National League Manager of the Year
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Experts’ picks: Showalter (6 votes), Snitker (5), Roberts (1), Philadelphia Phillies’ Rob Thomson (1)
What to know: This looks like a toss-up, especially given that Roberts’ Dodgers won 111 games — most in the National League since 1906 — and he rates as third favorite on the board. It was the fourth time Roberts has won at least 104 games, although his one Manager of the Year award came in 2016, when the Dodgers won just 91 games.
He probably won’t win this year, because as dominant as the Dodgers were in the regular season (remember, voting is done before the playoffs), the Mets and Braves perhaps had more compelling storylines. Showalter took over a Mets team coming off a 77-85 season and guided it to 101 wins and its first playoff trip since 2016. He brought some professionalism to a team that needed it, cleaned up the defense and the little things, and had all that success even though
Jacob deGrom didn’t start a game until August. Snitker, who won this award in 2018, guided the Braves to their fifth straight division title — rallying from 10.5 games down on June 1 and sweeping the Mets the final week of the season to wrap up the division. — Schoenfield
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American League Manager of the Year
AP Photo/Phil Long
Terry Francona, Cleveland Guardians
Brandon Hyde, Baltimore Orioles
Scott Servais, Seattle Mariners
Experts’ picks: Hyde (6 votes), Francona (6), Houston Astros’ Dusty Baker (1)
What to know: Baker, of course, finished as the real manager of the year after ending his personal World Series drought in his 25th season as a manager, but he’s not even a finalist. This is a two-man race between Hyde and Francona, as the Orioles and Guardians were perhaps the two biggest surprises of 2022.
In his fourth season with the Orioles, Hyde’s team improved from 52 wins to 83, one of the biggest single-season improvements in history, staying in the playoff race until late in the season. Wins over expectation is usually a guiding principle in this award, and that should help Hyde. Francona’s advantage is the Guardians did make the playoffs, winning the AL Central with a 92-70 record — a 12-game improvement, impressive for a team that had both the youngest lineup and the youngest pitching staff in the majors. Francona’s ability to work with young players continues to be an impressive strength and could win him his third MOY award.
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National League Cy Young
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Experts’ picks: Alcantara (13 votes) (unanimous choice)
What to know: This looks like a possible unanimous victory for Alcantara. He went 14-9 with a 2.28 ERA and led the majors with 228 2/3 innings and six complete games. No, those last two numbers wouldn’t stand out even a decade ago, but that was the most innings by a starter since David Price in 2016 and 23 innings more than any other pitcher in 2022. Alcantara went at least eight innings in 14 of his 32 starts, and his 8.0 bWAR gave him a sizable lead over Aaron Nola’s 6.0, the second-highest total among NL pitchers.
Urias did end up leading the NL with a 2.16 ERA, but he pitched just 175 innings in 31 starts — a good example of how many more innings Alcantara delivered than even a Cy Young finalist like Urias. Alcantara’s season is also even more impressive since 23 of those 32 starts came against .500-or-better teams. Fried, by comparison, made 17 of his 30 starts against winning teams, while Urias made 16 of 31 — although he was an impressive 11-3 with a 1.45 ERA in those 16 games. Still, this one is all Alcantara, who will become the first Marlins pitcher to win a Cy Young Award (Kevin Brown finished second in 1996).
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American League Cy Young
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Experts’ picks: Verlander (12 votes), Cease (1)
What to know: This is what you call a comeback season. After blowing out his elbow one start into 2020 and undergoing Tommy John surgery, Verlander returned at age 39 after missing two seasons and went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA, leading the AL in wins and ERA. You lead the league in those two categories and you’re the heavy favorite to win the Cy Young Award, but Verlander also led the majors in lowest batting average allowed (.186), lowest OBP allowed (.227) and lowest slugging percentage allowed (.270).
Cease (14-8, 2.20 ERA, 227 strikeouts) and Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA, 196 2/3 innings) are certainly two of the up-and-coming young starters in the game. Indeed, there are arguments to be made for both. Cease led AL pitchers with 6.4 bWAR, although Verlander and Manoah weren’t far behind at 5.9 (and non-finalist Shohei Ohtani was at 6.2). Manoah pitched 21 more innings than Verlander, which is important, and did it pitching in the league’s toughest division (and had a 1.90 ERA in division games). Still, this looks like Verlander’s year and his third Cy Young Award, after wins in 2011 and 2019 (and three runner-up finishes in between).
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National League MVP
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Experts’ picks: Goldschmidt (6 votes), Machado (4), Arenado (3)
What to know: Goldschmidt had been the heavy favorite after hitting .404/.471/.817 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in May and remaining hot … at least until September, when he finally slumped, hitting .245 with two home runs. By then, however, the Cardinals were cruising to a division title and the Goldschmidt MVP storyline seemed etched in stone. But as our expert picks suggest, maybe it isn’t such a sure thing. Arenado (7.9) actually topped Goldschmidt (7.8) in bWAR, although the difference there is insignificant. Machado (7.4), meanwhile, led in FanGraphs WAR over Arenado’s 7.3 and Goldschmidt’s 7.1.
Goldschmidt was the best hitter in the NL, finishing at .317/.404/.578 with 35 home runs and 115 RBIs, so support for Arenado and Machado centers around the value their defense brings and those WAR totals that ended up pretty even. Goldschmidt led the NL in win probability added (Machado was second) while Arenado wasn’t in the top 10, but some of the other clutch numbers favor Arenado: He had a .988 OPS in high-leverage situations (Goldschmidt was at .895) and .864 in “late and close” situations (Goldschmidt was at .789).
MVP voters have certainly focused on a player’s WAR more and more over the past decade, so that should make this a split vote, but in a close race, it usually seems to go to the best hitter and that’s Goldschmidt. He has had two runner-up MVP finishes and one third place, but at 34 years old, I think he finally wins.
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American League MVP
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Experts’ picks: Judge (12 votes), Ohtani (1)
What to know: You might have heard about this one. Ohtani went 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts as a pitcher. As mentioned above, his 6.2 pitching bWAR was second in the AL and he’ll probably finish fourth in the Cy Young voting. As a hitter, he hit .273/.356/.519 with 34 home runs and 95 RBIs, good enough for the fifth-highest OPS in the AL. So you have a top-five pitcher and a top-five hitter. That is a superhero season.
And somehow not epic enough. Judge’s season was also historic: 62 home runs, 131 RBIs, 133 runs, .425 OBP, .686 slugging. He led the AL in all those categories, most in dominant fashion, doing it in a season when offense was at its lowest levels since 2015. It was the best offensive season since peak Barry Bonds, and if you don’t want to include Bonds, you have to go back to Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams in the 1950s. Judge finished with 10.6 bWAR compared to Ohtani’s pitching-plus-hitting total of 9.6. Of course, the way WAR is constructed, it gives Ohtani a positional penalty, since he was a DH. Maybe you can argue that isn’t fair, since Ohtani obviously plays another position — pitcher.
Still, we can add up the numbers and leave position out of this: Ohtani produced an estimated 31 runs more than an average hitter and saved 40 runs compared to an average pitcher, for a combined total of 71 runs; Judge produced an estimated 80 runs more than average hitter. That’s how good he was at the plate: Better than the combined value of Ohtani the pitcher and Ohtani the hitter. And that’s why Judge’s MVP award will be a deserving honor.
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