With another regular season in the books and the postseason starting on Tuesday, it is time for one man’s choice for MLB’s major awards in 2017.
So here we go.
AL MVP: Jose Altuve. It is easy to make a case for both the Houston Astros’ diminutive second baseman and Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees’ gigantic rookie right fielder. In the end, Altuve prevails by the slightest of edges after winning his third AL batting title in four years with a .346 average, while helping lead the Astros to their first division title since 2001. He also became the fourth right-handed hitter in major-league history to have four consecutive 200-hit seasons, joining Hall of Famers Al Simmons and Kirby Puckett as well as Michael Young.
NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton. I am old-school thinker when it comes to the MVP, believing that it should usually go to a player whose team either won its division or reached the postseason. However, the Miami Marlins right fielder had such a great season, leading the major leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBI, that he is an exception to the rule. Stanton’s homer total was the highest since 2001, when Barry Bonds hit a major-league record 73 and Sammy Sosa belted 64. Major League Baseball began testing for performance-enhancing drugs three years later, for what it’s worth.
AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber. The Cleveland Indians right-hander won the award in 2014 and is deserving of it again. He had an outstanding season despite being on the disabled list from May 2-June 1 with a strained lower back. Kluber’s 2.25 ERA led the major leagues, and he had an 18-4 record in 29 starts.
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer. The Washington Nationals pitcher won this award last year, and a strong case can be made he should win again this season, though his win total dropped to 16 from 20. In addition to leading the league with 268 strikeouts, he also topped the NL with a remarkable 5.7 hits allowed per nine innings — 126 in 200.2 innings — and a 0.902 WHIP.
AL Rookie of Year: Aaron Judge. He set the major-league rookie record with 52 home runs, a pretty neat feat considering that the Yankees did not decide on him being their starting right fielder over Aaron Hicks until three days before the opener. The Yankees are headed to the postseason in what was supposed to be a retooling year and wouldn’t be hosting the Minnesota Twins in Tuesday night’s AL Wild-Card Game without Judge.
NL Rookie of the Year: Cody Bellinger. The Los Angeles Dodgers finished with the best record in the major leagues at 104-58, and the 22-year-old played a big role by hitting 39 home runs while first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was sidelined for most of the season with a back injury. It is easy for forget now but Bellinger was only supposed to spend a few days in the majors when he made his debut on April 25.
AL Manager of Year: Paul Molitor. The Twins went from 59-103 last season to 85-77 and a berth in the wild-card game. That makes them the first team ever to reach the postseason a year after losing at least 100 games. It is hard to top that.
NL Manager of the Year: Torey Lovullo. The impact Lovullo made in his first season with the Arizona Diamondbacks can be described in palindromic symmetry — they were 93-69 this year after posting a 69-93 record in 2016. The Diamondbacks will host the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild-Card Game on Wednesday night, and Lovullo’s relentless positivity played a big part in Arizona getting there.
By John Perrotto