Most Valuable Player
Preseason Favorite: Bryce Harper (+300)
The Pick: Giancarlo Stanton
3. Anthony Rendon: Bryce Harper’s injury set the stage for Rendon to continue his push into the public consciousness as an elite player in the MLB. Rendon, who is frequently overshadowed by his bearded teammate, was able to lead the Nationals to an NL East title by slashing .303/.403/.533 with league-best defense at the hot corner. While not the flashiest player, Rendon’s steady play over the course of the season was integral to the Nationals success and lead him to a tie for the NL league in WAR (as measured by Fangraphs) with one Giancarlo Stanton.
2. Paul Goldschmidt: Much like Rendon, Goldschmidt is the rock of a resurgent Diamondbacks team. The rare first baseman with speed, Goldschmidt’s ability to steal 18 bases while also racking up 36 home runs and an enormous 237 runs plus runs batted in (a stat I’d like to dub the Goldy) was central to the DBack’s success over the course of the season. An incredible bargain earning only $8.8M this season, Goldschmidt’s sustained offensive excellence and key role on an outstanding Diamondbacks team pushes him up the boards despite a 5.3 WAR.
1. Giancarlo Stanton: In my book, Stanton was able to lock this award up with one of the best months baseball has ever seen. His 20 home run August is one of the most dominant stretches of baseball ever, and his 59 home runs on the season mark the most since Barry Bonds was back in San Fransisco doing his thing. A few more stats on how ridiculous his month was:
- He hit a home run on nearly a fifth of his at-bats
- He recorded more home runs than singles
- He almost out-homered the entire Giants team, falling by short by a mere 2 dingers
Despite Stanton’s Marlins falling short of the playoffs, his heroics (and 255 “Goldy’s”) are enough in my book to make him the National League MVP.
Preseason Favorite: Clayton Kershaw (+100)
The Pick: Max Scherzer
As an unrepentant Nationals fan, I feel good about finally being able to give an award to one of my boys. Clayton Kershaw was spectacular again this season, but only posted 175 innings. Scherzer was able to work 200 innings while still allowing less hits than Kershaw and racking up 6.0 WAR and 268 strikeouts.
Rookie of the Year
Preseason Favorite: Dansby Swanson (+300)
The Pick: Cody Bellinger
Bellinger’s emergence as a star for the 104-win Dodgers was an essential part of their success - allowing them to spell Adrian Gonzalez at first base and also play serviceable outfield when needed. Finishing with a triple slash of .267/.352/.581, Bellinger’s power, presence, and veteran composure almost makes it okay that he doesn’t know who Seinfeld is.
As far as other contenders go: Paul Dejong’s emergence as the Cardinal’s shortstop of the future was also promising, but a 4.7% walk percentage and 28% strikeout percentage limited his production at the plate. Rhys Hoskins mashed while up in the bigs, but was limited to only 50 games of production. As such, Bellinger is the clear and easy choice for this award.
Most Valuable Player
Preseason Favorite: Mike Trout (+125)
The Pick: Jose Altuve
Jose Altuve turning into a power-hitting MVP is one of the most unlikely baseball stories I’ve ever heard, and I sure hope he actually earns the award. Always a great contact hitter, Altuve yet again led the AL in singles with 137. However, he was also able to hit 24 home runs and swipe 32 bases, making him one of only six players in the AL to join the 20-20 club.
Aaron Judge has a good case for this award as well (Fangraphs actually has him as the leader in WAR, 8.2 to 7.5), but I lean Altuve here for a few different reasons:
- Altuve plays a more difficult position
- Altuve led his team to the superior season
- Altuve’s production was more consistent over the course of the season
Judge’s performance was obviously incredible, I just prefer Altuve’s contributions on aggregate. Plus, he totally gets sympathy votes as a 5’5” sparkplug in a league increasingly full of 6’5” monsters!
Preseason Favorite: Chris Sale (+350)
The Pick: Corey Kluber
Despite hitting the rare 300 strikeout plateau (first in the American League since Pedro Martinez in 1999), this award should go to Corey Kluber. Kluber, the 2014 Cy Young winner, who finished the season with a mere 265 strikeouts, led the AL in ERA at 2.25 and xFIP at 2.52. Sale probably would have won this award in August, but Kluber’s outstanding late-season play coupled with the Indian’s incredible win streak pushes him over the edge.
Rookie of the Year
Preseason Favorite: Andrew Benintendi
The Pick: Aaron Judge
21,606 feet of reasons why, 495 of them right here.