With the end of every World Series comes a new season - awards season. The Baseball Writers Association of America announced their finalists for the four major awards in Major League Baseball last night, and there are some surprises, some no-brainers, and at least one "Yikes" moment.
Rookies of the Year
The finalists for American League Rookie of the Year are Cristian Javier (P, Houston), Kyle Lewis (OF, Seattle) and Luis Robert (OF, Chicago White Sox). Robert was my pick at the beginning of the season, and after batting .233/.302/.436 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs, it's no surprise he's a finalist for the award. Lewis and Javier each had fantastic seasons, though, so it'll be a tough one to decide.
The finalists on the National League side are Alec Bohm (3B, Philadelphia), Jake Cronenworth (2B, San Diego) and Devin Williams (P, Milwaukee). While all of these guys had great seasons, it's worth noting that Dodgers' pitcher Tony Gonsolin was left out. He was recently named Baseball America's Rookie of the Year, and he turned in a pretty good season. Gonsolin went 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 46.1 innings pitched. I'm not sure how he got snubbed here, but the writers sure overlooked him.
Managers of the Year
The Manager of the Year finalist in the American League are Kevin Cash (Tampa Bay), Charlie Montoyo (Toronto) and Rick Renteria (Chicago White Sox). Cash took his team to the World Series and Motoyo took his team back to the postseason, so those make sense. Renteria is that yikes moment I told you about.
Like Montoyo, Renteria took his team back to the postseason, but the White Sox' drought was over a decade long. How did Chicago reward him? They fired him. And now he's up for an award, for being a good manager. Yikes.
The National League finalists are Don Mattingly (Miami), David Ross (Chicago Cubs) and Jayce Tingler (San Diego). Tingler and Ross each did well as first-year managers, leading their teams to the postseason. But Mattingly has to win this award. The Marlins hadn't been to the playoffs since 2003, and when you factor in their COVID-19 outbreak early in the season that almost shut them down, it's amazing that they even finished the season. If Mattingly doesn't win Manager of the Year, it's rigged.
The AL finalists for the award that honors the best pitcher are Shane Bieber (Cleveland), Hyun-Jin Ryu (Toronto) and Kenta Maeda (Minnesota). Bieber has long been the Cy Young frontrunner this year, posting an 8-1 record with a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 77.1 innings pitched. Maeda and Ryu had good seasons, but it'll be hard to top Bieber.
Trevor Bauer (Cincinnati), Yu Darvish (Chicago Cubs) and Jacob deGrom (New York Mets) round out the NL finalists. Absolutely no surprise here. These three had the best seasons in the National League, and while it will probably be Bauer who takes home the hardware, I would be content with any of these pitchers winning the award.
The American League MVP finalists are Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox), DJ LeMahieu (New York Yankees) and Jose Ramirez (Cleveland). Notably, this will mark only the second time in Mike Trout's career that he doesn't finish first or second in MVP voting. Abreu and Ramirez had fantastic seasons, as did LeMahieu, but is it possible we're all just immune to how great Mike Trout is at this point?
The National League finalists are Mookie Betts (Los Angeles Dodgers), Freddie Freeman (Atlanta) and Manny Machado (San Diego). After all the talk about Fernando Tatis, Jr. being the MVP halfway through the season, he doesn't even show up in the top three. Don't get me wrong, I love watching Tatis play, but we just need to let the season play out before we jump to conclusions about who is the MVP.
I love seeing a Braves player on this list, and Freeman has a legitimate shot to win the MVP. He's already won the Player's Choice Player of the Year and Baseball America's Player of the Year, so it seems like he should be the obvious choice, which would make this Braves fan very happy.