We at Last Word On Sports are proud and excited to bring you the first annual LWOS MLB Season Awards. We now present part two: the American League Awards.
Cy Young Award
Brandon Murphy: David Price – Price has dominated in two cities this year. He is top-five in every pitching metric you could think of. Pitching wins championships, and the Jays have the best left-hander in the AL.
Joshua Greenberg: Dallas Keuchel – He turned the Astros into a playoff contender. The Houston Astros. In the playoffs. That alone would get him my vote. His stellar stats are just the icing on the cake for me.
Bilal Vakani: David Price – See Josh Donaldson. But all kidding aside, David Price has been a game changer for the once .500 Jays, who have been on a massive run since acquiring him and look destined for the World Series.
Sean Couch: Dallas Keuchel – It would be interesting to see how may people picked Keuchel to win a Cy Young this year, because for me, his dominance really came out of left field. Keuchel is 19-8 with a career-low 2.47 ERA. He’s also a great ace on an up-and-coming, October-bound team.
Ryan Ram: David Price – This is a two horse race between Price and Keuchel, but I’ll take Price. Keuchel’s 3.77 road ERA puts him just below Price, who has been consistent and has stepped up his game pitching in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball.
Andrew Ferrall: David Price – Price was already making a strong case for the Cy Young Award with the Tigers, and he has looked even better in Toronto’s rotation. Price is 9-1 since joining the Jays, with a 2.30 ERA.
Ryan Dumouchel: David Price – This was a two horse race between Price and Dallas Keuchel. Based on their numbers, compelling arguments could be made for both. In my mind, the tie-breaker is that while Keuchel has not pitched that great in away games, Price has stepped up his game down the stretch and has been very dominant since being acquired from the Tigers.
Greg Hogan: Dallas Keuchel – He went 15-0 at home this season. He’s 2nd in ERA, 5th in strikeouts, and has been the driving force behind Houston’s playoff chase.
Alex Levy: Dallas Keuchel – He put up a 15-0 record in Houston, accompanied by a 1.46 ERA… Wow.
Eric Kabakoff: David Price – With apologies to Dallas Keuchel, I’d give it to Price. He had stellar numbers with Detroit and somehow stepped it up in Toronto for a team whose biggest weakness was its starters. Without this trade, the Yankees win the division.
Nick Primeau: David Price – He owns the best ERA in the league and an 18-5 record. He is fifth in WHIP and fourth in strikeouts. Without Price, the Blue Jays might have missed the playoffs even with their unreal lineup.
Most Valuable Player
BM: Mike Trout – Anyone would have a great argument for Donaldson, but you can’t give away Trout’s trophy until someone proves he’s better than him. Trout has been the best player in the league since he stepped foot on the diamond. Oh, and he’s only 23.
JG: Josh Donaldson – Look, Mike Trout is great. Even in his down years, whatever that really means for him, he’s great. But Donaldson was just special this season. At times it felt like he was willing the Jays to the top of the AL East.
BV: Josh Donaldson – Sure, you can bring up Mike Trout’s WAR, but during the second half season we have seen two very different players: dynamic Donaldson leading a World Series contender, and a lackluster Trout taking the Angels down with him.
SC: Josh Donaldson – Since being traded away from the Oakland Athletics last year, Donaldson has been on an absolute tear with the Jays. In 2015, he hit .299/.373/.578 with 41 home runs and 122 RBI. I don’t know if Donaldson will get the MVP votes this year over the mighty Mike Trout, but there’s no denying he deserves it.
RR: Josh Donaldson – This is a toss up between Donaldson and Trout, but I’ll go with Donaldson, who is having a superior defensive season. With the margin being this close, I’ll give the edge to the guy who is going to the playoffs.
AF: Josh Donaldson – Living in the Angels’ TV market has caused me to love Mike Trout, and I think he would be a worthy MVP selection. However, what Josh Donaldson has done in Toronto in clutch moments this year is unbelievable. The Blue Jays have had a roaring offense this year, and Donaldson has been at the forefront of it all. Had Oakland held on to him, they might now find themselves in Toronto’s place. I expect him to get the MVP this year and, if the Jays take the World Series, I hope Toronto gives him a day.
RD: Josh Donaldson – If this was a “best player” award, the distinction between Donaldson and Trout would be a lot closer. The bottom line is that Donaldson has had the bigger impact on this season and it is not guaranteed that the Blue Jays would be in first place without his contributions.
GH: Josh Donaldson – Donaldson’s had a monster season. Trout would make a great selection here as well, but Donaldson has elevated the Blue Jays from just a home run slugging team (though he’s done plenty of that himself) to a powerhouse in the AL East.
AL: Josh Donaldson – After Donaldson left the Athletics, most people were skeptical about his ability to perform on artificial grass, but he sure as hell proved every doubter, even me. 41 home runs and 123 RBI speak for themselves.
EK: Josh Donaldson – He was by far the biggest bat on a high-octane team that is barreling into the playoffs.
NP: Josh Donaldson – He is third in the AL in home runs, first in RBI, fifth in hits, second in slugging, and third in OPS. He is the reason the Blue Jays are an AL favorite.
Rookie of the Year
BM: Carlos Correa – A 21-year old shortstop with 20+ home runs in less than 100 games? Count me in. You have to love highly-touted prospects that come through the moment they step into the majors.
JG: Eduardo Rodriguez – I won’t deny that this is a total homer pick, but I will attempt to make a case for its validity nonetheless. E-Rod won 10 games in his rookie year for a mostly awful Red Sox team. At just 22 years old, he fanned 98 batters in 121.2 innings and, despite some early-season struggles with tipping his pitches, was a stabilizing force in a rotation comprised of overpaid and under-performing veterans. His 3.85 ERA is inflated by just a few bad outings; the young lefty gave up three or fewer earned runs in 17 of his 21 starts. Side note: I would have gone with Mookie Betts here, but he just barely played in too many games last season to be considered a rookie this season. That would have been a homer pick, too.
BV: Carlos Correa – In hopefully the only pick that may come back to bite my beloved Blue Jays, I’m taking Correa here. He has been stellar for the Houston Astros, and is one of the rare #1 picks that some doubt but actually work out.
SC: Billy Burns – I highly doubt he’ll get it, but Burns is the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year in my mind. The Oakland A’s centerfielder has quietly put together an amazing summer that will probably go unnoticed.
RR: Francisco Lindor – Correa is also a viable choice but, Lindor is already an elite defender and for a rookie to be hitting .317 as a 21 year old is just incredible. He is my choice over Correa, who I believe will have a better career when its all said and done.
AF: Carlos Correa – If I could, I would give the entire Astros team the Rookie of the Year Award. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works, so I’ll settle for Correa. He’s the second youngest player in baseball, and other rookies in the American league just haven’t come close to matching him.
RD: Carlos Correa – To begin with, we do need to give Francisco Lindor credit for making this race at least close, as he complemented his strong defense with better-than-expected results offensively. However, Correa has been stronger offensively (especially in regard to power) and is a major reason why the Astors could be in line to return to the postseason. It also doesn’t hurt that his birthday (September 22) is the same as my son’s.
GH: Francisco Lindor – He has been absolutely elite since his call-up in June. While Carlos Correa was the clear front-runner for a while, Lindor’s elite defense and fantastic work with the bat over the past three months have earned him this honor.
AL: Carlos Correa – His 22 home runs this year set the Astros’ franchise record for a rookie.
EK: Carlos Correa – I love Billy Burns, but don’t I see how you can’t give this to a player with a bat like Correa’s, who plays for a contending team. Oh, and he racked up all his stats after spending the first two months in the minors.
NP: Francisco Lindor – Lindor has the best average among AL rookies, played nearly 100 games, and is third in OBP, sixth in slugging, and fourth in OPS. He just barely beats out Miguel Sano and Carlos Correa.
Manager of the Year
BM: John Gibbons – There was always excitement around the Jays this season after acquiring Donaldson and Russell Martin in the offseason, and Tulowitzki and Price at the deadline. Gibbons kept the focus on the field and, since the All-Star break, they’ve been the best team in baseball.
JG: John Gibbons – Can I give this to Torey Lovullo? No? In all seriousness, Gibbons has absolutely earned this. Banister was great this year, but Gibbons had the Jays firing on all cylinders all season. He brought the Jays their first AL East title since 1993. That’s all I need to hear.
BV: John Gibbons – You may laugh now, but when the Jays go to the World Series… well you will still be laughing because Gibbons is deliciously folksy. That said if you look back on his first shot at managing the Blue Jays, you will see his growth from a just-OK skipper into a great one with the same team, a feat oh so rare in sports.
SC: Jeff Banister – This may be an overly popular pick, but I’ve got to give it to a first year manager that took over for a team that finished in last place last season and lost Yu Darvish right off the bat.
RR: Jeff Banister – He is a first year manager who won his division despite having to deal with the loss of one of the best pitchers (Yu Darvish) for an entire season. Bannister gets the slight edge over Ned Yost for me.
AF: Ned Yost – Just a year after losing game seven in the World Series, and after losing a key piece in James Shields, Ned Yost has pushed his team into the postseason for the second year in a row, and this time as a division champion. While many criticize Yost for not relying on modern analytics to make his in-game decisions and set lineups, Yost has stood his ground and hasn’t changed how he manages his ball club. It’s working, as the Royals have been consistently good two years in a row.
RD: Jeff Banister – Banister came into a very difficult situation in his first year as manager. The Rangers were coming off a 95-loss season and appeared on track for similar results this season, as they were decimated by injuries. Even after the Rangers acquired Cole Hamels, the expectation was that it would help them win in 2016. Bottom line, if the Rangers were terrible this season, nobody would have held it against them. Against this backdrop, Banister brought the Rangers to an AL West title.
GH: Mike Scioscia – Despite some drama earlier in the season with former GM Jerry Dipoto, as well as a less than stellar roster outside of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, Scioscia had his team storming into the playoff picture with a late September push.
AL: Jeff Banister – He turned the team that had the worst record in the AL around in just a year. It’s also his first managerial job in the big leagues.
EK: Jeff Banister – The Rangers finished in last place in 2014, lost Yu Darvish and Jurickson Profar (again), and struggled for a good part of the year but here we are: they caught and passed the Astros.
NP: Jeff Banister – No one thought the Rangers would make the playoffs. They have the least amount of talent of any contender and, despite being counted out earlier in the season, somehow found a way to win the American League West.
Part one of the 2015 LWOS MLB Season Awards series may be found here. The series continues with part three: the Mystery Awards.
Photo: David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images