I did very well on my playoff predictions. In fact, I was perfect up until the World Series, when the Washington Nationals shocked the world, coming back from a 3-2 deficit, including being down in both elimination games. Honestly, the series was incredibly fun to watch, with so many twists and turns. I'm fine with sacrificing my perfect bracket to watch a team that's never won the World Series win it for the first time.
There was a lot of individual brilliance this year as well. We saw historic home run numbers as they officially broke the record for most home runs in a season. We saw dominant pitching from the usual suspects, like Max Scherzer, Stephen Strausburg and Justin Verlander. Some young guys also came into their own this year, including Juan Soto, Walker Buehler, and Jack Flaherty. With that out of the way, let's get into my award winners this year.
A.L. Manager of the Year: Aaron Boone, New York Yankees
There were a lot of good candidates here. However, with the number of injuries the New York Yankees had to deal with this year, this award has to go to Aaron Boone. The Yankees had to deal with the loss of guys like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, and Aaron Hicks to name a few. Despite that, they were still able to win a whopping 103 games, good enough for the third-most in all of baseball.
Guys like Kevin Cash from the Tampa Bay Rays, Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics and Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins will surely get votes, but I give Boone the nod here.
N.L. Manager of the Year: Dave Martinez, Washington Nationals
What a whirlwind of a year for the Washington Nationals. They lost Bryce Harper to the division rival Philadelphia Phillies and all hope seemed lost. They started out the season 19-31 and people were calling for manager Dave Martinez to be fired. That didn't affect Martinez though. The Nationals stayed the course and finished the season with a 93-69 record, good enough for the first wild card spot.
The key to success was the calm, never-changing attitude of Martinez. He stayed loose, which allowed the players to stay loose. The Nationals looked like they were having so much fun and all that credit goes to Martinez. Oh and we all know what happened in the playoffs. Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves, Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers and Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers will get consideration, but I think Martinez snags the award here.
A.L. Rookie of the Year: Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros
No contest here. Yordan Alvarez is the clear winner here. He came up in early June and absolutely raked. He batted over .300, hitting 27 home runs and driving in 78 runs. Looking at his numbers, you'd think that he played the entire year. However, that wasn't the case. Alvarez looks like he's going to be a problem for a long time and makes the deadly Houston Astros lineup even scarier.
N.L. Rookie of the Year: Pete Alonso, New York Mets
Despite a brilliant season from Braves rookie Mike Soroka, this will definitely go to Pete Alonso. Alonso only hit .260, but he broke Aaron Judge's rookie home run record, mashing an unreal 53 home runs, good enough to pace all of Major League Baseball. His defense is a concern, as he was a below-average defender at first, but his power is unbelievable. Another dominant season could have him at 100 home runs, which would make him the quickest to reach the mark. Expect the man they call "Polar Bear" to continue to mash for many years to come.
A.L. Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Houstons Astros
This was a coin toss pick for me. Both Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole had masterful seasons. In the end, I decided to roll with Verlander over Cole.
He led the MLB this year in multiple different categories, including wins, innings pitched, WHIP, H/9 and K/BB ratio. Verlander should've won the award in 2017 after getting screwed in the second place votes saga by Rick Porcello. He made a strong case last season, ultimately falling short to Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Blake Snell. This year, I don't think any funky stuff happens. While it'll be a very close vote, I think Verlander edges out his soon to be former teammate Cole.
N.L. Cy Young: Jacob De Grom, New York Mets
This was again, another extremely difficult choice. Instead of a clear cut two though, there were multiple guys you could make a case for. Do you go with Stephen Strausburg, who led the N.L. in wins and innings pitched? How about Hyun-Jin Ryu, who shocked everyone as he led the N.L. in ERA and BB/9. Or even Jack Flaherty, who struggled in the first half, but had one of the greatest statistical second halves for a pitcher in the history of the game.
In the end, I think Jacob De Grom takes it, giving him his second consecutive Cy Young. While he wasn't as dominant as he was last year, he was still incredible. De Grom ended up pacing the senior circuit in strikeouts and WAR while coming up just short for the ERA title. The W/L record wasn't great, but his season last year proved that voters don't really care about that. De Grom captures Cy Young number two and the 31-year-old New York Mets ace continues to cement himself as one of the best pitchers in the game.
A.L. Most Valuable Player: Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
If Mike Trout didn't get hurt, this was his award. However, he did, which opened up the door for guys to catch him.
That's exactly what Alex Bregman did. While Bregman didn't lead the A.L. in many categories, he led in walks, something I'd like to focus on for a second. Bregman had 119 walks and 83 strikeouts. 36 more walks than strikeouts. That's unheard of, especially for the era of baseball we're currently in.
Baseball right now is all about the long ball. We all know the home run record was shattered this year and it will continue to increase yearly. What comes with home runs? A lot more strikeouts. That's why it's so surprising to see Bregman's relatively low strikeout total. It will certainly be another close vote, but I believe the voters will reward the 25-year-old LSU product with some hardware.
N.L. Most Valuable Player: Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
Another tough choice, as there were three very good candidates. First, Anthony Rendon. Rendon never gets discussed as one of the best players in the game. That changes now. He's consistently proven to be one of the top hitters in the game and also shows out as a defender. If Nolan Arenado didn't exist, Rendon could have a couple of gold gloves. This was his best year in the bigs, hitting over .300 and having an OPS over .1000. He also led the N.L. in doubles and RBI's. Not to mention the number of clutch hits he had in the postseason, which ultimately led to the Nationals winning the World Series.
Christian Yelich proved that his dominance in 2018 wasn't a one-year thing. He had another unreal offensive season. He ended up pacing the National League in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. Like Trout, Yelich suffered an injury that would cost him the rest of the year. Despite the offensive brilliance, I don't think he did enough to surpass my pick for MVP.
What an incredible year for Cody Bellinger. His first half was otherworldly, as he was batting over .400 for a time period and in the high .300s for a good majority of it. He slowed down in the second half, but still managed to hit over .300. Additionally, he cranked 47 home runs and drove in 115 runs. He was in the top ten for most of the offensive categories. What separates Bellinger from Yelich though is the defense. Bellinger moved full time to the outfield in 2019 and immediately proved himself as one of the top defenders in the game. It felt like every time we watched Bellinger, he was making a great leaping catch or throwing out a runner who was trying to advance. Bellinger's great offensive numbers and awesome defense make him the clear choice for MVP.