With MVPs and Cy Youngs out of the way, let’s take a look at the awards for best manager, rookie, and reliever in 2016:
Manager of the Year
I typically decide this simply by comparing my preseason predictions to the actual standings. Here’s how they shook out:
- Pete Mackanin, Phillies (8 games better than my prediction)
- Brian Snitker, Braves (6 games better)
- Walt Weiss, Rockies (5 games better)
Off the top of my head, I couldn’t have told you who managed any of these teams this year. My method breaks down because the NL was very predictable this season. Coming into the year, it looked like there were 7 good teams, 2 average teams, and 6 bad teams. Of the seven who looked good, only the Pirates weren’t. The Diamondbacks didn’t live up to my expectations of mediocrity. All six teams that looked bad were bad. The biggest “overperformer” among teams that actually made the playoffs was the Nationals, who won three more than the 92 games I guessed they’d win.
Mackanin win because his Phillies, who looked like as bad a team as any in the league, never actually saw last place. Of course, he owes much of that to the quick development of Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola, and Jerad Eickhoff… unless they owe that development to him.
- Jeff Banister, Rangers (16 games better than my prediction)
- Buck Showalter, Orioles (10 games better)
- Brad Ausmus, Tigers (10 games better)
I gave Showalter the tiebreaker because he led the Orioles to the playoffs, rather than the last-place finish I predicted. I have no idea how Banister got 95 wins out of a Rangers team that looked pretty bad before the trade deadline and just decent after it. Like any manager, he may or may not have had much to do with the overperformance, but this award feels right. My biggest miss in the wrong direction was Kevin Cash’s Rays, who won 14 fewer games than the 82 I predicted, the same spread as Clint Hurdle’s Pirates in the NL.
Rookie of the Year
- Corey Seager, Dodgers
- Trea Turner, Nationals
- Trevor Story, Rockies
Seager was far closer to winning the MVP award as well than to not locking down the RoY. He reached base 51 times more than any other NL rookie. He had 19 more extra base hits than any other. And he’s a shortstop. A really good one. No competition here.
Story was the story of the first half of the season, and Turner turnered the corner strongly in the second half (I’m sorry; I’m a horrible person), but neither was half as valuable as Seager. Jon Gray looked great by FIP, Steven Matz looked great by ERA, and Seung Hwan Oh was dominant in relief. Any of them could compete for second- and third-place votes, but none accumulated anything like Seager’s value.
- Gary Sanchez, Yankees
- Michael Fulmer, Tigers
- Tyler Naquin, Indians
Sanchez only played 53 games in the big leagues, but he hit .299/.376/.657 with 20 home runs and above average defense as a catcher. Those 20 dingers prorate to 60 if he played 159 games, a major haul for a catcher, but not impossible if the Yankees let him DH from time to time. Just ridiculous.
Fulmer appeared in just 26 games, but a pitcher with 159 innings pitched is close to qualifying for the ERA title, and Fulmer’s 3.06 ERA would have put him within .06 points of winning it had he tossed three more innings. I’m not sure how sustainable his 79% strand rate is, so I doubt he’s really a 3-ERA pitcher going forward, but in 2016 he had a great season and he wouldn’t be a bad pick to win this award. Naquin’s defense was as bad as it looked in the playoffs, but he hit .296 with 14 homers and some wheels, good enough to win this award if we only considered full-year position players.
Reliever of the Year
- Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
- Addison Reed, Mets
- Seung Hwan Oh, Cardinals
Jansen’s 1.83 ERA in 68 2/3 innings is nearly as impressive as his 1.44 FIP. He struck out almost ten batters for every one he walked. Reed was the only other NL reliever with both an ERA and a FIP under 2 (1.97 in both cases). Oh had a 1.92 ERA while pitching more innings (79 2/3) than any other elite NL reliever.
- Zach Britton, Orioles
- Andrew Miller, Yankees/Indians
- Christopher Devenski, Astros
Britton’s 0.54 ERA makes him the easy call here, but Miller certainly has a case. Miller threw 74 1/3 innings to Britton’s 67. Miller struck out 123 batters to Britton’s 74 and walked only nine, vs. Britton’s 18. The gap in total runs allowed (13-7) isn’t as broad as the gap in earned runs (12-4). For what it’s worth, Miller even earned 10 wins, indicating that his presence often turned games around, as we saw so many times in the postseason. All that said, I just can’t quite snub the guy who gave up one run after April 30.
Devenski, who also started five games, had a 1.61 ERA in 83 2/3 relief innings and a 2.16 ERA in 108 1/3 total innings, edging out Dellin Betances and Edwin Diaz for the final spot.