Saturday, November 8, 2014

2014 National League Awards

As usual, the National League is worse than the American League.

I'm joking mostly, but it brings up an interesting point. When I was young, and interleague play wasn't a thing, I didn't care for the NL. I didn't really like any of the teams, and when I watched the All-Star Game, I was rooting, legitimately rooting for the American League to win. Not forced rooting because MLB tied World Series home-field advantage to the game, but just deep-in-the-soul rooting. I'm sure more people watch more baseball live and on TV because of interleague play, and I'm sure some people like that the All-Star game "counts" now, but I miss those days.

Rookie of the Year
Jacob deGrom, Mets
Billy Hamilton, Reds
Kolten Wong, Cardinals

While it may have been a joke, there was a smack of truth when I said the AL was better than the NL. Our choices here are a 9-6 starting pitcher, a .250 hitter with 56 steals, and a guy who started 100 games at second base for the division-winning Cardinals.

Hamilton will probably win, but my pick is deGrom. In addition to his 9-6 record, he posted averages of 2.69/1.14 and over a strikeout an inning. His final two starts were great, notching 23 strikeouts in 13 innings. The Mets still need hitters (they batted just .239 last season), but if Matt Harvey can come back and return to his 2013 form, they might have a nice little pitching staff.

Manager of the Year
Bruce Bochy, Giants
Clint Hurdle, Pirates
Matt Williams, Nationals

Be honest. None of you thought the Pirates could do it again, especially with young slugger Pedro Alvarez taking a big step backwards. But somehow Clint Hurdle dragged this scrappy group to another wild card game, losing to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Bochy and Williams did well, but those were both teams that you sort of expected to do well. Right or wrong, Hurdle gets a bump in my book for cooking with raw ingredients.

Cy Young
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Johnny Cueto, Reds
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

Kershaw led the NL in wins, ERA, WHIP, complete games, K/BB ratio, and basically every advanced metric you can think of, and he finished 3 strikeouts behind Cueto and Stephen Strasburg for the league lead. And he did it all while missing his first five starts of the season with a muscle strain in his back. Cueto and Wainwright were great, but Kershaw was a cut above.

Most Valuable Player
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

This is an interesting call. McCutchen was extremely productive, but without the eye-popping stats that draw people in. Stanton was the NL's most prolific masher, but he was on a bad team and struck out in 1/4 of his at-bats. Kershaw was phenomenal, but he only pitched 27 times, exactly 1/6 of a full season. On top of that, I'm just overall reticent to bestow the MVP award on a pitcher.

The way I approached it was this: if you took these players off of their respective teams, how would their seasons have been affected? A Stanton-less Marlins would probably drop from 4th in the NL East to 5th. Taking Kershaw off of the Dodgers would've been rough, but they're still a really good team (especially if they stop being ridiculous and play Matt Kemp every day).

But the Pirates' whole lineup is held together by McCutchen. He led the team in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, RBI, OBP, and slugging percentage, and finished second in just about everything else (batting average, triples, steals). I think Kershaw will probably actually win, in no small part because McCutchen won the MVP last year. And he's not a wrong pick. He's just not my pick.

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