Last night, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWA) shortened the lists of finalists to three for individual awards for the 2017 season. While the winners will be announced sporadically throughout the next few months, the first set of awards will be announced tonight, as the league decides who will take home Gold Gloves in each league. I won’t get into breaking down Gold Glove recipients because that may take an entire article in its own right. I will say that Phillies’ shortstop Freddy Galvis has been nominated as a finalist for a second consecutive season. He was unjustly passed over for Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants last season. I can’t imagine a scenario in which Galvis isn’t presented with the award this season, though. For the second consecutive year, he was the best defensive shortstop in baseball.
Since I won’t break down the Gold Glove, we’ll move on to the next awards that will be distributed, following the chronological that has been set for us.
Players Choice Award: Announced Wednesday, November 7
The player’s choice award is exactly what it’s nominal reference indicates. The players voted on who they believed should be given this award back in September, and the league is now down to three finalists. The final list includes: Astros’ second baseman Jose Altuve, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. Now this award is different from any other in that it was voted upon by the players themselves. There is no outside influence by the BBWAA. The award is presented to the player that has done well both on and off the field, making themselves a better player and person in the process. Based on how I understand the players’ mindsets to the best of my ability, I have predicted that Jose Altuve will be the recipient of this award. He was nominated for the second straight year after falling to then-Mets’ outfielder Curtis Granderson. I believe the players will honor Altuve for his efforts tomorrow night.
Silver Slugger Award: Announced Thursday, November 8
I won’t dive into extensive detail as to why I feel each player will be recognized for this efforts this season, as we have 18 players in which we’d need to give information on. Much like the Gold Glove, we’d be here all day. so here’s my opinion on each Silver Slugger this year.
American League: Catcher Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees, First Baseman Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox, Second Baseman Jose Altuve, Houston Astros, Shortstop Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees, Third Baseman Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians, Outfield Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, Aaron Judge, New York Yankees, George Springer, Houston Astros, Designated Hitter Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
National League: Catcher Busty Posey, San Francisco Giants, First Baseman Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds, Second Baseman Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals, Shortstop Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers, Third Baseman Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies, Outfield Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies, Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins, Pitcher Madison Bumgarner
Rookie of the Year Award: Announced Monday, November 13
American League: This one is pretty cut and dry. There is almost no justifiable reason as to why Aaron Judge wouldn’t win this award. There’s no disrespect given to either Orioles’ Trey Macini and Red Sox’s Andrew Benintendi, but when you lead the American League with 52 homeruns, breaking Mark McGwire’s rookie season record in the process, and putting yourself in serious consideration for MVP talks, you’ve effectively locked up the Rookie of the Year Award. His 52 bombs were double that of the next eligible American League rookie, Matt Davidson. Judge hit .284 and did strikeout quite a bit this season, but had an on base percentage of .422 after walking 127 times. He produced 114 RBI’s as well, 24 more than Benintendi and almost 40 more than Mancini. This one is about as sure fire a lock as it gets.
National League: This one is a tad closer than in the American League, but it’s almost a foregone conclusion as well. Cody Bellinger of the Los Angelese Dodgers is the clear cut pick for the National League’s version of the award, beating out finalists Josh Bell, of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Paul DeJong, of the St. Louis Cardinals. Bellinger burst onto the scene, hitting mammoth homerun after mammoth homerun. He had 39 long balls of his own, the most of all National League rookies. He also drove in the most runs of all senior circuit rooks, at 97. Josh Bell fell second to Bellinger in both categories. Bellinger’s average was not stellar, at just .264, but the rest of his numbers coounteract that for a rookie campaign. He struckout 146 times in 480 at bats, so he has the same issue that Judge does, but strikeouts are certainly anticipated from power bats, especially young ones. Bellinger wins this one by a smaller margin than Judge, but still very comfortably.
Manager of the Year: Announced Tuesday, November 14
American League: This is a pretty interesting one, as I think all three have a good case to win this award. A.J. Hinch helped the Astros finish their version of “The Process”, capitalizing on young talent to win the franchise’s first World Series title. Terry Francona helped the Cleveland Indians reach epic status in winning 22 games in a row toward the end of the regular season. The team won over 100 games as well. But my vote goes to Paul Moliter, of the Minnesota Twins. Moliter’s roster overachieved all yeah long, becoming the first team in MLB history to reach the postseason a year after losing 100 games. While I don’t believe the Twins will repeat their successes of 2017 next season, and will likely miss the playoffs, we’ll deal with 2018 when it comes. In 2017, Paul Moliter should get serious consideration for this award.
National League: The National League finalist see a trifecta of West Division managers, as Bud Black, Terry Lovullo and Dave Roberts are all in the hunt. While I gave the American League award to the manager who did the most with the least talent, I’d be remiss if I didn’t hand this one to Dave Roberts, and here’s why. Don Mattingly was at the helm of this Dodger team for years, and couldn’t get out of his own way, falling to lesser talented teams. Roberts, in just his second year as Dodgers’ manager, got this team to a Game 7 of the World Series. Clearly there was a response to Roberts that wasn’t there for Mattingly. I like Roberts’ chances this year.
Cy Young Award: Announced Wednesday, November 15
American League: This is an extremely intriguing award to decipher. Three finalists with three vastly different success points sit on this list. First, there’s Luis Serevino of the New York Yankees. Serevino pulled a complete 180 this season, dropping his ERA from 5.83 to 2.98 in a single season. That 2017 ERA is the lowest from a Yankee in 20 years. Serevino went 14-6. My preseason pick to win the Cy Young in the American League, Chris Sale, also sits among the finalists. Sale struckout 308 batters this year. He also led the league in innings pitched. He posted a 2.90 ERA and a 17-8 mark for 2017. But my winner of the 2017 American League Cy Young Award is Cleveland Indians Corey Kluber. The Klubot won 18 games will losing just four, posting a 2.25 ERA. He struckout 265 while walking just 36 in nearly 204 innings pitched. Kluber led the league in WAR and WHIP as well. He missed three starts this season, likely costing him a chance at a 20 win campaign.
National League: Stephen Strasburg had his best year as a pro to this date. Despite missing four starts over the course of the season, he found a way to win 15 games and strikeout over 200 hitters, good for seventh in the National League, ahead of one other finalist. He posted a 2.52 ERA, the highest of the three finalists, but lost the least games out of the finalist with just four. That ERA was the best of his career. But it really comes down to a two pitcher race, as we somewhat expected. Reigning Cy Young Award winner, and the pitcher I will fight tooth and nail is the best in the league, Max Scherzer finds himself in the running again after a 16-6 season where he posted a 2.51 ERA. He struckout 268, a National League best, including 15 games of 10 punch outs or more. He logged the most innings of the three finalists, but also started the most games at 31. The winner this season, though, is Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw missed five starts early in the season due to injury and still found a way to win a National League high 18 games. He struckout 202 over 175 innings pitched while allowing just 166 baserunners. Kershaw finally broke the personal postseason curse as well this year, finding success in October. Kershaw should win his fourth Cy Young Award in the coming weeks.
Mosr Valuable Player Award: Announced Thursday, November 16
American League: This is an argument that I’ve fought adamantly for years about. Does the MVP truly mean most valuable player to their particular team, or is it simply a synonym for best player in the league. The answer likely determines your outcome for MVP this year. If you take it from a best player standpoint, the American winner would be, and likely actually will be, Jose Altuve. The best player in the world helped guide his team to a World Series title will leading the league in bating average for the third time in four year. He also led the league in hits for the fourth consecutive season. Altuve hit .346, drove in 81 runs, hit 24 homeruns and swiped 32 bags. He was the ultimate piece for the Astros, and he;ll likely lift the hardware next week. If we’re talking the true definition of MVP, than the award should go to Aaron Judge. I mentioned Judge’s stats earlier in this piece, so I won’t dive into them again, but Judge was a major reason as to why the Yankees reached Game 7 of the ALCS. Do the Yankees even get into the playoffs without Judge’s 52 homeruns and 114 RBI’s? I don’t believe so. Those are hard numbers to replicate.
National League: This, again, breaks down that stigma of best versus most valuable. Giancarlo Stanton could likley make a stellar case as the best player in the National League last season. Despite a sluggish start, Stanton eventually belted a league high 59 homeruns, the most since 2001. He also led the league with 132 RBI’s. Finally, Staton led the league in slugging for the third time in his career. But Stanton played on a team that finished 20 games out of the National League East and ten games back of a Wild Card. How bad are the Marlins without Stanton? And despite finishing that far out, does that mean the Marlins’ outfielder was the only reason they were that close at all? All questions we could ponder as the BBWAA makes its final decision. But my money is on Paul Goldschmidt, first baseman from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Goldy helped his team find a way into the NLCS after winning just 69 games in 2016. Goldy hit .298, the lowest of the finalists in the National League, but led the Diamondbacks in average, runs, homeruns, RBI’s, one base percentage, slugging, hits, WAR, and walks and was in the top two in doubles and stolen bases.That’s a player who’s numbers catapult a lineup to new heights. It’s clear the Diamondbacks offense revolved around Paul Goldschmidt, and he strapped them to his back and helped will them into the playoffs. That’s what makes him stand out above Stanton this season.
Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports