Monday, June 10, 2013

1/3 of the Way Through...

It's been a LOOOONG time since I've updated.  Of course, I probably start 80% of my posts here that way.  But that's life for you.  Anyway, I just noticed today in Jonah Keri's power rankings that it's week 10 of 30 in this MLB season.  And while others will give you midseason awards, I think 1/3 of the way season awards makes more sense.  Baseball's built in threes:  three strikes, three outs, nine innings, nine fielders, nine hitters in the order, 162 games (which is 3*3*3*3*2, so there's plenty of threes right there), three, three, three.  The All-Star break is three days.  There are three divisions in each league.  Seriously, this can go on forever.  So why celebrate the halfway point when we could celebrate the 1/3 point?  Of course, every team has already played more than 1/3 of their games, but who cares?  So here are my award winners for 2013, to this point in the season.

AL Manager of the Year:  Joe Girardi, NYY

You'll see this theme re-tread in the NL comment for this category, but seriously:  what are the Yanks doing as contenders?  For at least 7 years, I've been hearing that this would be the year the Yankees were done.  Not so, it seems. Apparently, it's never to be.  Or something.  I don't know what Joe Girardi is putting in the water up there (insert 'roids joke here), but they're way outperforming expectations.  Tip o' the hat to John Farrell and Ron Gardenhire for inspired jobs, as well.

AL Rookie of the Year:  Hell if I know.

I haven't the foggiest idea.  Enlighten me in the comments.  I don't think anyone's been good enough at this point in the season to merit the award.  I guess we could just find some way to give it to Mike Trout again, maybe.  If Hisashi Iwakuma is still eligible, it's him in a landslide.  Otherwise, I'm just not sure.  Thankfully, there are another hundred-or-so games in which someone could separate from the pack.

AL Cy Young:  Felix Hernandez, RHP, SEA

Yeesh... this one gets tougher and tougher every year.  Could it be Buchholz?  Yeah.  Could it be Chris Sale?  Maybe.  Hisashi Iwakuma?  Quite probably.  I think it's one of the guys in Seattle, and so I'm giving it up for Hernandez here, and letting track record be the tie-breaker when everything else is so hard to separate (as you'll see in the NL section). 

AL MVP:  A debate between Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET and Mike Trout, OF, LAA

 Obviously, this has been written about already.  And I'm not talking about last year.  I mean that this very year, we're talking about the same two players:  one, the greatest hitter in a generation, the other nearly as good, but with the baserunning and defense to make him a true five-tool player.  Chris Davis is obviously in the mix here, as well, but I'd go with one of the more proven players at this point.  Cabrera's been better so far, I think, but Trout was better last year and Cabrera won the award, so perhaps an inversion would be poetic justice.  Nonetheless, at this point, I'm going to just split the award right in two.  And perhaps next season, we can just rename the AL MVP trophy as the Cabrera/Trout Trophy.

NL Manager of the Year:  Mike Matheny, STL

I hate the Cardinals.  Unless you're a Cardinals fan, you should, too.  They're WAY too good, WAY too often.  They've completely overperformed three years running now, and I'm sick of it.  But then again, if you looked at their roster on opening day and said, "Well, that's OBVIOUSLY the best team in MLB," you were lying.  And yet, against all odds, they ARE the best team.  Kirk Gibson deserves strong consideration here, as well.  And if you're into rewarding people for doing what you expected, perhaps Fredi Gonzalez deserves the nod.  I said before the season started that the Braves were the best team in the NL.  I expected Washington wouldn't live up to what they did last year, and I'm glad to say I've been right about that one so far.  But Gonzalez has done a good job managing Atlanta, in spite of underwhelming performances from BJ Upton and Jason Heyward.

NL Rookie of the Year:  Shelby Miller, RHP, STL

Miller's been great.  Cardinals are yucky.  I have no more to say on this subject.  It's totally crazy, by the way, that I actually considered Yasmiel Puig's one week of play to make him the winner in this category.  He's been that scary good.
NL Cy Young:  Clayton Kershaw, LHP, LAD

What more is there to say about Kershaw?  He's been outstanding yet again.  The Koufax comparison, which has been noted, is not as outrageous as it sounds.  Kershaw is the best pitcher in the NL for the third year running.  It's not just the run environment in LA, either.  He's third in the league in ERA+.  And while there are two players with lower ERAs than Kershaw's 1.93, he's done in in 93 innings, which is also third in the league.  If you want to give it to Adam Wainwright, He-Who-Must-Not-Give-Walks, be my guest.  If you think that Cliff Lee is again the league's best pitcher (as I did last year), more power to you.  You could pick wunderkind Matt Harvey.  If you think it's my ROY pick, I begrudge you not.  But I'm sticking with Kershaw for now.

NL MVP:  Carlos Gomez, CF, MIL

Homer pick?  No.  (As an aside, though, Milwaukee's outfield and the left side of their infield all have legitmate arguments as the best in the NL at their positions; it's just that the rest of the team has been SO dreadful that the Crew are still a last-place team.)  Gomez has been the best player in the NL this year.  Baseball-Reference has him as MLB's only 4-win player at this point in the year.  Fangraphs has him at 3.8, one tenth of a win behind Tulowitzki.  As always, Gomez has the glove and baserunning to merit high praise.  But unlike before, the bat has been there, too.  He leads the Brewers with 11 (yeah - he has more than Braun, Ramirez, Lucroy, or Weeks).  He's got 12 SB.  He could well have a 30-30 year - the kind of year the Mets expected when they were so desperate to hold onto him that only the greatest pitcher on the planet (Johan Santana) was worth giving him up for.  He still doesn't walk, but Gomez is a .300 hitter (thanks to an expectedly-high BABIP).  I've gotta think that, finally, at age 27 (no surprise there) that Gomez has finally put it all together and is ready to be the player he was always capable of being:  the best one in the National League.

Thanks, as always, to Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs for data and for awesome leaderboards, which helped in the construction of this post.

Got a beef with my picks?  Sound off below!