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2016 MLB Awards Review

By Joshua Greenberg – Last Word On Baseball

2016 MLB Awards Review

With the announcements of the league MVPs on Thursday, the 2016 MLB awards season officially came to a close. There were some surprises, to be sure, and perhaps some snubs. There were also some epic reactions on Twitter (lookin’ at you, Kate Upton). However, all the finalists and winners more than earned the recognition they got. Let’s take a look at the feats our trophy-takers managed this season.

Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year

American League

Michael Fulmer, Starting Pitcher, Detroit Tigers

Fulmer is only the third starting pitcher in the past 35 years to win the award in the AL, and just the 10th to ever win it. He took home the hardware in a landslide; he was the only player listed on every ballot, and received 26 of 30 first-place votes.

The 23-year-old finished with an 11-7 record and a 3.06 ERA. During a 10-start run from May 21 to July 17, he went 7-1 with a 0.83 ERA. He led all AL rookies in total innings and strikeouts, and finished third in the league in ERA. Though Gary Sanchez had an incredible two months, Fulmer’s body of work earned him the award.

National League

Corey Seager, Shortstop, Los Angeles Dodgers

This one seemed a no-brainer, and the voters agreed. Seager won unanimously, with all 30 first-place votes, and was the only player listed on every ballot. He became the fourth NL shortstop to win the award.

Seager, quite simply, had an incredible season. He batted .308 with 26 home runs, 72 RBI, and 105 runs scored. His 193 hits were the second-most in the NL. He helped power a Dodgers team that lost Clayton Kershaw for a long time to its fourth-consecutive NL West title. Without Seager, the Dodgers may have lost that race to the San Francisco Giants.

Manager of the Year

American League

Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians

Francona received 22 of 30 first-place votes and was the only manager named on every ballot. Though the Indians were never spoken of as one of the most talented teams in the league, they played the hardest. No matter where he manages, Francona always seems to get the most out of his team. Players fight and scrap for him, and it works.

This season, his Indians lost Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar, among others, at significant times and for significant portions of the season. Despite that, Cleveland still won 94 games and the AL Central, and eventually took the Chicago Cubs to one hell of a Game 7 in the World Series. For that, Tito deserves every bit of the praise.

National League

Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers

Though some would argue Joe Maddon should have won this, Roberts arguably did more with much, much less. His Dodgers were far and away the most injured team in baseball; they set a major league record by putting 28 players on the disabled list. That included Kershaw, perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, who the Dodgers lost for two full months.

He also he to work with a trigger-happy front office; Los Angeles made 206 transactions this season, more than one per game. Roberts’ decision-making came under question at times, but he got his team to the NLCS despite all the adversity. Roberts got 16 first-place votes.

Cy Young

American League

Rick Porcello, Starting Pitcher, Boston Red Sox

This, perhaps, was the most controversial result of the week. Despite receiving fewer first place votes (8) than Justin Verlander (14), Porcello took home the trophy on points (137-132). Verlander was left off two ballots, while Porcello was named on all of them. This is only the third time a pitcher has won the award while not getting the most first-place votes.

While Verlander had a great season as well, it would be hard to argue that Porcello doesn’t deserve the honor. A year removed from a rough first season in Boston, Porcello morphed into the Red Sox ace early on in 2016. He led the AL in with 22 wins and a 5.906 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was also the most consistent of the candidates. He allowed three or fewer runs in 27 of 33 starts, and pitched into the seventh inning 23 times. He saw a career-high 223 total innings. Without Porcello, the Red Sox would not have won the AL East.

National League

Max Scherzer, Starting Pitcher, Washington Nationals

It was a good year for the 2012 Detroit Tigers. Scherzer, the only player listed on every ballot, was awarded 25 of 30 first-place votes. This is the second Cy Young win of his career. He is just the sixth player to win the award in both leagues. Some people, mostly Chicago Cubs fans, might think either Jon Lester or Kyle Hendricks got snubbed, but Scherzer’s election should hardly come as shock.

Scherzer was nothing short of astounding this year. He went 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA and 284 strikeouts. If not for his ERA, he would have won the triple crown, as he led the league in wins and Ks. He also recorded the lowest WHIP in the NL, and held opponents to a .199 batting average against. The crowning jewel of his campaign came on May 11, when he tied a major league record by striking out 20 batters in a single game.

Most Valuable Player

American League

Mike Trout, Center Fielder, Los Angeles Angels

Trout won the award over runner-up Mookie Betts by getting 19 first-place votes. Betts got nine first-place votes. This is the second MVP win of his career, though he has been in the top two in each of his first five seasons.

Though the Angels had a rather forgettable season, Trout finished the year as the top offensive player in the league. He hit .315 with 29 homers and 100 RBI, and led the league with a .441 OBP. He’s topped the AL in WAR each of the last five seasons, and recorded a 10.6 WAR this year. While that is indeed a ridiculous number, it’s only the second-best WAR of his career; he had a 10.7 WAR in 2012. Trout, Mickey Mantle, and Willie Mays are the only center fielders since 1931 to record 10+ WAR seasons.

National League

Kris Bryant, Third Base, Chicago Cubs

Bryant got 29 out of 30 first-place votes, after a ridiculous 2016 campaign. He is the youngest player to win a World Series and be named MVP in the same season since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1983. Bryant is only 24 years old, and just completed his second MLB season.

To follow up his Rookie of the Year performance in 2015, Bryant put up some of the best numbers in baseball while helping the Cubs break a 108-year curse. He finished the year with a .292 batting average and a .939 OPS, and launched 39 home runs. He drove in 102 runners, scored 121 runs, and recorded a 7.7 WAR. He is only the fourth player to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in back-to-back seasons, and the first since Dustin Pedroia (2007-08).

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