AL Rookie of the Year - Chris Archer, SP, Rays
2. Wil Myers, OF, Rays
3. Dan Straily, SP, Athletics
4. Cody Allen, RP, Indians
5. Danny Farquhar, RP, Mariners
This season was fairly weak for rookies in the American League, but that makes the search for candidates a bit more fun. I get to talk about little guys who you'd never talk about, like Cody Allen, a strong middle reliever who posted very solid numbers in 77 appearances for the playoff-bound Indians. Or Danny Farquhar, who had half a bad season and half a really good season as a fill-in closer for Seattle. Dan Straily wasn't wildly impressive, but put up solid numbers, and helped his team reach the playoffs.
The top two rookies were Rays though. While Myers is the better long-term prospect, Archer had the more productive rookie season. He generated very good averages (ERA, WHIP, K/BB) over 128-plus innings, and picked up 9 wins in 23 starts. Myers was unspectacular yet solid, and both rookies contributed to Tampa Bay's success this year.
NL Rookie of the Year - Jose Fernandez, SP, Marlins
2. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
3. Shelby Miller, SP, Cardinals
4. Julio Teheran, SP, Braves
5. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
Any of the top four guys would've stood a strong chance of taking home the AL Rookie of the Year award this season, but they're all in the senior circuit, so it's big fish, big pond. Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran were outstanding, pitching like veterans for teams that played important games all season. Nolan Arenado posted decent hitting numbers and played a slick third base.
The National League had a lot more starpower in its rookie race than the AL, with Yasiel Puig being the big name. Puig was front page news everywhere he went this year, and made headlines with his instinctual and flamboyant play. He also happened to put up really impressive numbers, finishing in the team's top three in R, HR, SB, and AVG.
That said, Jose Fernandez was even better. His numbers (2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, over 1 K/IP) were exceptional, and his 12 wins were more than double anyone else on the team. Among a strong list of rookie pitchers, Fernandez stands out above the rest.
AL Manager of the Year - Terry Francona, Indians
It's funny, when Francona was managing the Red Sox to their successes in the mid-2000s, I didn't give him much credit. How hard could it be to win with Pedro Martinez, Josh Beckett, and Curt Schilling, right? Well, I'm retroactively giving full marks to Francona for a job well done...twice now.
If you had told most teams on September 18th that they'd have to win every game for the rest of the season to get into the playoffs, they'd have packed it in. The Indians, knowing that any loss could mean the end of their season, reeled off victories in their final 10 games to slide into the wild card game. They were knocked out by Tampa Bay, but after half a month of "win or go home" type games, I'm giving them a pass. It was a great season by a hodgepodge of characters, and for that Francona is my choice.
NL Manager of the Year - Clint Hurdle, Pirates
He took the Pirates to the playoffs.
If I were sassy, that'd be the end of my explanation, but I'm verbose, so here's a little more. The Pirates' rotation included a pair of castoffs in A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano, and Hurdle and his staff were able to shape them into studs. He helped Gerrit Cole to an outstanding rookie season. And their bullpen was stellar, managed perfectly. Hurdle finished third in the Manager of the Year voting in 2007, when he took the Rockies on that torrid September and October to get to the World Series. This time, I think he deservedly brings home the brass.
AL Cy Young - Max Scherzer, SP, Tigers
2. Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers
3. Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, Mariners
4. Bartolo Colon, SP, Athletics
5. Koji Uehara, RP, Red Sox
Max Scherzer got all the accolades this season, and they were all well-deserved. He had an incredible year, going 21-3 and mowing down 240 batters in 214.1 innings, a startling rate. Yu Darvish went 13-9, respectable but not knock-your-socks-off crazy. However, Darvish struck out 277 batters, in five fewer innings than Scherzer pitched. Scherzer will deservedly win the Cy Young, but it's important not to overlook the incredible year Darvish had.
Similarly, former Oriole Koji Uehara was arguably the best reliever of all time this past season, proving unhittable despite almost never throwing pitches out of the strike zone. His 101 K/9 BB rate was the best. Ever. Iwakuma had a great second season in the United States, and Bartolo Colon managed arguably his best season as a pro at age 40.
NL Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
2. Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals
3. Cliff Lee, SP, Phillies
4. Jose Fernandez, SP, Marlins
5. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves
Kershaw was unreal; he put up numbers like we used to see out of Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, the all-time greats. Adam Wainwright bounced back from serious injury to immediately retake the reins as the ace of the Cardinals' staff. Cliff Lee has finally solidified himself as the best Lee pitcher in baseball history, surpassing former Red Sox starter Bill Lee. He's got his sights set on being the best Lee overall; El Caballo Carlos Lee still holds a slight edge.
Fernandez had a masterful rookie season, as describe above. Kimbrel was a dominant closer for the division champion Braves. Honorable mention goes to Matt Harvey, who likely would've cracked the list if he could've stayed healthy.
AL Most Valuable Player - Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Tigers
2. Mike Trout, OF, Angels
3. Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles
4. Adam Jones, OF, Orioles
5. Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees
Let's start out with all the same arguments from last year about Cabrera versus Trout. Cabrera generated an insane amount of runs for his team, Trout was an all-around performer. There's no question you'd love either of them on your team. I'm saying Cabrera had a better 2013 than Trout, but the argument doesn't seem to be there this year. So we don't have to fight about it.
Chris Davis and Adam Jones both had standout years for the Orioles; they get a hometown bonus. Davis set a new Baltimore HR record, forever pushing Brady Anderson out of that slot. Steroid haters rejoice. Robinson Cano had a nice year as well...probably like a $310 million season.
NL Most Valuable Player - Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
3. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
4. Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers
5. Michael Cuddyer, 1B, Rockies
Paul Goldschmidt had an outstanding season, worthy of recognition, but nobody matched Kershaw in his dominance of the league. He was a force of nature on the mound, destroying his opposition every outing. He gave up zero runs in 10 different starts, and one or two runs in 14 others. In July, his K/BB ratio was 43/2. Verlander won 24 games in his MVP season, where Kershaw had "only" 16 this year, which I imagine will be the reason that someone else actually wins the MVP, probably McCutchen. But Kershaw is my pick.
Speaking of McCutchen, he posted great numbers across the board and helped lead the Pirates to their first playoff appearance since the birth of Christ I think. Carlos Gomez was also shockingly a source of both power and speed, though it shouldn't be shocking since he hit 19 homers last year. He's still not a masher, but somehow he plants a bunch just over the fences. Michael Cuddyer and Freddie Freeman were my two finalists for the last spot, but I hate alliteration.
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