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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Analyzing MLB awards candidates 

Examining the candidates for several awards including as Most Valuable Player, Cy Young and more

By PATRICK FIGUEROA — sports@theaggie.org

 

One of the biggest accomplishments for a professional baseball player is the opportunity to win an MLB award. Every year after the postseason, some of the best players from the American League (AL) and National League (NL) receive awards for their outstanding performances. While there is still a lot of time before the winners are announced, sports fans should start getting to know some of the candidates for these awards to keep an eye on throughout the postseason. 

 

AL Manager of the Year 

Behind every successful team, there is almost always a star manager leading the way. In the AL, top candidates for this year’s award include Brandon Hyde of the Baltimore Orioles, Scott Servais of the Seattle Mariners and Terry Francona of the Cleveland Guardians. Hyde was able to lead the Orioles, who had 110 losses in 2021, to an 83-79 record in 2022. Servais led the way as the Mariners ended a 20-year playoff drought this season. Francona took the Guardians, the youngest team in MLB, to the playoffs in 2022. 

 

NL Manager of the Year 

In the NL, the top candidates for manager of the year include Rob Thomson of the Philadelphia Phillies, Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Buck Showalter of the New York Mets. The Phillies appointed Thomson as their interim manager after firing their former manager, Joe Girardi, after a subpar start to the season. Thomson took over the Phillies, who had a 22-29 record, and led them to the playoffs. By doing so, he was awarded with a contract extension. Roberts led a talented Dodgers team to a franchise-record number of wins (111) in a single season. Showalter returned to managing for the first time since 2018 and led the Mets to 100 wins for the fourth time in franchise history. 

 

AL Rookie of the Year 

This year’s rookie class had strong performances during the season, which catapulted a few of them into contention for Rookie of the Year. Seattle Mariners’ outfielder Julio Rodríguez was the first player in MLB history to have more than 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases as a rookie. Orioles’ catcher Adley Rutschman, the top MLB prospect in 2021, had a spectacular season with 30 doubles, 55 walks and 13 home runs. Cleveland Guardians’ outfielder Steven Kwan was crucial to the team’s playoff run with a .298 batting average, .373 on-base percentage (OBP) and 19 stolen bases. 

 

NL Rookie of the Year 

Two of the best rookies this season played for the Atlanta Braves. Pitcher Spencer Strider and outfielder Michael Harris helped the defending World Series champions win 101 games this season. Strider reached 200 strikeouts faster than anyone in MLB history, thus earning him a contract extension. Harris also received a contract extension after he hit 19 home runs, along with 64 runs batted in (RBI) and stellar defense in center field.

 

AL Cy Young 

Pitching is important for success — having a pitcher who can dominate is an advantage. Some of the AL Cy Young candidates include Houston Astros’ pitcher Justin Verlander, White Sox’s pitcher Dylan Cease and Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Shohei Ohtani. After Tommy John surgery, 39-year-old Verlander looked like he was in his prime with a league best 1.75 earned run average (ERA). Cease finished his spectacular season with a 14-8 record, 2.20 ERA and the third-lowest batting average allowed in MLB (.190). The two-way phenom Ohtani was great on the mound with a 2.33 ERA, 219 strikeouts and a 15-9 record.    

 

NL Cy Young 

The NL also featured dominant pitching this season. Miami Marlins’ pitcher Sandy Alcantara had six complete games. The next closest NL pitcher to this amount of complete games is Philadelphia Phillies’ pitcher Aaron Nola with two. Arizona Diamondbacks’ young pitcher Zac Gallen had a streak of 44 ⅓ scoreless innings this season. Another young pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Julio Urias, was also outstanding with the best ERA in the NL (2.16). 

 

AL MVP 

The AL MVP race is a hotly-contested one between two extraordinary players. On one side is New York Yankees’ outfielder Aaron Judge, who had a historic season. Not only did he lead the league in wins above replacement (WAR), on-base percentage, slugging percentage, total bases and home runs, but he also broke the AL home run record. On the other side is another player having a historic season, the previously mentioned Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani’s two-way skills make him the first player in MLB history to qualify for the leaderboards as a pitcher and a hitter. His hitting numbers are just as impressive as his pitching numbers, with 34 home runs, 95 RBI and an .875 on-base plus slugging (OPS). It will be difficult for voters to pick between these two phenomenal players.

 

NL MVP

  As for the NL MVP, some of the candidates are St. Louis Cardinals’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Los Angeles Dodgers’ first baseman Freddie Freeman and Padres’ third baseman Manny Machado. Goldschmidt led the NL in slugging-percentage (.578), OPS (.981) and finished top 10 in home runs (35) in MLB. In his first year as a Dodger, Freeman led the NL in OBP (.407) and hits (199) and led MLB in doubles (47). Machado was crucial for his team to make the playoffs as he accumulated 6.8 WAR, an .898 OPS and hit 32 home runs. 

With so many great candidates, voters are going to have a tough time picking winners for each award. Regardless of who wins, all players mentioned were necessary for their team’s success. Baseball fans were lucky to witness a special season.

 

Written by: Patrick Figueroa — sports@theaggie.org