The 2013 Major League Baseball regular season has ended, and we saw many players step up to help put their teams into the postseason. Fans will debate the big four awards both before and after the votes become official in November.
Why wait until then?
Here are my selections for the National League’s 2013 Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year awards. All statistics are as of the end of the Major League regular season on September 29. See the National League Sortable Statistics here.
Most Valuable Player: Allen Craig
I do not necessarily select the player with the best individual Triple Crown statistics for MVP. I go by the player who had the biggest impact on his team’s success. I also favor a player whose team makes the postseason. In this regard, I choose Allen Craig of the St. Louis Cardinals.
I mean no knock at all to Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, who led the National League in both home runs (36) and RBI (125). However, a look at Allen Craig’s performance shows that he deserves the award the most. Craig’s slash line of .315/.373/.457 and power numbers of 13 HR and 97 RBI pale in comparison to Goldschmidt’s .302/.401/.551 and power numbers, but let us look more closely at some of Craig’s other statistics that we do not always see. The Cardinals may very well win the N.L. Central without him, but — to me — Craig had the most impressive offensive season.
Craig hit both at home (.336) and on the road (.298). He hit both left-handed (.278) and right-handed pitching (.327). Most impressively, though, Craig hit an incredible .454 and drove in 83 runs in 130 at bats with runners in scoring position. Goldschmidt hit .338 with RISP — very impressive but not like .454. Granted, the Cardinals team hit .330 in that situation, which shows tremendous teamwork and depth, but Craig led the way by far. He drove in 97 runs with only 13 home runs, showing that he could do the job in many different ways.
Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
This category does go to the pitcher with the best overall numbers. Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw led the Major Leagues, hence the National League, in ERA at 1.83 in 33 games. He also had a 16-9 record. Even when the Dodgers struggled in last place for most of April and May, Kershaw still had ERA’s of 1.73 and 1.97, respectively, and won six of nine decisions. He never topped 3.00 in any month and had four months under 2.00.
Kershaw helped keep the Dodgers together while they struggled to 23-31 on May 31 until they caught fire and went 69-39 from June 1 on, sparked even more by the arrival of Yasiel Puig and the return of Hanley Ramirez from injury. Kershaw, though, also struck out 232 batters in 236 innings. He was second in innings pitched and led the league with a 0.92 WHIP. Kershaw should very easily win his second N.L. Cy Young award.
Rookie of the Year: Jose Fernandez
My apologies to Puig (.319, 19 HR, 42 RBI in 104 games) and his fans, but 2013’s N.L. Rookie of the Year award should go to Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins. A look at the Top Rookie Statistics answers why. Fernandez went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA in 28 starts for a Marlins team that finished 62-100. He also had more strikeouts (187) than innings pitched (172.2). His ERA ranked first among rookies and second overall to only Kershaw’s. His 0.98 WHIP was third in the league. Fernandez also hit .220 with a home run.
I choose Fernandez over Puig because I believe that a rookie pitcher normally has a tougher time than a rookie hitter. Both played liked seasoned veterans, which made this a very difficult choice.
Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle
How could the manager that ended a 20-year losing streak not win this award? The Pirates finished with a losing record for 20 straight years until 2013. This year’s team not only finished above .500 but it won 94 games and made the postseason. Granted, this team is very talented, but regarding big-name players, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez immediately come to mind but few else do.
When star closer Jason Grilli went down for most of the final two months, I wondered if the Pirates would falter. Obviously, they did not. Mark Melancon filled in brilliantly, and the entire bullpen held their own until and after Grilli returned.
The Pirates did it more with pitching than with offense, but all that matters is winning. Hurdle led his team to 94 wins, the third-highest total in the National League.
The National League pennant races kept us entertained, especially in the N.L. Central division. The individual races made for even more entertainment. When the final votes for these awards come out in November, we can compare the results with our own selections. Until then, let the debates begin.
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