IBWAA Awards Ballot
AL MVP – 2B Jose Altuve
Traditional Stats: .346/.410/.547, 112 R, 204 H, 39 2B, 4 3B, 24 HR, 81 RBI, 32 SB, 6 CS
Advanced Stats: 8.3 bWAR, 7.5 fWAR, 164 OPS+, 160 wRC+, 3 DRS
Why He Should Win: According to bWAR, Altuve was the best player in not just the American League, but in all of baseball. Part of the reason for that was his leading the league in both hits and batting average. However, unlike most players who amass over 200 hit a season, Altuve had a respectable 8.7% walk rate. Essentially, this means he was in the middle of everything for the team with the second best record in the American League.
Why He Won’t Win: While Altuve was the best player according to bWAR, Judge held that position for fWAR. Judge also had the benefit of leading the league in runs (128), walks (127), and homers (52). The 52 was the best mark ever for a rookie. He also won the Home Run Derby further raising the profile of a player who brought the Yankees back to prominence. In the end, you could argue it’s a flip of the coin between Altuve and Judge. In the end where Altuve gets the nod is he was far more consistent than Judge.
NL MVP – 3B Nolan Arenado
Traditional Stats: .309/.373/.586, 100 R, 187 H, 43 2B, 7 3B, 37 HR, 130 RBI, 3 SB, 2 CS
Advanced Stats: 7.2 bWAR, 5.6 fWAR, 132 OPS+, 129 wRC+, 20 DRS
Why He Should Win: In terms of MVP voting, we tend to look at just the offense, and well, those numbers are there for Arenado, who lead the National League in doubles. He was also top 10 in batting average, slugging, OPS, runs, hits, total bases, triples, homers, RBI, and extra base hits.
That’s all well and good, but what really makes Arenado the MVP was he is quite possibly the best defender in the National League. When you combine his offense, which as OPS+ and wRC+ indicate is more than his being a Coors Field creation, and his exceptional defense, no one in the National League affected the game in more ways than Arenado. That was a large reason why the Rockies made a surprising run to the postseason.
Why He Won’t Win: MVP voters really don’t care that much about defense. Instead, they tend to be more focused on offense and narrative. Another reason is that while he’s third among NL bWAR leaders (trailing the leader by just 0.4), he falls well short in bWAR. As a result, while Arenado likely will not get the respect he deserves.
AL Cy Young – Corey Kluber
Traditional Stats: 18-4, 2.25 ERA, 29 G, 29 GS, 5 CG, 3 SHO, 203.2 IP, 265 K, 0.869 WHIP, 1.6 BB/9, 11.7 K/9
Advanced Stats: 8.0 bWAR, 7.3 fWAR 202 ERA+, 2.50 FIP
Why He Should Win: If you’re choosing your traditional or advanced metric, Kluber was the best pitcher in the AL leading the league in wins, ERA, CG, SHO, ERA+, pitching WAR, and WHIP. He walked the fewest per nine, and he was second in the league in strikeouts. In sum, Kluber was about as dominant a starting pitcher as there was this year.
Why He Won’t Win: Sale put on a show for Boston posting a rare 300 strikeout season. He also pitching in a tougher hitter’s division in a more difficult park for left-handed pitchers to succeed. Still, even with all of that, it’s hard to find anyone who will have Sale ahead of Kluber.
NL Cy Young – Max Scherzer
Traditional Stats: 16-6, 2.51 ERA, 31 G, 31 GS, 2 CG, 200.2 IP, 268 K, 0.902 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 12.0 K/9
Advanced Stats: 7.3 bWAR, 6.0 fWAR, 177 ERA+, 2.90 FIP
Why He Should Win: The Cy Young Race in the NL has become increasingly tight due to the emergence of Scherzer as an ace’s ace and Kershaw’s injuries. The two pitchers have been neck-and-neck over the past few seasons in terms of dominance and who leads the statistical catergories leaving difficultly in determining which one is the better pitcher. Overall, Scherzer gets the nod here because he made more starts and pitched more innings making him all the more reliable and dominant for a longer stretch.
Why He Won’t Win: Because Kershaw was Kershaw again in 2017.
AL Manager of the Year – Joe Girardi
Why He Should Win: Just like his first ever year managing with the Marlins, Girardi took a young team, and they far surpassed expectations. But Girardi did more than that. He also helped players like Jacoby Ellsbury accept a diminished role, and he was able to get Chase Headley to agree to move from third base, a position where he is seen as a good defender. These are issues that could typically derail a season, but it didn’t for the Yankees. Between that and the usual good bullpen management where mostly everyone was healthy again, Girardi should get the nod.
Why He Won’t Win: Francona is probably the best manager in baseball right now, and he once again did a great job with the Indians. A.J. Hinch led an Astros team that won 101 games. The Twins were the biggest surprise in all of baseball, and they were led by Molitor. Overall, it’s a close race with many deserving winners.
NL Manager of the Year – Dave Roberts
Why He Should Win: If he’s not already, Roberts is becoming the best manager in all of baseball. He’s able to take the advanced data the front office is pushing him to use, and he’s selling it to the players in a way there is no discord. More than that, we saw him help resurrect Yasiel Puig‘s career. His handling of the RF has brought out the best in him, and coincidentally, the best in the Dodgers.
Why He Won’t Win: The only knock you could really have against Roberts is the Dodgers were supposed to be good. You probably couldn’t say the same about the Brewers, Diamondbacks, or Rockies. There was potential there, but it was not a guarantee. That could help push any one of those managers to the top of the heap.
AL Rookie of the Year – RF Aaron Judge
Traditional Stats: .284/.422/.627, 128 R, 154 H, 24 2B, 3 3B, 52 HR, 114 RBI, 9 SB, 4 CS
Advanced Stats: 8.1 bWAR, 8.2 fWAR, 171 OPS+, 173 wRC+
Why He Should Win: If you were one of a handful of the best players in baseball with none of the other top echelon players being rookies, you’re the clear-cut Rookie of the Year.
Why He Won’t Win: You didn’t watch a single inning of the 2017 season, and you stuck with your pre-season choice.
NL Rookie of the Year – 1B Cody Bellinger
Traditional Stats: .267/.352/.581, 87 R, 26 2B, 4 3B, 39 HR, 97 RBI, 10 SB, 3 CS
Advanced Stats: 4.2 bWAR, 4.0 fWAR, 142 OPS+, 138 wRC+
Why He Should Win: There are plenty of things you could point out as to why Bellinger should win the Rookie of the Year including his leading all NL rookies in WAR and homers. However, when assessing his case, one thing jumps off the page. When he was in the lineup, the Dodgers were 91-41, and with him out of the lineup, the team was 13-17. Simply put, he was a difference maker.
Why He Won’t Win: There were other good rookies in the NL like Hoskins, Margot, and Josh Bell. Any one of them could garner votes. In reality, they’re fighting over second place.
AL Reliever of the Year – Craig Kimbrel
Traditional Stats: 5-0, 1.43 ERA, 67 G, 35 SV, 126 K, 0.681 WHIP, 1.8 BB/9, 16.4 K/9
Advanced Stats: 3.6 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR, 319 ERA+, 1.42 FIP
Why He Should Win: If you’re looking for a reliever who came into the game and shut the door, that was Kimbrel. He blew just three saves all season, which is remarkable considering how unhittable he was leading AL relievers in strikeouts, WHIP, and opponent’s batting average.
Why He Won’t Win: Osuna was nearly as dominant as Kimbrel, and he actually led the league in saves. Still, Kimbrel’s stats were better, and Osuna blew far more saves than Kimbrel.
NL Reliever of the Year – Kenley Jansen
Traditional Stats: 5-0, 1.32 ERA, 65 G, 41 SV, 68.1 IP, 109 K, 0.746 WHIP, 0.9 BB/9, 14.4 K/9
Advanced Stats: 2.9 bWAR, 3.5 fWAR, 318 ERA+, 1.31 FIP
Why He Should Win: There is a reason why he’s getting the premature Mariano Rivera comparisons. He’s as dominant a reliever as there is in baseball right now. Basically, if there’s a category for a reliever to led, he’s at or near the top with him leading the league in many including WAR and saves.
Why He Won’t Win: Don’t worry. He will.