Saturday Links: Cashman, Gardner, 2018 Caps, Pitch Clock

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Shohei Ohtani’s shotgun free agency is now underway and it’s only a matter of time until we hear he’s started meeting with teams. Three weeks. Three weeks and this Ohtani stuff will all be over. Here are some random bits of news to check out in the meantime.

Cashman named Baseball America’s Executive of the Year

A few days ago Baseball America named Brian Cashman their 2017 Executive of the Year. That tends to happen when you nail your on-the-fly rebuild, and go from selling at the 2016 trade deadline to getting to within one win of the 2017 World Series thanks to your young players. From the write-up:

“For years the players worked in the minor leagues thinking, ‘If I play well I might get traded because I am blocked.’ Cash has changed that culture to the point now where young players not only develop as Yankees but have the goal of playing at Yankee Stadium and helping a championship club,” (vice president of baseball operations Tim) Naehring said.

That’s a pretty interesting quote. I always wondered what it was like to be a prospect in the farm system when the Yankees were doing nothing but signing free agents all those years. On one hand, do your job and someone will want you. On the other hand, it couldn’t have felt good knowing a trade was coming. Anyway, this is the first time Cashman has won Baseball America’s Executive of the Year award, which they’ve been giving out since 1998, his first season as GM.

Gardner wins Heart & Hustle Award

I missed this a few weeks ago, but Brett Gardner won the 2017 Heart & Hustle Award, the MLB Players Alumni Association announced. It is given annually to “an active player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.” One player from each team is nominated for the award, then the winner is selected through a player vote. Pretty cool.

Gardner, who is the longest tenured Yankee and unofficial team captain, has been New York’s nominee for the Heart & Hustle Award on five occasions now, though this was his first time winning the award. The MLBPAA has been giving out the award since 2005 and Gardner is the first Yankee to win it. (Todd Frazier won it last year.) I gotta say, Gardner winning something called the “Heart & Hustle Award” is pretty damn appropriate.

MLB unveils 2018 spring and batting practice caps

A week or two ago MLB unveiled their new 2018 Spring Training and batting practice caps. Considering some of the wacky designs we’ve seen the last few years (those pinstriped brims, man), these are pretty normal. Here are next year’s Spring Training and batting practice caps:

Home on the left, road on the right. (New Era)
Home on the left, road on the right. (New Era)

I hereby dub the new designs: fine. They’re fine. Also, the new caps are made with a lightweight polyester material, not the usual polyester material they’ve been using for years and years. The new caps are 26% lighter, so that’s cool. The new caps are already for sale at New Era and MLB.com.

MLB pushing for a pitch clock in 2018

According to Buster Olney, MLB is pushing for new pace-of-play measures in 2018, including the implementation of a pitch clock. The league has to power to implement rule changes unilaterally now, though they prefer to come to an agreement with the MLBPA. Labor peace is good. The pitch clock is seen as inevitable — the plan is a 20-second pitch clock like the one used in Double-A and Triple-A, though they may settle for 22-24 seconds — and there’s also talk of limiting mound visits.

I don’t think pace-of-play is as much of a problem as MLB seems to believe — I worry the league is blaming too many of their biggest problems (i.e. cultivating young fans) on pace-of-play — but I do think it is something that can improved. Give me a pitch clock and fewer mound visits. I’m all for it. I have no problem whatsoever with four hour games as long as they’re exciting. When it’s nonstop mound visits and pitchers staring in to get the sign, that’s when it gets dull. The less the players are standing around doing nothing, the better.

Aaron Judge finishes second in 2017 AL MVP voting

(Elsa/Getty)
Greatness has arrived. (Elsa/Getty)

Alas, Aaron Judge did not become only the third player in history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was predictably named the 2017 AL Most Valuable Player by MLB and the BBWAA on Thursday night. Congrats to him. Judge finished second in the voting and Indians infielder Jose Ramirez finished third.

Earlier this week Judge was named the AL Rookie of the Year unanimously, which is the kinda thing that happens when you hit .284/.422/.627 (173 wRC+) with 52 homers. Judge is the second rookie ever to finish runner-up in the MVP voting, joining Mike Trout in 2012. Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) are still the only players to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season.

Altuve of course had a fantastic season, hitting .346/.410/.547 (160 wRC+) with 24 home runs and 32 stolen bases. The Baseball Reference version of WAR says he was the best player in baseball this season, AL or NL. The FanGraphs version of WAR says Judge was the best player in baseball. Hmmm. Ultimately, Altuve won because Judge went through that six-week slump after the All-Star break. That’s the difference right there.

At the same time, you could easily argue the Yankees would not have made the postseason without Judge. Would the Astros have made the postseason without Altuve? Yeah, probably. They won the AL West by 21 games. Same deal with Ramirez. The Indians won the AL Central by 17 games. So many MVP voters still consider the postseason situation when filling out their ballots, though not enough to give Judge the award this year.

Judge’s second place finish is the highest a Yankee has finished in the MVP voting since Mark Teixeira was the runner-up to Joe Mauer in 2009. Derek Jeter was third in the voting that year, and Robinson Cano finished third in the voting in 2011. The last Yankee to win the AL MVP award is Alex Rodriguez back in 2007.

The full voting results are available at the BBWAA’s site. Altuve received 27 of the 30 first place votes while Judge received two. Judge also received 27 second place votes and one third place vote. He was on all 30 ballots. In other MVP voting news, Didi Gregorius received one eighth and one tenth place vote, and Gary Sanchez received one tenth place vote. Pretty awesome. Congrats guys. What a fun season this was.

Luis Severino finishes third in 2017 AL Cy Young voting

(Abbie Parr/Getty)
(Abbie Parr/Getty)

Luis Severino‘s first full Major League season has resulted in a third place finish in the American League Cy Young voting. How about that? Not too bad for a guy who didn’t have a rotation spot locked down going into Spring Training.

Wednesday night, MLB and the BBWAA announced Indians ace Corey Kluber has won the 2017 AL Cy Young, with Red Sox lefty Chris Sale placing second. It is Kluber’s second career Cy Young. He won back in 2014 as well. The Yankees scored nine run in 6.1 innings against Kluber in his two ALDS starts. Just thought I should mention that.

For most of the season Sale was the overwhelming favorite to win the Cy Young, but he slumped down the stretch — Sale had a 4.30 ERA (4.33 FIP) in his final eight starts and 46 innings of the year — while Kluber surged, so Kluber won the award. He led MLB in wins (18), ERA (2.25), ERA+ (202), WHIP (0.87), K/BB (7.36), and WAR (+8.3). That’ll do it.

As for Severino, he broke out in a big way this season, throwing 193.1 innings with a 2.98 ERA (3.07 FIP) and excellent strikeout (29.4%), walk (6.5)%, and ground ball (50.6%) rates. Pretty awesome. Severino was the only pitcher in baseball to finish in the top ten in both strikeout and grounder rate this year, and his 230 strikeouts are tied for third most in franchise history.

  1. 1978 Rob Guidry: 248
  2. 1904 Jack Chesbro: 239 (in 454.2 innings!)
  3. 2017 Luis Severino & 2011 CC Sabathia: 230

Furthermore, Severino is the first Yankees starter to post a sub-3.00 ERA since Andy Pettitte and David Cone both did it back in 1997. This is the highest a Yankee has finished in the AL Cy Young voting since Sabathia placed third behind Felix Hernandez and David Price in 2010.

The full voting results are available at the BBWAA’s site. No other Yankees received votes. Congrats, Luis. There’s no shame in finished third behind Kluber and Sale. Go win it next year.

Girardi finishes fourth in 2017 AL Manager of the Year voting

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Although he is no longer manager of the Yankees, Joe Girardi‘s work this past season earned him a fourth place finish in the 2017 American League Manager of the Year voting. Paul Molitor of the Twins predictably won the award. Minnesota went from 103 losses in 2016 to a postseason spot in 2017. Of course Molitor won.

For all intents and purposes, the Manager of the Year award is the “manager of the team that most exceeded expectations” award, and the Yankees definitely exceeded expectations this year. They were considered a fringe contender heading into the Spring Training, and they wound up winning 91 games and getting to within one win of the World Series.

The full voting results are available at the BBWAA’s site. Girardi received two second place votes and six third place votes, and the fourth place finish was his highest since 2013. He received Manager of the Year votes every season from 2009-17, though he never did win the award with the Yankees. Girardi won it with the Marlins in 2006.

The Yankees parted ways with Girardi three weeks ago — Brian Cashman cited concerns about Girardi’s ability to “communicate and connect” with his players — and they’ve yet to hire his replacement. Interviews on ongoing. Not-so-bold prediction: Girardi will manage again one day and get more Manager of the Year votes in the future.

Aaron Judge unanimously named 2017 AL Rookie of the Year

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

In the least surprising news ever, Aaron Judge was named the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year tonight. It was unanimous. Judge received all 30 first place votes. Andrew Benintendi finished second and Trey Mancini finished third. The full voting results are available at the BBWAA’s site.

“It means everything. It’s quite an honor,” said Judge after the announcement. “It’s an honor and a privilege. I’m just one piece in an organization. The impact my teammates, family, and friends have had on me this year have been huge. I can’t thank them enough.”

Judge is the first Yankee to be named Rookie of the Year since Derek Jeter in 1996, and he’s the ninth Yankee to win the award overall. Judge joins Jeter, Dave Righetti (1981), Thurman Munson (1970), Stan Bahnsen (1968), Tom Tresh (1962), Tony Kubek (1957), Bob Grim (1954), and Gil McDougald (1951). Only the Dodgers have more Rookie of the Year winners than the Yankees.

Overall, Judge authored a .284/.422/.627 (173 wRC+) batting line this season, and he set new rookie records in home runs (52) and walks (127) and, yes, strikeouts (208). His +8.2 fWAR led all players in 2017. Rookies and veterans, position players and pitchers. That’s why Judge is also a finalist for the AL MVP award. That’ll be announced later this week.

I was a big Judge fan throughout his time in the minors, even when others jumped off the bandwagon following his strikeout filled MLB debut last year. Never in a million years did I expect a season like this though. Judge was historically great for a rookie and one of the best players in the game. What a remarkable season. The Rookie of the Year award is very well deserved.

Elsewhere in Rookie of the Year news, Jordan Montgomery finished sixth in the voting and received one second place and one third place vote. Montgomery threw 155.1 innings with a 3.88 ERA (4.07 FIP) this season, and his +2.7 fWAR led all rookie pitchers. Chad Green did not receive any Rookie of the Year votes because he wasn’t rookie eligible. He accrued too much service time last year.

Judge and Montgomery are the first set of Yankees teammates to receive Rookie of the Year votes in the same season since Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka in 2014. Betances finished third in the voting and Tanaka finished fifth. Congrats to both Judge and Montgomery. They had tremendous seasons and are big parts of the future.

Judge named finalist for MVP and Rookie of the Year, Severino for Cy Young

Judge and Sevy. (Al Bello/Getty)
Judge and Sevy. (Al Bello/Getty)

Earlier this evening MLB and the BBWAA announced three finalists for each of the major 2017 awards, and, as expected, Aaron Judge is a finalist for both AL MVP and AL Rookie of the Year. Luis Severino is a finalist for AL Cy Young as well. That is pretty damn awesome. Here are all the awards finalists.

Judge will undoubtedly be named AL Rookie of the Year when the awards are announced next week. He should win unanimously. Judge will be the Yankees’ first Rookie of the Year since Derek Jeter, and the ninth Yankee to win the award overall. He’ll join Jeter (1996), Dave Righetti (1981), Thurman Munson (1970), Stan Bahnsen (1968), Tom Tresh (1962), Tony Kubek (1957), Bob Grim (1954), and Gil McDougald (1951).

As for AL MVP, I think Judge will have a tough time beating out Jose Altuve for the award, even though he has the edge statistically in basically everything except batting average and stolen bases.

  • AVG: Altuve (.348 to .287)
  • OBP: Judge (.422 to .410)
  • SLG: Judge (.627 to .547)
  • wRC+: Judge (173 to 160)
  • HR: Judge (52 to 24)
  • XBH: Judge (79 to 67)
  • SB: Altuve (32 to 9)
  • DRS: Judge (+9 to +3)
  • fWAR: Judge (+8.2 to +7.5)
  • bWAR: Altuve (+8.3 to +8.1)

Judge’s second half slump will almost certainly cost him the AL MVP award. Altuve had a consistent year from start to finish, and when you have the big dip in the middle like Judge, it’ll hurt. Then again, you could argue the Yankees wouldn’t have made the postseason without Judge whereas the Astros would’ve cruised to AL West title even without Altuve. Whatever.

Judge may not win AL MVP, but he will be on the cover of MLB The Show 18, and that’s pretty damn cool. He was announced as the cover athlete today.

Severino, meanwhile, is going to finish third in the Cy Young voting behind Corey Kluber and Chris Sale. You can take that to the bank. Those two likely received the first and second place votes on every Cy Young ballot, in either order. No shame in finishing third behind those two. Severino beat out Justin Verlander, Marcus Stroman, Ervin Santana, and Craig Kimbrel, among others, for the third finalist spot.

The award winners will be announced next week and the BBWAA and MLB already know who won. The votes have been tallied up. They’ve been announcing finalists the last few seasons to drum up interest. I have no idea why they even call them finalists. They don’t vote again. Shouldn’t they just be finishers? Anyway, congrats to Judge and Severino. Being up for these awards is an incredible accomplishment.

Gardner and Judge named 2017 Gold Glove finalists

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Once again, Brett Gardner is one of three finalists for the AL Gold Glove award in left field. MLB and Rawlings announced the Gold Glove finalists today, and in addition to Gardner, Aaron Judge is a finalist in right field as well. Neat. Here are all the Gold Glove finalists.

Gardner won his first Gold Glove last season and is a finalist for the fourth time in his career (2011, 2015-17). He’s up against Alex Gordon and Justin Upton, and with Gordon beginning to fade and no longer getting by on reputation, Gardner has a pretty good chance to win the award for the second straight season. It certainly wouldn’t be undeserved.

As for Judge, this is his first time as a Gold Glove finalist (duh), and he’s up against Mookie Betts and Kole Calhoun. Betts is probably going to win, but I’m glad Judge is at least a finalist. The man is so much more than monster home runs. He’s a very good defensive right fielder and I’m happy to see him get some recognition.

Didi Gregorius could’ve easily been a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop, though the AL shortstop crop is crowded, and he was unable to crack the top. That’s not surprisingly considering he missed a month with an injury. Elvis Andrus, Francisco Lindor, and Andrelton Simmons are up for the AL Gold Glove at short. Yeah. Also, Masahiro Tanaka is a snub. He’s a great fielder.

Prior to Gardner last season, the last Yankees to win a Gold Glove were Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano, both in 2012. I think Gardner has a pretty good chance to win again this season. Judge will probably lose out to Betts, but whatever. The Gold Glove winners will be announced Tuesday, Nov. 7th.