Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 Most Valuable Player Awards

Ok, so I'm a couple of days late with this post. Now that I am back at work, writing time has been curtailed for things like work and sleep. The nerve. But here are my thoughts on the 2014 MVP vote.

-2014 American League MVP Award
Mike Trout's elusive career long chase for the American League is over!!!! Granted this is only his fourth season in the league, but after playing the bridesmaid the last two seasons to the two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, Trout brings the trophy home to New Jersey having received all 30 first place votes. In doing so, Trout at the age of 23 is the youngest to win the AL MVP in unanimous fashion.

Trout received all 30 first-place votes and 420 points. Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers came in second with 229 points and Michael Brantley of the Cleveland Indians came in third with 185 points. The voting was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Trout is first player to win the AL award unanimously since Ken Griffey Jr. did so in 1997. Trout is the second ever to win it after two consecutive second-place finishes. Mickey Mantle was the first to do so with his runner up seasons for AL MVP in 1960-1961 and his MVP season of 1962 (Mantle had already won the award twice back-to-back in 1956-1957).

Trout is the third Angels player to win the MVP award after Don Baylor in 1979 and Vladimir Guerrero in 2004.

Looking at Trout's statistics, I find something interesting.

Could this be the first time that an MVP award winner has a season with significantly lower numbers than his previous runner up season? Look at Trout's statistics, courtesy of Baseball Reference's Mike Trout page:

This is no way saying that Trout did not have an MVP type season. He definitely did. But there is no denying that his numbers dropped compared to his freshman and sophomore seasons. While Trout had the same number of doubles and triples this season  and he hit 9 more home runs and drove in 14 more runs in 2014 (36/114) than he did in 2013, he a had glaring drop in batting average from .323 to .287. He had more at-bats this season than last (602-589) but also had less hits this season compared to last season (173-190). Trout led the league in both runs scored (115) and total bases (338).

What stands out to me is the significant rise in strikeouts. Where Trout was consistent in the 130 strikeout range in 2012 and 2013, he struck out 48 more times to finish at 184. At the same time, his walks dropped from 110 in 2013 to 83 in 2014. His slash line (.377/.561/.939) while consistent in the Slugging Percentage portion ..557-.561 his on base percentage dropped from .432 to .377.

Again, I'm not saying Trout didn't have an MVP time season. He did. Could the dips in his stats be a one season thing or is it a sign of things to come. Maybe pitchers have found a weakness in Trout's armor? Who really knows but it is something that has been mentioned before. Ben Lindbergh's article Scorsese’s Oscar: Mike Trout Finally Won the MVP, But Could He Already Be in Decline? from dated November 14, 2014 touches on this and other potential factors for Trout winning the 2014 MVP award. Its definitely an interesting read.

- Click Here to access Mike Trout's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access the article Angels' Mike Trout, 23, wins MVP from dated November 13, 2014

- 2014 National League MVP Award
After I thought I couldn't say anything more about the two-time reigning National League Cy Young Award Winner Clayton Kershaw, wouldn't you know I forgot three letters: M.V.P.!!!! I know this pisses off many purists who don't think a pitcher should win the Most Valuable Award since pitchers have their own specific award: the Cy Young Award. Well, technically the hitters have their own award as well, known as the Hank Aaron Award. According to's listing for Hank Aaron Award Winners:
Awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in both leagues, the award was introduced in 1999 to mark the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record. Aaron, along with a panel of other Hall of Famers, determine the winners along with a fan vote.
Giancarlo Stanton was the 2014 recipient of the award. So based on that, the MVP is open to all players. Even pitchers. Hate to disappoint the purists but not only is Kershaw two-time reigning National League Cy Young Award Winner but now he is also the 2014 National League Most Valuable Player.

Kershaw received 18 out of 30 first-place votes and 355 points to win the award. Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins came in second with 8 out of 30 first-place votes and 298 points with Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates coming in third with 4 out of 30 first-place votes and 271 points. The voting was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kershaw is the first NL pitcher to win both the Cy Young and MVP awards in the same season since Bob Gibson achieved the feat in the magical year of 1968. He is the fourth National League pitcher overall to do so with Dodger pitchers Don Newcombe doing it first in the history of MLB in 1956 and Sandy Koufax in 1963. Kershaw is also the first pitcher league-wide since Justin Verlander to win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season since 2011.

With his third NL Cy Young Award in four years and now the 2014 NL MVP Award in his trophy case, Kershaw is making himself quite the convincing case of being the best in-season starting pitcher of our generation, all at the tender age of 26.

- Click Here to access Clayton Kershaw's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access the article Clayton Kershaw wins NL MVP from dated November 14, 2014

Both league MVP are under the age of 30 and the sky is the proverbial limit on what we can see both players do in the years to come.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2014 Cy Young Award Winners

I had mentioned to someone yesterday whether in the Cy Young Award voting we would see an upset and/or the favored choices winning the trophy. Well folks, we got a bit of both when the announcement for the awards came down from the Baseball Writers of America's mountain. Here goes.

- 2014 American League Cy Young Pitcher of the Year
Seattle Mariners fans, especially those of the King's Korner are undoubtedly still steaming from their ace Felix Hernandez being denied his second AL Cy Young Award. Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians is your 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

In a very close vote by the Baseball Writers of America, Kluber earned 17 first-place votes and 169 points with Felix Hernandez of the Mariners earning the other 13 first-place votes and 159 points. White Sox starter Chris Sale finished third with 78 points.

18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. The right-hander led the league in wins, finished second in strikeouts, third in innings pitched and was third in ERA.

After failing to make the All-Star Team, Kluber finished the season with a 10-4 record with a 1.73 ERA with 127 strikeouts and 19 walks. He pitched deep into those last 14 games, only once failing to reach into the sixth and reaching the sixth once, the seventh three times, the eighth four times, the ninth five times, completing two with one shutout.

In terms of Hernandez, the article Corey Kluber edges out King Felix from dated November 13, 2014 states:
Hernandez went 15-6 with an AL-leading 2.14 ERA and 248 strikeouts in 236 innings. He set a major league record when he pitched 16 straight games of seven or more innings and allowing two earned runs or less. It was a brilliant stretch from May to early August that put Hernandez in the lead for his second Cy Young award.
In the same 14 game stretch after the All-Star Game, Hernandez went 8-6 with a 2.16 ERA with 94 strikeouts and 21 walks. In those last 14-games, Hernandez failed to reach the sixth four times. He finished the sixth three times, the seventh seven times and the eighth twice. Hernandez was a victim of his team's lack of offensive performance in those games.

Kluber becomes the fourth Cleveland Indians pitcher to win the American League Cy Young Award Gaylord Perry in 1972, C.C. Sabathia in 2007 and Cliff Lee in 2008.

As I told my friend Christopher yesterday, I think Kluber's strong finish and the complete games/shutouts were the determining factors that led to his winning the AL Cy Young. I would have been satisfied if either he or Hernandez won the award. Both were deserving of the recognition.

- Click Here for Corey Kluber's 2014 Statistics from Baseball
- Click Here for Felix Hernandez's 2014 Statistics from Baseball
- Click Here for the article Could Corey Kluber become the first Cleveland Indians pitcher to win two AL Cy Young Awards? by Paul Hoynes from The website

- 2014 National League Cy Young Pitcher of the Year
What can I say about Clayton Kershaw that hasn't been said already. Kershaw is quickly staking his claim as being arguably the most dominant pitcher of our generation by winning the National League Cy Young Award for the third time in the last four seasons.

Kershaw won the award via a unanimous vote taking all 30 first place votes. Cincinnati Reds' starter Johnny Cueto finished second and the St. Louis Cardinals' starter Adam Wainwright finished third.

According to the article Clayton Kershaw wins NL Cy Young dated November 12, 2014:
Kershaw, who also won the award in 2011 and 2013, went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA this past season, leading the Dodgers (94-68) to their second straight NL West title. Kershaw was baseball's most dominant pitcher despite missing over a month with a back injury. He led the majors in wins and ERA and had 239 strikeouts in just 198 1/3 innings.
Kershaw also threw his first career no-hitter on June 18, when he had 15 strikeouts and did not walk a batter against the Colorado Rockies.

In doing so, he becomes the 14th National League pitcher to win the award unanimously. According to the BBWAA website, Sandy Koufax achieved it three times, Greg Maddux twice and once apiece by Randy Johnson, Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Rick Sutcliffe, Dwight Gooden, Orel Hershiser, Jake Peavy and Roy Halladay.

Kershaw is also the fifth NL pitcher to win the award in consecutive seasons. Maddux and Johnson each won four years in a row. The other back-to-back winners were Koufax and Tim Lincecum.

Kershaw’s third Cy Young Award tied the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers’ franchise record that was originally held by Sandy Koufax and is the eighth Dodgers pitcher to win the award and the twelfth time that the a Dodgers pitcher won the award. Don Newcombe was the first in 1956, followed by Don Drysdale in 1962, Sandy Koufax in 1963, 1965-1966, Mike Marshall in 1974, Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, Orel Hershiser in 1988, Eric Gagne in 2003 and finally Clayton Kershaw in 2011, 2013-2014.

Kershaw is also the sixth pitcher to win three Cy Young Awards in a four-year span since the award was first given in 1956. The other pitchers are Randy Johnson 1999-2002, Pedro Martinez 1997-2000, Greg Maddux 1992-1995, Jim Palmer 1973-1976 and Sandy Koufax 1963-1966.

What's even more impressive that Kershaw has only been in the league for seven years and has been a full-time player for the last six years. At the current age of 26, it is scary to think how much more he will improve and how many more awards he might be capable of winning. Now if the Dodgers can only get him a better bullpen so he can win a post-season game.

- Click Here to see Clayton Kershaw's 2014 Statistics from Baseball

Later on today will be the Most Valuable Player announcement. Will it be a Southern California clean sweep with Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw winning the award? Or will it be a Tigers player once again spoiling it for Trout, this time in the form of Victor Martinez. Can the Indians make it another upset in the form of Michael Brantley? Can Andrew McCutchen make it two in a row in the National League? Will Giancarlo Stanton grab the NL MVP trophy and further use that as a bargaining chip in his extension negotiations with the Marlins? We'll have to wait for 6pm to see who wins the awards.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

2014 Managers of the Year

The 2014 Managers of the Year Awards were handed out today. Who won the trophies? Read on and find out.

- 2014 American League Manager of the Year
Baltimore Orioles skipper Buck Showalter wins the 2014 AL Manager of the Year award for 3rd time while leading the Baltimore Orioles to a 96-66 record. This is Showalter's 3rd Manager of the Year Award with his 3rd different franchise. His previous two awards came with the New York Yankees in 1994 and the Texas Rangers in 2004. Since the award was first given out in 1983, Showalter is the sixth manager with three or more Manager of the Year awards. Bobby Cox, and Tony LaRussa have four awards while Dusty Baker, Jim Leyland, and Lou Piniella have three apiece.

Showalter received 25 first-place votes. Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Kansas City Royals skipper Ned Yost finished second and third, respectively. The voting was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Showalter is the first Orioles manager to win the award since Davey Johnson in 1997.

- 2014 National League Manager of the Year
Washington Nationals first year manager Matt Williams wins NL Manager of the Year award. Like his contemporary up the Beltway in Baltimore, Williams led the Nationals to a National League best 96-66 record and NL East title. In doing so, Williams was the fourth manager to win the award in his first year joining Hal Lanier of the Houston Astros in 1986, Dusty Baker of the San Francisco Giants in 1993 and Joe Girardi of the Florida Marlins in 2006.

Williams received 18 of 30 first-place votes. Last year's National League Manager of the Year Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates came in second with eight first-place votes while Bruce Bochy on the World Champion San Francisco Giants came in third, earning three first-place votes. The voting was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Williams is the second Nationals' manager to win the award after Davey Johnson who won the award in 2012. Williams is the fourth Manager of the Year when taking into account the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals history. Buck Rogers in 1987 and Felipe Alou in 1994 won the awards while the team was in Montreal.

The future looks bright for both teams that play in the Beltway Metropolitan area of Baltimore/Washington DC. Congrats to both managers on their awards.

Tomorrow the Cy Young Awards will be announced at 6 p.m.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

2014 Rookies of the Year

The first of the 2014 MLB Year End Awards have been handed out. So let's not wait anymore time and get cracking on who won the hardware.

- 2014 American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year

Slugging first baseman Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox is the winner of the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year. Abreu earned all 30 first-place votes outdistancing Los Angeles Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker and New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances who finished second and third, respectively

Abreu led all rookies in home runs (36), RBIs (107), hits (176), doubles (35), runs scored (80), OBP (.383), slugging percentage (.581) and OPS (.964).

Since the Rookie of the Year Award was first given out in 1947, only four rookies have batted at least .300, hit at least 30 home runs and driven in at least 100 runs. All four including Abreu have won their league's respective Rookie of the Year award. The other three players? Walt Dropo for the Boston Red Sox in 1950, Mike Piazza for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1993 and Albert Pujols for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001.

Abreu is the sixth White Sox player to win the American League Rookie of the Year award after Luis Aparicio 1956, Gary Peters 1963, Tommie Agee 1966, Ron Kittle 1983, Ozzie Guillen 1985.

- 2014 National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year

Starting pitcher Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets is the winner of the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year. DeGrom received 26 of the 30 first-place votes. Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton and St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong finished second and third, respectively. The vote was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

DeGrom, 26, went 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 140 1/3 innings pitched over 22 starts.

DeGrom is the fifth Mets' player to win the National League Rookie of the Year award after Tom Seaver 1967, Jon Matlack 1972, Darryl Strawberry 1983 and Dwight Gooden 1984.

Congratulations to both players and continued success in their respective careers. The next award to be given out is Manager of the Year which will be announced today Tuesday November 12th at 6 p.m.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco