2016 MLB Season Awards: Writers’ Picks

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The 2016 MLB season has certainly had a number of storylines, from the Chicago Cubs impressive record and staff, to the “Bronx Babies” in New York, to the tragic loss of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. The season has had it’s up and downs, and this article should begin with condolences to the Fernandez family and Marlins organization. The pride, determination, and fun he brought to the ballpark will surely be missed, but will live on in the hearts of all players who wear an MLB jersey.

The writers at Last Word On Baseball have cast their ballots for MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year for both the American and National Leagues. There were some tough choices and hard fought races for these coveted awards. This final weekend of the season may give some players the edge to take one home.

2016 MLB Season Awards

AL MVP

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (9/22 votes)

.316, 29 HR, 99 RBI, .993 OPS

The Angels may not be looking at October baseball, but that cannot deny that what Trout did in the regular season is more than MVP worthy. Although the team has gone 8-2 over their last ten, Trout has performed well all season. His stat line shows he is a .300 bat with pop, and he will consistently drive in 100 over his career. An MVP is a well rounded player, and Trout brings more than just home runs and a solid average. He also has 29 stolen bases this season, to go with 32 doubles.

Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (7/22)

.319, 31 HR, 113 RBI, .900 OPS

The Red Sox have clinched the AL East and much of the credit for their 2016 success belongs to their 23-year-old center fielder. Betts has emerged as one of the top young stars in the league and Boston has found a player to control the middle outfield for the foreseeable future. To go with his 31 home runs, he also has 26 stolen bases and 41 doubles. His presence at the plate may have fans forget, at times, just how good his glove is. This season, he has 14 outfield assists and only one error. Keep an eye on this kid; he’ll be in MVP talks well beyond 2016.

Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (3/22)

.337, 24 HR, 96 RBI, .929 OPS

Altuve falls into the great player, non playoff team category. It is difficult for a player to walk away with MVP honors if their team misses October. Although his average is twenty points above Trout’s and Betts’, he will likely fall short of the MVP and finish top-five in votes. He and Correa make up one of the best middle infields in all of baseball, and the Astros narrowly missed out on the post-season this year. If they make it in 2017 and Altuve plays next season like this one, the story will end very differently.

AL Cy Young

Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians (9/22)

18-9, 3.14 ERA, 215.0 IP, 227 K

The Indians are the 2016 AL Central champs and a reason for that is the arm of Kluber. He has given his franchise big innings while maintaining a more than respectable ERA. If Cleveland aims for a deep playoff run, they’ll rely heavily on Kluber to dominate in October.

Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox (6/22)

22-4, 3.15 ERA, 223.0 IP, 189 K

Another pitcher on a division champ. Boston is where they are thanks in large part to Porcello. A 22-4 record is very impressive, but wins are not the best way to look at a pitcher’s success. Failing to reach 200 strikeouts may make it difficult to surpass Kluber, but he should finish top-five in votes.

Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox (2/22)

17-9, 3.21 ERA, 221.2 IP, 227 K

He has a near mirror image stat line of Kluber, but plays on a non-playoff team. As much as team success should not hold a player back from individual accolades, they do. Sale has Cy Young-worthy numbers, but will finish short of the title.

AL Rookie of the Year

Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers (10/22)

11-7, 3.06 ERA, 159.0 IP, 132 K

With a savvy veteran like Verlander and a rookie like Fulmer, the Tigers have a dynamic one-two punch. If they manage to squeak into the Wild Card game and advance, Fulmer will be a big part in their post-season success. If the Tigers miss the post-season Fulmer will be an even bigger part of their hunt to return to October baseball in 2017.

Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees (9/22)

.298, 20 HR, 42 RBI, 1.035 OPS

Sanchez is leading the youth movement in the Bronx and fans should be excited for the 2017 season, while the AL East should be fearful. In 52 games, Sanchez has done what no one has in history. He’s an outstanding catcher who has thrown out 11 of 19 base stealers, and makes one wonder what he could’ve done had he started 2016 with the big club.

Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers (2/22)

.269, 20 HR, 64 RBI, .746 OPS

Mazara will get to play in the post-season in his first big league season and has shown the Rangers that his capabilities in the outfield are special. If not for the emergence of Sanchez, he may be the obvious choice for AL ROY. Some may feel he is more deserving because he has played a full season compared to a third, but it’s likely he finishes top-three.

AL Manager of the Year

Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians (11/22)

His team won the AL Central and have a 92-67 record. With a Cy Young-caliber starter to lead his rotation, and the advantage of playing in the weakest division in the American League, Francona has made the Indians a force to be reckoned with.

Joe Girardi, New York Yankees (4/22)

The “three-headed monster” bullpen experiment didn’t work. Mark Teixeira was hurt and Carlos Beltran was traded. Despite all the setbacks in 2016, Girardi has taken the “Bronx Babies” and turned them into a dangerous team that should be feared in 2017. Many nights, he would field four or five rookies, yet the Yankees will still finish the season 15 games above .500.

Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers (3/22)

When a team wins its division and is 30 games above .500 (95-65), the man running the show has to be doing something right. Banister has the combination of veteran and young talent to make a run in October, but getting past Boston or Cleveland will be no easy task.

NL MVP

Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (13/22)

.293, 39 HR, 102 RBI, .944 OPS

He’s the best player on the best team. That seems like an MVP season. The 2015 Rookie of the Year has bettered himself in 2016 and was a driving force behind the Cubs 100-win season. He’s only scratching the surface of what he can do at the MLB level.

Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (6/22)

.347, 25 HR, 104 RBI, .987 OPS

The second baseman in Washington is a special player. Few players finish a season with a near .350 batting average, yet he’s done it. The player to finish a season with an average over .350 was Josh Hamilton in 2010, when he hit .359. With only two games left on the Nationals schedule, it may be tough for Murphy to do, but a couple mutli-hit games may just do it. He also leads the NL in doubles, with 47, and has committed a mere 11 errors while converting 76 double plays. Successful teams build up the middle and Murphy is the best second baseman the National League has to offer.

Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (1/22)

.304, 33 HR, 88 RBI, .972 OPS

Most probably think it’s absurd for Freeman to be in the MVP discussion. But look at his numbers. He’s second in the NL in doubles, with 43, and only has five errors this season. He is one of the premier first basemen in the game. If the Braves were not the worst team in baseball, he’d certainly be in the MVP discussion.

NL Cy Young

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (6/22)

19-7, 2.82 ERA, 223.1 IP, 277 K

Dominant. That word perfectly describes the season Scherzer has had. He leads the NL in strikeouts by 24 and has a WHIP of 0.94. If Washington makes it to the World Series, it will largely be behind the arm of this pitcher.

Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins (5/22)

16-8, 2.86 ERA, 182.1 IP, 253 K

His numbers are worthy and he should be your 2016 NL Cy Young winner. Summing up this player’s season in words is no easy task. Thank you, Jose. Rest in peace.

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants (3/22)

15-9, 2.74 ERA, 226.2 IP, 251 K

We have come to expect nothing less of Madison and once again, he has put up Cy Young-caliber numbers. Anytime a pitcher gives his franchise 200+ innings while keeping their ERA under 3.00, they have performed like an ace. He certainly is that for the Giants.

NL Rookie of the Year

Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (22/22)

.311, 26 HR, 72 RBI, .887 OPS

The only unanimous pick here at LWOB goes to rookie shortstop Corey Seager. At only 22 years old, he has had an incredible rookie campaign and looks to be a valuable asset for the Dodgers this post-season and beyond. To go with his 26 home runs, he also has 40 doubles and will finish his rookie campaign with an average above .300. The one area of his game that needs work entering 2017 is his glove, as he recorded 18 errors this season. As further evidence of how good a season Corey had, he even received one MVP vote among the writers here.

NL Manager of the Year

Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs (11/22)

When you take a team to a 100 win season, it’s hard to not get a lot of consideration for Manager of the Year. It may seem simple when you have the rotation and stars that he does, but you have to ensure they’re ready to go come October. When you have a lot of stars together, that can be a challenge at times, but Maddon has taken this team in the right direction. The only thing now is finishing it with a World Series title. Anything less may been seen as a loss.

Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers (5/22)

The 91-69 Dodgers are the NL West champs. Despite losing their ace for a considerable amount of time, they dug deep and now look to compete for a World Series ring once more. The only blemish on the NL West is that it is a two team division, with the Dodgers and Giants fighting for the title each year. The lackluster competition within the division may be what holds Roberts back here.

Dusty Baker, Washington Nationals (3/22)

The Nats won the NL East thanks to a 93-67 record, a MVP-candidate second baseman in Murphy, and a Cy Young favorite in Scherzer. Do they have enough to take out the Cubs? We shall see. The post season storylines run deep between those franchises. Baker will take his team into the belly of the beast and do his best to take them to the World Series.

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