2018 MLB Awards Recap
Source: Corey Sipkin
AL Rookie of the Year
Winner: Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Los Angeles Angels My prediction: Miguel Andujar, 3B, New York Yankees
We’re starting off with some serious controversy.
I can’t remember the last time I disagreed with an award winner as much as I do with this one. However, I saw this coming from a mile away. When I wrote my awards prediction piece, this is how I ended the AL Rookie of the Year section, after detailing why Miguel Andujar deserved the award: “With all of that said, Ohtani will probably end up winning the award just because he’s the shiny new toy”.
Shohei Ohtani is an incredible talent. There is no denying that. But he should not have won this award.
Miguel Andujar plate appearances: 606 Shohei Ohtani plate appearances: 367
Miguel Andujar defensive innings played: 1169 1/3 Shohei Ohtani innings pitched/defensive innings played: 51 2/3
You can’t give an award based on what a player would’ve done if they played a full season. You have to base it on what the player did on the field, and the fact of the matter is that Ohtani wasn’t on the field enough as a hitter or a pitcher to win this award.
The only reason why Ohtani won this is because of the 51 2/3 innings pitched. Let’s be real here, he was impressive on the mound, but in reality, he gave you less value than an average relief pitcher. At least with a reliever, you’re getting production for the entire season. Ohtani pitched a grand total of 6 1/3 innings from June to the end of the season. I’ll gladly take the near 1200 innings of day-in-day-out defense over the ~50 innings pitched in the first two months of the season.
Another reason why Andujar should’ve won is team success. The Angels sucked, I’m not going to hold that against Ohtani. I don’t think a team’s lack of success should be seen as a negative for a player. However, the amount of success can, and should, be seen a positive for a player. Without Shohei Ohtani, I’m not sure the Angels are much worse than they were this season. Without Miguel Andujar, I don’t think the Yankees come close to 100 wins. He was their best hitter this year, and although his defense wasn’t spectacular, he was still there every day playing the hardest position in the sport.
The only way Ohtani should’ve won this award is if the MLB retroactively named Gary Sanchez the 2016 Rookie of the Year. Sanchez was the best player in baseball for the last 50 games of the 2016 season, but he didn’t win the award because he “didn’t play enough”. Funny how that works, eh?
Much like how UCF refer to themselves as the 2018 NCAA National Champions, I will forever refer to Miguel Andujar as the 2018 Rookie of the Year.
In the end, this was an award that was decided on before a single game of the 2018 season was played. Plain and simple.
NL Rookie of the Year
Winner: Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves My Prediction: Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves In terms of qualified rookies, Acuna finished top-3 in basically every possible category; all while leading his team to a division title. Juan Soto put up a good fight, but this was an easy decision to make.
AL Manager of the Year
*Note: In my predictions article, I didn’t include manager of the year. Why? I just didn’t. No reason. Anyways, if I had predicted the winners, I would’ve chosen Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays and Brian Snitker. “
Winner: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
I don’t hate this pick. What the Oakland Athletics did this season was nothing short of spectacular. They won 97 games and were the second wild card team in the American League. Some people, including myself, expected this team to be a maybe a 70-75 win team. In fact, in my pre-season preview, I predicted they would win 71 games, and the first line of my preview was “This team is going to suck”. Boy, was I wrong! What makes this even more impressive is the fact that this team started the year with the lowest payroll in baseball. What Melvin did with this team was definitely deserving of the Manager of the Year, which is why I don’t mind the pick.
Just quickly, for the record, here’s why I thought Cash should’ve won. Much like the Athletics, nothing was expected of this team going into the year. I predicted them to win 59 games and they shoved that in my face by winning 90. They didn’t make the playoffs, but that has more to do with them being in the same division with two 100-game winners than anything. If they were in the AL Central, they may have beat out the 91-win Cleveland Indians for the division title, or they could’ve beat out the 90-win Atlanta Braves in the NL East. But, the main reason why I would’ve chosen Cash to win the award is the invention of the “opener”. Kevin Cash isn’t the first person to think of or use this technique, but he is the first to intentionally use it for an entire season. Before the season, Cash came out and said that the team would use a four-man rotation, with the fifth day being a bullpen day. The idea was to open the game with a reliever, have them go two, maybe three innings, and then hand the ball to another reliever. This idea was laughed at when it was first announced but turned out to be a great decision. Throughout the season we even saw some other teams adopt the bullpen day when they were facing an injury in the rotation or a doubleheader. The team’s unexpected success and the creation of the opener are why I would’ve voted Kevin Cash as the AL Manager of the Year.
NL Manager of the Year
Winner: Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves Winning the division was a great accomplishment. But there is one reason why I think Snitker deserved this award: moving Ronald Acuna Jr. to the leadoff spot in the order. Going into the All-Star break the Braves were 52-42, and 0.5 games back of the division lead. After the break, Snitker decided to put Acuna at the top of the lineup, and it sure paid off. In 68 games after becoming the leadoff hitter, Acuna hit 19 home runs, 45 RBI, stole 14 bases and slashed .322/.403/.625. The decision to move Acuna to the leadoff spot may have been the single most impactful decision made by a manager this season; and for that reason, he deserves the title of National League Manager of the Year.
AL Cy Young Winner: Blake Snell, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays My prediction: Blake Snell, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays No surprise here. He led the American league in wins (21) and ERA (1.89), while finishing tied for sixth in strikeouts (221) and third in WHIP (0.97). He’s still only 25 years old and this was just his third MLB season, so don’t expect him to go anywhere anytime soon.
NL Cy Young
Winner: Jacob deGrom, RHP, New York Mets My prediction: Jacob deGrom, RHP, New York Mets
If you ask certain dinosaurs, such as Michael Wilbon, deGrom winning this award is as egregious as it gets. If you ask anybody else that knows baseball, this was the obvious choice. deGrom had the lowest ERA in the MLB this year at 1.70 while leading the NL in WHIP (0.91), and coming in second in innings pitched (217) and strikeouts (269). He only had a 10-9 record, but it’s great seeing voters recognizing a pitcher’s actual performance over whether their team won the game, something that is out of their control for the most part. In 32 games started deGrom never allowed more than four runs. His 29 consecutive quality starts allowing three or fewer runs is an MLB record. Just an all-around incredible season from a pitcher whose team refused to give him any run support.
AL MVP Winner: Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox My prediction: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels I put Trout as my winner, but in reality, Betts was the deserved winner. Betts beat Trout in most statistical categories, while also winning a Gold Glove in right field, and being the leading force for a championship winning team. Amazingly, this marks Mike Trout’s fourth runner-up finish for MVP in his seven-year career. His lowest career finish was last season, when he finished fourth. But if he didn’t miss a significant amount of time, he most likely would’ve won the award. We are witnessing one of the greatest players in baseball history, and he’s still only 27 years old.
Winner: Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers My prediction: Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers Well, it’s official. In one off-season, Derek Jeter managed to trade away the 2017 and 2018 National League MVPs. For the vote itself, this was as obvious as it gets. Based on Yelich’s second half alone, where he led the league in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS after the all-star break, while leading his team to the best record in the National League, there was no question who was going to win this award. Yelich won in a landslide, receiving 29 of a possible 30 first place votes, the other going to Jacob deGrom.