The 2015 MLB season is in the books, the Royals are champions, and the GM meetings are underway. The only thing left to do before turning the calendar to 2016 is to hand out the awards. So, without further adeiu, Matt Neverett and Kendrick Fruits reveal their award-winners from the 2015 MLB season.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MVP:
MN- Josh Donaldson. With his rise to prominence in the most potent lineup in the American League and Trout’s strikeout total and lack of basepath dominance, Donaldson was the best hitter in the league and the emotional leader of a 93 win team.
KF- Donaldson. No doubt about it, Donaldson was a huge power source (41 home runs) in the Toronto lineup this year, and his bat was sorely missed when he was out of the lineup. He is a main reason why they made it to the ALCS.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP:
MN- Bryce Harper. His .330/42 HR/99 RBI stat line was accented by some of the farthest home runs in recent memory. This was the season Bryce was dreaming of when he skipped a year of high school to enter the draft early.
KF- Anthony Rizzo. Yes, Harper and Nolan Arenado were the best players in the NL this year, but I can’t give a MVP award to a guy who didn’t even make the playoffs. Rizzo was the productive “veteran” in a young Cubs lineup, hitting .278/31/101 and playing a great defensive first base.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG:
MN- Dallas Keuchel. Any pitcher in the modern day that achieves 20 or more wins like Dallas Keuchel did is more than deserving of at least consideration for the award. It also helps when you get a 2.46 ERA and have 216 strikeouts.
KF- Keuchel. I must admit I thought about David Price, but 20 wins from Keuchel really sold me. His numbers were really similar to Price’s, but at the end of the day, Dallas gets the nod.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG:
MN- Zack Greinke- 222.2 innings during any season is an accomplishment in itself, but when you finish with a 19-3 record, 200 strikeouts, and a legendary 1.66 ERA, it equals a Cy Young. Congrats Zack.
KF- Jake Arrieta. Matt, I see your 222.2 innings, 19 wins, and 200 strikeouts, and I raise you 229 innings, 22 wins, and 236 strikeouts. The 1.77 ERA isn’t too shabby either.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
MN- Jeff Banister. People forget that the Rangers were the second worst team in baseball last year. This season they made a huge mid-late season push to attain the division championship. I think the winner is obvious here.
KF- A.J. Hinch. The only thing obvious to me is that the award should be given to an AL West manager. Hinch, whose previous best record was 58-75 in 2009 (partial season), took an Astros team with young, unproven talent from 70 wins to 86 and their first playoff birth since moving to the American League.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
MN- Joe Maddon.The Cubs were in a similar situation as the Houston Astros in the sense that they were not supposed to compete for another few years, but they defied the odds in Maddon’s first season. The way he managed one of the youngest starting lineups was remarkable and his leadership showed throughout the year.
KF- Maddon. No argument here, Maddon did a phenominal job, just as Hinch did, guiding a young team that wasn’t expected to contend into a playoff team. What makes Maddon’s season especially notable is that he made the most out of a suspect bullpen and shaky back-half of the rotation.
AMERICAN LEAGUE COMEBACK PLAYER:
MN- Alex Rodriguez. I know Kendrick’s going to like this one, but anyone who can miss an entire season and return at age 37 to have his best season in the last 5 years deserves the award.
KF- Prince Fielder. Ugh, I wanted to take A-Rod, but being a diehard Yankees fan, I saw him struggle mightily down the stretch. Prince overcame a serious neck surgery to slash .305/23/98 for the AL West champion Texas Rangers. Yes, its good to be the Prince.
NATIONAL LEAGUE COMEBACK PLAYER:
MN-Joey Votto. This is a great story about a great player who had been plagued by injuries since the 2012 season. His second half of this season was remarkable; hitting .374 in his last 58 games and hit .314 on the season.
KF- Matt Harvey. I thought about Votto, but remember, had Terry Collins stuck to his gut in the last game of the World Series, it may not have been the last game, and we could have been talking about how Harvey pitched 8 dominant innings to keep the Mets alive. That goes with a 13-8, 2.74 ERA regular season and gets my vote.
AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
MN- Carlos Correa. For a guy who didn’t even play 100 games this season, he may have been the AL’s best shortstop period. His .279/22/68 statline is desirable for any shortstop (or hitter for that matter), let alone a rookie.
KF- Correa. Copy and paste what Matt said, but add the fact that he made some bigtime plays with the glove as well. I will say though, the Indians’ Francisco Lindor made this choice a little tougher than I anticipated.
NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
MN- Jung-Ho Kang. Call me biased, but Kang’s impact on the Pirates was real and measurable in his 126 game splayed this season before his knee injury. He played his way in to the daily lineup after not beginning the season expecting to see much playing time at all.
KF- Kris Bryant. Really, can I nominate pretty much the whole Cubs’ lineup? In all seriousness though, after a slow start, Bryant hits .275/26/99 to go with 13 steals and is part of the incredible young and talented nucleus of Cubbie power.
AMERICAN LEAGUE FIREMAN OF THE YEAR:
MN- Wade Davis. As the anchor for the best bullpen in baseball Davis led Major League relievers in ERA, opponent’s batting average, OPS against, and was second in WHIP. His dominance helped KC capture their first World Series title in over 30 years.
KF- Andrew Miller. Miller was as lights-out as it gets, converting 36-of-38 save opportunites, including his first 24 in a row, thanks to a 0.86 WHIP and a 2.04 ERA. He and teammate Dellin Betances became the first Yankee relievers to both K 100 batters in the same season.
NATIONAL LEAGUE FIREMAN OF THE YEAR:
MN- Mark Melancon. As glad as I am to nominate another Pirate, Melancon is a deserving candidate. He lead the Majors with 51 saves in 53 chances, set a career high with 78 appearances and went to his second All-Star Game, and his 0.93 WHIP ranked sixth in the NL.
KF- Jeurys Familia. Another tough decision, and Melancon is definitely a fantastic pick, worthy of the award, but Familia wasn’t even supposed to be the Mets closer this year, and he steps up with 43 saves and a 1.85 ERA. He shortened games for the Mets all year with his ability to record 2 inning saves.