NW’s MVP And Cy Young Award Winners
By Eric Reining
Listen, postseason awards are stupid. They’re stupid because most of the people who vote on them are… well… stupid. In the real world, change is a constant, unavoidable entity. It’s necessary in most cases. Science has advanced so much in the last hundred years that nearly every problem that’s needed solving has been solved, save the proving or disproving of the existence of god; technology has advanced to the point where a drone can be triggered from a satellite in outer space to eliminate entire villages of people with the click of a button. It’s crazy, man.
Yet, in this age of wisdom that you and I currently live in, the gatekeepers of baseball, also known as baseball writers association, have decided that concepts like RBI and pitcher Wins and Losses are still the most important mathematical statistics to focus in on in determining who the best players are at their respective positions.
This year, congratulations to Miguel Cabrera — your American League Most Valuable Player — and Max Scherzer — your American League Cy Young Award winner — for being those people.
This article will save you the narrative. This is about who deserves what.
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Michael Golderman, Staff Writer
I think it is rather clear that Mike Trout is the most worthy player to win the MVP award (the same could be said of last season, but inconsequentially, Miguel Cabrera wowed the baseball world with a triple crown — not that the triple crown is an easy feat, nor that Cabrera did not have an MVP-caliber season, but Trout’s 2012 season was simply better). Mike Trout is the best player in the game and the best overall player that the game of baseball has had in a long while. In terms of fWAR, Trout was actually able to surpass his 10 fWAR rookie campaign by posting 10.4 fWAR in 2013. Additionally, Trout finished with the 2nd best wRC+ (176), led the AL in BB% (15.4), finished second overall in the AL in OBP (.432) and also proved yet again the be one of the game’s best base runners. Mike Trout is the AL MVP. Period.
As for the AL Cy Young, things are a bit more unclear. Arguments can be made that Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez or Anibal Sanchez are deserving of the award, but with that said, Yu Darvish is my AL Cy Young award winner. Obviously, Darvish’s 13-9 win-loss record falls well short of Scherzer’s 21-3 record (a pitcher’s win-loss record does not matter a damn thing but realistically, Scherzer’s magnificent 2013 season is the most deserving to win the Cy Young, just for other more objective reasons) but me admittedly being blinded by my allegiance to the Rangers, Darvish posted a season worth honorable mention in the AL Cy Young award debate (209.2 IP, 11.89 K/9, 2.83 ERA, 5.0 fWAR). Yu simply had an incredible season.
Lee Stitzel, Staff Writer
Unfortunately this award has to go to Mike Trout. The only serious candidates are Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Cabrera has a higher average, slugging percentage and on base percentage but Trout has superb numbers across the board. Miggy’s numbers are significantly better as hitter but Trout is not far behind. Trout has a massive edge in nearly every other significant category. He has 33 steals, good for 6th in the majors. He also plays incredible defense. It is a close call between the two but I give the edge to the more well rounded player.
I want to say Yu Darvish I really do but where is the love for Anibal Sanchez? Teammate Max Scherzer is getting all of the media love with his impressive 21 wins. Hopefully by now the argument against pitcher’s wins is exhausted. I’ve even heard it coherently argued on ESPN so it must be a dead horse by now. I do not need to beat said horse. If you look at numbers that actually measure an individual pitcher’s performance Sanchez really shines. The key numbers here are those related to limiting runs and getting outs. Sanchez leads the American League with a 2.57 ERA and 2.39 FIP. He is third in xFIP and third in strikeouts per nine. The only place Sanchez lags behind Darvish and Scherzer is his 9th best WHIP and 6th best batting average against. Although Darvish is the hardest to hit and the most fun to watch and Scherzer has the most wins and comparable numbers, I think Anibal Sanchez deserves the award. He gets the edge because he was the best in the American League at doing what pitchers should do; limiting runs.
David Cash, Staff Writer
The biggest debate for MVP has been between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. Also, people should consider Josh Donaldson in the mix. Mike Trout leads the A.L. in overall WAR, which is wins above replacement, which tells us his value over others. Mike Trout also is in the top ten in almost every category. Trout for 2 years in a row has been mentioned in this honor, but the Angels haven’t managed to make the playoffs. Josh Donaldson has had a major impact for the Oakland Athletics. Donaldson is part of the reason the Athletics are currently in the playoffs. With his offensive and defensive plays in series such against the Rangers were keys in winning the A.L. west division. Donaldson is another player that leads in almost every category in the A.L. Donaldson doesn’t lead Mike Trout in several categories, but he did make a major impact on leading his team to the playoffs. Finally Miguel Cabrera, he leads in almost every category in the A.L. and owns the best batting average again at .348. If you had to argue who had the biggest impact on their team, it would be easy to say Miguel Cabrera has again carried his team to the playoffs.
For the American League Cy Young Award, there are 3 pitchers to consider, Bartolo Colon, Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer. Bartolo Colon was suspended 50 games in 2012 and apparently was almost suspended this season. If he had been suspended, he wouldn’t be considered on this list. But, Colon has had a major impact with the Athletics. Colon with his almost effortless delivery mystifies batters. Colon has a record of 18-6 with an ERA of 2.65. His win total is second in the AL and has a WAR of 5.1, which ranks 8th among pitchers. Colon is definitely the best pitcher for the A’s and could should be in the talks for the Cy Young Award. Yu Darvish has had another stellar year. The Rangers are looking pretty good after picking up Darvish in the 2011 offseason. Darvish almost passed Nolan Ryan for the most strikeouts in a season with 277. Darvish should be at the top or near the top with wins this year, but instead has a record of 13-9. Part of the issues with Darvish this year has been the lack of offense from the Rangers. Darvish managed to lose 4 games this season with a score of 1-0. Between the 2.83 ERA, 277 strikeouts and 5.8 WAR Darvish deserves consideration for the Cy Young. With a little bit more run support, Darvish should have a record similar to Max Scherzer. Max Scherzer tops my list because he has clearly been the most dominate pitcher this year. Starting off the season with 13 wins a row, it took the Texas Rangers to stop his streak on July 13. Scherzer went on to win 6 more in a row and to finish with a record of 21-3. Scherzer leads the league in several categories such as total wins and 0.970 WHIP. He’s also in the top ten in several other categories. Scherzer has continued to shine in postseason play by holding the Athletics to only 2 runs in game 1 and pitching in relief to force a game 5 in the ALDS. If the Tigers make it to the ALCS, they can partly thank Scherzer.
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Most Valuable Player
Pitcher Wins and Losses are stupid. It’s been proven. And leadership? Leadership is a media-generated myth to help explain why a player — who isn’t very good — somehow means more to his team than than guys who are good. You know who was a great leader? Michael Young. Yeah. Michael Young was sure a fantastic leader when he bitched about losing his position to Elvis Andrus in 2009, and bitched again after losing his job to Adrian Beltre in 2011. But, man, he could sure hit those singles and carry one helluva batting average!
The best player in the American League is Mike Trout. Not only is he the best player, but he put up the best overall numbers, by a landslide. No, by a fucking avalanche. In 2013 he put up +10.4 Wins Above Replacement according to FanGraphs, which is a full +2.7 wins better than Josh Donaldson (+7.7 fWAR), and +2.8 wins better than Miguel Cabrera (+7.6 fWAR), who checked in at #2 and #3 in the American League, respectively.
The gap between Trout and Donaldson is roughly analogous to Donaldson and Adrian Beltre (+5.2 fWAR), who ranks 13th in the AL in fWAR. Beltre was the most valuable player — by a wide margin — on a 91-win Rangers team in 2013, and Trout was worth double what Adrian provided in wins. And that’s an outlandishly mind-boggling thing to wrap my brain around right now.
As a leadoff hitter, Trout managed to hit 30 HRs while driving in 97 runs, producing a ridiculous .323/.432/.557 triple slash line in the process. Defensively, his 2013 Ultimate Zone Rating (+3.3) wasn’t nearly as good as the +13.3 he amassed in 2012, but given the inconsistency of defensive metrics I can’t particularly hold that against him. He also stole 33 bases.
If +60.0 WAR is an accurate baseline for Hall-of-Fame consideration, Trout has generated over one-third of that mark in just two full big league seasons (+20.4 fWAR). However, this will be the second consecutive season he misses out on the MVP, which is, you know, one of the things baseball writers talk about when they decide on who should and should not be in the HoF.
Cy Young Award
MAX SCHERZER BECAUSE HE WENT 21-3.
No, seriously though; I’m kidding.
Here’s the thing: The American League has so many great pitchers up for this award that I could probably select any of the best four or five and make a reasonably strong case for them. I could choose Max Scherzer because he has the most wins and best narrative, Anibal Sanchez because he had the lowest ERA, Yu Darvish because I’m a Ranger homer, or Felix Hernandez because he’s Felix freaking Hernandez.
But I won’t. Instead, I’ll be a contrarian and pick Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox.
At 11-14, Sale was an exceptionally dominant pitcher in 2013 who possessed the burden of pitching for one of the American League’s worst teams. When we talk about “aces,” we like to talk about run prevention, strikeouts, the ability to limit free bases, as well as being able to go deep into games.
While Anibal Sanchez owned the ERA crown in 2013 (2.57), Yu Darvish struck out the most hitters (277), and James Shields tossed the most innings (228.2), Chris Sale excelled in all three categories. He ranked 7th in the AL in ERA (3.07), 3rd in punch outs (226) and tied Max Scherzer for 5th in innings pitched (214.1). To boot, he owned one of the league’s best walk rates (1.93 BBs/9), and was one of only 4 pitches who owned an xFIP — what a pitcher’s ERA should be — under 3.00 (2.95).
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With a better roster, Mike Trout’s team may have gone to the postseason. Then the writers would talk about his exceptional leadership qualities and how, defying the odds, he managed to take his team to the rightful place they belong. But they won’t.
The MVP award doesn’t go to the league’s best player; it goes to a player playing for a team that makes the playoffs. It puts no value on defense or base running or the overall contributions said player brings to the table, but, rather, the guy who puts up strong offensive numbers. To that end, no, Mike Trout will not win the MVP, because the Angels organization just doesn’t have enough juice playing around him. As a Rangers fan, I don’t at all mind this, but for history’s sake, it’s a damn shame that the best player in baseball will not be recognized for an award he deserves.
As for the Cy Young, it’s a tough call. Of course Max Scherzer will win it, because holy shit oh my god he has the most wins. Rational human beings understand that wins and losses don’t mean anything, but for the simple-minded they still mean a great deal.
And those are the people voting on the awards.