As the 2014 regular season comes to a close, here are Devan's season awards.
Most Valuable Player - Mike Trout
Mike Trout is the best player in the American League. He was snubbed out of the past two MVP awards to Miguel Cabrera and Miguel Cabrera, respectively. This year, he hasn't been nearly as good, hitting "only" a slash line of .287/.377/.561 with 36 home runs and a league-leading 111 runs batted in. However, he has struck out 184 times, which is a red flag for Trout's future. But then again, there has been nobody better than Trout and his fWAR leads all of baseball. Nobody's been more valuable than Mike.
Cy Young Award - Felix Hernandez
Felix Hernandez absolutely dominated this year. Only someone by the same of Clayton Kershaw has been better than he has, as his 15-6 record with his 2.29 ERA is good enough to win the award itself. But for good measure, he has struck out 248 hitters as compared to only 46 walks over his 236 innings pitched. His 2.56 FIP and 2.51 xFIP both suggest that Hernandez has been helped by some good luck this year. Hernandez has a 5.9 WAR, which ranks fourth in the AL. But his dominance deserves the Cy Young award overall. He's been absolutely fantastic.
Manager of the Year - Lloyd McClendon
Lloyd McClendon took over a Mariners team that hasn't had a winning season since 2009 and almost took them to the postseason. A Mariners win and an Athletics loss would have done the trick, but Seattle fans were let down on the final day of the season when Oakland beat the Texas Ranger 6-0 to clinch the final American League playoff spot. But the Mariners have a young pitching staff, young lineup, and $200 million man Robinson Cano may be able to take them to October next year.
Rookie of the Year - Jose Abreu
Jose Abreu was fantastic at the beginning of the season, but cooled down greatly as the season went on. He hit 36 home runs, drove in 107, and posted a .317 batting average. If there has been any rookie better than Abreu, let me know. As for the Sabermetrics, Abreu has a 165 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) and a 5.2 WAR, well ahead of any rookie in either league, let alone the American League. I would expect Abreu to finish in the top-10 in the MVP voting and wrap up the Rookie of the Year award easily, perhaps even unanimously. The future is bright for the young power hitter.
Comeback Player of the Year - Wade Davis
Just last season, Wade Davis was one of the worst players in the Royals pitching staff, going 8-11 with a 5.32 ERA and a 1.677 WHIP. He posted a 78 ERA+, meaning that his ERA was 22% worse than the average pitcher, including park factors. This season, Davis was converted to a back end of the bullpen relief pitcher, going 9-2 with a 1.00 ERA and a 0.847 WHIP. He has a 109 to 23 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 72 innings pitched. His ERA+? A whopping 399. That is basically saying that Davis' ERA is 299 percent better than the average pitcher. This comeback was astronomical.
Defender of the Year - Alex Gordon
You have to give some recognition to the best defenders. Alex Gordon has been lights-out in center for Kansas City. He has 27 defensive runs saved and has posted a 21.9 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), which measures the outfield arm runs above average, double play runs above average, range runs above average, and error runs above average and combines them. Gordon's range and arm has been fantastic this year and has made a lot of tough plays in the outfield, including a whopping 17.6% of "remote" plays (as determined by scouts) made, which generally is between 1-10%.
Most Valuable Player - Clayton Kershaw
Nobody in the National League has been better than Clayton Kershaw has this season. Let me repeat: nobody. Not Giancarlo Stanton, nor anyone else. Sure, some people may be against giving pitchers MVP awards, but Clayton Kershaw's 2014 season has been the best pitching season (in terms of ERA below 1.80) since Pedro Martinez's 2000 campaign. Kershaw's numbers are unbelievable; he's 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA, 1.81 FIP, and 2.07 xFIP in just 27 starts due to injury. He's struck out 239 and only walked 31. His season is better than Justin Verlander's 2011 MVP season. He's the best of the best in the NL.
Cy Young Award - Clayton Kershaw
If Kershaw is the MVP, there is absolutely no reason as to why he shouldn't be the Cy Young award winner. That's my logic.
Manager of the Year - Bruce Bochy
Bruce Bochy has had to battle injuries to his offense and pitching staff and the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, but has still been able to bring the San Francisco Giants back to the playoffs with a Wild Card birth. Bochy is a managerial wizard, and he definitely proved that this season. Even with all the woes, he led the team to an 12 win improvement last season and will be leading them to their third postseason under him. The result of the first two? World Series championships.
Rookie of the Year - Jacob deGrom
I recently wrote an article on why Jacob deGrom should win the National League Rookie of the Year over Billy Hamilton. Hamilton hasn't done anything to change my mind on that, so deGrom is still my pick to win the award. On the year, he is 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA, 2.67 FIP, and 3.03 xFIP on the season in 22 starts with the New York Mets. His 3.0 fWAR ranks fourth among rookie starters and tops in the National League. Hamilton's low OBP and high caught stealing rate really sealed the deal for deGrom.
Comeback Player of the Year - Edinson Volquez
Edinson Volquez signed a one-year, $5 million "prove it" deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to this season and boy did he prove it. Volquez, fresh off a season where he posted a 5.71 ERA, has gone 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA, 4.15 FIP, and 4.20 xFIP in 192 2/3 innings pitched. He has struck out 140 and walked 71, as compared to a 142 to 77 ratio last year in 22 1/3 less innings. Now he is headed to the postseason, where he will start the National League Wild Card game.
Defender of the Year - Jason Heyward
Jason Heyward continually made outstanding catches and unbelievable throws in right field for the Atlanta Braves. His UZR is the highest in baseball with a 25.3 mark. His range runs above average is tops in the majors as well, 5.7 runs above better than the next highest defender (Chase Headley). In terms of Inside Edge Fielding, Heyward has made 62.5% of "unlikely" plays, which is generally in the 10-40% range. Heyward has been the best defender of anyone this season.