The 2015 regular season has come to an end. Twenty teams went home packing for the offseason today, ending what has been a long road of just over six months of baseball. With the Cover Those Bases season awards, I am selecting who best made the 2015 season a great one. Without further ado, here are my selections.
MVP - Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
I hate the argument that says that Harper shouldn't win MVP because he does not play on a postseason-bound team. Think about it this way: where would the Nationals be without Harper? The Mets would have wrapped up the division in August.
In terms of Fangraphs' Wins Above Replacement, Harper leads the Major Leagues, adding an estimated 9.6 wins to the Nationals. The next closest National League hitter? Joey Votto, with 7.4. Harper has been by far the best player in the National League. He's hitting .331/.462/.650 with 42 home runs and 99 runs batted in. His weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 198 suggests that he created 98 percent more runs than the average hitter, adjusted for park factors.
May I remind you that Harper is 22-years-old? When he wins this award, it should be his first of many more MVPs to come.
Cy Young - Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs
At the end of the first half, I would have told you that you were crazy if you thought that Jake Arrieta was the National League's Cy Young. Zack Grienke was, at the time, running away with the award, working to a 1.39 ERA in the first half, nearly 0.7 runs better than the second-best ERA, which belonged to Sonny Gray at 2.04. Arrieta? He was in 14th in ERA with a more-than-respectable 2.66.
In the second half, Jake Arrieta has a 0.75 ERA. That's 15 starts. That's 107 1/3 innings. He allowed just nine runs since July 13 and only took the loss once, when he was pitching against Cole Hamels in his no-hitter. By the way, Arrieta threw a no-no himself, shutting down the Dodgers on August 30 on Sunday Night Baseball. Since he took the loss against Hamels on July 25, Arrieta has a 0.57 ERA, allowing just six earned runs in 94 1/3 innings. He's faced 345 batters in that span and has only allowed 46 hits and 17 walks (.182 OBP against)
Oh and his full season numbers aren't too shabby either. He's 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA (2.35 FIP; 2.62 xFIP) in 33 starts, working 229 innings and posting a 236 to 48 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Sorry, Zack. Jake Arrieta is the National League Cy Young.
Rookie of the Year - Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
There isn't a question about this award. Kris Bryant was the favorite to win the National League Rookie of the Year coming into the season and has more than proved himself. He left an impression before even coming up, hitting nine home runs in just 14 Spring Training games.
Since Bryant appeared in the Major Leagues, he's not just been far and above every other rookie in the National League but he's been far and above most non-rookie hitters as well. His .274/.365/.487 slash line with 26 home runs and 99 RBIs (646 plate appearances) speaks for itself.
From an fWAR standpoint, Bryant's 6.2 mark is far and above the second-place 4.9 (Matt Duffy). While his offense has been excellent, his defense and base running have also been above-average in runs (FanGraphs). Bryant's play as a whole makes him the obvious choice for NL Rookie of the Year.
Manager of the Year - Terry Collins, New York Mets
The Mets are amazin'. After playing surprisingly well during the first half of the season, the Mets knocked off the preseason World Series favorite Washington Nationals in the National League East division race. Terry Collins shouldn't be given all the credit--the players on the field still had to perform--but his leadership definitely helped the team rally to win the division.
Joe Maddon or Mike Matheny would be really good choices here. But Collins just makes more sense to me because he was not an already established big league manager coming into the season. A SI.com article from March 31 asks the question: Is Terry Collins on the hot seat? Maddon's job and Matheny's job were never in question.
Due to the fact that Collins overcame "being on the hot seat," coupled with the fact that he took the Mets back to the postseason for the first time since 2006, he is my choice for National League Manager of the Year.
MVP - Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Josh Donaldson has had an awesome season; there's no doubt about that. However, the argument for him to be the American League Most Valuable Player centralizes around the fact that he has 33 more RBIs than Mike Trout. It appears that the baseball world still hasn't learned that RBIs are more of a team stat than an individual stat.
Look at it this way: Trout's on-base percentage is 27 points higher than Donaldson's, his slugging percentage is 17 points higher than Donaldson's; and his OPS is 44 points higher than Donaldson. Not to mention, his wRC+, which adjusts a player's offensive for park factors, is 171, 16 points higher than Donaldson's 155, basically meaning that Trout has produced 16 percent more runs on offense than Donaldson has.
The overall stats don't lie either. Trout is hitting for a .298/.400/.588 line with 41 home runs and 90 RBIs in 678 plate appearances. And seriously, where would the Angels be without him? The Blue Jays are still formidable without Donaldson, at least in my mind. The Angels would not have been where they were without Mike Trout. That's what truly makes him the most valuable.
Cy Young - Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
Another award and another close race. This one's for the American League Cy Young and it's between Dallas Keuchel, who has had a phenomenal season as the ace for the Houston Astros, and David Price, who was traded midseason but has been everything to the Toronto Blue Jays since they acquired him at the trade deadline.
I'm going with Keuchel here. It's really hard to pinpoint why my gut tells me he's been the best pitcher in the American League, but what really impressed me was that he has tossed more innings this season than Price, who led the American League last year with almost 250 innings pitched. Keuchel's WHIP, ERA+, and wins (even though wins aren't a good way to evaluate a pitcher, I'm still putting them in here) all lead the American League. Price may have the ERA crown, but in terms of park factors, Keuchel's ERA has been actually better (through ERA+).
On the season Keuchel has been stellar. He is 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA (2.91 FIP; 162 ERA+) in 232 innings pitched, posting a 216 to 51 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Something also extremely impressive was what he did at home. Keuchel went 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 18 starts at home, posting a 4.96 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 129 1/3 innings pitched at Minute Maid Park.
Rookie of the Year - Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
Yet another award, yet another close race where it could go either way. When Carlos Correa came up to the Major Leagues, he took baseball by storm, with many people already calling him the best shortstop in the American League. His scorching start showed off his power and average ability in his bat, as well as flashes of all five tools.
So why Lindor? When he came up to the Indians, it was also a big deal. However, he didn't get as much national attention. Maybe it is because Cleveland was never really fighting for a playoff spot. Maybe it's just due to Cleveland's market size, even though Houston's market size isn't one to brag about by any means. Lindor and Correa have both played 97 games this season and while Correa has always been touted as a better hitter, Lindor is finding a way to match him stride for stride, also providing better defense.
Lindor is hitting .316/.356/.487 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs this season. His offensive rating above average of 16.0 and defensive rating above average of 13.9 make him the all-around shortstop that the Indians want leading their infield for a long time. He's already added 4.7 fWAR this season. It's time for Lindor to get the publicity he needs.
Manager of the Year - Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers
Let's face it. I blew the Rangers off this season and you blew the Rangers off this season. Nobody thought that they'd be postseason bound, and when Yu Darvish went down to Tommy John before the season even started, people were asking how bad would the Rangers exactly be?
Then came the trade deadline and the Rangers add Cole Hamels, viewing him not only as a piece that could give them an outside chance at making the playoffs in 2015, but a piece to help them win when Darvish comes back in 2016.
The Rangers have clinched a playoff spot this season and have shown great resiliency. Jeff Banister, in my mind, has a lot to do with that. He's made good in-game decisions and has proven why the Rangers handpicked him to be their manager before the season. The team is playing with great spirit and he got them into the playoffs even though everyone doubted them.
**All stats are through Saturday's games**