Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of American (BBWAA) announced the finalists for the 2017 Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards in the American League and National League on Monday. Here are those finalists, listed in alphabetical order by award.
For the first time in his six full MLB seasons, Angels wunderkind Mike Trout will not finish first or second in the AL MVP voting. He had another stellar season -- he led the AL in on-base percentage (.442), slugging percentage (.629), and OPS+ (187) -- though missing close to two months with a thumb injury hurt his candidacy. As good as Ramirez was this year, the general sense is this is a two-man race between Judge and Altuve. Altuve had the more consistent year from start to finish, while Judge slumped terribly for a few weeks after the All-Star break.
Interestingly enough, only one of the three NL MVP finalists comes from a postseason team. That's Goldschmidt. Stanton captured the the attention of the baseball world with his pursuit of 60 home runs, though he ultimately fell short and finished with 59. Votto is just a hitting savant. He led baseball in on-base percentage (.454) and the NL in OPS+ (168), plus he swatted 36 homers and played a mean first base. I get the sense a lot of Rockies fans are not happy neither Charlie Blackmon nor Nolan Arenado is not among the NL MVP finalists. They could very well finish fourth and fifth in the voting.
AL Cy Young
Chances are Kluber and Sale occupied the first and second spots on every AL Cy Young ballot, in either order. Sale had a phenomenal season overall but sputtered a bit in September, allowing Kluber to slide in and maybe steal the award. Talk about bad timing for a slump. Severino grabs the third finalist spot and was the best AL pitcher not named Kluber and Sale all season. His likely third-place finish in the voting is well-deserved.
NL Cy Young
Kershaw is looking for his fourth career NL Cy Young while Scherzer is looking for his third Cy Young overall, and his second in as many years. He's already one of only six pitchers to win the award in both leagues. Strasburg received NL Cy Young votes in 2014 and finished ninth in the voting. He finally gets his due as one of the game's premier pitchers with a top-three finish in this year's voting. One thing worth watching: Scherzer threw 200 2/3 innings this season while Kershaw (175) and Strasburg (175 1/3) threw quite a bit fewer due to injuries. That could sway the vote.
AL Manager of the Year
- Terry Francona, Indians
- A.J. Hinch, Astros
- Paul Molitor, Twins
Over the last few seasons the Manager of the Year award has morphed into the "manager of the team that most exceeds expectations" award, and if voters continue the trend, Molitor will win the AL Manager of the Year award in a landslide. Francona has won the award twice (2013 and 2016) in his previous four seasons with Cleveland. Also, it should be noted these are regular season awards. The World Series victory won't help Hinch's Manager of the Year case. Votes were cast well before the Fall Classic.
NL Manager of the Year
- Bud Black, Rockies
- Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks
- Dave Roberts, Dodgers
All NL West managers. Both the Rockies and D-Backs exceeded expectations and qualified for the postseason -- the two teams met in the NL Wild Card Game -- and both did so in their manager's first season with the team. Black is a veteran skipper, of course. Lovullo just completed his first season as a full-time manager. The Dodgers won 104 games during the regular season and were the most dominant team in the sport for long stretches of time. When a team does that, their manager gets a lot of Manager of the Year love.
AL Rookie of the Year
For all intents and purposes, this is a race for second place. Judge will win the AL Rookie of the Year award, likely unanimously. He set a new rookie record with 52 home runs this season and was far and away the best rookie in baseball this year. In fact, according to the FanGraphs version of WAR, Judge was the best player in baseball this season, rookie or veteran, position player or pitcher. He'll win the award, with Benintendi and Mancini fighting for second place.
NL Rookie of the Year
Similar to Judge in the AL, Bellinger has the NL Rookie of the Year award wrapped up. He should win unanimously. His 39 home runs are a new NL rookie record, and remember, he didn't make his MLB debut until April 25, in his team's 21st game of the year. Bellinger almost certainly would've eclipsed 40 homers -- Judge and Mark McGwire are the only rookies in history to do that -- had he been with the team on Opening Day. Bell and DeJong are racing for second.
The award winners will be announced live during a series of MLB Network broadcasts. Here is the schedule:
- BBWAA Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards: Monday, Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. ET
- BBWAA Manager of the Year Awards: Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. ET
- BBWAA Cy Young Awards: Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. ET
- BBWAA Most Valuable Player Awards: Thursday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. ET
As a reminder, the votes have already been tallied and MLB and the BBWAA already know the winners. Ballots were submitted following the end of the regular season but before the postseason. These are regular-season awards. The finalists are announced just to create hype. Nothing wrong with that.