Saturday, October 12, 2013

2013 MLB Award Predictions

With the 2013 MLB Playoffs in full swing, it's only a matter of time before the regular season awards begin to be announced. Though it's about a month away from the actual announcement dates, all the information that the voters will use has been collected, as the playoffs have no bearing on the awards.

The clash of old-school (box score stats) vs. new-school (sabermetrics) is bound to happen yet again, much like it has the past few years. As we have seen, the sabermetrics movement is really starting to pick up some momentum, so it'll be interesting to see if that plays a role in the voting.

Without further adieu, here are my predictions for this year's batch of awards:

AL Rookie of the Year: SS Jose Iglesias - Detroit Tigers

Iglesias surprised many with the potency of his offense this year, as he hit .303 in 350 at bats. This was certainly aided by his ridiculous .356 BABIP. That .303 number is certainly bound to come down as the years go on, but the fact is that regardless of advanced statistics, he still posted that average.

On top of his surprise batting, we all got to see the show that he put on with his glove each and every time out there. He had potentially the play of the year against the Chicago White Sox, where he made a barehanded play and threw to first while falling down. It's not even just all the spectacular players, either, as he's very consistent at the position, and showed that by posting one of the better Defensive WAR's in all of baseball.

Honorable Mentions: Wil Myers, Martin Perez

NL Rookie of the Year: SP Jose Fernandez - Miami Marlins

If you would've asked this question around the All-Star break, everyone that was swept up in "Puig-Mania" would've probably told you that Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig would run away with this award. That's not the case, however, as Marlins phenom Jose Fernandez is the deserving recipient of his first of many MLB accolades.

To start, he was voted into the All-Star game, which was justified, given his WAR of 6.7 that put him ahead of names like Adam Wainwright and Joey Votto. For those that prefer old-school stats, he did just fine there, too, with a 12-6 record and an ERA of 2.19.

Honorable Mentions: Yasiel Puig, Shelby Miller

AL Comeback Player of the Year: RP Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees

There's really no question as to who's going to win this one, so I'll just make it short and sweet. Rivera, the best closer of all-time, came back after missing nearly the entire 2011-2012 season. Many would've just retired, but instead Mo came back and saved 44 games for the Yankees and proved to still be one of the best closers in baseball. He's truly going to be missed.

Honorable Mentions: Victor Martinez, John Lackey

NL Comeback Player of the Year: SP Francisco Liriano - Pittsburgh Pirates

This one was also a pretty easy choice. Liriano was once seen as one of the up-and-coming aces in all of Major League Baseball early on in his career with the Minnesota Twins, but injuries took their toll and he just could never seem to regain his control or his command.

That all changed this season, as he had a record of 16-8 and an ERA of 3.02. He was the ace that the Pirates needed, and he finally lived up to the big expectations that were placed on him. If he can maintain his control from this year, seasons like these should be a regular occurrence for him.

Honorable Mentions: Marlon Byrd, Kevin Gregg

AL Rolaids Relief Man: RP Joe Nathan - Texas Rangers

I was very tempted to give this to Koji Uehara based on the utter dominance that he displayed in the second half of the season, but I had to give it to Nathan and his full season of standout pitching. Nathan went a bit unnoticed this year by most of the media, but he was still one of the best relievers in all of baseball.

He was 43 for 46 on save opportunities, and posted an ERA of 1.39. Whenever Texas went into the 9th inning with a close lead, it was basically a guarantee that the game would be over. That's exactly what you want out of a closer.

Honorable Mentions: Koji Uehara, Greg Holland

NL Rolaids Relief Man: RP Craig Kimbrel - Atlanta Braves

When you're getting Cy Young votes as a closer, it's a pretty good indication that you're doing your job quite well. To put it simply, Kimbrel is one of the most dominating closers that we've possibly ever seen, and this was only his 3rd year as a full-time closer.

He totaled a career-high 50 saves, and had a sparkling 1.21 ERA. His stunning 13.2 SO/9 was actually down from past years, but it is still pretty unbelievable. What's even more surprising is that this guy only made $655,000 this year. Enjoy that part while it lasts, Braves management.

Honorable Mentions: Aroldis Chapman, Edward Mujica

AL Manager of the Year: John Farrell - Boston Red Sox

This one came down to a battle of two men that have both managed the Red Sox, but I had to go with their current head man. He took the team from worst to first in a division that is traditionally one of the toughest in all of baseball.

He completely turned around the pitching staff that faltered under the nightmare that was Bobby Valentine, and he did everything the team could have possibly wanted from him, and more. Ben Cherington & Co. certainly have to be happy about their decision.

Honorable Mentions: Terry Francona, Joe Girardi

NL Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle - Pittsburgh Pirates

This one certainly wasn't as close as the AL race, as it basically had to be given to the man that lead his team to their first playoff birth in over two decades. There's really not much else that can be said about the job that Hurdle did, so I won't drag it out.

Honorable Mentions: Don Mattingly, Fredi Gonzalez

AL Cy Young: SP Max Scherzer - Detroit Tigers

This is a category where there is going to a ton of butting of the heads. Many will say that Scherzer is only winning the award because of his 21-3 record, and they'll say that wins are irrelevant in this discussion. Well, that's just not true. Wins should not be the be-all-end-all, but they still should factor into the award.

Outside of wins, Scherzer was again a masterful strikeout artist. His fastball-changeup combo is one of the best you'll see in baseball, and it consistently keeps hitters off balance. He came into the season with control problems, but he obviously figured it all out and put together a fantastic season.

Honorable Mentions: Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish

NL Cy Young: SP Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers

After the past couple of seasons, you have to wonder how Kershaw dropped all the way to 7th overall in the 2006 MLB Draft, behind names like Luke Hochevar, Greg Reynolds, and Andrew Miller. He's been phenomenal in the past, but he really out-did himself this year.

He established himself as the best pitcher in baseball with a 16-9 record and, get this, a 1.83 (!!!) ERA. I can't even find words to describe how unbelievable it is for a starting pitcher to post an earned run average that low, so all I can say is that this is a no-brainer.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Harvey, Adam Wainwright

AL Most Valuable Player: 3B Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers

Seeing Miguel Cabrera at the plate is really just one of the more exciting things in all of sports, for me. He's one of the greatest hitters of all-time, and he's only 30 years old. Some have even put him in the conversation for greatest right-handed hitter of all-time, so it's an easy statement to say that he's the best hitter that baseball has right now.

Injuries have slowed him down a bit in the last month and a half or so, but not even those could prevent him from hitting .348 with 44 home runs, 137 runs batted in, and 103 runs. He posted just about the same numbers last year when he won the Triple Crown, so I have no doubt that he's going to win this year, too. Plus, he was the only realistic contender who's team made the playoffs, so he has that working for him.

Honorable Mentions: Mike Trout, Chris Davis

NL Most Valuable Player: CF Andrew McCutchen

There were a ton of contenders for this award that could make a solid case for their bid for MVP, and I really went back and forth on this one. First, I had Clayton Kershaw, then I went to Matt Carpenter, then bounced between Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt, but I eventually landed on Andrew McCutchen.

He may not have flashy traditional statistics, but his value to the Pirates cannot be understated. He carried their offense the entire year, and was solid in the field and on the basepaths. The Pirates made their first playoff appearance in 21 years this year, and without McCutchen, that would not have been possible.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Carpenter, Clayton Kershaw

Thanks for reading.

Follow Brian Rzeppa on Twitter, and check out his NBA work at The League News.

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