Since I gave my ideas about the 2017 MVP, Cy Young, Rookie and Manager of the Year Awards for the National League yesterday, I guess it’s only fair to do the same for that other league:
After pitching seven three-hit shutout innings, striking out 11 while defeating Seattle to make his record 13-4 with a 2.37 ERA on July 26, with two full month of the season to go it seemed pretty sure that Red Sox ace Christ Sale would:
1) Lead the American League in strikeouts;
2) Lead the American League in ERA;
3) Win 20 games; and
4) Win the American League Cy Young Award.
But then strange things, well, strange for Sale, began to happen. He started 11 games through the final two months, winning four, losing four, and compiling an ERA of 4.09, as the Red Sox struggled to the final weekend to put away the yankees to win the East Division title, a title that back in July looked like a shoo-in. In those final weeks of the
season, Sale also was 0-2 in three starts against the yankees, giving up an undistinguished eight earned runs in 18-1/3 innings pitched. For the season, Sale finished with 17 wins, and second place, by a wide margin, in the ERA race.
On July 26, the Indians’ Corey Kluber was 8-3 with a 2.74 ERA, and he had been battling injury issues. Over the final two months of the season, Kluber went 10-1, finishing the season on a six-game winning streak, and leading the majors in ERA at 2.25, finishing second to Sale in strikeouts, and tying for the major league lead in wins, with 18. As to WHIP, it was Kluber over Sale, 0.87 to 0.97, and in WAR, again Kluber 8.0 to 6.0. Sale’s strikeout title was his one superior stat.
But listen to the “experts” and they already awarded the AL Cy Young Award to Sale back in July. Not so fast. In leading this team to a run-a-way Division title and league-leading and major league second best 102 wins, Kluber far exceeded Sale in every aspect of the game, and clearly deserves the 2017 Award. For third place, I’d have a tough time choosing between teammates of these top two. Boston’s Drew Pomeranz (17-6, 3.32 ERA) was the real Boston ace down the stretch, going 7-2 through August and September, and winning 14 of his last 17 decisions. In Cleveland, Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29 ERA) was just as effective, winning his last six decisions, including going 5-0 in September, and 8-2 over the last two months.
As to the AL Most Valuable Player Award, there really is no discussion. A few players around the league had career years, such as Jonathan Schoop, George Springer and Jose Abreu, and the guy who through his entire major league career has come in first or second in EVERY MVP vote, Mike Trout, had again tremendous numbers (33 HR, 72 RBI, 22 SB, .306 avg., and a major-league-leading 1.071 OPS, all over only 402 at bats) but his missing a third of the season, 48 games in total, due to thumb surgery in large part denied him a shot at this year’s award. Also denying him a shot at the award is the same reason that neither Schoop nor Abreau were legitimate candidates – the disappointing showing of their respective teams. That was especially apparent with Trout, who had the worst slump of the season, and maybe of his career, during the team’s September drive for the final wild card spot. Trout fell short, as did the entire Angels’ team, and they missed the post season. Springer really gets zero consideration because he is on the same team as that “other guy”:
But this is all wasted talk. Jose Altuve had such a great season that he will run away with the Award voting. Altuve was the heart of the Astros and led the league’s hitters in WAR,
batting average and hits, and unlike with Sale, was thought to have earned the award early in the season, and only got better and more productive from there.
I’d have to give the AL Rookie of the Year Award to an outfielder without whom his team could never have had the success it did this season nor would that team now be readying for the post season, a player who was a major contributor to key victories all season long, and who came to be relied upon as a clutch player they wanted to see come to the plate in pressure situations. Since I would never, ever vote for any yankee for any award, the AL Rookie of the Year is the Red Sox’ Andrew Benintendi. Also having a great rookie year but on a disappointing team was the Orioles’ Trey Mancin, who I’d give second place to, followed by a third place finish for the amazing Matt Olsen, who hit 24 home runs and drove in 45 in only 59 games. Also, the Angels’ Parker Bridwell has to be there near the top of the voting with his tremendous 10-3 contribution in only 20 starts. For several weeks of the second have of the season, Bridwell was the team’s ONLY dependable starting pitcher.
As with MVP, there should be little question as to the American League’s Manager of the Year. In 2016, the Minnesota Twins compiled a won-lost record of 59-103. Using smoke, mirrors, dead Hall-of-Famers in masks, and other assorted mystical incarnations, manager Paul Molitor guided his team to a 2017 record of 85-77 and a spot in the post season. After they win their game tomorrow night, they should re-name the award after him.