AL Award Ballot

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Updated: October 2, 2017

As an esteemed member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of American (IBWAA for short), I get to submit an end of the season awards ballot. As usual I waited till the last day of the season to fill mine out, just to make sure I wasn’t short-changing any players (what if Stanton had hit his 60th home run on the last day). I did submit my ballot for both the AL and NL, but since this is a Cleveland-centric website, I figure you only care about the AL side of my ballot. So, without any further ado, I present my AL Awards ballot for MVP, Cy Young, ROY, Manager of the Year, and Reliever of the Year. I tried to keep my Cleveland bias to a minimum, but that only lasted so long. One last note, I do not consider pitchers when voting for MVP, since there’s an award specifically for them.

AL MVP

1. Jose Altuve, HOU
2. Aaron Judge, NYY
3. Jose Ramirez, CLE
4. Mike Trout, LAA
5. Francisco Lindor, CLE

Reasoning: Why Altuve over Judge? I just couldn’t vote a player MVP when over an 80-game stretch his batting average was .217 and he struck out 121 times. However, even with his terrible mid-season stretch, he still hit 52 home runs and walked 127 times, not to mention his 171 OPS+ (meaning he was 71% better than an average hitter) and his 8.0 WAR. It’s not like Altuve was a bum though, he led the AL in WAR (8.4) and in batting average (.346), plus his OPS (On-base plus Slugging) was third in the AL. There was a point where I had Jose Ramirez as my MVP, but the gap in WAR (1.2 WAR behind Judge) from Altuve and Judge was just too much to overcome. Ramirez led the league in extra base hits, and become just the 17th player ever to hit 56 or more doubles in a season. Trout would have won had he not missed 48 games. The final nail in the Trout coffin was the fact that with Trout the Angels were 57-57, without him they were 23-25, not that big of a difference. Lindor at 5th might have been a stretch, but he is only one of four shortstops ever to reach 40+ doubles and 30+ home runs in a season.

AL Cy Young

1. Corey Kluber, CLE
2. Chris Sale, BOS
3. Luis Severino, NYY
4. Carlos Carrasco, CLE
5. Justin Verlander, DET/HOU

Reasoning: Kluber led the AL in Wins (18), ERA (2.25), ERA+ (202), WHIP (0.869), Hits per 9 innings (6.2), Walks per 9 innings (1.6), and WAR (8.0). Don’t get me wrong Chris Sale and his 308 strikeouts is one of the greatest accomplishments in today’s MLB, but according to Baseball-Reference, Kluber had a 2.0 WAR lead on Sale and was 45% better than Sale on the season. After the top two, things got murky quickly. I picked Luis Severino as my third choice because he was consistently third in almost every leaderboard list behind the aforementioned Kluber and Sale. Carrasco might be overshadowed by Kluber’s dominance, but he finished sixth in the AL in WAR (5.4) and fifth in ERA+ (139). Verlander gets knocked because while he was great with the Astros (1.06 ERA), it was in too small a sample size (34.0 innings), and he was just an above average pitcher with the Tigers. I could have put Marcus Stroman in the top five, but I felt his peripheral numbers just weren’t as good as the pitchers in the above list.

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Aaron Judge, NYY
2. Andrew Benintendi, BOS
3. Trey Mancini, BAL

Reasoning: I don’t really need to explain why Judge wins here, so I’ll just give a couple of tidbits about the other two players. Benintendi seemed like a lock to win this at the start of the year, but he still managed to post a 20-20 season, along with winning AL player of the month in August. Mancini finished the year with an .826 OPS and a 120 OPS+.

AL Manager of the Year

1. Terry Francona, CLE
2. A.J. Hinch, HOU
3. Paul Molitor, MIN

Reasoning: The Indians made it to Game 7 of the World Series in 2016, then went out and got better. They won eight more games and increased their run differential by 153 runs, then there was the 22-game win streak. The Indians finished so hot that people forget how good the Astros were this season. Their OPS+ of 128 was 13% better than the next closest team. Meanwhile, the Twins went from 103 losses to a Wild Card berth under Molitor.

AL Reliever of the Year

1. Craig Kimbrel, BOS
2. Andrew Miller, CLE
3. Chris Devenski, HOU

Reasoning: The past couple of seasons, it looked like Kimbrel might have lost his mojo. Then 2017 happened. He had 126 strikeouts to just 14 walks in 69 innings pitched. His WAR was an absurd 3.6, that’s better than Danny Duffy, Michael Fulmer, and Trevor Bauer. Despite Miller’s strikeout decreasing and his walk rate increasing from last year, he still posted a 1.44 ERA (with a 1.99 FIP to back that up) with a WAR of 3.1. Devenski was the all situations reliever for the Astros. He pitched 80.2 innings in relief while striking out 100 batters for a 2.68 ERA.

— Chris Sladoje (@The_Doje)

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