Prior to the season I had a lot of things to say about how I thought the season would go, some were very spot on (Orioles being a power house and the Red Sox sinking) and some were very far from the truth (Yankees taking the Series) but that is baseball, a very strange character who can flip its attitude and emotions in one twist of fate… or an ankle.
Manager of the Year
Buck Showalter (Baltimore Orioles) This team winning hinged completely on the pitching core holding it together. It was apparent this team would score a lot of runs with Andrew Jones, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, and Manny Machado in the middle of a strong line up, but could the pitching staff hold the opposition to fewer runs. Not only did they, but they did it 96-times, just two fewer wins than the best in all the major leagues and they did it in a traditionally difficult division where they were the one time whipping team. Showalter’s management of his starters and bullpen was near perfect and wheter this is the beginning of something grand or a one time fluke the 2014 season belongs to the Baltimore Orioles.
Clint Hurdle (Pittsburg Pirates) The Pirates started the season 10-16 through April and 26-30 through May and were even still around .500 at the All Star Break; it was beginning to look like the haters were right that the Bucs just got lucky in 2013. Then the second half started and the Pirates fought like their was no tomorrow and finished the season 14-games over .500 and nearly taking the Central Division. It would be easy to argue that this is a good team and they should have won all along, but they weren’t and for a manager in this day in age, with prima donna players and big wallet players, to motivate winners where there had only been losers is a task whether the team was 90-73 last year or 65-97.
- Don Mattingly – He could win this award just for keeping Yasiel Puig out of trouble.
- Ron Roenicki-What could have been.
- Joe Girardi-A team that had so many injuries, a retiring superstar circus and a suspended distraction, 84-wins is pretty respectable. They were one losing streak from the playoffs.
- Mike Scioscia-Good option, but I wonder if this team could win just as many games without him, but then they go and have terrible seasons with all their talent.
Rookie of the Year
Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox) While I disagree that players like Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka should be able to win an award for rookies when they have played at a professional level, until that changes and they make a first year international player award the rules dictate it is the best first year player and Abreu was without question that player. Not only does he win the AL R.O.Y but he should also be in conversations for AL MVP with his .317/36/107 a line respectable for the best player in the game some years.
Jacob DeGrom (New York Mets) The AL might be a clear-cut winner, but the NL, not so much. While DeGrom may be the winner, his own teammate could steal the trophy on award night, or even a guy that was so good at stealing down the stretch. To hold a pitching line of 9-6 with a 2.44era and 144Ks in 140 innings in the “other” New York you have to really tip your hat to the composure of the Mullet Man.
- Billy Hamilton-Had Billy started the year half as good as he finished it he would have won no question.
- Joe Panick-Might be the best player in this bunch when their careers are done and finished, but having only 73 games as a rookie makes it very difficult to select.
- Dellin Betances-Showcasing his arm on the Leagues biggest mound and never showing a sign of weakness. 135Ks in 90 innings. Will most certainly take over closing duties for a long time in the Bronx.
- Masahiro Tanaka-One of the best starting pitchers in baseball rookie or veteran, his only downfall was losing 60 games to injury.
Reliever of the Year
Dellin Betances (New York Yankees) This kid played great not just for a 24-year old, but all relievers considered and managed an All Star nod along the way. When you consider it was his first year and he threw 90 innings and struck out 135 you don’t just forget it is only his first season. Nearly unhittable with a .149 opponents BA, only allowing more than 1 run in a game once and never giving up more than 2 hits in a game for the entire season. Those are numbers you may confuse with Mariano Rivera, not a kid from Washington Heights.
Jonathan Papplebon (Philadelphia Phillies) If Pap was still in 2007 Boston the media may be ranking his performance with the best ever, but when you play on a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since you arrived, you sort of get forgotten. I won’t forget you, Jon.
- Drew Storen-Really provided stability from starter-to-closer transition and a fill in spot closer. His microscopic ERA will attract suitors for the 27-year old as a closer.
- Craig Kimbrel-Much Like Pap, a great performance on a very bad team. But the Braves will rebound once the pitching staff comes back from their Tommy John Retreat.
- Greg Holland-Does he really deserve the award? Possibly, but I have to go with who surprised me the most and where credit is due. A lot of closers get undue credit for their stats, a save really means, “Horray you didn’t lose the game.” Not to take away from their jobb, but to go in with a 2 or 3 run lead and your job is to let up less runs, I really have a hard time supporting the accolade sometimes.
- Zach Britton-Filled in nicely after management almost blew the season spot with the Johnson/Balfour debacle.
Pitcher of the Year
Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians) Probably the biggest moment in his career will be looked upon as the year he upset Felix Hernandez. 7.3 WAR, 269Ks and a 2.44 ERA is about the only way you beat the Cy Young Favorite.
Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers) If you watched any baseball this season you don’t need any reasons that Kershaw wins the best pitcher in baseball. The only pitcher that can unseat Kersh was injured to early to make a mark. But if Jose Fernandez recovers fully he will be the player that one day takes the driver’s seat as the best. Until then Kersh is the only vote.
- Johnny Cueto- How does one have an ERA just north of 2 and strike our 142 batters and not win the Cy Young? He pitches in the same division as Kershaw. Proving a year filled with injuries was nothing more than a year Cueto asserted his dominance across the season taking down batters one after another.
- Madison Bumgarner-The Giant are back in the post season because of their youngest superstar ace.
- Jordan Zimmermann-Fitting that Zimmermann finished the season with a no hitter, Fourth fiddle to some very big names in baseball, Zimm might be their best.
- Jake Arrieta-Unfortunate for Arrieta he is stuck in Chicago… for now.
- Felix Hernandez- It is unfortunate that sometimes an amazing pitcher has to come in second, but this year The King was the prince.
- Chris Sale-Another name that could have upset the balance, his only red mark on his resume is the amount of starts he was able to accumulate due to injury.
- Garrett Richards-Much like Sale injury derailed his quest, only difference is that Richards was injured on the other end of the season.
- Phil Hughes-If this is Hughes improving his name will climb with each year.
Most Valuable Player
Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels) – He was once considered the next big thing and compared to Miguel Cabrera as the best all-around player. He is now the standard by which players are compared.
Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates)-The unequivocal leader of the Pirates and far and way their best player. He led them to the NLCS last year and this year he will do it again, both the NLCS and the MVP. Hopefully the NLCS will have a more positive outcome for the man they call Clutch. People may argue that Kershaw deserves the award, I find it hard to award a player that only appears in 20% of a team’s games as their most valuable player.
- Clayton Kershaw
- Giancarlo Stanton
- Johnny Cueto
- Adrian Gonzalez
- Carlos Gomez
- Devin Mesoraco
- Jayson Werth
- Paul Goldschmidt
- Denard Span
- Victor Martinez
- Jose Abreu
- Jose Altuve
- Jose Reyes
- Nelson Cruz
- Felix Hernandez
- Jon Lester
- Garrett Richards
- Robinson Cano