Call it a heads-up or a warning as yours truly embarks on the annual task of selecting the top award winners upon the conclusion of the Major League Baseball season. That is, you can find how much stock I put into playing for playoff teams in the middle of a doughnut when it comes to making my selections.
For some unexplained reason, the trend for quite some time has been precluding players on non-contenders in regard to such awards. I’ve even heard some folks call for separate Most Valuable Player and Player of the Year honors.
Hogwash. They’re the same damn thing.
No player can be blamed that his teammates are not talented enough to raise the level of overall team performance. And no player should be penalized in regard to postseason awards because he didn’t wear the right uniform.
Naturally, most of the award winners are going to come from winning teams because their numbers played a huge role in sweetening the records of those teams. But I use team success only as a tiebreakera��and there were no ties here.
So with that in mind, here are my selections with slash lines or pitching lines through Sept. 30 in parenthesis:
American League Most Valuable Player
Josh Donaldson, Toronto (.300/.375/.577, 8.7 fWAR): Donaldson has been the most consistently productive hitter in the league from the start of the season. His 41 home runs and 123 RBI are easily career-highs. He is the biggest reason the Blue Jays appear destined to win the division.
2. Mike Trout (Los Angeles); 3. Nelson Cruz (Seattle)
National League Most Valuable Player
Bryce Harper, Washington (.331/.463/.649, 9.5 fWAR): Come on, look at the absurd on-base percentage alone. He has 41 home runs despite being pitched around all season. This one is a no-doubter.
2. Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona); 3. Jake Arrieta (Chicago)
American League Cy Young
Dallas Keuchel, Houston (19-8, 2.47 ERA, 6.2 fWAR): Twenty-six quality starts in 32 tries explains this choice. Keuchel has remained a force from the beginning of the season to the end. He has allowed more than four earned runs just three times all year.
2. David Price (Toronto); 3. Carlos Carrasco (Cleveland)
National League Cy Young
Jake Arrieta, Chicago (21-6, 1.82, 7.0 fWAR): Arrieta has catapulted to the top with an historic run down the stretch in which he has won seven straight starts while allowing a mere two runs over 61 innings pitched. He has turned a tight Cy Young race into a slam-dunk.
2. Zack Greinke (Los Angeles); 3. Mark Melancon (Pittsburgh)
American League Rookie of the Year
Francisco Lindor, Cleveland (.323/.360/.496, 4.6 fWAR): This is a close call, but Lindor has proven to be more impressive all-around than Correa. He has hit .360 since the All-Star break and has greatly risen his level of performance from his minor league days. He does everything well and has hit for more power than at any point in his professional career.
2. Carlos Correa (Houston); 3. Miguel Sano (Minnesota)
National League Rookie of the Year
Kris Bryant, Chicago (.279/.369/.495, 6.2 fWAR): Bryant has had the luxury of playing virtually all season while other candidates were promoted or emerged as starters later in the year. His 26 home runs and 99 RBI makes it easy to overlook his rather disturbing strikeout total.
2. Matt Duffy (San Francisco); 3. Noah Syndergaard (New York)
American League Manager of the Year
A.J. Hinch, Houston: Hinch has guided what was the worst darn team in baseball into the brink of the playoffs. Even if the Astros fall short, this is a no-brainer. Granted, the performance of Keuchel, fellow starter Collin McHugh, and an influx of fine young hitters has played a huge role in their emergence as a postseason contender, but Hinch deserves plenty of credit as well.
2. John Gibbons (Toronto); 3. Ned Yost (Kansas City)
National League Manager of the Year
Mike Matheny, St. Louis: Granted, I’m going against the grain here by picking the manager with the best record in baseball, but that’s because the Cardinals don’t have the premier talent in the National League. That distinction overall belongs to Washington or Los Angeles, but Matheny has shown the ability to maximize his team’s talent year after year and this one might be his best.
2. Joe Maddon (Chicago); 3. Terry Collins (New York)