Archive for Awards
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.
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.
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.
Mariano Rivera has been named one of six finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, the MLBPA announced. The award is given annually “for outstanding on-field performance and off-field contributions to the community.” Past winners include Chipper Jones, Curtis Granderson, and Jim Thome. The other five finalists are Chase Utley, Carlos Beltran, Adrian Gonzalez, and former Yankees Raul Ibanez and Nick Swisher.
In other award nomination news, the Yankees announced that David Robertson has been named the team’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee. That award is given annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Derek Jeter, Ron Guidry, and Ken Singleton are among the past winners. Each team’s nominee can be seen here, and the fan voting opens tomorrow. Congrats to both Rivera and Robertson. They do a ton of work for charity and in the community and they deserve to be recognized for it.
To call this a disappointing year for the farm system would probably be an understatement. Many top prospects either got hurt or underperformed while just handful had true breakout seasons. An excellent draft with three first round picks will help their overall rankings, but Hal Steinbrenner was right to hold a staff meeting last month to figure out why the team’s farm system has been so unproductive. Hard to think of another team that gets less out of more in terms of prospects.
For the first time in at least 30 years, the Yankees seven domestic minor league affiliates combined for a losing record (373-381, .495) this season. Double-A Trenton opens the best-of-five Eastern League Championship Series tonight, but the only other affiliate to make the postseason was the Rookie GCL Yanks2, who were bounced in the one-game playoff before the title round. Thankfully, minor league win-loss records mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things — organizational players decide things far more than the prospects do — but it is symbolic of the farm system in general. Things aren’t looking too good.
As a reminder, these awards have nothing to do with prospect status. They are not a ranking or anything like that. They’re just a recognition of players who had great years regardless of age or anything like that. Pure production with potential takes a back seat. In order to keep things interesting, the Player of the Year is not eligible for the Hitter or Pitcher of the Year awards. It would be pretty redundant otherwise. Here are my 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 awards posts for reference. Onto the awards:
Minor League Player of the Year: 1B Greg Bird
Although he was a just fifth round pick, the Yankees gave Bird the largest signing bonus ($1.1M) of any player in their 2011 draft class. A back injury slowed the start of his career and forced him out from behind the plate, but the 20-year-old responded by having one of the very best seasons in all of minor league baseball this year. He hit a whopping .288/.428/.511 in 573 plate appearances for Low-A Charleston this year, which works out to a 170 wRC+ that was the eighth best in all of the minors (not counting the unaffiliated Mexican League). Among players with at least 300 plate appearances, Bird led the farm system in OBP, OPS, wRC+, and walks (107) while ranking second in total bases (234) and third in hits (132), doubles (36). and homers (20). It was arguably the best offensive season by a Yankees prospect since Nick Johnson in 1999 and more than worthy of the Player of the Year award.
Ivan Nova has been named the AL’s Pitcher of the Month for August, the league announced. He’s the first Yankee hurler to win the award since CC Sabathia in July 2011 (I think). Nova had a 2.08 ERA and 3.08 FIP in 43.1 innings across six starts last month and has taken over as the team’s de facto ace with Hiroki Kuroda hitting a wall. Congrats to Ivan.
Unsurprisingly, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera was named the MVP of the AL tonight and it wasn’t all that close. He received 22 of 28 first place votes (362 pts) and Mike Trout (281 pts) finished a distant second. For shame. Robinson Cano (149 pts) finished fourth behind Miggy, Trout, and Adrian Beltre (210 pts). Derek Jeter (73 pts) finished seventh, which does not trigger the $2M escalator for his 2014 player option. There are still enough bonuses available for him to max that thing out at $17M, though. Rafael Soriano (one eighth and one ninth place vote) and Raul Ibanez (one tenth place vote!) also received votes while Hiroki Kuroda got shutout. I was hoping he’s grab a vote or ten, but oh well.
On the NL side of things, Buster Posey (422 pts) beat out the trio of Ryan Braun (285 pts), Andrew McCutchen (245 pts), and Yadier Molina (241 pts) pretty handily. There were like, six guys who could have legitimately won that award, but no one noticed because of the Trout-Miggy stuff. The full ballots are here (AL, NL), and the awards season is mercifully over. On to the hot stove.
Future Yankee David Price and current Met R.A. Dickey won the Cy Young awards in their respectively leagues tonight, the BBWAA announced. Price very narrowly beat out Justin Verlander while Dickey won in a landslide over Clayton Kershaw. He’s the first knuckleballer in history to win the award. That surprised me.
I thought CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, or maybe even Rafael Soriano would grab a down-ballot vote or two, but alas. No Yankee received a vote. The full voting results are here (AL, NL). The MVP awards will be announced tomorrow night, and Robinson Cano is one of five finalists for the AL trophy. Derek Jeter figures to finish in the top ten as well, plus the down-ballot votes are always fun.
Athletics manager Bob Melvin and Nationals manager Davey Johnson were named the Manager of the Year award winners tonight, the BBWAA announced. Melvin received 16 first place votes and beat out Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who received 12. That surprised me, but Melvin was certainly deserving given his club’s late-season run to the AL West title. Joe Girardi received five third place votes and finished fifth in the voting.
Johnson received 23 first place votes and finished well ahead of second place Dusty Baker. It’s his second Manager of the Year award and he obviously has New York ties thanks to the 1986 Mets. Here is the full voting for the AL and NL. The Cy Young awards will be announced tomorrow, but no Yankees are among the finalists. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and even Rafael Soriano could draw votes though.
Unsurprisingly, Mike Trout was unanimously named the AL Rookie of the Year tonight. Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish finished a distant second and third, respectively. David Phelps, who was the Yankees only notable rookie this season, didn’t receive any votes. Neither did Jesus Montero. Not much surprise there, it was a very strong class and those two simply weren’t good enough to garner votes.
On the NL side of the things, Bryce Harper narrowed beat out Wade Miley to become the youngest position player Rookie of the Year in baseball history. New Jersey native Todd Frazier finished the distant third. The full voting can be found here (AL and NL). The Manager of the Year awards will be handed out tomorrow night, and we already know that Joe Girardi isn’t one of the three finalists.
Both Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano took him the Silver Slugger Awards for being the top offensive players at their respective positions, the league announced tonight. It’s Jeter’s fifth (2006-2009) and Cano’s fourth (2006, 2010-2011) Silver Slugger, and both were obviously well-deserving. No shenanigans here. The full list of winners can be found here.
For Jeter, the award triggers an escalator clause in his contract that raises the value of his 2014 player option by $1.5M. That sucker started out at $8M and is now worth $9.5M, and there are still enough escalators in play that would allow him to max it out at $17M.
MLB (and I guess the BBWAA) is trying to generate more buzz for their end-of-season hardware, so they’re now naming finalists for each major award in advance of the winner actually being announced. Got it? Good. Robinson Cano is one of five AL MVP finalists, joining Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, and Josh Hamilton. I could easily see him finishing anywhere from third through fifth, but he won’t win. Miggy clinched that with the Triple Crown.
Here are the rest of the award finalists. The Yankees didn’t place anyone in the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year races while Joe Girardi did not make the Manager of the Year cut. None of that is surprising. Derek Jeter wasn’t able to sneak into the MVP top five, but I bet he still finishes in the top ten. All of the major awards will be announced next week.