a) was a fantastic baserunner, stealing 49 bases in 54 attempts; and (b) played elite defense in center field as well, while Cabrera’s time at third base was decidedly lackluster, even if it was admirable.  While the Angels, unlike the Tigers, did not make the playoffs, Trout supporters argue that this wasn’t Trout’s fault, as he was not with the team for the first month of the season. They also note that, playoffs or not, the Angels won more games than the Tigers did, while playing in a tougher division. If you ask them, they’ll also tell you that the quality of the team a player is on should not have any bearing on his qualifications for an individual award like the MVP.

The National League arguments are less contentious. The defending MVP, Ryan Braun, had another fantastic season, leading the league in homers (41), runs (108) and OPS (.987). Posey, meanwhile, led the league in batting average (.336) and OPS+ (172), which adjusts OPS for the ballpark in which he played (Posey’s home park, AT&T Park, is rougher on hitters than Miller Park in Milwaukee).  Posey also catches and does it well, which gives him more defensive value than Braun.  The Cardinals Yadier Molina, for his part, is perhaps the best defensive catcher in living memory. And while he did not lead the league in any offensive categories, he posted a fantastic offensive season hitting .315/.373/.501 while hitting 22 homers to accompany that other-worldly defense behind the plate.

There are some other, less statistical arguments for and against these fellows as well. Posey came back in 2012 after a gruesome leg injury. Braun, the 2011 MVP, was dogged by a positive (but ultimately overturned on appeal) PED test at the end of last year, which will likely cause many voters to discount his case and/or punish him for what happened in the offseason.  Molina doesn’t have a narrative case like that, unless some voters give him a bit of extra value for helping lead the Cardinals to the playoffs after they lost future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols to free agency. That’s not likely to be a major factor, however.

The Prediction:

Ultimately MVP voters are going to be unable to resist voting for a Triple Crown winner and are going to be unable to cast votes for a guy in Ryan Braun who many view as tainted by PEDs. Molina will, as he so often has been over the course of his career, be overlooked and underrated.

As such, Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey,this writer predicts, will take home the hardware and it won’t be particularly close.  Tune it to MLB Network at 6PM tonight — or just come here to HardballTalk — to find out for sure.

The Silver Slugger Awards are announced

silver slugger getty

This year’s Silver Slugger Award winners are being unveiled tonight during a one-hour special on MLB Network.

The Silver Slugger Award is given annually to the best offensive player at each position in the American League and National League and is voted on by coaches and managers. We’ll run the winners down here as they are announced.

American League

Third base: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Outfield: Mike Trout, Angels; Josh Hamilton, Rangers; Josh Willingham, Twins

Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox

First base: Prince Fielder, Tigers

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees

Second base: Robinson Cano, Yankees

Designated hitter: Billy Butler, Royals


National League

Third base: Chase Headley, Padres

Outfield: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates; Jay Bruce, Reds; Ryan Braun, Brewers

Catcher: Buster Posey, Giants

First base: Adam LaRoche, Nationals

Shortstop: Ian Desmond, Nationals

Second base: Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks

Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

The Wilson Defensive Awards were announced last night

Michael Bourn

We mentioned this last week, but last night the inaugural Wilson Defensive Awards were announced on MLB Network. As we said previously: sponsored awards like this are kind of “whatever,” but in a world where people still take the Gold Glove awards seriously, I’m cool with any viable competitor.

As you’ll recall, there were awards for the best overall defensive team, the best defender in each league, as well as the best defensive player per team.

The results, with the up-front head-smacking due to the fact that the best overall defensive team had its season end because they totally stunk up the NL Wild Card game with poor defense:

BEST OVERALL TEAM – Atlanta Braves
BEST OVERALL IN NL – Michael Bourn


Yankees – Robinson Cano
Orioles – JJ Hardy
Red Sox – Dustin Pedroia
Blue Jays – Brett Lawrie
Rays – Jose Molina

Twins – Denard Span
Tigers – Austin Jackson
Royals – Lorenzo Cain
White Sox – Alexei Ramirez
Indians – Jason Kipnis

Mariners – Brendan Ryan
Rangers – Adrian Beltre
Angels – Mike Trout
A’s – Josh Reddick

Phillies – Carlos Ruiz
Marlins – Giancarlo Stanton
Nationals – Adam LaRoche
Braves – Michael Bourn
Mets – David Wright

Cardinals – Yadier Molina
Pirates – Andrew McCutchen
Cubs – Darwin Barney
Astros – Justin Maxwell
Brewers – Carlos Gomez
Reds – Brandon Phillips

Giants – Brandon Crawford
Dodgers – Matt Kemp
Diamondbacks – Aaron Hill
Rockies – Carlos Gonzalez
Padres – Chase Headley

The Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Awards to be announced Sunday

Mike Trout

I’m not always the biggest fan of sponsored awards announced in a made-for-TV presentation, but in a world where people still think Gold Gloves matter, I’m all for this:

From great diving catches in the outfield to acrobatic plays in the infield, the first-ever Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Awards will be announced exclusively on MLB Network this Sunday, November 4 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Hosted by MLB Network’s Ahmed Fareed and Eric Byrnes, the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Awards will name the best defensive player on each MLB club, while also crowning the best defensive player in each league and naming the best defensive team in all of baseball. The award winners were determined by the detailed statistical analysis of MLB Network’s “shredder system” used by Clubhouse Confidential, plus input from MLB Network analysts.

Looking forward to Brendan Ryan getting his due.

Buster Posey and Fernando Rodney win Comeback Player of the Year awards


Award season is upon us.

MLB just announced that Giants catcher Buster Posey and Rays reliever Fernando Rodney are the Comeback Player of the Year winners, as voted on by MLB.com writers.

Posey missed most of last season after breaking his ankle in a home plate collision, but returned to play 146 games while hitting .336 to win the NL batting title and will get strong support for MVP.

Rodney came back from being terrible rather than an injury, but his story is perhaps even more remarkable. Last season he was demoted to mop-up man in the Angels’ bullpen thanks to a 4.50 ERA and more walks than strikeouts in 32 innings. And this year, at age 35, all he did was top Dennis Eckersley to set the all-time record for lowest ERA by a pitcher with 50 or more innings at 0.60.

Last season’s Comeback Player of the Year winners were Jacoby Ellsbury and Lance Berkman, both of whom had rough enough follow-up seasons that they could win the award again in 2013.