Now that the World Series is over, the 2016 BBWAA awards are right around the corner. The winners will be announced during the course of next week, so I surveyed the 14 members of the Pinstripe Alley writing staff to see how we would vote. I also asked them to name a Yankees Most Valuable Player and Least Valuable Player, topics that were discussed by select authors on the site, but I was curious about how the staff would vote as a whole.
AL: Mike Trout
NL: Kris Bryant
Both of these winners were unanimous, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Bryant will probably the BBWAA’s choice for NL MVP as well since he had outstanding play (.292/.385/.554 with 39 homers from third base) on a winning team, even better than his MVP caliber teammate, Anthony Rizzo.
Trout, however, will have a tougher time since the Angels were absolutely terrible. His numbers were just ludicrous though, leading the majors in pure production with a .315/.441/.550 triple slash, a 171 wRC+, and an eye-popping 10.6 WAR. It seems likely that the BBWAA will give it to Mookie Betts instead, whose .318/.363/.534, 135 wRC+ line pales in comparison to Trout. Like Bryant, Betts had the fortune of playing on a winning team, which many BBWAA members seem to like, even though they’ve given the award to players on poor teams in the past (see A-Rod in 2003, Cal Ripken in 1991, and more).
To us, the most valuable player should still simply be the best player; it’s not Trout’s fault that the Angels team around him was so terrible. He played to the best of his abilities and put up a crazy season, combining offensive prowess superior to David Ortiz with defense right up there with Betts. If Betts and Trout’s numbers were even somewhat close, then one could factor in the increased pressure Betts faced in a playoff race down the stretch. The numbers aren’t close though. This award should be Trout’s, and it should really be his fourth rather than his second. Alas.
AL: Corey Kluber
NL: Jose Fernandez/Noah Syndergaard (tie)
The voting got closer with baseball’s top pitching awards. Kluber was the staff’s pick over Justin Verlander, who had a sneaky great season as well, and Orioles closer Zach Britton. The crowded field should give Britton a good shot to become the first AL reliever to win the Cy Young in 24 years, particularly given his record 0.54 ERA and perfect 47-for-47 save season. Rick Porcello and his 22-4 record will certainly be in the mix, too. However, Kluber and Verlander were neck-and-neck for us. Either would have been a fine choice, but Kluber was PSA’s pick to take home his second Cy.
The NL Cy Young field was even more of a mess. Fernandez, Syndergaard, Max Scherzer, and Clayton Kershaw all received votes from us. It ultimately ended up in a tie at five votes apiece for the Mets flamethrower and the tragically late Marlins ace. Honestly, any of the four candidates (hell, maybe even Johnny Cueto or Madison Bumgarner) would have had decent cases, so it’s anyone’s guess where that will go.
Rookie of the Year
AL: Gary Sanchez
NL: Corey Seager
A true stunner as the Yankees-affiliated site picked Sanchez over Michael Fulmer for AL Rookie of the Year, though the Tigers pitcher did receive consideration in the voting as well. Tanya already did a fine job making the case for Sanchez based off his tremendous impact and the fact that he wasn’t in control of when the Yankees called him up, so read her post if you want to see more. Again: 20 homers in 53 games with elite defense behind the plate! Ludicrous.
In the other league, Seager is one of the most obvious Rookie of the Year winners in baseball history. He was the unanimous choice for us and will almost certainly be the unanimous pick by the BBWAA, too. If Bryant hadn’t been so terrific, Seager, would be a decent NL MVP choice, too. A .308/.365/.512 line from a rookie shortstop simply doesn’t come around very often.
Manager of the Year
AL: Terry Francona
NL: Dave Roberts
Even before he guided Cleveland to its first AL pennant in 19 years, Terry Francona brought a 13-game improvement to the Indians’ 2015 record and a division title. His willingness to use Andrew Miller in just about any relief role led to big victories in September, even as Cleveland lost Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar from their rotation. Francona was our unanimous pick.
In the NL, Roberts prevailed over Dusty Baker for the Manager of the Year honors. It was the first time Roberts had ever run a team, and he had his work cut out for him, as the Dodgers trailed the Giants for most of the first several months. The incomparable Kershaw was also absent from his starting rotation due to a back injury for all of July and August. Fifteen different pitchers made starts for the Dodgers, and yet by the end of the season, they were on top of the NL West. That’s a campaign worthy of honors.
MVP: Masahiro Tanaka
LVP: Mark Teixeira
In a scattered season with several midyear changes, there weren’t too many constants. However, two players who did maintain superb play throughout 2016 were Tanaka and Didi Gregorius, who both received vote for Yankees MVP. It’s tough for a pitcher to beat out a 20-homer shortstop with Gold Glove caliber defense, but Tanaka was up to the task with a 3.07 ERA (72 ERA-) and a 3.51 FIP (80 FIP-) in 199 2⁄3 innings. Imagining the 2016 Yankees without Tanaka at the head of rotation is scary. The man was in control all year long.
Tex probably produced the highlight of the year for the Yankees with his walk-off grand slam against the Red Sox in the last week of the season, but it was pretty grim aside from that. Alex Rodriguez also received LVP votes (as did Anthony Swarzak for vindictive sake), but it was probably more disappointing to see the 36-year-old Tex rapidly fade from his 2015 than the 41-year-old A-Rod. So it goes.
Oh, and Greg voted Sergio Mitre while Matt Ferenchick voted Phil Coke, because of course they did.
Who would you vote for in these awards?