Peter King and I take our first crack at the postseason awards
Peter King is famous for being a football writer, but he’s a big baseball fan too. In light of that, each year he devotes some space in his Football Morning in America column the day after the end of the baseball season to his picks for the postseason awards. He did so again today and they’re all pretty reasonable.
I’ve seen a handful of ball writers talking about going with Bregman over Mike Trout in the past couple of weeks, but I’ve not seen anyone who would have Trout fourth behind Marcus Semien of all people. And that’s assuming King would vote Trout fourth.
Now, to be fair, King spends a paragraph before that explaining his criteria, and he is consistent with that criteria: he prioritizes the best player on winning teams, making an exception only if a player on a losing team is so overwhelmingly superior that he can’t be denied. He also seems to adhere to a more literal definition of “value” than most, taking a lot of time to extoll D.J. LeMahieu’s role in covering for injuries on the Yankees, thus crediting his awards case with the “value” it provided to the Yankees. He, likewise, quite reasonably, docks Trout for missing so much time in the season’s final month, giving him only 134 games played on the year.
I think the current crop of BBWAA awards voters have mostly dispensed with the prerequisite that an MVP candidate must come from a postseason-bound club and the majority of them tend to treat “valuable” as a synonym for “best player.” As such, while I do think that many will dock Trout for missing as much time as he did, I don’t think enough will do so with such severity that it’ll cost him the MVP.
We’ll have much more on the awards in the runup to them being handed out in November, but in the meantime, let’s handicap each of the big ones, with reference to King’s selections:
King’s Pick: Alex Bregman
My Pick: Mike Trout
Likely Pick: I think Trout will edge out Bregman and, with respect to Peter, I think he’s gonna leave LeMahieu and Semien in the dust.
Kings Pick: Cody Bellinger
My Pick: Bellinger
Likely Pick: I think it was neck and neck between Bellinger and Christian Yelich before Yelich went down with that knee injury. Given that closeness, the docking for time that Yelich will receive will, I think, be enough to cost him in a way that Trout’s injury will not due to Trout’s bigger lead in the race when he went down.
AL Cy Young
King’s Pick: Justin Verlander
My Pick: It’s close, but probably Gerrit Cole
Likely Pick: It’s an unbelievably close race, but I think Cole’s phenomenal second half will carry it for him. He’s been frankly amazing to watch down the stretch and I think he’ll get a lot of “gee whiz, that was somethin’” sentiment from the voters.
NL Cy Young
King’s Pick: Jacob deGrom
My Pick: deGrom
Likely Pick: deGrom won it with ten wins last year. The fact that he has 11 this year ain’t gonna fool many voters into thinking deGrom is anything less than the best pitcher in the National League.
AL Rookie of the Year
King’s Pick: Yordan Álvarez
My Pick: Álvarez
Likely Pick: Tied for the easiest-to-guess award this year, even if Álvarez only played in 87 games. You get a lot more leeway for that in Rookie of the Year voting. And either way, those were 87 pretty frickin’ amazing games.
NL Rookie of the Year
King’s Pick: Pete Alonso
My Pick: Alonso
Likely Pick: Ah, here’s the other easiest one. No one else has a shot.
AL Manager of the Year
King’s Pick: Aaron Boone
My Pick: Rocco Baldelli
Likely Pick: Baldelli. Boone has done a phenomenal job dealing with injuries, but Yankee managers always have a tough road to win the Manager of the Year Award because voters tend to think, not unreasonably even if somewhat unfairly, that the Yankees SHOULD ALWAYS win. And of course, it’s a narrative award more than an analytical award, and “new guy comes in and takes a 79-win team to the AL Central crowd in his first year” plays better than “manager of 100-win Yankees team leads them to 103 wins the following year.”
NL Manager of the Year
King’s Pick: Brian Snitker
My Pick: Mike Shildt
Likely Pick: Shildt, as (a) Snitker will be penalized by voters’ reluctance to give the award to the same guy in back-to-back years as, again, it’s a narrative award; (b) Dave Roberts will get the same penalty Boone got by virtue of managing the Big Powerful Dodgers; (c) Craig Counsell would be a fine choice but a lot of voters will be like “hey, but he finished behind Shildt and the Brewers actually took a step back” thus making vote Counsell over Shildt make their heads ‘asplode.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I don’t take the Manager of the Year Award very seriously.
Anyway, let’s check back on this stuff in November to see how wrong we all were.