2012 MLB Awards
October 3, 2012 by Andrew Jones • Print Story •
Major League Baseball has entered the month of October and players and fans are filled with aspirations and dreams of World Series victory …well, unless your team has been statistically eliminated since late August, in which case you're probably thinking about 2015, the NFL replacement refs, or grumbling about the NHL lockout.
The 2012 MLB season was rather obviously an interesting one. It saw the destruction of the Boston Red Sox, the semi-destruction of the Philadelphia Phillies, the rise of the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, the almost-but-not-quite rise of the Pittsburgh Pirates, seven no-hitters, three perfect games, a potential Triple Crown hitter, and the glory that is Mike Trout. All in all, it was a very good year for baseball and the playoffs haven't even started yet.
Though the winners won't be announced until after the World Series (something I despise), voters will be filling out their ballots before the playoffs begin for the annual awards we all love to argue about. So without further ado, here's where my votes would go if I had votes to cast.
AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout
We might as well start with the most obvious one, right? Trout's numbers are MVP worthy, but we'll get to that argument later. The reality that he turned 21 in August makes the numbers even more special. This is a young man who has the potential to be something extremely special. Sure, he has cooled off in August and September. But even so, this kid has the potential to be as good as Willie Mays. Potential mind you…potential.
Trout will obviously win, but honorable mentions can be given to Scott Diamond, Yu Darvish, Jarrod Parker, and Yoenis Cespedes.
NL Rookie of the Year : Wade Miley
I admit that Bryce Harper has a legitimate shot to win this, but purely because the competition is a bit slim. Miley (as of Monday morning) is 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, and 134 strikeouts. That is a solid number two pitcher on most teams and potentially an ace on a few. I think Harper will probably rise higher than Miley in the long run, but I'd really like to see Harper not win.
AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter
One of two obvious choices here. In the toughest division in the American League, and arguably in all of baseball, Showalter developed this team into serious World Series contenders. No disrespect to Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics who also deserves this award. I just think that the Orioles had a more difficult road and have performed slightly better which gives Showalter the edge.
NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson
Despite how you view Johnson's handling of Stephen Strasburg, you must admit that the Nationals out-shined everyone's expectations this season. Not only has Johnson managed to put together perhaps the best team in baseball, but he's been able to manage some major young talent and keep them (for the most part) in check. Bryce Harper started out with some pretty idiotic antics, but Harper has kept playing hard and limited his childish moments in the latter half of the season. I think Johnson deserves at least a bit of the credit there.
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Edwin Encarnacion
Adam Dunn will be the logical choice here, but I can't justify that. Dunn is still in many respects a terrible player. In 2012, he has recorded more strikeouts than any other season (218 as of Monday morning), his .204 average is worse than every other season except 2011 (.159), and — this just staggers the imagination — he has struck out more times than combined hits and walks. And many people will vote for this guy for Comeback Player of the Year, all because he hit 41 home runs in 2012 instead of 11.
No, thank you. I'd vote for Edwin Encarnacion. He had a mediocre year in 2011 batting .272 with 17 home runs and 55 runs batted in. Not only has he improved those totals in 2012 to be a top-five MVP candidate, but he has more than doubled his home runs and RBI and nearly doubled his walk total. In fact, looking at his 2012 statistics as compared to the rest of his career, I'm a little suspicious of this guy. But he's still a better choice than Dunn!
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Ryan Braun
A rather strange choice, you might be thinking. Well, yes it is. I don't feel right giving Braun the MVP award, but think about the offseason Braun had. He is named as a user of PEDs. He is suspended 50 games. He appeals and fights. He wins. Hardly anybody outside of Wisconsin believes him. He goes out and has another MVP season without Prince Fielder. I don't think Braun win will MVP (as you'll see below), but he deserves some recognition for overcoming a pretty horrendous offseason, regardless of his guilt.
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander
To me, the Cy Young awards are by far the hardest to choose. The American league has six or seven guys who could win. To me Jered Weaver, David Price, and Verlander are the front runners. I give it to Verlander over the other two for a few reasons: firstly, the Tigers will make the playoffs while the Angels and Rays will just miss the playoffs. Secondly, Verlander has pitched significantly more innings and has six complete games. Finally, he has more strikeouts than anybody in all of baseball.
The only statistics that make Weaver and Price stand out are the 20-4 and 20-5 records, respectively. Verlander's record of 17-8 is nothing to sneeze at, but he lost five of those games before the end of June. In those five losses, his team scored a total of 9 runs. A run like that can happen to the best of pitchers. I don't know who will end up winning, but I know it will be close and I'll have a hard time saying anything against Weaver, Price, or Verlander.
NL Cy Young: R.A. Dickey
I think this decision might be harder than in the American League! Again there are six or seven, maybe even eight pitchers who could win this award. I think your front runners are Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Cain, and Johnny Cueto.
Why go with Dickey? He is in the top two in every major pitching category except WHIP in which he is third (by 0.01). No one else can get close to claiming that. The fact that he plays for the Mets might make people gun shy and lean toward Gonzalez, Cain, or Cueto and I can't blame them for that.
To me, the dark horse of the Cy Young race is Kyle Lohse who is quietly having a magnificent year at 16-3 with an ERA of 2.86, and WHIP of 1.09. Sadly, with so much competition above him, I wonder if Lohse will get many fifth place votes.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
Of course there are plenty of Mike Trout lovers out there who will decry Cabrera winning, but how can you ignore a guy who is so close to the Triple Crown? If he wins it, there's no way to refuse. If Trout hadn't slowed down so much in August and kept his average above .340, I think he'd have the edge, but the reality is Trout's only advantages over Cabrera are runs scored, stolen bases, and fielding ability. I think Cabrera covers those with far more runs batted in, home runs, and far fewer strikeouts.
NL MVP: Buster Posey
It probably won't be the popular pick, but Posey is batting .337 while taking the vast majority of his at bats as a catcher. Let us remember that as the catcher, not only is Posey giving far more physical energy than any other position player, but he is also a major contributing factor in the success of the Giants pitching. Matt Cain and company are a pretty formidable rotation, especially considering two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum is the worst pitcher in the rotation right now.
I think more than anything, Posey kept the bats hot for the Giants even after Melky Cabrera was suspended. How many other teams could have survived one of their best two hitters being suspended and stayed hot for the final two months of the season? Not all that many.