VAVEL USA MLB Roundtable: End-Of-Season Awards

National League MVP:

Aidan Thomas - Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

While the A.L MVP is a two-horse race, the National League race is much broader. Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Anthony Rizzo, and Andrew McCutchen all have very strong cases for the award. And pitcher Zack Greinke has been marvelous, posting historically good numbers and could potentially bring home the hardware as well. I’m not going to predict Greinke to win the award simply because I don’t like pitchers winning the MVP. Instead, I’m going with Harper. Harper, while he will likely miss out on October baseball, leads the National League in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. You can’t ask much more from a player than that. So while Harper’s Nationals likely will miss the playoffs, Harper is certainly not the reason. He should win the National League MVP.

Brett Blizinski - Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper, regardless of where his team stands, is playing out of the world. Harper has an average in the .300’s and also leads the majors in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and therefore, OPS as well. Harper cannot control his teams’ struggles, he’s still doing his part and then some.

Heath Clary - Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

While the voters have a proclivity to disregard a player for the MVP award because his team is not a contender, Harper is still the obvious choice. He has been simply magnificent all year long. He leads all players in WAR - according to both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference - as well as wRC+, wOBA, OPS+, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and he has also scored more than 100 runs with a month left in the season. He has been the best hitter in the game, and is more than deserving of this award.

American League MVP:

Thomas - Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

In my opinion, this is a two-horse race between Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and Los Angeles’ Mike Trout. Trout won it last year but Donaldson should be the front-runner this season. Donaldson has put together a monster season for the A.L. East leading Toronto Blue Jays. The former Oakland Athletic is hitting .302 with a .368 on-base percentage. His .953 OPS is fourth in the American League. Trout’s .971 mark is second in the league but Donaldson has a better average
and slugging percentage (.585) than Trout. His 36 home runs are three more than Trout’s total of 33 dingers and his 112 RBI easily bests Trout’s 74. Donaldson should be the MVP not only for statistical reasons but also for the overall success of his team. The last five winners, for both the A.L and N.L MVP, have all come from playoff teams. As of now, the Blue Jays are in position to make the playoffs while the Angels are scrabbling to overtake the Texas Rangers for the second wild card. If the Angels miss out on the postseason, it will certainly be Donaldson taking home the MVP award.

Blizinski - Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

Donaldson is part of a Toronto team that absolutely loaded up in the deadline, but his production did not drop off at all. Donaldson leads the league in RBI’s with 111 and runs, with 104.

Clary - Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

Right behind Harper on both WAR leaderboards: Donaldson. He has been an excellent addition to the Toronto Blue Jays, and he is one of the main reasons that they are winning as much as they are. He is a stellar hitter, an incredible fielder at the hot corner and he brings fiery leadership to the clubhouse. He has also hit 36 home runs, driven in 114 and scored 105 runs. Mike Trout has been great as usual, but Donaldson has been better.

National League Cy Young:

Thomas - Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers

This pick is pretty much a no-brainer. Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers is putting up historically good numbers. If his 1.59 ERA holds, it will be the lowest single-season mark since Greg Maddux in 1994. His 0.85 WHIP easily leads the major leagues. He has held opponents to a .189 average. Greinke’s teammate, Clayton Kershaw, has won the past two N.L. Cy Young awards but Greinke should finally best his fellow Dodger this season. When Kershaw isn’t actually your ace, you know you have a special pitcher. And the Dodgers have a great one in Zack Greinke.

Harry How/Getty Images

Blizinski - Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers

Greinke holds the best ERA in all of baseball, with his ERA at 1.59. Greinke is just two wins behind the league leader, Jake Arrieta and ERA is a far more important category. When talking about wins, it’s important to consider that pitchers can pitch really good and lose because of not getting run support. Oh, and he still has 15 wins.

Clary - Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers

This was one of the toughest selections I had to make when making my picks. Greinke and his LA Dodger teammate, Clayton Kershaw, have both been stellar, as has Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs. Kershaw and Arrieta have each racked up more wins above replacement, strikeouts and innings pitched than Greinke, but in the end I have to go with Greinke. He has simply been too good. His sparkling 1.59 ERA is amazing, and using Baseball-Reference's adjusted ERA+, which takes the traditional ERA and adjusts it to more accurately compare players from different eras, Greinke is having a historically great season. You have to go all the way back to Pedro Martinez's unforgettable 2000 season to find a pitcher who has been as good as Greinke has been in 2015. I love Kershaw and Arrieta - they each possess absolutely filthy arsenals - but in the end, Greinke has been the best.

American League Cy Young:

Thomas - Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

Right now, the clear front-runner for the A.L Cy Young award is Houston Astros’ ace Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel has put together a superb season and has led to surprising Astros to the top of the A.L. West division. His 2.24 ERA leads the American League, as does his 1.00 WHIP. He has held opposing batters to a .213 batting average. His potential challengers include Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics, David Price of the Toronto Blue Jays, and Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Blizinski - Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

Keuchel is dominating the American League, leading the AL in wins with 16 thus far. His ERA of 2.24 is also best in the AL as well as WHIP. Keuchel is a solidified ace for the Houston Astros and a guy like that can be scary, especially come playoff time.

Clary - Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

Keuchel has certainly been terrific all year long for the AL West-leading Astros, but in my opinion Sale has been a little better. Sale leads the league in pitcher WAR, strikeouts and fielding-independent pitching (FIP), which measures how many runs the pitcher would have given up with a league-average defense. Sale has not gotten as much run support as Keuchel, which is why his 12-7 record does not jump out at you. Sale has been filthy all year long - he has a chance to be the first pitcher to reach 300 strikeouts since Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson did it in 2002 - and he deserves baseball's most coveted pitching award.

National League Rookie of the Year:

Thomas - Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

This pick is a toss-up between the Cubs’ Kris Bryant and the Giants’ Matt Duffy. Duffy has a superior batting average but Bryant has better power. In this case, I’ll go to my personal favorite deciding factor. Bryant’s Cubs are 6.5 games ahead of the Giants for the second wild card spot in the National League. They will likely make the postseason while Duffy’s Giants will be sitting at home in October. So Bryant and his .269 batting average, .370 on-base percentage, .486 slugging percentage, and .856 OPS will likely be taking home the award.

Blizinski - Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

Bryant is another guy who was called up to the big leagues and adjusted well in his first year. Bryant is currently hitting .269 and will end up finishing with nearly 30 homers and 100 RBI’s. Combine all that with an impressively good young nucleus and Bryant has Joe Maddon and the Cubs rolling into what should be a postseason appearance.

Clary - Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

There have been tons of rookies making immediate impact - Bryant, Duffy, Kyle Schwarber, Randal Grichuk and Joc Pederson come to mind - but Bryant has been the best. He has been vulnerable to the strikeout, but his prodigious power has transitioned well to the big leagues. He leads all rookies in WAR and trails Pederson by one homer for the rookie lead in that category, and he has also hit the longest home run of 2015.

American League Rookie of the Year:

Thomas - Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

Carlos Correa appears to be the overwhelming favorite for the award and I agree that he will likely take home the hardware but I think the final vote count will be close between him and Devon Travis of the Toronto Blue Jays. Correa has taken over the starting shortstop job for the Houston Astros and has been spectacular in 72 games. He has a .271 batting average and a whopping 16 home runs. In a 162 game season, Correa would be on pace for 36 home runs. He has also displayed impressive speed, swiping eleven bases. Travis is hitting well for the Blue Jays but his power and speed can’t match Carlos Correa’s.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Blizinski - Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

Correa was called up to an already young Houston Astros team, and found his stride quickly. Correa will end up with more than 20 homers and about 60 RBI’s on the year. Pretty good numbers for a shortstop that was called up after two months of the season were completed.

Clary - Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

Miguel Sano is grabbing headlines with his phenomenal display of raw power up in Minnesota, but Correa is the rookie of the year. He has hit for both average and power, he has stolen bases and he has played tremendous defense at one of the game's premier positions. Only 21 years old, he is already arguably the best shortstop in the game and will be for years to come.

National League Manager of the Year:

Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Thomas - Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs

In my opinion, there are three potential candidates for this award. Joe Maddon is on the verge of leading the Chicago Cubs to their first playoff appearance since 2008. In St. Louis, Mike Matheny have overcome a ton of injuries to lead his Cardinals to the top of the N.L Central and leading the Pirates and the Cubs handily. And, finally, there is Terry Collins in New York, who is just weeks away from leading his Mets to the National League East title and their first playoff appearance since 2006. In the end, I’m predicting Maddon to win the award. His team has had the most improvement with a 13-win difference from this time last year to this season. Collins and Matheny have been admirable in leading their respective squads this season but Maddon gets the award.

Blizinski - Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals

Matheny has lead a St. Louis Cardinals team to dominance yet again. The Cardinals will end up with the most wins in the MLB in 2015 and the National League Central division again. What Joe Maddon is doing for the Chicago Cubs is great, but the Cubs have not endured the injuries the Cardinals have. It’s one thing to play good baseball, but the Cardinals are a baseball juggernaut, even through multiple injuries to key pieces.

Clary - Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs

Finally my two counterparts picked differently, and I have to side with Aidan on this one. True, Maddon hasn't had to deal with as many injuries, but Matheny hasn't had to deal with youth in such volume that Maddon has. Maddon has taken a roster filled with almost exclusively young position players and found a way to make it work. Maddon is, in my opinion, the best in the business, and he is my pick for the award.

American League Manager of the Year:

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Thomas - A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros

There have been a plethora of surprising American League teams in 2015 including the Twins, managed by Paul Molitor, the Texas Rangers, managed by Jeff Banister, and the New York Yankees, managed by Joe Girardi. But the most surprising team of all have been the Houston Astros, with A.J. Hinch at the helm. Hinch should be the clear front-runner for the Manager of the Year as his Houston Astros are following a 70-win season with an excellent season that currently sees them sitting on top the A.L. West division. Molitor, Banister, and Girardi all deserve credit but Hinch will win the award.

Blizinski - A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros

Finch, the manager of the aforementioned Carlos Correa, has turned his managing career around. He had a rough stint in Arizona with the Diamondbacks and very little managerial experience. He was fired in the 2010 season but now he’s back and has the Houston Astros poised to make a run in October lead by a stellar pitching staff.

Clary - A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros

While there have been plenty of managers leading surprising teams this year, Hinch has been the most impressive. He has taken a team filled with powerful swing-and-miss players and led them to victory. Hinch has given them the freedom to be aggressive on the basepaths, which has created runs, and he has not asked his power hitters to change their approach at the plate. The Astros lead the AL in strikeouts, but they are also second in MLB in home runs and have racked up an AL-leading 101 stolen bases. Hinch also managed around the potentially-crippling injury of George Springer and he currently has his team two games ahead of the Texas Rangers for the AL West division lead.

**All statistics courtesy of Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.

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