MLB Insider: Awarding the best in baseball for 2013

Posted Saturday, Sep. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Top five Red Sox: Perfect timing for Boston to get back to full strength. A’s: Oakland warns Detroit to pack road Hazmat suits for ALDS. Cardinals: TCU’s Matt Carpenter leads St. Louis to NL Central. Braves: Jason Heyward appears to be fine, which is big for Atlanta. Dodgers: Have to like their chances with that starting rotation. Bottom five Astros: Season mercifully ends Sunday for a terrible, terrible team. Marlins: Owner Loria cans top exec, will ruin ’14 club on his own. White Sox: Very Astros-like 2-17 record this year vs. Cleveland. Cubs: Envious that other Chicago team will have higher draft pick. Twins: Will three straight 90-loss seasons doom Ron Gardenhire?

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Part 2 of the Star-Telegram’s 2013 baseball awards ceremony has moved from the press box at Tropicana Field to the palatial media confines at Rangers Ballpark, where the windows don’t open and all but one of the folks covering the team likes it that way.

Nothing but the best, or at least an upgrade, for the announcement of big awards, for which the winners will receive nothing except a warm feeling in their hearts.

(Disclaimer: These predictions, of course, will not appear on an official Baseball Writers Association of America ballot. I have been assigned to vote on the American League MVP, and, per BBWAA rules, my ballot will not be revealed until the vote is announced in November. For the record, my choice last year was Miguel Cabrera.)

A tall task is ahead if I want to beat my 2012 performance here. I went 6 for 7, missing out only on the AL Cy Young. My pick, though I knew better, was Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney. The award went to his teammate, David Price.

And, now, the moment you’ve all been waiting breathlessly for since last week. The envelopes, please.

National League MVP

The nominees: Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals; Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates; Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals.

The winner: McCutchen. Two things weigh heavily in his favor: His league-leading WAR number and the fact that he plays for a playoff team. The Pirates don’t have much offensively, and McCutchen is clearly their best player. He excels in all facets, using his speed to turn doubles into triples and opponents’ hits into outs.

Goldschmidt has fabulous numbers, as does Carpenter. Molina is the best defensive player in the game, and his plate numbers are pretty salty, too. His value is also measured in other ways that can’t be measured, like how he handles a pitching staff. Kershaw is the game’s best pitcher, and he will be in the MVP mix.

American League Cy Young

The nominees: Bartolo Colon, Oakland A’s; Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers; Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners; Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox; Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers.

The winner: Scherzer. The former Fort Worth Cats great is the league leaders in wins, but the stats crowd can’t hold that against him. He’s either leading or among the leaders in most categories, including WAR (first, fangraphs.com), strikeouts (second) and batting average on balls in play (fourth) among others.

Those who have watched the Rangers closely can make a case for and against Darvish. And they have. The stats say that Darvish’s numbers make him a legitimate Cy Young candidate, and his stuff is as good as there is. Yet, he’s not an innings-eater and isn’t efficient with his pitches, and he didn’t win games that he should have.

National League Cy Young

The nominees: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants; Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins; Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals.

The winner: Kershaw. The Dallas native will repeat in 2013 after a stellar season that has him in the MVP conversation. He either leads or is in the top five of just about every statistical category. He defends his position, he hits well for a pitcher, and he is the best pitcher on a division winner.

Kershaw is so good that he is overshadowing the season of his teammate Greinke. Aside from that whole collarbone issue, Greinke has been the anti-Josh Hamilton in the first year of his big contract. He has been terrific.

American League Rookie of the Year

The nominees: Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays; Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers; Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays; Martin Perez, Texas Rangers; J.B. Shuck, Los Angeles Angels.

The winner: Iglesias. Perhaps the biggest deadline deal made this year came when Detroit acquired Iglesias from Boston to help plug the hole that would be created when Jhonny Peralta was suspended 50 games. Iglesias has filled in admirably and will be a mainstay in the Tigers’ lineup.

Archer and Myers will be Rays mainstays for the next three to five years, until the club is forced to trade them because it won’t be able to re-sign them. Perez showed well and helped stabilize the Rangers’ rotation.

National League Rookie of the Year

The nominees: Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins; Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves; Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals; Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers; Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers.

The winner: Fernandez. The hype machine cranking out of Hollywood could push Puig over the top, but not all written about this Cuban has been positive. Puig makes too many mistakes and at times has been disrespectful to the game and to his veteran teammates.

Fernandez, also from Cuba though a graduate of a Florida high school, only had one of those moments, in his final start of the season. But he had consistent numbers throughout the year, and they were spectacular (12-6, 2.19 ERA, 187 strikeouts 172 2/3 innings) for anyone, let alone someone who turned 21 in July.

American League Manager of the Year

The nominees: John Farrell, Boston Red Sox; Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians; Bob Geren, Oakland A’s; Joe Girardi, New York Yankees; Ron Washington, Rangers.

Winner: Farrell. After a Bobby Valentine-led disaster in 2012, the Red Sox traded for Farrell, signed a bunch of free agents, and, lo and behold, Boston went from last place to first place in the span of one year. That’s a sure-fire way to be named best manager.

Francona, the guy in Boston before Valentine, has pushed the Indians over the hump, and Geren did another fine job mixing and matching in Oakland. Who dealt with more adversity than Girardi? Washington, despite all the concerns about his job security, might have done his finest job with a team that lost more than 70 homers and saw its pitching staff hammered early by injuries.

National League Manager of the Year

The nominees: Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds; Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves; Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates; Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals; Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers.

The winner: Hurdle. The other four guys all did something right, as they managed a playoff qualifier, but Hurdle was at the helm of a club that ended 21 years of misery with a winning season and a wild-card berth.

Mattingly’s work with the highest payroll in baseball shouldn’t be overlooked. The Dodgers were in last place and his job was on the line until a miraculous summertime surge put them right where everyone thought they would be.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson

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