Other seasons have seen some close award races, but this year is hands down the tightest it’s ever been. Here are TTFB’s picks for league awards for the 2018 season.
Winner: Mookie Betts (Red Sox)
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Betts has played out of his mind this year. All year. Not just the second half. While the Sox are made up of the MLB’s equivalent of the Avengers, Betts is their Captain America. He’s stayed above a .320 average all year, while making a case for a Gold Glove in right field. What’s most impressive is his all-around consistency. It demands attention.
Martinez is a stats darling. In every attractive stat, he either leads or is top three. At one point he was even slugging his way to a potential Triple Crown.
As long as Mike Trout is in the league he’s always going to be considered for MVP. He’s not just that good, he’s becoming a special kind of ball player we’ve never seen before. If his Angels were battling for a division crown or at least a Wild Card we’d be having a different conversation.
Jose Ramirez picked up where he left off last season and hasn’t stopped. Some say if he was on a big market team on the East coast or West coast that he’d draw serious consideration. Betts is so good though that it’s hard to have that debate.
Winner: Christian Yelich (Brewers)
Speaking of big market teams, Baez is on top of most lists, but it should be Yelich. His second half is about has good as any player’s in the past five season. Yelich is the complete package. He’s just does everything right and his league tops batting average is well-earned. This past week he
No one really saw Baez as being the hitter the Cubs looked to with Kris Bryant down the majority of the summer, but he’s been invaluable to them. He leads the league in RBIs and went beyond his home run scouting potential (33 to date).
Freeman, like Yelich, has been good the entire year. The Braves have great young talent around him, but if it wasn’t for him they wouldn’t be atop the East right now. He’s their captain.
Nolan Arenado should always earn consideration. It’s so hard to put him this far back in the MVP race with how well he and his Rockies are performing. At the plate and in the field, Arenado is a Renaissance man, much like Trout. However, down the stretch this year, as we near post season, Arenado has dropped off a touch. There’s zero doubt he’ll win an MVP some day, just not this year.
AL CY YOUNG
Winner: Blake Snell (Rays)
First 20-game winner and counting. Blake Snell is the biggest surprise in any discussion. Not a one could’ve predicted his stunning performance this season. Especially since the Rays were counted out by everyone before the season even started. He leads the league in ERA currently (1.97) and Wins (20) and has just surpassed 200 strikeouts on the year.
Verlander has had resurgence in his career the past two season. He’s top three in the important pitching categories and is ace of a division-clinching team. If it wasn’t for Snell’s stupefying accomplishments, Verlander would be cleaning his award shelf to put his second Cy Young on.
Kluber is apart of a solid Indians staff, which has taken excessive pressure off him to be ‘the guy’ of the team. Kluber can just do Kluber. And he has done it well.
In the twilight of the regular season Sale is making a case for a Cy Young. His staff has experienced ups and downs and injuries, like most, but Sale has been the one consummate arm. His Sox have clinched the East and he’ll get another shot at the playoffs in his second season with Boston.
NL CY YOUNG
Winner: Max Scherzer (Nationals)
With DeGrom’s breakthrough in the second half, many take Scherzer’s performance this season as Scherzer being Scherzer. That’s not a bad thing. The greats of the game continue being great. There aren’t any breaks. Scherzer is in the top three in ERA (2.57), first in Wins (17) and first in Strikeouts (290).
In the analytics-crazed league today, DeGrom is favored. He has a WAR of 9.1, second only to Aaron Nola’s 9.6, and he leads all with a 1.77 ERA. He’s about the best thing the Mets have.
Besides his league leading WAR, Aaron Nola has taken the Phillies to another level. Maybe a season or two early, but he’s just fine being the ace of a promising club.
Freeland has slipped into consideration, not because his stats impress, but because he does everything right. He makes the most of his starts and has performed well against great-hitting teams. Much like Nola, Freeland is the future of a franchise that will be competing for the next decade.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Miguel Andujar (Yankees)
One great game from Andujar or Torres could be the difference in this race. Each are neck-and-neck. Andjuar gets the nod here because while his numbers are a pinch better, he’s avoided injuries most of the year and has given the Yanks, finally, a bat on the hot corner.
Torres might eventually win ROY, but it won’t be for his numbers. He’s always been regarded as a top prospect and his brand in a big market city precedes him and always will, good or bad.
The hype surrounding Ohtani, like Torres, puts him in certain discussions if he plays decent enough. Ohtani did just that at the plate as a designated hitter. Shut down early as a pitcher, and then again later, Ohtani has put together enough solid numbers to earn him consideration of the ROY. His sophomore year is highly anticipated.
Like the team he plays for, Lou Trivino, compared to other young pitchers, is an afterthought. Especially as a reliever. Might he keep pitching this way in 2019, he will surpass young counterpart AJ Puk as the most intriguing arm in Oakland’s system. Melvin took a chance on Trivino in his bullpen this season and the Pennsylvania product took full advantage of it.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves)
Between Acuna and Soto, this too is a top ROY race. Stats aside, Acuna leads this race because since his debut he’s remained a God-fearing hitter. He’s about as five-tool as five-tool can get. And he’s a big reason the Braves are contending a year early. Remember, he’s only 20-years-old too.
As a previous TTFB article explained, Soto is the real deal and the future of the Nats. At 19-years-old Soto has embraced star-status and has been the everyday player the Nats had hoped for. The league is aware of his bat, and have started to walk him more towards the end of the campaign. Bryce Harper who?
The Cardinals’ outfield is in good hands with Bader. Jim Edmonds comes to mind when thinking about his ceiling. Bader leads a sick Cardinals prospect list that will be atop the Central again in no time. There have been up and down points this season with Bader but the more he’s in the lineup the better he gets.
Buehler has solidified his spot in the rotation. With Clayton Kershaw‘s health being the headline of the staff this season, Buehler took advantage of the situation and flew under the radar, doing just enough to carve out wins and an co-ace title.
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Bob Melvin (Athletics)
It’s easy to put Aaron Boone or Alex Cora here, but what Bob Melvin has done in the AL West is nothing short of a miracle. Once or twice every decade Oakland does this sort of thing. Prospects are slowly being promoted and performing well and they put a bunch of no-names together to compete. Melvin is just the guy to develop these youngsters best. If the A’s don’t win the Wild Card, Melvin might not win. But for TTFB he gets our vote.
In his first season, Cora took an emerging powerhouse and made them a powerhouse. That’s not always an easy thing to do first year managers. Just ask Dave Martinez of the Nationals.
Much like Melvin, no one expected the Rays to bust out wins in the East like they have. When they let go of Corey Dickerson and traded Chris Archer they seemed to all but throw in the towel. Somehow, someway, they have a winning record though. They’re not playing October but the development of their younger players and how as one unit they have that “don’t quit” attitude, sure makes them an emerging threat in the coming seasons.
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Brian Snitker (Braves)
It took two and a half years but the Braves can smile again. They don’t suck. The players respect Snitker. They play for Snitker. That’s a certain chemistry that’s unpredictable. At 86-88, and well ahead of other teams in the East, Snitker and his Braves will enter their first postseason since 2013.
Come on, why wouldn’t Craig Counsell be here? If his squad makes the postseason, he could overtake Snitker for top dog. Currently, the Brewers are 88-66 and are three games ahead of the Cardinals for the Wild Card. Even if they make the postseason, it’s still on a Wild Card and winning a division trumps almost always trumps.
Kapler’s debut in Philly was met with some cynicism. Questionable lineups and head-scratching pitcher usage had fans eagerly awaiting football season. Who’s laughing now? Kapler took a team that was at least a couple years out from winning games and made them relevant again. He’s an analytics-led manager with the team and city rallying around what can be.
Is it finally the Rockies’ year? Bud Black is what Jim Leyland was to the Tigers in 2006. He’s a brilliant mind with experience behind him. The Rockies put a lot into their farm system and are finally starting to see the results. Black is just the man to lead them to the Promised Land. The Rockies are a game and a half back of the Dodgers in the West. While the Dodgers are starting to take off, the Rockies are hot on their heels. Black and his team will need a division win as the Wild Card is out of their reach.