It’s that time of the year when we start looking back to the season and start handing out awards. There was a lot of stiff competition for some of these, including the MVP and the Rookie of the Year. This list doesn’t reflect the thoughts of all the writers on Motor City Bengals, it’s just my personal list. Feel free to sign in and comment and let us all know who you got for these categories. Your award? The pride of being right.
AL MVP- Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox)
I know that this isn’t going to be a popular pick with Tigers fans, but I’m a firm believer in the MVP being a complete player, and Ellsbury is the epitome of that. Ellsbury finished with 9.4 WAR according to Fangraphs, a whole win above the closest player, Jose Bautista. While his power numbers, and wOBA numbers weren’t on par with Bautista and Miguel Cabrera, Ellsbury still had strong traditional numbers in those categories. Ellsbury finished with 32 homers, 105 RBI, 119 Runs, and 39 SB. Something that people may not know about Ellsbury? He led the league in total bases with 364. His defensive value is also tremendous. According to Baseball Reference, he finished first in defensive WAR and plays an important position in CF.
Regardless of the Boston collapse, it wasn’t Ellsbury’s fault. He was at his best in the last week, basically putting the Red Sox on his back when Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez were going in the tank. Ellsbury hit 4 home runs in the 7 days, with an OPS of 1.247.
AL Manager of the Year- Joe Maddon (Rays)
There was a lot of worthy candidates, and Detroit’s own Jim Leyland is definitely near the top of this list. Manager of the Year is usually won though by the manager that has a team most don’t expect to win, and then they do. The Tampa Rays faced an uphill climb, and it lasted until the final day of the season. It seems that Maddon is a mad scientist at times, leading off guys like Evan Longoria, but going against convention has worked for Maddon and the Rays. Heck, he just started Matt Moore in the 1st game of the playoffs, who is a tremendous talent, but lacks experience. It of course worked for Maddon and the Rays, much like a lot of stuff he does.
Bottom line, the Rays lost a ton of players in the off-season, including a whole bullpen, Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Rafeal Soriano, and Matt Garza. Little was expected, and they got it done in the toughest division in all of baseball, finishing strong in the last month of the season. Maddon deserves this award.
AL Rookie of the Year- Jeremy Hellickson (Rays)
This was the toughest of the awards to give out. By all rights and statistical measures that aren’t ERA, Michael Pineda could’ve won this award. Pineda is more dominant than Hellickson, but there is some things that swing this award in Hellickson’s favor in my opinion. One, Hellickson got better as the season wore on. His 2nd half was better than his first. Two, Hellickson did it in a pennant race. Hellickson doesn’t have eye-popping peripheral numbers, but his standard line of 13-10 with an ERA of 2.95 is Rookie of the Year quality. Batters struggled against Hellickson, hitting just .210 against him on the season. His walks were a little worrisome, but other than that, he deserves this award.
AL Cy Young- Justin Verlander (Tigers)
This is essentially a no-brainer of an award. Verlander was dominant this season from the beginning. After a match-up against Jared Weaver went in Verlander’s favor, he never looked back. In fact, his closest competition is probably going to be C.C. Sabathia. Lets see, Verlander led the league in wins, ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, IP, and H/9. Not only that, Verlander included a no-hitter as part of his wonderful season, and several other games where he took no-hitters into the 8th. It was utter dominance by a pitcher that has clearly developed into the best pitcher in the American League at least, and potentially in all of baseball. His season was so dominant, he has put himself legitimately into the MVP conversation as a pitcher, and that is rare.
I think I could’ve probably just said 24 wins, and that would be enough. Or at least it should be.