If the Baseball Bloggers Alliance is voting on awards this season, I’m late on three out of five. I’ve covered the best players and the best pitchers, but haven’t touched on rookies, managers, or relievers yet.
I’ll make these brief.
AL Willie Mays Award (Top Rookie)
- Carlos Correa, Astros
- Francisco Lindor, Indians
- Miguel Sano, Twins
Correa and Lindor are both total-package shortstops who came up well after the season started and played exactly 99 games. Correa had the bat (.279/.345/.512 to Lindor’s .313/.353/.482), but Lindor had the glove (11.5 fielding runs above average, per fangraphs to Correa’s 1.6 below average). Both were fast (14 steals in 18 tries for Correa; Lindor went 12 for 14), but Correa gets the edge in Baserunning Runs according to both keepers of WAR.
In a virtual toss-up, both keepers of WAR prefer Lindor for his far-better defense, but over such a small sample, I have a hard time putting too much stock in that. Correa’s 22 home runs and 40 walks (to Lindor’s 12 and 27, respectively) give him the edge. I also like picking the guy who seems to have the brighter future when the rookie year numbers are so similar. Correa, by all accounts, is a superstar of the near future.
Sano gets the edge over Billy Burns for his big-time bat (151 wRC+).
NL Willie Mays Award
- Kris Bryant, Cubs
- Jung-ho Kang, Pirates
- Matt Duffy, Giants
Nothing much to see here. Bryant was a beast, hitting .275/.369/.488 with 26 homers and excellent third-base defense. Kang hit 15 homers as the Pirates’ regular shortstop until a take-out slide ended his season early. Duffy had good defensive numbers and batted .295, but with limited power and no patience.
The Cubs had two more contenders in Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber. Noah Syndergaard was clearly the best rookie pitcher in either league and could easily have landed the second or third spot above.
AL Connie Mack Award (Top Manager)
- Paul Molitor, Twins
- Jeff Banister, Rangers
- AJ Hinch, Astros
I won’t tell you how many of these managers I had to look up. As I’ve made clear in past years, I don’t delude myself into thinking I’m qualified to judge a manager’s effectiveness, but I’m happy to compare my preseason picks to actual results and jump to the conclusions that the managers whose teams most exceeded my expectations deserve all the credit.
In the AL, I basically got everything wrong, picking the Orioles, Red Sox, Indians, Angels, and Mariners to make the playoffs. Ned Yost and John Gibbons would make fine picks here, as I had both of their teams finishing right around .500 and both topped 90 wins. Banister and Hinch must have done tremendous jobs, as I had those two teams in the last two spots in the AL West, as I thought the Astros needed one more year before contending and the Rangers seemed like a mess even before losing Yu Darvish.
The winner, though, has to be the guy who helmed the least talented team in baseball to an astonishing 83 wins in his first season at the helm. I remember talking to a friend before the season about how wide open the American League appeared to be. “Everyone’s going to win 87 games except the Twins,” we agreed. Oops.
NL Connie Mack Award
- Joe Maddon, Cubs
- Terry Collins, Mets
- Mike Matheny, Cardinals
This league was far more predictable, with just these top two teams far exceeding my expectations. I picked the NL Central in the right order, but I would have tabbed the Cubs for about 18 fewer wins than their 97 (and the Cards for several fewer than their 100, hence Matheny’s appearance). It’s fashionable to give credit to Maddon, so that’s just what I’ll do.
I’m embarrassed to admit I had the Mets finishing behind the Marlins, but they didn’t seem to have much offense, and pitching depth wasn’t a particular strength before Thor showed up. Collins was embarrassingly out-managed by Yost in the World Series, but this is regular season award, and he got a lot out of the Mets.
AL Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)
- Wade Davis, Royals
- Dellin Betances, Yankees
- Andrew Miller, Yankees
I never would have guessed that Cody Allen led all relievers in fWAR this year at 2.6. I’m not sure I care ether. Allen’s 1.82 FIP is mighty impressive, but Davis gave up just eight runs in the same 69 innings, to Allen’s 26. Betances was a very close second, having struck out 53 more batters than Davis (131 to 78), but he also walked twice as many (40 to 20) and gave up more than twice as many runs (17). We shouldn’t attribute run prevention entirely to the pitcher, but Davis kept runners off the bases (.768 WHIP) and kept his ERA under 1 for a second straight year, something no other pitcher has ever done.
Miller gets the last spot by virtue of 100 strikeouts and a 1.90 ERA, though Zack Britton and Darren O’Day were equally great in Baltimore.
NL Goose Gossage Award
- Aroldis Chapman, Reds
- Ken Giles, Phillies
- Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals
Chapman was the only pitcher in either league- starter or reliever- with an ERA and a FIP under 2. Sometimes the formula works. Giles had a 1.80 ERA and 87 strikeouts to just 25 walks. Rosenthal had a 2.10 ERA and 83 strikeouts vs. 25 walks for a team that almost inexplicably won 100 games. Apologies to Jeurys Familia and Hector Rondon, who just missed.