Giants

Picking Giants award winners after wild, short MLB season

Giants
Mike Yastrzemski Brandon Belt

Going into the 2020 MLB season, the main storylines surrounding the Giants were when will Joey Bart arrive, how will Gabe Kapler fail as a manager, which veteran will get traded and who will San Francisco select with the top pick in the draft next year.

Sports don't go as planned, and that certainly was the case for Giants fans this season. Instead of falling in love with Kumar Rocker highlights, they watched Mike Yastrzemski look like an MVP for a stretch, Donovan Solano chase a batting title, Bart flash his potential while reminding us he's a rookie and Farhan Zaidi flex his front office muscle again thanks to signings like Kevin Gausman and Wilmer Flores.

The Giants fell one last rally short of the playoffs. Their offense certainly was playoff worthy, and home plate umpire Rob Drake took away four outs in the final game of the season in a 5-4 loss to the San Diego Padres. When it mattered most, the Giants dropped four of their final five games and failed to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season. There was plenty to be excited about, though. 

With that being said, who was the Giants' MVP? Who was their Cy Young? What about the biggest breakout player? And which free-agent signing was Zaidi's best?

 

Sorrow still might be brewing, however, it's time to look at the positive and hand out some team awards after a wild Giants season. 

MVP: Mike Yastrzemski

Bringing up Brandon Belt's name on Twitter is never a good idea. Never. 

I did so when asking who was the Giants' MVP this season. Really, there were only two options: Belt or Mike Yastrzemski. To no surprise, the fans chose Yastrzemski (79.7 percent) over Belt (20.3 percent). Yastrzemski is both a great story and great player, but the votes really should have been much closer. 

Let's look at the numbers. 

Yaz: 54 games, .297/.400/.568, .968 OPS, 10 HR, 4 3B, 14 2B, 2.5 bWAR

Belt: 51 games, .309/.425/.591, 1.015 OPS, 9 HR, 1 3B, 13 2B, 2.0 bWAR

Belt began the season on the injured list and started on one of his notorious cold streaks. Through Aug. 17, Belt was batting just .191. Then, he caught fire. Belt hit .363 with a 1.165 OPS from Aug. 18 through the end of the regular season on Sept. 27. 

The veteran finally looked like the powerful first baseman Giants fans always have wanted him to be. He had Bonds-esque hot streaks and lived up to Kapler's message of being an "assassin" at the plate. And still, this award goes to Yastrzemski. 

At the halfway point, Yastrzemski was in a neck-and-neck race with Fernando Tatis Jr. as the frontrunners for the NL MVP. He trailed off in the second half, but the Willie Mac winner earned the honor of being named Giants MVP. He finished sixth among NL position players in bWAR, was the heart of the team and showed that once again by reaching base all four times in the final game of the season.

Yastrzemski hit walk-off home runs, and robbed homers in blowout games. He left it all on the field, proved last season wasn't a fluke and went from a great story to a great player. 

Cy Young: Kevin Gausman

Tony Watson likely was my pick until the very end of the season. Through Sept. 23, Watson had a 0.53 ERA and had only allowed one earned run -- a Nolan Arenado solo shot. He then allowed four earned runs -- two homers -- in over his final two appearances, which lasted just one inning.

That's the trouble with being a reliever in a shortened season. Watson finished the year with a 2.50 ERA, which obviously is respectable, but faltered in must-win games.

That brings us to Gausman.

The former first-round pick wound up being a steal of a free-agent signing when the Giants added him on a one-year, $9 million contract at the Winter Meetings. Gausman wound up being the Giants' ace, and went 3-3 with a 3.62 ERA. He struck out 79 batters in 59 2/3 innings, had a 3.09 FIP and averaged 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. 

Gausman got better as the season went on, too. He saved his best for last with a 2.25 ERA in September. The right-hander even came out of the bullpen in the final game and struck out two batters in a scoreless inning. 

 

Gausman wasn't just a great signing, he was the Giants' Cy Young winner.

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Best free-agent signing: Wilmer Flores

This came down to Gausman and Flores, and truly was tough to pick between the two. The fans chose Flores, and I always have talked up Flores, but this wasn't easy.

Gausman earned the right to be the team's Cy Young winner, and Flores certainly was behind a few players when it came to team MVP. He also was Zaidi's first multi-year contract he has handed out since becoming the Giants' president of baseball operations, and the veteran made Zaidi look very smart once again. 

Flores signed a two-year, $6.25 million contract with the Giants in February. He hit .268 with an .830 OPS, 125 OPS+ and knocked 12 home runs. He led the Giants in homers, was second in RBI (32) and second in total bases (102). 

There's no denying Flores had his faults on defense. However, he brought a serious power threat to the Giants every game on an incredibly cheap deal. The big question now is, where does he fit next season?

RELATED: Giants’ surprising playoff push comes up one rally short

Biggest breakout: Mauricio Dubon

Disclaimer, this didn't include Yastrzemski since he was so good last season and was an MVP candidate this year. 

This isn't to say Austin Slater's season doesn't deserve attention. It does, and he very well might have solidified a bigger role going forward if he can stay healthy. Slater hit .282 with a .914 OPS, five home runs and eight stolen bases. He also only played 31 games due to injury, an issue he has dealt with throughout his career. 

Slater was worth 0.9 bWAR, while Dubon was worth 0.8. He hit .274 with a .726 OPS and four homers over. What was huge for Dubon was his ability to add a new position, give the Giants more versatility and improve as a hitter. 

Dubon was hitting .200 through Aug. 12. He had 12 strikeouts to only one walk at the time and looked overmatched. He then hit .304 with a .383 on-base percentage the rest of the way. Most importantly, he played 44 games in center field for the first time in his life and made just one error. 

As a shortstop most his life, Dubon played eight games at short, eight at second base and the rest in center. He had a 0.5 dWAR, and looked like a natural most of the time in his new position. The Giants now know they have someone they can play at three positions, is a very good athlete and is improving at the plate. 

Both players made significant strides, but I'm going with Dubon for his age, versatility and what he adds to the Giants as a trade deadline acquisition from last season. It will be interesting to see the Giants' plans with both players going forward.