First, the Rookie of the Year Awards.
AL-1. Dustin Ackley-The rookie leader in fWAR in the AL was actually second place Michael Pineda, at 3.4, followed by a 3-way tie between Ackley, Brett Lawrie, and Ivan Nova (Desmond Jennings was also pretty close). However, Pineda and Nova played full seasons, while Lawrie played in only 43 games, and Ackley played in 90 games. 43 games didn’t seem like enough, but 90 games is just over half the season. Ackley’s WAR seems surprising, but he did it in a number of ways; about .9 WAR came from his batting 117 wRC+, meaning he was about 17% better than the league average hitter (going off of wOBA). About .1 WAR came from his base running and .2 from his fielding, meaning the rest came from the fact that he did all of that while playing second base. In any case, I decided his 2.7 fWAR in 90 games was impressive enough in a large enough portion of the season.
2. Michael Pineda-See above
3. Zach Britton-he was pretty close with 2.5 fWAR, and I wanted to vote for an Oriole.
NL-1. Craig Kimbrel-He seems to be the consensus number 1 (for example, ESPN picked him almost unanimously as their NL Rookie). I was skeptical at first, seeing as he’s a closer and doesn’t throw a ton of innings. But he led all NL rookie pitchers in fWAR with 3.2 (I could have sworn he led everyone when I was voting; maybe Fangraphs has been tweaking their data? I might have it confused with Baseball-Reference, as I used that, too). He struck out nearly 15 batters per nine innings and had an 80.7% strand rate.
2. Danny Espinosa
3. Wilson Ramos - These two look to be part of a young, exciting Nationals team in the next few years. Both were like Ackley; they brought slightly above-average hitting, fielding, and base running at important positions (second base and catcher, respectively). They were worth 3.5 and 3.1 fWAR, respectively. (Also, this is a little late, but I'm glad to hear about Ramos' safe return this weekend.)
Next, the AL Cy Young Award.
1. Justin Verlander
2. CC Sabathia- I don’t think there was any other way to fill out this ballot. Maybe put CC first if you want to be a contrarian (you could make an argument), but it seems much easier to just go with Verlander and put Sabathia as a good runner-up.
3. Jered Weaver
4. Dan Haren
5. James Shields-Really, these three all had impressive years. But it’s the top spots I really consider; these three went down more or less as some combination of bWAR and fWAR, with Shields getting a little extra consideration for pitching in the AL East.
The Manager of the Year Award is, in my mind, more or less a storyline award. That’s why I put Joe Maddon and Kirk Gibson as my top choices. The Rays were more or less counted out at the start of the year, and the Diamondbacks went from worst to first. The Indians and Brewers were less surprising, I suppose; the Indians still didn’t really compete, but they finished second, and the Brewers were supposed to be good, and went and won the division. Still, they were surprising enough that I put managers Manny Acta and Ron Roenicke second on their respective ballots. I was totally lost on the last spot on each ballot, so I went with Jim Leyland of the Tigers and Charlie Manuel of the Phillies. I put Leyland because the Tigers ran away with the division more than they were supposed to, and outperformed their expected win-loss record (based on runs scored and allowed) by seven games. Meanwhile, Manuel got it as a sort of default for managing the best team in the NL. I was slightly irritated with Tony La Russa at the time, so I didn’t list him despite the Cardinals’ surprising comeback, although that seems like it would have fit my criteria. Also, I was thinking of listing the Nationals’ manager for their somewhat surprising year (almost .500! 80-81!), but then I remembered they had two managers this year, and the first one quit halfway through the year. Oh well.
So, there you have it; the first three days of awards season, and my thoughts.