Every summer must come to a close. Each Spring there is a certain magic in the air as the crisp sounds of leather cracking leather, and the gorgeous odor of pine tar on white ash. In the blink of an eye the hardwood and leather get put away. 162 games for each team, a new World Series Champion later, the 2012 MLB season has concluded.
The big question that needed to be addressed was who would be crowned 2012 World Series Championships. The San Francisco Giants did us all a favor and removed all doubt about that one. What the Giants didn’t do was help us all decide who wins the individual awards for each league. So I decided to take it upon myself to tell you who (I think) should win each individual award in Major League Baseball.
(Disclaimer: No I am not going to spend a whole lot of time going through many of the lesser awards. Nothing against the Hank Aaron Award (I actually thoroughly appreciate these awards), but I have decided to limit this to NL MVP, AL MVP, NL Cy Young, AL Cy Young, NL Manager of the Year, AL Manager of the Year, NL ROY, AL ROY)
National League Most Valuable Player:
3. Yadier Molina C (STL Cardinals): .315 AVG, 22 HR, 76 RBI, 6.7 WAR, Gold Glove, All-Star, National League Championship Series Appearance
2. Ryan Braun OF (Milwaukee Brewers): .319 AVG, 41 HR, 112 RBI, .987 OPS, 6.8 WAR, All-Star, Missed Playoffs
1. Buster Posey C (San Francisco Giants): .336 AVG, 24 HR, 103 RBI, .957 OPS, 7.2 WAR, All-Star, World Series Champion
Buster Posey is one of the most special players in recent memory in MLB. After an incredible rookie season in 2010, winning the Rookie of the Year in the National League and being a part of the Giants World Series team, Posey has made his mark on the game already at the ripe age of 25. He missed the majority of the 2011 season due to an injury occurred early in the year. Looking at how magical Posey is, it’s easy to see why he deserves to be the MVP. In his two full seasons of managing a young, powerful pitching staff, Posey has emerged as a premier hitter as well. He does it all and he has fun. Plus he has an incredible baseball name. Buster Posey. Come on. Give the kid the MVP.
American League Most Valuable Player:
3. Adrian Beltre 3B (Texas Rangers): .321 AVG, 36 HR, 102 RBI, .921 OPS, 6.6 WAR, Gold Glove, All-Star, Playoff Berth
2. Mike Trout OF (Los Angeles Angels): .326 AVG, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB, .963 OPS, (Snubbed on Gold Glove), All-Star, Missed Playoffs
1. Miguel Cabrera 3B (Detroit Tigers): .330 AVG, 44 HR, 139 RBI, .999 OPS, 6.9 WAR, All-Star, American League Champions
Miguel Cabrera won the Hitting Triple Crown for the first time since Carl Yastrzemski did it for the Boston Red Sox in 1967. In a time where sabermetrics are the norm, a Hitting Triple Crown may not be enough to win the MVP. It almost seems preposterous to think that could be the case, but with Mike Trouts incredible Wins Above Replacement (WAR), and situational hitting as well as his amazing defensive prowess in the outfield has the baseball nation stirring. Either way the pundits have an extremely difficult choice ahead of them. What puts Miggy over Trouty for me can be summed up in 3 points.
1. How far each individuals team went in the season (Edge Miguel)
2. Facing adversity and change (Edge Miguel due to his position change from 1B to 3B)
3. Veteran and Respect (Edge Miguel)
It all comes down to the fact that Miggy going into the season had to change positions and how far his team went in the postseason. While Trout sat at home, Miguel positioned his team to win the World Series. They didn’t end up winning and ironically Miggy struck out looking to end the sweep, but the fact that he was there matters. I think it’s also important to mention that the voters take being a veteran into consideration. Trout’s time will come, but this year it’s Miggy’s.
National League Cy Young:
3. Johnny Cueto SP (Cincinnati Reds): 19-9, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 170 K’s, 49 BB, 205 Hits
2. Gio Gonzalez SP (Washington Nationals): 21-8, 2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 207 K’s, 76 BB, 149 Hits, All-Star
1. R.A. Dickey SP (New York Mets): 20-6, 2.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 230 K’s, 54 BB, 192 Hits, All-Star
I hate to be a contrarian on how I decide awards and how the statistic stack up, but I have to be here. The Cy Young to me isn’t an award that has to go to the guy on the best team and it doesn’t matter anymore how good his team is. There is a reason that Felix Hernandez won the award with a .500 record a few years back. There was no doubt in 2012 that Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander were the Cy Young’s in each league because they won the Pitching Triple Crown. 2012 is a little less clear cut. There’s a factor for R.A. Dickey that cannot be quantified that propels him above the other hurlers in the NL for me. The “IT” factor. How many times did you as a baseball fan, put down what you were doing this summer to watch the spectacle that was Dickey’s knuckle ball for an inning or 2. I had the pleasure of sharing this experience with a die-hard (I mean die-hard) Mets fan, in Tyler Ryder from Z102.9 and it was a thing of beauty. Dickey deserves to win the 2012 NL Cy Young.
American League Cy Young:
3. Jared Weaver SP (Los Angeles Angels): 20-5, 2.81 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 142 K’s, 45 BBs, 147 Hits, All-Star
2. Justin Verlander SP (Detroit Tigers): 17-8, 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 239 K’s, 60 BB, 192 Hits, All-Star
1. David Price SP (Tampa Bay Rays): 20-5, 2.56 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 205 K’s, 59 BB, 173 Hits, All-Star
2011 was a simple task to name the American League Cy Young. Justin Verlander, Justin Verlander, Justin Verlander. Oh sorry, I was just typing out who led in Wins, ERA, and Strikeouts. 2012 is a little less clear-cut. 5 of the top 6 pitchers in the League didn’t make the playoffs. The only one who did was…. Dun, dun, duh, Justin Verlander. I think Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in the American League. Breaking this down it seems simple. David Price is the 2nd best pitcher in the American League and he had a better statistical season. The number 1 overall pick in the 2007 Amateur Draft, Price had his best season and eclipsed the 20 wins mark for the first time in his career. He led the league in wins and ERA. Those are the two stats that everyone looks at. Those and Strike-outs, because people like flashy. Well, he struck out over 200 batters. Cy Young seems like a no-brainer.
National League Manager of the Year:
4. Dusty Baker (Cincinnati Reds):
79-83 2011 record, 3rd in division, missed Playoffs to
97-65 2012 Record, won division NLDS loss to San Francisco Giants
3. Bruce Bochy (San Francisco Giants):
86-76 2011 record, 2nd in division, missed Playoffs to
94-68 2012 record, Division Champs, Won World Series
2. Davey Johnson (Washington Nationals):
80-81 2011 record, 3rd in division, missed Playoffs to
98 64 2012 record (Best in baseball), NLCS loss to St. Louis
1. Mike Matheny (St. Louis Cardinals):
90-72 record in 2011, 2nd in Division Won World Series as Wildcard team
88-74 record in 2012, 2nd in Division Lost to San Francisco Giants in NLCS
Bruce Bochy will probably win the NL Manger of the Year. I can see why, because he has done some amazing things for the Giants. I like Bruce Bochy. What Mike Matheny did for the Cardinals to me is even more incredible. First let’s disqualify Davey Johnson to an extent. Nothing against Davey Johnson, but he dug his own grave for this award and it has nothing to do with Stephen Strasburg. Johnson said preseason that the Nationals should win 90+ games. They did that, therefore, he didn’t do anything that should have been expected, correct? I commend Davey Johnson for sticking to his guns about Stephen Strasburg, but I believe what Matheny did in St. Louis was incredible.
Yes, they had a worse record and they ended up with a worse end result. I find it hard to let all of that detract from what Mike Matheny was able to do for this ball club. The Cardinals were 1 game away from having a shot for a second season in a row at World Series Championship rings. The Cardinals had a ton going for them, but they had a bunch of factors working against them as well. Losing Tony LaRussa was a huge thought to ponder heading into the campaign, but he wasn’t the 800 pound elephant in the room. The loss of Albert Pujols was what everyone was wondering about coming into the year. Losing Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa, as well as long time pitching coach Dave Duncan, the Cardinals were stuck in the questionable stage for me. Then Chris Carpenter went down. Mike Matheny was able to rally all of his guys around the same magical ideas that LaRussa had instilled in 2011 and that is why I think Matheny deserves the award.
American League Manager of the Year
3. Robin Ventura (Chicago White Sox):
79-83 2011 record 3rd in Division, missed Playoffs
85-77 2012 record 2nd in Division, missed Playoffs
2. Bob Melvin (Oakland Athletics):
74-88 2011 record 3rd in Division, missed Playoffs
94-68 2012 record Won Division, Lost in ALDS to Detroit
1. Buck Showalter (Baltimore Orioles):
69-93 2011 record last in Division, missed Playoffs
93-69 2012 record 2nd in Division (Wildcard), Lost in ALDS to New York Yankees
Ventura did some great things on the South Side of Chi Town and Bob Melvin did an incredible job of maximizing talent, especially after Bartolo Colon was suspended for 50 games, but this award has to go to Buck Showalter for what he did in Baltimore. Baltimore played in the American League East which is arguably the most competitive division in baseball from top to bottom. The Manager of the Year Award is about maximizing talent and rallying a team around a common idea to win ball games. That was the trend this year for Baltimore and it was a lot of fun to watch.
National League Rookie of the Year:
2. Wade Miley SP (Arizona Diamondbacks): 16-11, 3.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 144 K’s, 37 BB, 25 years old
1. Todd Frazier 3B/U (Cincinnati Reds): .273 AVG, 19 HR, 67 RBI, .829 OPS, 26 years old
If either one of these two guys win I’ll be a pretty happy guy, but unfortunately I could see Bryce Harper win due to all the hype. Miley has a lot of special stuff and Frazier has the tools to become a very good asset to a quality team in Cincy. There are a ton of young players in the ranks right now and each one of these guys deserves to be right there in the conversation.
American League Rookie of the Year:
Mike Trout. That’s it. If you haven’t heard, the bird is the word, and the bird is eating up the Trout. Was that lame? Yes, but I couldn’t think of anything more clever.