The Yankees and 2013’s Major Awards

Not Dead Yet: Yankees come from behind for much-needed win over Blue Jays
Joba asked for Tommy John surgery after doc said it was unnecessary
(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

This has been a long and occasionally painful season, but it’s still hard to believe there are only ten games and eleven days left on the regular season schedule. The Yankees are three games back of the second wild-card spot in the loss column and their chances of making the playoffs are remote — 3.4% according to Baseball Prospectus — but they do still have a chance. A very small one, but a chance nonetheless.

Soon after the end of the regular season, the BBWAA crew will vote on the various major awards. The playoffs aren’t considered even though the official announcements aren’t made until sometime in November. The last Yankee to win a major award was Alex Rodriguez back in 2007, when he took no prisoners en route to his third MVP. It usually takes that kind of otherworldly season for a Yankee to win a major award because there is some voter bias. At least lately there has been thanks to the dynasty years and all those division titles.

This season doesn’t figure to be any different. The Yankees don’t have a 2007 A-Rod or a 2001 Roger Clemens on the roster, but they do have a handful of players who will garner at least some consideration for the major awards. At this point of the season, it’s hard to think anything that happens between now and Game 162 will change the voters’ minds. Let’s look at which Yankees have a shot at the various awards.

Most Valuable Player
The team’s only serious MVP candidate is (who else?) Robinson Cano. He’s hitting .311/.383/.514 (141 wRC+) and is top ten in the league in both versions of WAR. Obviously his chances would greatly increase if the Yankees sneak into the postseason, but even if they don’t, Cano should get a fair amount of love because he was New York’s only real offensive threat for most of the season. Fairly or unfairly, the voters do take that stuff into consideration. It’s the whole “he had no protection!” idea.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Alfonso Soriano could get some votes because of his huge production following the trade — Jack Curry wrote about this last week — but I have a really hard time seeing that unless he swats like, six more homers from here on out and the Yankees win a wildcard spot. I’m sure it’s happened plenty of times before, but the only time I can remember a midseason trade pickup getting serious MVP consideration was Shannon Stewart in 2003. He hit .322/.384/.470 (127 wRC+) in 65 games for the Twins following the deal while Minnesota went from 7.5 games back to winning the division by four games. The narrative was pretty strong.

I suppose Mariano Rivera could draw some honorary down-ballot votes in his final season, which would be kinda neat. He’s received MVP votes in nine different seasons and has finished as high as ninth in the voting (2004 and 2005). This hasn’t been Mo’s best year — he’s still been pretty great by normal closer standards — and he doesn’t really deserve MVP votes, but who knows what’ll happen. Could A-Rod get a tenth place troll vote or two if they made the playoffs? That would be a riot. Ain’t happenin’ though.

Cy Young
Unless Rivera gets some going away votes — unlikely since this ballot only goes five players deep — the Yankees’ only Cy Young candidate this year is Hiroki Kuroda. He led the league with a 2.33 ERA as recently as August 16th, but he crashed into the fatigue wall this week and is no longer in the mix. Kuroda, who now has a 3.13 ERA and 3.49 FIP in 189.2 innings, could steal a fourth or fifth place vote from a New York writer. It would surprise me though. There are a ton of worthy Cy Young candidates in the so-called Junior Circuit this year.

Rookie of the Year
Do you know who leads Yankees rookies in the FanGraphs version of WAR this season? Melky Mesa at 0.3. He came to the plate 14 times before being released. The Baseball-Reference version is a little kinder and has Adam Warren in the lead at 0.9. Either way, I think you get the point. They don’t have a horse in this race.

Comeback Player of the Year
Finally, an award a Yankee might actually win. Rivera is coming back from his knee injury and has the whole retirement thing going for him, which is probably enough to get him the popular vote regardless of his performance. Mariano is an icon and we’ve already seen how beloved he is around the game, by opposing players and writers alike. I hesitate to call him a shoo-in, but I think you have to consider Rivera the overwhelming favorite here.

There’s a chance Brett Gardner could get some Comeback Player of the Year love, but I would expect all the Yankees-related votes to go to Mo. Eric Hosmer, Scott Kazmir, John Lackey, and Ervin Santana figure to be Rivera’s primary competition. So yeah, his to lose I think.

Manager of the Year
I wrote about Joe Girardi‘s Manager of the Year chances way back in May, and obviously a lot has changed since then. The Yankees were exceeding every possible expectation at the time and we were still expecting guys like Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter to come back and be productive. That didn’t happen and the team faded in a big way during the summer months. They’ve been trying to climb out of the hole for a few weeks now.

Even if the Yankees don’t make the postseason, I think Girardi’s going to get a fair amount of Manager of the Year support because the roster has been decimated by injuries. This wasn’t one or two injuries, this was half the lineup. In some cases their replacements got hurt. It’s not an accident the Yankees have used a franchise-high 56 different players this year. That wasn’t out of the kindness of their heart, they needed all of the warm bodies. Girardi has managed to keep the team in the hunt right down to the final two weeks of the season and that’s pretty remarkable.

Furthermore, I think Girardi has done a masterful job of handling the A-Rod situation. That could have easily been a big distraction — and it was for a while as the two traded barbs through the media — but he’s kept it contained and a non-issue for a good month now. It would have been very, very easy for that whole situation to blow up and become a major daily issue, but Girardi made sure it didn’t. I don’t think he will win the award — John Farrell has the worst-to-first thing going for him — but he’ll definitely get votes and could finish as high as second on the ballot. There isn’t a ton of competition for the award this year.

Not Dead Yet: Yankees come from behind for much-needed win over Blue Jays
Joba asked for Tommy John surgery after doc said it was unnecessary
  • Captain

    will Napoli’s beard get more MVP votes than Cano? have to think so at this point.

    • I’m One

      Yup, have to agree Cano won’t get the votes he deserves. Not saying that he game’s MVP this season, just that I suspect there will be players that make you scratch your head that finish ahead of him.

      So, it’s Mo & Joe that have the best chance. Gotta agree here that they are deserving for those awards.

      • BronxBomber

        Unfortunately I think that bias comes with the uniform – Like Mike has pointed out, unless a player has a ridiculous season numbers wise far and away from the pack, there’s no way this current group of writers will give MVP to a Yankee.

  • Eddard

    If the Yankees make the postseason it will be a miracle and these should be the award winners for getting them there –

    MVP – Cano
    Cy Young – Hiroki
    Comeback POY – T-1 Ivan Nova , T-1 Alex Rodriguez
    ROY – Austin Romine
    Manager of the Year – Joe Girardi
    Executive of the Year – Hal Steinbrenner

    • Mr. Roth

      No love for Rivera and his 44 saves?

      • Eddard

        I would be there’s no good award for relievers. All they have is the Rolaids Relief Man award and who wants an award from Rolaids? I also don’t think a reliever should win a Cy Young over a starter. It’s 200 IP vs 60. No contest really. Even if it is Mo.

        Maybe they should rename the reliever award after Mo and give it to him this year as a lifetime achievement award.

        • nyyankfan_7

          Who wants an award from Rolaids?

          A guy with bad heartburn – that’s who.

  • YankeeParrothead

    My proof of anti-Yankee/pro-Boston bias in the post-season award come by comparing 2 years 1978 & 1986. In 1978 it was a tight race between Ron Guidry and Jim Rice and 1986 a similar situation between ROger Clemens and Don Mattingly. Guidry’s 1978 year was far more dominant than Clemens was in 1986 and Mattingly’s 1986 was far better than Rice’s 1978. Yet Clemens and Rice won the awards. I almost bought the Position player vs pitcher argument in 1978 until Clemens won in 1986

    • nsalem

      How about 1984 when some relief pitcher on the Tigers beat out Don Mattingly for the MVP. That was pretty silly. I think it might have been Fausto Carmona’s father or somebody related to him. Who knows and who cares. I think Finger’s won the MVP also.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Willie Hernandez! That ‘fro!

    • Steve

      Guess 1941 doesn’t count, huh?

      • yankeeparrothead

        That was a completely different era. The Yankees were not quite as roundly hated then as they are now. BEsides that was before my time

        • nsalem

          The Yankees were hated and also loved as much in the 1940’s as they are today. What does being before your time have anything to do with anything. Of course it’s before your time if it wasn’t you would probably wouldn’t be alive. All of this information is well documented, easily accessible and very interesting. The game has changed in many ways but in many ways it’s the same. Anyone truly interested in baseball, would be truly interested in learning about it’s history. Thank God Hitler never bothered to learn anything about Napoleon though.

          • YankeeParrothead

            I made an off hand comment about before my time that doesn’t mean I haven’t studied or read alot about that era. I am very familiar with what went on. However there were only 16 teams of which St. Louis was the furthest west. There were 3 teams in New York. New York in general was the center of the media universe. It wasn’t until much later that the media started using the “the guy is overrated because he plays in New York” line about players. Dimaggio was loved by the media (if not by his teammates) and Williams was hated. By the 70’s alot had changed. 24 teams spread across the country. Not all media centered around New York.

        • Rolling Doughnut

          It’s more complicated than you make it out to be. And since it was before your time, it’s probably worth checking into. That way, you might get some perspective on what is happening “in your time.”

          . A good primer on the subject:

      • nsalem

        The press really hated Ted Williams and he hated them. Members of the Boston Press especailly Dave Egan were the biggest haters.

        • Steve

          I’m aware of why it happened. But it’s one of the most historic MVP votes ever and involved a Yankee undeservedly winning an award over the favored Red Sox. It’s easy to cherry pick examples like he did and they can be easily countered with examples like this. When ARod won the award in 07 it could have easily went to Ortiz. It didn’t. There is no anti-Yankee, pro Red Sox bias.

          • YankeeParrothead

            I didn’t just cherry pick two random examples. I took two very examples in the same time frame when the debate was essentially the same (should a starting pitcher get the MVP over a position player). The debate was answered differently both times aginast the Yankees. IN both cases the SP was the key pitcher for the team that won the division while the position players team finished 2nd. The same voters used opposite arguments to vote the opposite way. The Oriz vs A-Rod vote had to do with a DH vs a position player. I have not seen a similar debate since decided oppositely on the same merits. I didn’t say that this bias has always existed, in fact I would belive there was a time when there was a bias in favor of the Yankees back in the 40’s and 50’s but in the modern era that bias does exist.

  • Greedy Bastards

    “I think Girardi’s going to get a fair amount of Manager of the Year support because the roster has been decimated by injuries. ”

    Or not since you know they are old as funk and made no real upgrades over the winter.


    • trr

      Oh he’ll get a fair share votes, just not enough especially since the playoffs are just about out of reach

      • I’m One

        Winning the MOY award is not predicated in making the playoffs. See Girardi, Joe 2006 Florida Marlins. Different circumstances (he wasn’t managing the Yankees), but still …

        • trr

          I know that, my Quadrophenic friend, but you said it – he wasn’t managing the Yankees. Managing the Yanks is generally a disadvantage simply becuase you’re expected to win. IMO, on balance, Girardi has done a very good job this year.

          • I’m One

            Completely agree. Even with the huge payroll of the Yankees, I hope those voting are able to see that those huge salaries were not playing and Girardi still managed to keep the team in the hunt virtually the whole season, even if they don’t make the playoffs.

    • jjyank

      Except the young guys and guy who are not yet “old” have gotten hurt too, often times to freak injuries that nobody could have predicted. Granderson, Tex, Nunez, Robertson, Logan, Cervelli, Gardner…none of which are old, all of which have had some issue that has kept them out of games this season. A full season of all of those guys might have us holding a wild card spot.

      But whatevs, don’t let that ruin your dismal little narrative.

    • JLC 776

      The age of the roster and impact of offseason moves has nothing to do with the manager. Not sure what your point is.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Girardi makes personnel decisions, drives the team bus, and has a fake ID which reads “Dr. James Andrews.”

      We need send this one back to Troll School.

  • Darren

    I’d be fine with no awards at all in exchange for a Game 163.

    • Robinson Tilapia


  • ropeadope

    Most under appreciated Yankee (RAB Writing Staff Division)

    Nominees are:

    a) Ichiro Suzuki
    b) Ichiro Suzuki
    c) Ichiro Suzuki
    d) Ichiro Suzuki
    e) All the above

    Envelope please. And the winner is ….

    • jjyank

      Are you saying that a 73 wRC+ is under appreciated?

      • ropeadope

        Yes (RAB Writing Staff Division).

        Finish book 1 yet?

        • jjyank

          I did. Halfway through book 2 now. Still excellent stuff.

          Back to Ichiro though, I don’t get how he’s under appreciated. He’s just not good.

          • ropeadope

            We may disagree somewhat on his present value to the team (I’ve been disappointed by his recent performance as well), but my primary frustration is the RAB staff never missing a chance to take a shot at Ichiro. A small example in last night’s game recap:

            Rivera came back out for bottom of the ninth after the offense failed to plate an insurance run in the top half — shout out to Ichiro Suzuki for stayed (sic) glued to first base ….

            Entered the game the previous inning for defensive purposes and led off the 9th with a line drive base hit. How does Mr. Axisa reference Ichiro in the summary? For failing to steal second base?

            • jjyank

              That’s fair. I think there’s a difference between refraining from taking pot shots at the guy and saying he’s under appreciated though. I don’t think there’s much to appreciate, personally.

            • Need Pitching & Hitting & Defense & Baserunning

              Notice you cut the quote off immediately before the mention of the leadoff single…

              At any rate, Ichiro’s remaining value is primarily defense and baserunning. If he’s not going to provide the value in those areas, what else is there?

              It’s no different than mocking Stewart for defensive lapses since that’s the one thing he’s supposed to be good at.

      • trr

        Sez here the winner is Andy Pettitte

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Honestly, all the usual suspects get so LITTLE love on here that they probably do all cross the line into “unappreciated,” especially if they’ve remained healthy most of the year.

      Hell, my vote goes to Mr. Chris Stewart, not because he’s any good, but because he gets shat on so much that it probably did cross the line already.

  • Captain

    Girardi should get some consideration for MOY but its going to John Farrell. no way it doesn’t in my opinion. last to best record in the AL will put him at the top.

    you have to think Mariano has the leg up on the Rolaids award just because of the circumstance of his retirement. maybe the Comeback POY.

  • Kosmo

    FFOF award goes to Hughes or Sabathia. (Fickled Finger of Fate)

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I think worst-to-first makes for the better dumbass narrative, so I agree with Mike that MOY probably does go Farrell/Girardi.

    Agree with Cano getting strong MVP love, but it’s the Yankees and he didn’t get the double triple crown this season or anything. Mariano for Comeback Player seems pretty obvious.

    Individual awards have never been my thing. People get all worked up over who gets robber, where the bias is, etc. I just can’t do it. Win ballgames.

  • nsalem

    How about Franconca for some MOY mention. When we were playing the Indians at the beginning of the year I would not thought have thought of them as a team with playoff aspirations.

  • nsalem

    Ned Yost may be another candidate. Wow Dave Eiland is the PC for one of the top rated staffs in baseball.

  • SDB

    Cano’s numbers this year have been really good, but not mindblowing to the point of MVP contention. Those cold slumps in the middle of the season didn’t help.

    Cy Young and ROY… yeah, nothing there.

    Comebacker of the year… Mo’s a likely candidate. But I’d throw out A-Rod’s name too, after the grim end to last season, the surgery, and the fact that he’s really done quite well with the bat since coming back and added a lot to the team.

    MOY: Clearly John Farrell, because the Red Sox are such lovable underdogs who fought adversity, bad luck, evil high-paying teams buying their more generously-paid players last year (I’ll forgive the Dodgers if they sweep the Sox in the WS with Crawford or Gonzalez getting the MVP!), and so many other problems.
    Poor Papi was accused horribly of things like taking steroids and his name was TAINTED, nobody outside New England joined the Uehara circlejerk, and the team’s still so hideously impoverished that nobody on the roster is paid well enough to afford a razor (the real reason why Girardi was fined more than Dumpster). Hail John Farrell!

    Best moment of the year as a Yankee fan for me so far – the comeback against Dumpster, closely followed by the Arizona game that ended with Wells playing 3B in one of the more nerve-wracking finishes I recall.

    Least Surprising Moment of the year: Flyball Phil giving up a HR to Miggy Cabrera

    Most heartening moment of the year: Austin Romine finally learning how to hit at major league level during his hot streak. Stay around Austin, please. I don’t want another year of Chris Stewart starting 60% of the time.

    • I’m One

      the Arizona game that ended with Wells playing 3B

      Did he ply 3B twice this year or are you refering to the game against the Rockies that I attended?

      • SDB

        The Colorado game. Brain fade on my part. Thanks for the correction.

        (I blame Cashman, because this is RAB. Cashman failed.)

  • Need Pitching & Hitting & Defense & Baserunning

    Way to hustle.
    Not like the game is important or anything.