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Clubhouse Leaders: MLB Awards Edition 2019 – Final Picks

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And here we are. Another MLB regular season has come to an end. The playoffs are in full swing, with the handful of remaining teams doing everything within their power to make it to the World Series.

However, the league’s individual honors aren’t predicated on playoff performance. These awards are for the regular season. And while there was a fair amount of up-and-down over the course of the year, a lot of these names are ones that aren’t the least bit surprising. There are arguments to be made – there always are – but I’m comfortable with the selections that I’ve made. As always with this sort of thing, your mileage may vary.

Here we go: 2019’s final Clubhouse Leaders.

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AL Rookie of the Year

Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros (Third quarter: Alvarez)

Considering the relative brevity of Alvarez’s rookie season – just 87 games played – it’s pretty astonishing that he’s here. But in that half-season, Alvarez wasn’t just the best rookie hitter in the AL, he was among the best hitters period. His slash line was otherworldly - .313/.412/.655 – and he hit 27 homers. He drove in 78 and scored 58 as a key cog in another wildly successful Astros season. Had Alvarez been a little less incandescent, Chicago’s Eloy Jimenez probably gets it, hitting 31 homers and slugging .513; had Toronto’s Bo Bichette come up sooner, he might have had a shot. Instead, Yordan rules.

(Also noteworthy: Jimenez; Bichette; Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto; John Means, Baltimore; Cavan Biggio, Toronto)

NL Rookie of the Year

Peter Alonso, New York Mets (Third quarter: Alonso)

I mean, who else is it going to be? Alonso set a new MLB record for home runs by a rookie by hitting 53, leading the majors along the way. He scored 103 runs and drove in 120. Sure, his defense leaves something to be desires, but even in season of inflated power numbers, Alonso stands out. Now, the reality is that even with Alonso’s record-breaking year, a full season from San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. could have given him a run for his money. In roughly half a season, Tatis slashed .317/.379/.590; all three of those numbers outstripped Alonso. He also hit 22 homers, scored 61 and drive in 53. He also stole 16 bases while playing shortstop. Pro-rate those numbers and we’ve got something. Still, this is a no-brainer for Alonso.

(Also noteworthy: Tatis; Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves; Brian Reynolds, Pittsburgh; Mike Yastrzemski, San Francisco; Christian Walker, Arizona)

AL Cy Young

Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros (Third quarter: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros)

This is easily the closest of the bunch. I’ve gone with Gerrit Cole here, thanks to a blazing finish to the season that resulted in 20 wins and league leads in both ERA (2.50) and strikeouts (326). He also put up a WHIP of 0.89. And yet, Justin Verlander’s season was just as strong; his 2.58 ERA and 300 strikeouts are second to Cole’s numbers, while his 21 wins and 0.80 WHIP both led the league. It’s obviously a two-man race – one of these guys is absolutely going to win the award. I like Cole’s raw numbers more, but Verlander’s narrative – his age; throwing a third no-hitter – could easily get him over the top. Either one of these guys could win and it would be deserved; the only thing we know for sure is that no one else is even close.

(Also noteworthy: Verlander; Lance Lynn, Texas; Charlie Morton, Tampa Bay; Lucas Giolito, Chicago; Shane Bieber, Cleveland; Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston)

NL Cy Young

Jacob deGrom, New York Mets (Third quarter: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals)

This is a far more wide-open race than the one in the AL. There are cases to be made for a number of NL arms, but after a spectacular close to the season, I’m going with deGrom. He pitched for the Mets, so wins were in short supply – just 11 on the season – but everything else is scintillating: 2.43 ERA (second), 255 Ks (first), 0.97 WHIP (second), 204 innings (third) … the list goes on. You could make a case for Hyun-Jin Ryu and his ERA title or one of two power arms atop the Nationals rotation – Stephen Strasburg has been great, and Max Scherzer might have won another one if he hadn’t lost half-a-dozen starts to injury. But while the picture’s muddier here than in the other league, it’s going to be deGrom.

(Also noteworthy: Ryu; Strasburg; Scherzer; Mike Soroka, Atlanta; Jack Flaherty, St. Louis; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles; Patrick Corbin, Washington)

AL MVP

Alex Bregman, Houston Astros (Third quarter: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels)

This race became competitive when Mike Trout went down with an injury. I’m guessing that Bregman will be the guy who steps up. His numbers are exceptional: his slash line was .296/.423/.592; the latter two numbers were second and third in the league, respectively. He hit 41 homers – good for third – while driving in 112 (fifth), scoring 122 (fourth) and leading the league in walks with 119. He played good defense at third base and missed just six games all season. And yet … it should probably still be Trout. In just 134 games, Trout slashed .291/.438/.645 (leading the league in OBP and slugging) while hitting 45 homers (good for second). He scored 110 and drove in 104 and walked 110 times, all while playing top-tier defense in center field. It should be Trout, but he’ll probably have to settle for his fifth second place finish (to go with two wins and a fourth).

(Also noteworthy: Trout; Rafael Devers, Boston; D.J. LeMahieu, New York; George Springer, Houston; Marcus Semien, Oakland; Xander Bogaerts, Boston; Nelson Cruz, Minnesota)

NL MVP

Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers (Third quarter: Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers)

This is another race altered by a late-season injury. I’m going with Bellinger here; the numbers certainly back the choice, with a slash line of .305/.402/.629 (those numbers are ninth, third and second in the NL, respectively). He slugged 47 homers with 115 RBI and 121 runs scored (third, seventh, second) while stealing 15 bases and playing elite defense. But there’s a real argument that Christian Yelich’s numbers are better, even after losing the final three weeks to a broken kneecap. We’re talking a slash triple crown; his .329/.429/.671 line led the league in all three categories. He slugged 44 homers, drove in 97 and scored 100. He even stole 30 bases while being caught just twice. The narrative isn’t on his side; the Brewers went on a tear after he went down. It isn’t fair, but the team’s performance after he left actually hurts him. Bellinger wins it.

(Also noteworthy: Yelich; Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta; Anthony Rendon, Washington; Ketel Marte, Arizona; Pete Alonso, New York; Juan Soto, Washington; Freddie Freeman, Atlanta)

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 October 2019 10:34

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