Predicting the MLB Award Winners – the NL Edition

By Blaidd Drwg

The National League Awards picture is much muddier than the AL – in the NL, every award has multiple legitimate candidates, so picking the winner is going to be much harder.

MVP – My Pick = Ryan Braun/ Predicted Winner = Buster Posey
There are 4 legitimate candidates – Ryan Braun, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina and Andrew McCutchen. In terms of overall WAR, the NL Leaders went Posey (7.2), McCutchen (7.0), Braun (6.8), Molina (6.7), so not a ton of separation between them. It was actually the same order of finish in the NL batting race, with Posey taking the award thanks to Melky Cabrera DQing himself. Here is how the contenders ranked in some offensive categories:

  WAR BA HR RBI OPS OPS+ RC
Posey 1 1   6 4 1 4
Braun 3 3 1 2 1 3 1
Molina 4 4       7  
McCutchen 2 2 8   5 2 2

A blank in the chart means they were not in the top 10 in the category. Molina had a fine season offensively, was stellar defensively and gets credit for his team making the playoffs, but I don’t think that is enough compared to the other candidates, so he is out. McCutchen hit the hell out of the ball in the first half of the season to the tune of a 1.039 OPS, but followed that up with a fine, but not MVP like .860 in the second half as the Pirates fell apart again at the end of the season, so he is out as a contender. That leaves Posey and Braun. Posey lit it up in the second half with a 1.102 OPS, carried the Giants offensively, especially after Melky Cabrera was suspended and his team made the playoffs, all major plusses. Braun was just about as good in 2012 as he was in 2011 (when he won the MVP), survived the loss of Prince Fielder’s protection in the lineup (Braun had 2 IBB’s in 2011, 15 in 2012), and was remarkably consistent hitting .990 OPS in the first half and .983 in the second. The knock on him is his team failed to make the playoffs, but they were in the race until the last week of the season. I think that the consistency and higher finish in several statistical categories gets Braun my vote. He won’t win because some voters will hold the failed steroid test last season over his head.

Cy Young – My Pick = Clayton Kershaw/ Predicted Winner = Johnny Cueto
Another award with 4 legitimate candidates – Kershaw, Cueto, RA Dickey and Gio Gonzalez. Here is a breakdown of the 4:

  WAR ERA W SO ERA+ WHIP
Kershaw 1 1   2 2 1
Cueto 2 3 3   1  
Dickey 3 2 2 1 3 3
Gonzalez 4 6 1 4 4 8

Gonzalez’s folio lies mostly in his 21 wins (leading the league) and the Gnats making the playoffs; the other 3 pitchers had better seasons than he did, so he is out. Dickey, it could be argued, statistically had the best season out of the group, but the Mets were terrible and that is going to cost him votes, so he is out. Kershaw had a better season statistically than Cueto, but there are 2 things working against him: his team did not make the playoffs and he only won 14 games. Yes there is precedent for picking the guy with the low win total, but not in a season where there was a 19, 20 and 21 game winner. That is what is going to prevent Kershaw from winning the award. Cueto is a fine pick; he had a stellar season, his team made the playoffs and he did it in one of the toughest parks in the NL to pitch in, so he does deserver the award should he win it.

ROY – My Pick = Bryce Harper / Predicted Winner = Bryce Harper
If you asked anyone for a prediction on who would win this award in June, they would have said Bryce Harper. Now, it is a three horse race with Harper, Wade Miley and Todd Frazier. Harper had a great season considering he is just 19 years old – .270 BA, 22 HR, 119 OPS+, 5.0 WAR, he made the AS team and his team made the playoffs. The knock on him is he faded at the end of the season. Miley went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA, 125 ERA+ and 3.2 WAR, pitching in the tough confines of the BOB in Arizona and he also made an all-star team. His team did not make the playoffs though. Todd Frazier’s team, the Reds did make the playoffs and Frazier put up a .273 BA with 19 HR, 115 OPS+ but only a 1.9 WAR, hitting in the Great American bandbox. Given that, I don’t think that either Miley or Frazier, despite fine seasons, can match Harper’s output.

Predicting the MLB Award Winners – the AL Edition

By Blaidd Drwd

It has been a fun season and the beauty of baseball is that we have the MLB awards to look forward to after the World Series, so we get to hold onto baseball just a little longer. I have decided to have some fun and try to predict the award winners. You will see two names for each aware – my vote is the guy who I would vote for and predicted winner is who I think the actual voters will pick. So here we go with the AL; the NL will follow later.

MVP – My Vote = Miguel Cabrera/ Predicted Winner = Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera has the Triple Crown and his team made the playoffs. He posted a 1.074 OPS in the second half of the season and was one of the main reasons for the Tigers run and eventual division title. He was the second best hitter in the AL according to offensive WAR but only 4th in overall WAR in the AL; and he didn’t even have the highest WAR on his team. Let’s face it; I think he is the last guy in baseball you want to face with the game on the line. I think the Triple Crown and the Tigers making the playoffs give him the vote.

The only other real contender in this race is Mike Trout. He lead all of baseball in both overall WAR (by 2.5 wins – that is a huge amount) and offensive WAR (by 1.1 wins), became the first rookie to score 100 runs, hit 30 HR and steal 40 bases and he did all of this missing the first month of the season when he was still in the minors. Oh, did I mention that he is only 20? I think the Angels not making the playoffs cost him the MVP – I really think he wins it if the Halos made the postseason.

ROY – My Vote = Mike Trout/ Predicted Winner = Mike Trout

The discussion begins and ends with Mike Trout. Trout had a WAR of 10.5, the next closest rookie? Yoenis Cespedes at 3.4.

He was really that much better than anyone else who was a rookie in 2012. Not only will Trout win, he will be a unanimous selection.

CY Young – My Vote = Justin Verlander/ Predicted Winner = David Price

This is one award that has a number of contenders with no one really a huge standout: David Price, Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver. Price and Weaver both won 20 games and were tied with an .800 win percentage. Price led the league in ERA, Weaver in WHIP. Verlander on the other hand was the only contender whose team made the playoffs and Verlander lead the league in IP, K CG and WAR. I think that those numbers are enough for me to give Verlander his second consecutive Cy Young, but voters like Wins and ERA and Price has the advantage in both of those, so I think the voters give it to him in a very close result.