A glance at MLB awards picture

I don’t put as much stock in Major League Baseball’s awards as I once did. What used to be an aspect of the game that I enjoyed very much — seeing the historical seasons rewarded with hardware as well as amplify my memories of it — now has become more of a narrative: “Will the voters get it right?”

In the end, I don’t care all that much. The conversations — sometimes arguments — seem to get more attention that the results of the voting itself. Not that such debate is a bad thing for MLB, its fan or those that cover the game and even vote on said awards.

For the record, the voters usually get it right, in my opinion. The vast majority of the voters embrace the new ways to evaluate a player’s performance and the value of that performance. I don’t have a vote, am not a member of the Baseball Writer’s Associate of America, and never will be. I do participate in the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writer’s Associate of America) voting.

I believe the MVP is the most valuable player in his league, not the player with the best statistics or those with the most historically significant numbers. I do believe a pitcher occasionally is the most valuable player. I do consider context, but I do not put so much stock in whether or not a player’s performance comes in a pennant race or not that I’d vote for the second best player. If it’s a virtual tie in my mind, the player that performed for a contending team will earn an edge over the one that did not. If both did, I put very little (almost none) value in which player played better ‘down the stretch.’ There are 162 games, performances in April don’t mean less than those in September. I say ‘almost none’ because there very well may be big games played late in the year, and I don’t believe in suggesting producing April 19 is as difficult, considering the consequences, as September 25 if the club’s in a race for a postseason berth.

Numbers I consider include advanced metrics such as wOBA, fWAR, wRC+ and Defensive Runs Saved, but I do value the simple ‘Games’ and ‘PA’ columns, too. Baserunning matters, too, though like the metrics for defense it’s a little more difficult to quantify, so I simplify its inclusion in my process by looking for value rather than trying to find a net gain or loss.

I believe the Cy Young should go to best pitcher, regardless of whether or not his club is in the race. Like the MVP, if it serves as a tie-breaker, pitching in a legitimate playoff race can break a tie, as can pitching well late in the season.

I’d vote a pitcher MVP but not Cy Young, too. It may never occur, but, here’s one potential scenario where I’d vote one pitcher the MVP and a different one Cy Young:

Pitcher A: 2.00 FIP, 12.0 K/9, 200 innings, 30 starts, 6.0 fWAR, team finishes season 81-81, no playoff berth.

Pitcher B: a 2.50 FIP, 10.5 K/9, 240 innings, 34 starts, 6.7 fWAR, team finishes 94-68, wins division.

Pitcher A is the Cy Young, best pitcher. Pitcher B may be the MVP of the league.

Numbers I like to use for pitchers include FIP, K %, BB %, starts and innings, fWAR, BAA, and to a lesser extent SIERA to perhaps assist through tough comparisons.

Here’s how I’d stack up the awards through August 14, 2015. I don’t believe in the Manager of the Year Award, so I’ll leave that one out in this exercise. Everyone has their own interpretation of what the award’s criterion truly means, or even what is should be versus what’s supplied by the voting agency.

National League MVP
1. Bryce Harper, OF — Washington Nationals
2. Buster Posey, C — San Francisco Giants
3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B — Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Clayton Kershaw, LHP — Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Andrew McCutchen, OF — Pittsburgh Pirates

Others: Anthony Rizzo, 1B — Chicago Cubs; Kris Bryant, 3B — Chicago Cubs; A.J. Pollock, CF — Arizona Diamondbacks; Max Scherzer, RHP — Washington Nationals; Zack Greinke, RHP — Los Angeles Dodgers; Jake Arrieta, RHP — Chicago Cubs.

National League Cy Young
1. Clayton Kershaw, LHP — Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Max Scherzer, RHP — Washington Nationals
3. Zack Greinke, RHP — Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Jake Arrieta, RHP — Chicago Cubs
5. Jacob deGrom, RHP — New York Mets

Others: Gerrit Cole, RHP — Pittsburgh Pirates; Jon Lester, LHP — Chicago Cubs; Madison Bumgarner, LHP — San Francisco Giants.

National League Rookie
1. Kris Bryant, 3B — Chicago Cubs
2. Joc Pederson, CF — Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Matt Duffy, 3B — San Francisco Giants
4. Jung-ho Kang, SS/3B — Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Noah Syndergaard, RHP — New York Mets

Others: Randall Grichuk, OF — St. Louis Cardinals; Michael Taylor, CF — Washington Nationals; Jake Lamb, 3B — Arizona Diamondbacks; Kyle Schwarber, C/OF — Chicago Cubs; Addison Russell, SS/2B — Chicago Cubs; Maikel Franco, 3B — Philadelphia Phillies; Anthony DeSclafani, RHP — Cincinnati Reds; Chris Heston, RHP — San Francisco Giants; Taylor Jungmann, RHP — Milwaukee Brewers.

American League MVP
1. Mike Trout, CF — Los Angeles Angels
2. Josh Donaldson, 3B — Toronto Blue Jays
3. Manny Machado, 3B — Baltimore Orioles
4. Lorenzo Cain, CF — Kansas City Royals
5. Nelson Cruz, OF/DH — Seattle Mariners

Others: Dallas Keuchel, LHP — Houston Astros; Jason Kipnis, 2B — Cleveland Indians; Corey Kluber, RHP — Cleveland Indians; Chris Sale, LHP — Chicago White Sox.

American League Cy Young
1. Chris Sale, LHP — Chicago White Sox
2. Corey Kluber, RHP — Cleveland Indians
3. Chris Archer, RHP — Tampa Bay Rays
4. Dallas Keuchel, LHP — Houston Astros
5. David Price, LHP — Toronto Blue Jays

Others: Carlos Carrasco, RHP — Cleveland Indians; Sonny Gray, RHP — Oakland Athletics; Jose Quintana, LHP — Chicago White Sox; Felix Hernandez, RHP — Seattle Mariners; Michael Pineda, RHP — New York Yankees; Scott Kazmir, LHP — Houston Astros.

American League Rookie
1. Carlos Correa, SS — Houston Astros
2. Devon Travis, 2B — Toronto Blue Jays
3. James McCann, C — Detroit Tigers
4. Delino Deshields, Jr. — Texas Rangers
5. Trevor May, RHP — Minnesota Twins

Others: Francisco Lindor, SS — Cleveland Indians; Nate Karns, RHP — Tampa Bay Rays; Lance McCullers, RHP — Houston Astros; Roberto Osuna, RHP — Toronto Blue Jays; Billy Burns, OF — Oakland Athletics; Miguel Sano, 3B — Minnesota Twins.

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Jason A. Churchill

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