Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

My 2016 End-of-Season Awards Predictions

24 comments

Scherzer may have the best shot of our 4 "finalists" for awards this week. Photo via washtimes.com

Scherzer may have the best shot of our 4 “finalists” for awards this week. Photo via washtimes.com

Quick break from Nats off-season stuff to talk about the “silly season” of baseball.  Its awards week, with all the major BBWAA awards to be given out this week.

Here’s my predictions for how the awards will go.  This is not necessarily how I believe the awards should go … once again, I think narrative wins out over Mike Trout‘s 10+ WAR season, and we may see an east coast bias in the AL rookie award.  But lets see how it goes.

Here’s the list of finalists, published last week.

The writers have to submit their ballots at the end of the season; I finished this post in early October but waited until the awards season to arrive to publish it.  Thus, it contains no inclusion of any post-season accolades or accomplishments since the votes were already in before the playoffs started.

How do I think the voting will go?

  • AL MVP: Betts, Trout, Donaldson, Machado, Altuve (maybe some 5th place votes for Ortiz).
  • NL MVP: Bryant, Seager, Murphy, Rizzo, Freeman/Arenado
  • AL Cy Young: Kluber, Verlander, Porcello, Sale, Britton
  • NL Cy Young: Scherzer, Fernandez, Hendricks, Lester, Snydergaard
  • AL Rookie: Sanchez, Fulmer, Mazara
  • NL Rookie: Seager, Turner, Maeda
  • AL Manager: Franconia, Bannister, Girardi
  • NL Manager: Baker, Maddon, Roberts

Actual Award Results added as they were awarded:

My prediction results: 4 for 8.  Got Seager, Franconia, Scherzer, Bryant.  Missed on Fulmer, Roberts, Porcello, Trout.  Historically i’ve been pretty good at these predictions; this was a very bad year for me.  Which is good, because it means that the electorate is improving and that generally my over-thinking of voters picking bad results should lessen.

Links to other awards that I didn’t necessarily predict:


 

Note: I made some prediction mistakes based on the publication of the 3 finalist links; I’ll note those in the discussion links below.

Discussion:

  • AL MVP : I know some view “MVP” as “Best Player,” but it isn’t.  And I’m in agreeance with the narrative that with like candidates, the playoff chase matters.  Who cares that the Angels went 74-88 with 10-win Trout; Betts had nearly as valuable a season while doing a bit of everything for Boston.  Betts wins, Trout gets another 2nd place finish.  With the publication of the finalists, we now know that I was wrong on Donaldson for 3rd and that it will go to Altuve; i get that, since Altuve was “in the lead” for a lot of the season.
  • NL MVP: Bryant and it isn’t close.  I think Seager gets 2nd over Murphy b/c he’s a short stop.
  • AL Cy Young: I like Kluber slightly over Verlander but I could see arguments on both sides.  What I really hope does NOT happen is over-emphasis on Britton’s season.  Yes he’s had a nice season; no he isn’t the best pitcher in the AL.  I am slightly proud of myself for at least getting the top 3 right.
  • NL Cy Young: Kershaw’s injury has opened the door for a slew of guys: Scherzer probably has the combination of wins, IPs, Ks to be the “leader” even if he’s eclipsed in WAR by Fernandez, Snydergaard.  Lester, Cueto and Hendricks also each have cases.  This could be a completely wide-open race.  I wrote most of this before the tragic death of Fernandez; will he now win out of sentimentality?  No he won’t; with the publication of the 3 finalists we know Fernandez wasn’t in the top 3.
  • AL Rookie: Michael Fulmer was a shoe-in until Gary Sanchez hit 20 homers in his first 45 games; this race is closer than you might think.  Fulmer really should get it, but the NY media narrative game is strong.  I think Sanchez ekes it out; it was a pretty historic debut.  I did get the third finalist wrong, Cleveland’s Naquin sneaks in.
  • NL Rookie: Seager is in the MVP discussion and should win unanimously.  Trea Turner’s probably top 3, as is Seager’s japanese teammate Maeda.  I am guessing Maeda pips Turner for 2nd place based on playing a full season.
  • AL Manager: No idea how this goes: maybe Franconia in Cleveland still?  Perhaps Girardi for having the Yankees in the WC mix after their sell-off?  Maybe John Ferrell for getting Boston’s act back together?  Maybe Bannister in Texas for running away with a division that most thought Houston would win?  I thought Girardi would sneak in over Francona; if we knew about Francona’s post-season exploits we may be giving him the award unanimously.
  • NL Manager: Baker in Washington still for me.  Yes Maddon will get some love, but Baker’s going to improve the Nats by 13 wins; the Cubs were widely expected to get to 100 wins.  Maybe Roberts in LA gets some love too.  Honestly this is the award i’m least confident in guessing.

 


 

Running Diary of Awards candidates.

End of April; Here’s MLB’s players of the month link.

  • MVP : Manny Machado and Bryce Harper had fantastic months.  Names also in the mix early in 2016: Dexter Fowler, Nolan Arenado, Josh Donaldson.
  • Cy Young: Jordan Zimmermann and Jake Arrieta, picking up right where he left off.  Also off to great starts: Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg and Noah Snydergaard.
  • Rookie: Nomar Mazara and Trevor Story.  Also in the mix: Kenta Maeda, Aledmys Diaz, Vincent Velasquez.

Mid May Check-in:

  • MVP : Jose Altuve now in the lead in the AL.  Machado and Mike Trout in the mix.  In the NL Harper has tailed off, opening the door for Clayton Kershaw and Anthony Rizzo to nose their way into the discussion.  Arenado also tailed off a bit in May but still strong.
    Cy Young: Sale has won his first 9 starts and looks unbeatable; Zimmermann has taken a step back in the AL race.  In the NL, Kershaw remains the class of the league and the likes of Arrieta and Strasburg stay close behind.
  • Rookie: Nomar Mazara leading the way in the AL: Twins 1B Byung Ho Park close behind.  In the NL, Diaz is also an MVP candidate right now and remains in the NL ROY lead.  Story’s “storybook” start keeps him close.

Half-way point of the season: Cliff Corcoran’s First half Awards,  Jeff Passan‘s mid-way awards article.  The Ringer’s Mike Baumann‘s mid-season awards post.

  • AL MVP : Jose Altuve has cooled slightly, leaving last year’s 1-2 finishers Trout and Donaldson in the lead again this year.  But if Altuve continues to produce at these levels (with slash lines nearly identical to Trout’s) he’ll win as long as Houston stays in the playoff hunt.  And once again, Trout finds himself leading the league in value-based stats while playing for a dead-last team, and once again he likely finishes 2nd to someone like Donaldson, who has a good but not as good of a season but plays for a winner.  Ortiz’s monster farewell season gets him top 5 votes.
  • NL MVP: Harper has never regained his bat since the walk-a-thon in Chicago, and with a lack of any other candidate it seems ripe for another Kershaw double.  He’s hit the D/L though, having some wonder if the likes of Kris Bryant could get the award since he’s the best player on (one of the) best teams.  Matt Carpenter is quietly having a fantastic season.  If the Giants (as of the halfway point owning a better record), then their leader Buster Posey will get votes.
  • AL Cy Young: Sale has started the season 14-2 and Cleveland’s entire rotation (led by Danny Salazar) sits among various league leader categories.
  • NL Cy Young: Kershaw remains the class of the league and needs to miss significant time to lose out.  Its hard to fathom the season he’s having, with just 9 walks in 121 innings in the first half.  Strasburg is the first NL starter in 100 years to start a season 12-0 and seems like the likely 2nd place finisher.  But there’s a slew of NL starters with sterling numbers right now: Bumgarner and Cueto in particular.  NL East beasts Snydergaard and Fernandez have been awesome as well.
  • AL Rookie: Nomar Mazara has tailed off and Park got demoted to AAA; the leader in the  clubhouse seems like Detroit starter Michael Fulmer right now.  Tyler Naquin is in the running, and Baltimore’s Hyun Soo Kim is there as well.
  • NL Rookie: Diaz and Story are still on the whole having great seasons but Dodger SS Corey Seager is running away with this and could hit 30 homers from the shortstop position this year.  Don’t sleep on Seager’s teammmate Kenta Maeda though; he’s rebounded from a rough patch to be a solid starter.
  • AL Manager: probably Jeff Bannister for the turnaround in Texas.  Perhaps Terry Franconia for the surprise in Cleveland.
  • NL Manager: likely our own Baker for having the Nats on a 96 win pace, which would beat 2015 by 13 games.  But likely it goes to Bochy or Madden for leading good teams to good records.
  • Comeback Player of the year: I have nothing narrative-driven for either league.  Maybe Stephen Wright in the AL and maybe Anthony Rendon in the NL?

Mid August check in:

  • AL MVP : I think it goes Altuve-Trout-Donaldson at this point.  Betts and Machado fill out the top 5.
  • NL MVP: With Kershaw’s injury, I think its Kris Bryant’s to lose.  Daniel Murphy gets some top 5 votes, as does Buster Posey and Nolan Arenado.
  • AL Cy Young: Hamels and Quintana seem like the obvious choices, even if Fulmer is leading the league in bWAR.
  • NL Cy Young: Kershaw’s injury has opened the door for a slew of guys: Bumgarner, Scherzer and Strasburg, deGrom and Arrieta.  Who knows how it shakes out.  If Strasburg finishes the season 21-3 though, it’ll be hard to vote against him.
  • AL Rookie: Michael Fulmer leads the AL in bWAR midway through August; he seems like a shoe-in for ROY.  And he’s crushed it for my fantasy team too; that Cespedes trade isn’t looking so hot now is it?
  • NL Rookie: Seager sits 3rd in the NL in bWAR; he has to be the unanimous vote right now.
  • AL Manager: Franconia in Cleveland.
  • NL Manager: Baker in Washington.

Mid September check-in:

  • AL MVP : Its tight: Trout has now eclipsed 10 WAR on the season.  Altuve has dropped out, but Betts has risen.  Its going to be close, but I think it goes Betts-Trout-Donaldson with Machado and Altuve filling out the top 5.  You have to think Ortiz’s monster farewell season will get some votes too.
  • NL MVP: This is now Bryant’s to lose.  Daniel Murphy gets some top 5 votes, as does Buster Posey and Corey Seager.  Anthony Rizzo also gets some MVP votes, and if the Mets somehow sneak into the playoffs so does Cespedes on narrative.  Freddie Freeman getting some attention with his monster WAR season but he’ll be a 5th-place type vote getter at best.
  • AL Cy Young: this race is wide open.  Kluber leads the league in bWAR but may not be the best pitcher on his staff.  Porcello has reached 20 wins but is vastly eclipsed by Kluber in terms of Ks.  Sale, Quintana in the mix, as is Verlander.  Tanaka has quietly had a solid season too.  Some narrative-driven writers are pushing for Zach Britton.
  • NL Cy Young: Kershaw’s injury has opened the door for a slew of guys: Scherzer probably has the combination of wins, IPs, Ks to be the “leader” even if he’s eclipsed in WAR by Fernandez, Snydergaard.  Lester, Cueto and Hendricks also each have cases.  This could be a completely wide-open race.  I wrote most of this before the tragic death of Fernandez; will he now win out of sentimentality?
  • AL Rookie: Michael Fulmer was a shoe-in until Gary Sanchez hit 20 homers in his first 45 games; this race is closer than you might think.  Fulmer really should get it, but the NY media narrative game is strong.
  • NL Rookie: Seager is in the MVP discussion and should win unanimously.  Trea Turner’s probably top 3, as is Seager’s japanese teammate Maeda.
  • AL Manager: No idea how this goes: maybe Franconia in Cleveland still?  Perhaps Girardi for having the Yankees in the WC mix after their sell-off?  Maybe John Ferrell for getting Boston’s act back together?  Maybe Bannister in Texas for running away with a division that most thought Houston would win?
  • NL Manager: Baker in Washington still for me.  Yes Maddon will get some love, but Baker’s going to improve the Nats by 13 wins; the Cubs were widely expected to get to 100 wins.  Maybe Roberts in LA gets some love too.

 

24 Responses to 'My 2016 End-of-Season Awards Predictions'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'My 2016 End-of-Season Awards Predictions'.

  1. Yep, NL MVP isn’t close. One guy led the other in BA (+55), OBP (+5), and the supposed slugger in SLG (+41). He also played a larger overall role in his team’s division title run. The guy’s name is Daniel Murphy. Just remember these things when the Cub-obsessed media picks the other guy.

    Trea also slashed better than Seager in every category, but I do understand that the full season of work will win out. Trea deserves to be 2d, though.

    I hope Max wins, but it didn’t particularly feel like a “Cy Young season” as it was unfolding. I think that one will be a very close vote among Max, Thor, and Jose. If there’s any nod for leading the team to the playoffs, that goes to Max.

    KW

    14 Nov 16 at 11:11 am

  2. Totally agree on Scherzer not being a “Cy Young worthy” season … it was a weird one to predict. I don’t think the electorate “falls” for Hendricks’ low ERA but weaker season. Maybe Lester wins. I dunno. Hard one to handicap.

    Todd Boss

    14 Nov 16 at 1:47 pm

  3. Um, the trade value of our starters just went up: Hellickson accepted the QO. Wow. And a Boras client to boot! The teams in the market for pitching just got more desperate.

    KW

    14 Nov 16 at 2:46 pm

  4. Philly is *kicking* themselves right now. The last thing they wanted was a $17M 4th starter. But agreed; the trade market keeps heating up. You have to think Rizzo is going to be fielding lots of phone calls.

    Todd Boss

    15 Nov 16 at 8:38 am

  5. You have to wonder whether the Mets wanted a $17M 2B as well, although they would have been hard pressed to replace Walker’s offense . . . if he’s healthy.

    But yes, in a market desperate for starters, Gio, Cole, and even Voth have some good value right now. And Rich Hill may get an even more ridiculous contract than we thought. And how else do you explain the Braves paying a combined $20M this year for two starters whose collective age will be 86!!! Was Livan not available?

    KW

    15 Nov 16 at 8:57 am

  6. Regarding MVP, I’d agree that batting results go to Murph, but defense and base running count too, and that slides it to Bryant, imo.

    I think Max had a great season. The beginning was rocky with the HRs but otherwise he was elite. I’ll be disappointed if one of the cubbies wins. But I am so sick of them that maybe it colors my view.

    Wally

    15 Nov 16 at 10:12 am

  7. MVP is easy for me. Here’s how I calculate MVPs in the modern day.
    – Find the playff teams
    – identify the best player on the team
    – vote based on who was best.

    So in the NL: Cubs, Nats, Dodgers plus WC teams Mets and Giants kicks off 5 default mvp candidate: Bryant, Murphy, Seager, Cespedes and Posey. I’d almost wager that this is the top 5 of the voting, with the possible exception of an additional Cub getting thrown in at the expense of Cespedes or Posey. But we already know the top 5 are the best from each divisional winner.

    In the end, i never thought Murphy had a chance over Bryant just based on narrative.

    Todd Boss

    15 Nov 16 at 11:07 am

  8. Chelsea Janes makes the argument that the Nats shouldn’t spend for one of the big-three FA closers:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/nationals-journal/wp/2016/11/15/should-the-nationals-spend-big-to-improve-their-bullpen/

    KW

    15 Nov 16 at 12:34 pm

  9. MVP: another important point should be how “valuable” each guy was to his team. One could argue that the Nats without Murph and the Dodgers without Seager would have been worse off than the Cubs without Bryant. The Dodgers likely would not have won the close division race. With the Nats, the division wasn’t as close, and they probably would have had a full season of Trea at 2B instead. But as it was, Murphy was a huge part of the lineup.

    Murphy also led Bryant in two of the three “traditional” stats, BA and RBIs, and outdistanced him in both the newer ones of OBP and SLG. Murphy also had 12 more doubles than Bryant despite playing fewer games, and even two more triples.

    My argument isn’t that Bryant isn’t a deserving candidate; it’s more that Murphy’s very deserving contribution doesn’t even seem to be getting much consideration in the face of the tidal wave of Cubbie fawning.

    KW

    15 Nov 16 at 12:47 pm

  10. I will say, the electorate is definitely changing and for the better. I thought for sure that the east coast/Yankee narrative would have Sanchez’ amazing career start get him votes over the more deserving Fulmer. I was way wrong; Fulmer got 26 of 30 first place votes.

    So that’s a good thing for these awards; more “smart” writers depending more on stats and analysis and less on eyeballs is good for the awards. Will it get Trout the MVP? I doubt it.

    Todd Boss

    15 Nov 16 at 12:54 pm

  11. Trout may be on his way to his fourth MVP 2d place in five full seasons. In those five years, the Halos have finished 3d, 3d, 1st (with Trout winning MVP), 3d, and now 4th, a painful 21 games out.

    KW

    15 Nov 16 at 1:19 pm

  12. Roberts is MOY for winning 91 with a team with a $250M payroll? That bar seems pretty low. I know I’ve been pretty anti-Cubbie, but in this case, I do give Maddon credit for mostly delivering on expectations. But he did have the best lineup and best pitching staff in baseball, largely injury-free, except for Schwarber. And of course Dusty took over a dysfunctional clubhouse and improved the win total by 12. I think both Dusty and Maddon delivered more than Roberts.

    KW

    16 Nov 16 at 5:12 am

  13. Increasing buzz about the Nats being in on Sale or Archer. First of all, I see Sale as being a cut above Archer. Second, do you really want to trade two or three of your best prospects to fill a spot where you don’t really have a need? I would think that either deal would involve giving up Robles plus two from among Giolito/Lopez/Ross/Fedde. That’s as much as 12 years of control of two top young arms for three years of Sale. That seems like mortgaging a lot of future for the sake of the “window.”

    KW

    16 Nov 16 at 5:19 am

  14. Manager of the year is a tough one. Roberts wins the division with a ridiculous payroll; congrats. Clearly the thought from voters was “man he dealt with some serious pitching issues all year.” Maddon is a genius but he also clearly had the best team in the majors. That’s why i advocated/predicted Baker; not as a homer pick but as a manager that basically took the same team that won 82 last year and won 95 this year.

    Franconia just cemented his Hall of Fame case and is no surprise in Cleveland.

    Todd Boss

    16 Nov 16 at 9:13 am

  15. Why do we “need” a starter? why is there focus on a starter when we have big, clear holes at SS, C, CF?

    Todd Boss

    16 Nov 16 at 9:14 am

  16. Besides, wasn’t this World Series the ultimate example of the devaluation of the starter?

    As for actual needs, Boz made a good point in his chat this week. When asked about the Nats’ chances to re-sign Ramos, he said nearly nil, ticketing him for the AL. As we’ve discussed, Boz sees no good alternatives at catcher, though, and thinks the Nats will go with Severino. If they do, he was adamant that the Nats HAVE to replace Danny in the lineup, as the bottom three can’t be Danny/Seve/P. I totally agree. They’ve got to find an OF or SS to replace Danny in the lineup, probably pushing Zim down to 7th.

    Anonymous

    16 Nov 16 at 9:36 am

  17. It’s true we don’t “need” a starter the same way we “need’ SS, C, or CF. But the goal is to score more runs and to allow fewer. Improving a strength can conceivably do that just as much as improving a weakness can.

    The reason you might target a weakness for improvement is that there is more “room” to improve, i.e., there is more room between Danny and the best SS in baseball than there is between Gio and the best LH starter in baseball. But (a) markets for baseball players of a certain type can be thin and (b) payroll is a constraint that complicates things. The Nats may be targeting Sale because he’s available (and a C or CF they like is not) and they pay for him with prospects rather than free agent dollars.

    I think it’s at least plausible that Sale could improve the team more than, say Dexter Fowler, even though Sale doesn’t fill a hole. Sale probably makes it easier to trade Gio, whose payroll can be diverted to other places (and look at Bartolo Dickey to tell you how much value Gio has).

    If it were me, I probably wouldn’t be chasing Sale, but I don’t think it’s necessarily stupid. Scherzer-Sale-Strasburg would be tough in the playoffs.

    Derek

    16 Nov 16 at 12:02 pm

  18. Lots of these rumor sites have us signing up for 3-4 years of Wieters thanks to the Boras connection. Please let us not do that. His numbers and health are clearly in decline. I’d rather give Ramos a pillow contract and just suffer through 2-3 months of Lobaton/Severino.

    Todd Boss

    16 Nov 16 at 12:02 pm

  19. What do people think of Carlos Gomez? I assume everyone would be ok with a 1/$10m pillow deal, but would you go to 3 years? I don’t think I would but he is interesting, similar to Cutch but without the big cost in prospects

    I think Derek is right that Sale could have one of the bigger improvements on the Nats, even though it isn’t obvious. He could be a 4 WAR pick up over their current #5. Superstars have a way of doing that :-)

    I’d still bet on a low impact trade for C. Norris remains my guess, but Suzuki could fit.

    Wally

    16 Nov 16 at 12:33 pm

  20. I wouldn’t hate getting Sale at all. He’d certainly be a boost to the rotation. I just don’t think he’s worth three top-50 prospects relative to the Nat needs right now. Now if the deal also included Eaton and Robertson . . . (and yes, that would take more than three prospects).

    The Braves gave Colon essentially what Gio makes, which is nuts. Gio is a great combination of talent and contract for someone willing to make a good offer for him. So is Cole, who costs nothing and could start for most MLB rotations.

    I’d be OK with Wieters for 2/$20M, but I’m sure he and Scott want more, and for a longer term. Were he to end up with the Nats, I think it would probably be one of those mid-Feb. Boras-Nat pillow deals, for one or two years. But he might be able to get the same to stay in Balto.

    KW

    16 Nov 16 at 12:36 pm

  21. Wally, I had a real thing for Gomez a couple of years ago. Now, the thing that would scare me is the high K rate. If we want to see that show, we can just play Michael A.

    I’m sure the Nats are getting a lot of calls about their prospects, but I have a hard time seeing them part with many of them. I think it would take a true (and not-regressing) all-star to get them to part with Robles. They might be tempted to part with one from among Lopez/Giolito/Fedde, but I would think only one.

    We’ll see. It’s going to be an interesting offseason. The Nats have a good number of chips with which to play, if someone can really tempt Rizzo. But I would think he would be more interested in dealing from the stock of Gio/Danny/Taylor/Goodwin/Cole/Voth/Difo.

    KW

    16 Nov 16 at 12:45 pm

  22. Wow, is it just the win improvement that led you to pick Baker as MOY? I wouldn’t have picked him any higher than 5th. He had a good team and didn’t mess it up, but I don’t think he did anything particularly well. I agree with Roberts getting it – I really like his in-game strategy and willingness to bench high priced players.

    Andrew R

    16 Nov 16 at 1:41 pm

  23. AndrewR: yeah that’s it really. The post wasn’t who I personally would have picked, but who I thought the voters would pick (maybe I should make that more prevalent). I really thought the voters would look at the mess of last year and give Baker all the credit for the improvement.

    If it was ME personally voting, i’d probably have gone Maddon-Roberts and then who knows. I agree with you: Baker just showed competence in areas where Matt Williams did not, and his year was more about NOT doing all the dumb things he had done in the past.

    Maybe the distinction that this is a prediction piece as opposed to “how i’d vote” is lost on the readers.

    Todd Boss

    16 Nov 16 at 1:52 pm

  24. […] year I publish an “End of Season Awards Prediction” piece, and then every year I write a post-mortem patting myself on the back for how good I […]

Leave a Reply