Posted November 06, 2013

Yadier Molina biggest surprise among finalists for BBWAA player awards

Awards Watch, Cy Young award, Manager of the Year award, Most Valuable Player award, Rookie of the Year award
(Elsa/Getty Images)

Yadier Molina is nominated along with the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt
and the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen for NL MVP. (Elsa/Getty Images)

For the second year in a row, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America has preceded the announcements of the winners of its major player awards with a list of the top three finalists for each award in each league. Those finalists were announced live on MLB Network on Tuesday evening; the winners will be revealed Monday through Thursday of next week. I’ve listed the finalists below alphabetically and will have full coverage of the voting, as well as my take on who should and who will win each award, all through next week.

National League MVP

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pirates
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals

Goldschmidt was the most productive hitter in the National League this past season, and McCutchen was the league’s best all-around player, but I thought that the league’s best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, who generated some MVP hype in August, would also be among the finalists. I also thought that Matt Carpenter was the Cardinals’ most valuable player this season and had the Reds’ Joey Votto ahead of Molina, as well, making Molina’s inclusion here a surprise.

Then again, there may be no other player in baseball who gets more credit for on-field attributes that we cannot adequately measure (in Molina’s case, his handling of a pitching staff, pitch calling, pitch-blocking, plate-blocking and other on-field leadership attributes), while recent advances in measuring pitch framing have revealed the truth behind Molina’s excellent reputation in that facet of the game. What trips me up is that Molina had a better year in 2012, when he was clearly St. Louis’ best player, yet finished fourth in the voting, while this year Carpenter was arguably more valuable on Molina’s own team (in addition to a superior batting line at another premium defensive position, Carpenter played in 21 more games and made 176 more plate appearances) yet did not receive the vote support that Molina did.

American League Most Valuable Player

Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Tigers
Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles
Mike Trout, CF, Angels

Of course.

AL Cy Young

Yu Darvish, RHP, Rangers
Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP, Mariners
Max Scherzer, RHP, Tigers

Darvish over the White Sox’ Chris Sale was expected given Sale’s losing record (11-14) and Darvish’s tremendous strike-out numbers (277 Ks, the most in either league since Randy Johnson in 2004, and a rate of 11.9 per nine innings, the ninth highest by an ERA qualifier in major league history).

NL Cy Young

Jose Fernandez, RHP, Marlins
Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers
Adam Wainwright, RHP, Cardinals

Kershaw should win this award unanimously. The only question concerned who the runners-up would be. Would the voters favor the veterans with high innings totals and impressive strikeout-to-walk ratios? Or the kids with miniscule ERAs but fewer innings pitched? As it turns out, they took one from column A (Wainwright over the Phillies’ Cliff Lee, the right choice from that duo) and one from column B (Fernandez over the Mets’ Matt Harvey). Assuming Lee and Harvey occupy the next two spots in the final voting (in either order, but ideally Harvey fourth and Lee fifth) there’s nothing to complain about here.

AL Rookie of the Year

Chris Archer, RHP, Rays
Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox/Tigers
Wil Myers, RF, Rays

The same top three as my final Awards Watch of the regular season.

NL Rookie of the Year

Jose Fernandez, RHP, Marlins
Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals
Yasiel Puig, RF, Dodgers

The only question here was which pitcher out of the group of Miller, the Braves’ Julio Teheran and the Dodgers’ Hyun-jin Ryu would accompany Fernandez and Puig. I would have gone with Teheran, who led the trio in ERA+, WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio while throwing 12 1/3 more innings than Miller, but Miller was at worst the fifth-best rookie in the league as part of that tightly-bunched trio.

AL Manager of the Year

John Farrell, Red Sox
Terry Francona, Indians
Bob Melvin, A’s

Farrell and Francona were the obvious choices, and Melvin is a good one that I’m glad to see recognized again after having just won the award last year. Joe Girardi, who kept the Yankees in contention all year despite a catastrophic confluence of injuries, and Ned Yost, who led the Royals to just their first winning season since 2003, would also have been deserving finalists.

NL Manager of the Year

Fredi Gonzalez, Braves
Clint Hurdle, Pirates
Don Mattingly, Dodgers

Hurdle and Mattingly were the obvious choices and Gonzalez, whose Braves seemed to ice their division in the season’s first two weeks, is a solid number three with. The Cardinals’ Mike Matheny was really the only other viable choice.

19 comments
ToddBennett
ToddBennett

Yadier is not only not a surprise, he should win the MVP unanimously.  +41 with him in the lineup.  That is games won.  

oasis1994
oasis1994

I think Freddie Freeman should be in consideration as well. He was the only Brave player that doesn't strike out every other at-bat. WIthout him the Braves go nowhere. 

Molina is simply the best; as I mentioned below I am a Sox fan. Did anyone notice that the Sox did not steal in the World Series like they did all season and in the first 2 rounds? That is something most people do not notice. What Molina does game to game amazes me as well. He knows how to talk to his pitchers and try to get batters out of rhythm. 


sirensgoboom
sirensgoboom

Six straight Gold Gloves, five time All-Star, starting catcher on four World Series teams -- with two championships, if he wins the NL MVP for this season we might have to start talking about Yadier Molina as a Hall of Fame worthy catcher.

Boogieman1281
Boogieman1281

MVP: McCutchen and Cabrera

CY: Scherzer and Kershaw

Rookies: Fernandez and Myers

Managers: Hurdle and whoever

M20
M20

"Jose Fernandez, RHP, Mets"

RichW
RichW

Joey Votto was NOT more valuable than Molina, not at all. His defense was poor this year for one. The small market Reds also didn't pay him $250M to single and walk a lot and drive in only 73 runs.

Michael10
Michael10

Molina's value is only a surprise to those whose entire understanding of the game is gleaned from Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs.com. Players, coaches, managers and every sportswriter who gets at least thirty minutes of sunlight a day has been praising him all season...

Sass_1
Sass_1

The best player on MLB's best team up for MVP? Hmmm, that is surprising. I sure hope you don't have to take a drug test today Corcoran.

Lucky711
Lucky711

Molina a surprise?  Let's see.  Cardinals were 9 games under .500 with him playing hurt or on the DL.  Cardinals were 41 games over .500 with him healthy.  That's a 50 game swing in one season.


Molina should flat our win MVP in a landslide.  You listed 6 things he does better than anyone in baseball, and he was a top 10 hitter on top of that.  It's time people stopped making up intrinsic value from numbers, and just open their eyes and watch every aspect of the game.  Offense, defense, pitching, run game, no one impacts all 4 more than a good catcher, let alone a catcher that does all of them better than anyone else.  Molina isn't a surprise, he's the MVP.

bskott
bskott

Mattingly was given the best lineup in the majors. Gonzalez had to deal with injuries at just about every position, and his two highest paid players being the two worst hitters in the majors, and still made it to the playoffs... Mattingly, bah, what did he did compared to Gonzalez? Nothing.

sirensgoboom
sirensgoboom

@M20 Maybe they meant Sid Fernandez, they've been stuck in a time warp for 30 years.

oasis1994
oasis1994

@Richard--Ramirez 

I hope you are not a Red Sox fan. I am and the Cardinals were a hit or bounce away from winning the World Series. The Cardinals are a great team and organization. They will be back and in the World Series in the next year or 2.

oasis1994
oasis1994

@bskott 

While I agree, I think one can look at Mattingly's job as harder than most. He was given a great line up, pitching staff and what seems like a limitless budget. Having all this adds more pressure than most can handle. I am not making excuses for him (I personally can not stand Mattingly or the Dodgers and all the fake hollywood fans).


I see Hurdle winning the award, but Freddie is right there with him.

Michael10
Michael10

@caleb @Sass_1 Ortiz was at best the fourth most valuable player on his own team. Did you watch any baseball before the World Series?