The following IBWAA ballot makes the case for 2016 MLB awards including MVP, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, Reliever of the Year and Manager of the Year.
As a member of the IBWAA, Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, it’s my privilege to help select the major award winners for 2016. Obviously I don’t have an official vote, but this is still an interesting process to decide the winners and runner-ups.
*Disclaimer* These selections were tallied before any official selections made public by MLB, and do not represent the IBWAA as a whole.
October, 2nd 2016
1) Mike Trout
2) Mookie Betts
3) David Ortiz
4) Miguel Cabrera
5) Jose Altuve
6) Manny Machado
7) Josh Donaldson
8) Adrian Beltre
9) Francisco Lindor
10) Robinson Cano
Mike Trout is the 2016 AL MVP. He was top five in the AL in BA (.315), first among MLB in on-base percentage (.441), forth in slugging (.550) and second among all of baseball in OPS (.991). When looking at the candidates for this season, it’s hard to ignore David Ortiz, putting up one of the best seasons of his career, but also for a player retiring at season’s end, who happens to be 39-years old. Finishing second in RBI (127) while also finishing tops in MLB among slugging and OPS. Trout gets the edge when you consider his WAR of 10.6 as well as playing the field. Ortiz comes in significantly lower (5.1). One can even make the argument that Ortiz wasn’t even his teams’ MVP, as Mookie Betts ranked No. 2 in WAR behind Trout, while of course playing the field.
AL Cy Young
1) Zach Britton
2) Justin Verlander
3) Rick Porcello
This one is fairly simple. Though I don’t typically consider closers for this award, it’s hard to overlook a special, and especially dominant season, by one Zach Britton. Britton had about as perfect a season as possible, converting all 47 save opportunities and posting a sub-1 ERA–he allowed four earned runs all season and only one since April.
Though the win/loss factor for starters can be a bit misleading, 20 still remains that magical benchmark number for a pitcher. Rick Porcello led the Majors with 22 victories and JA Happ finished second with 20 wins. Porcello had a breakout season, bouncing back from a 9-15 record just a season ago. Though Porcello earned the most run support on average per start (6.61) from the majors leaders in runs scored (878) his era improved to 3.15 from 4.92.
However not one starter really distinguishes himself from the rest. Justin Verlander comes in with the slightly better ERA (3.04) led the league in strikeouts, was second in opponents average and first in WHIP. The top five pitchers in terms of ERA finished just .15 difference.
Though Britton’s 65 1/3 innings would be an all-time low for Cy Young winners, he gets the award in the midst of a dominant season, and in a year in which there’s little separation among the league’s top starters.
AL Rookie of the Year
Mazara is my pick based on 20 home runs, 64 driven in, and a solid slash of .266/.320/.419 through 145 games. The lone knock on Sanchez is his amount of games played (53) but he’s getting the second spot here because what he did was simply astonishing–.299/.376/.657 and 20 home runs, 42 RBI. All in 201 at-bats. Or 53 games. Fulmer was a huge in making 26 starts for the Tigers and winning 11 games. Though he stumbled a bit down the stretch, he deserves votes as the Tigers made a playoff push.
Again, how do you get much more better than Britton’s 47 for 47 in save opportunities and 0.54 ERA? You don’t.
AL Manager of the Year
This one can go a variety of ways and there’s really no right answer. However it’s hard to overlook what Terry Francona has done, guiding the Indians to a 94-win campaign and club’s first AL Central title since 2007. While many might have thought the Indians to be contenders, they ultimately took the Central with relative ease, taking the Crown away from mainstays, the Detroit Tigers and recent surges by the Kansas City Royals. And one of their most important players, Michael Brantley, played all of 11 games.
NL Manager of the Year
Joe Maddon is the current reigning manager of the year in the NL, as he guided the Cubs to 97 wins in 2015, helping cultivate young talent with hungry veterans. It’s tough to top what the team accomplished in 2015, but he somehow made them even better, as the Cubs won 103 games en-route to the club’s first division title sine 2008. Except for a funk just prior to the All-Star break, there was never much doubt that the Cubs were the best team all season, employing his depth and pulling tricks out of the hat on a variety of occasions, such as famously subbing pitchers in and out between the outfield and the mound, and employing his famous slogans.
It’s hard to forget what Roberts accomplished in his first season as the Dodgers skipper, and the team’s chances of a playoff run looked all but squelched when ace Clayton Kershaw missed two months to a back ailment. In fact the team somehow went an astonishing 50-35 without Kershaw. L.A. also got here with a franchise record-tying 55 players, 31 pitchers and 28 players on the DL.
Dusty Baker rounds out my top three, also guiding a team to the playoffs in his first year. Terry Collins was an honorable mention, ultimately keeping the Mets afloat through injuries that affected the rotation, most notably Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, and even ducking out on a potential firing mid-season as the Mets were a sub-500 team in August before an improbable 27-13 taking one of the two wildcard spots.
The reigning NL Rookie of the Year will soon follow that up with more hardware. Bryant finished second in home runs (39), sixth in RBI (102), and .292/.385/.554. Arenado has more home runs and RBI, which, though is in part impacted by Coors Field–he hit 35 points lower on the road–he still hit 16 homers, 48 RBI away from Coors. Bryant is actually better in every offensive category on the road versus his home splits. What drives the wedge for Bryant versus the field is his ability to play multiple positions for Maddon, allowing Joe to field various lineups on a daily basis, maximizing his teams’ lineup and defensive depth.
Daniel Murphy hit nearly .400 the first month of the season and remained an essential catalyst for a team looking to get back into the playoffs. Considering Bryce Harper’s 2016 struggles, it’s worth mentioning where the team would have been without Murphy.
NL Cy Young
Between Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Matt Scherzer this is almost too close to call. Hendricks was the Major League leader in ERA and Scherzer led the Majors in strikeouts and WHIP, while leading the league in wins. This race ultimately came down to the second-half, where Lester emerged with a 10-1 record, identical to Scherzer, but Lester’s ERA was more than a full run better (1.76). Lester just topped the 200 inning mark on the season, and had the edge in WAR over his teammate in Hendricks. There really isn’t a bad way to go, but Lester gets it for his dominance down the stretch. He went eight straight starts in which he allowed one ER or less. 11 straight starts going back to July 29th in which he allowed two ER or less.
Mark Melancon was especially dominant in 2016, closing games for Pittsburgh and then taking over in D.C. Converting 47 of 51 chances, Melancon’s strong presence helped propel Washington into the playoffs. If you don’t think that alone lends credence, just remember a season ago. The Nationals brought in Jonathan Papelbon to stabilize the bullpen for what appeared to be a strong playoff push. Though the move ultimately backfired, and it’s not fair to put everything on Papelbon, the move undoubtedly will be remembered for his adverse results. Things went much better in 2016 for Melancon and Co. The reigning saves leader and NL Reliever of the Year led qualified relievers in ERA (1.64).
NL Rookie of the Year
There’s no debate. Seager (.308, 26 HR and 72 RBI) was as much a reason for the Dodgers success in 2016 as anyone else. He’s bound to get MVP votes. Maeda had a tremendous season, compiling 16-wins, and helping the Dodgers through the absence of Kershaw. Diaz also put up big numbers, hitting 17 homers, 65 RBI, and hitting .300 through 111 games for St. Louis.
There you have it. Sure, some will agree and even more will disagree. I encourage debate and constructive arguments and all viewpoints. No matter who wins each award, it’s been an exciting 2016 MLB season and I know with 100% certainty that everyone can agree with that.
Upon taking up writing the summer of 2015, William's works have been featured across RantSports, Bleacher Report, EliteSportsNY, 27OutsBaseball, and Cubbies Crib of FanSided.
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