The 2020 award season has come and gone. The dust finally settled on the most chaotic season in Major League history. It was definitely a year to remember.
The award season somewhat reflected that uncertainty as the season was only sixty games long. Some players clearly underperformed (Jose Altuve, Christian Yelich) while others exceeded expectations (Mike Yastrzemski) during that stretch. When compared to a 162-game season, it is understandable to see why a sixty game “sample” can lead to some wacky looking numbers.
For the most part, however, that wasn’t necessarily the case with awards. There were a couple of award winners that sort of stood out, but not in a bad way. Let’s take a look why.
In a normal season, the MVP likely belongs to Mike Trout with everyone else left in the dust. It’s actually debatable if he should’ve won this season. But during a year of a worldwide pandemic, strange things can happen. For example, Jose Abreu finished first in RBI (60) along with second in home runs (19) and wRC+ (167). He also played a full sixty games, which counts for something in this crazy season. DJ LeMahieu and Jose Ramirez also made very compelling cases for MVP, but Abreu helping lead the White Sox to the postseason for the first time in 12 years made his narrative even stronger.
There arguably wasn’t a better hitter in 2020 than Freddie Freeman. Not only did the Braves first baseman play all sixty games, his 187 wRC+ and NL-leading 3.4 wins was impossible to ignore. There are some great players in the NL like Mookie Betts, but none shone as bright as Freeman this year at the plate. Fans tend to agree with that assessment.
AL Cy Young
The Cleveland Indians continue to churn out great pitchers, even in the midst of staff turnover. Shane Bieber continued that tradition as he was easily the best pitcher in baseball this season. Only his former teammate, Trevor Bauer of the Reds, had a sub-two ERA (1.73) than Bieber’s 1.63. His 3.2 wins across 77 1⁄3 innings was also the best mark in baseball. It wasn’t close and the fans agreed.
NL Cy Young
The race in the Senior Circuit was a bit closer than the Junior Circuit, but it didn’t ultimately matter. As mentioned above, Bauer had the second-lowest ERA (1.73) in baseball and the best in the NL. That’s what essentially netted Bauer the award over pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Yu Darvish.
AL Rookie of the Year
Simply put, Kyle Lewis of the Mariners was one of the best rookies in baseball. He was one of two rookie hitters with double digit home runs at 11 (Luis Robert was the other). What ultimately separated the two was Lewis’ overall performance as a hitter (126 wRC+) compared to Robert (101 wRC+). The Astros’ own Cristian Javier was never the favorite, but it is impossible to overstate what his performance did for Houston.
NL Rookie of the Year
The winner, Devin Williams, was downright dominant with a 0.33 ERA across 27 innings in the Brewers bullpen. He also struck out 17.67 batters per nine innings as a rookie, which is scary good. That said Jake Cronenworth of the Padres was the consensus pick for fans who voted. In this case, it is hard to ignore either players, although Williams’ numbers just jumped off the page.
AL Manager of the Year
Honestly, the Rays were the second best team in baseball this season. Kevin Cash, the award winner, expertly utilized his roster’s versatility to great success nearly all season long. Sure, there was that decision to remove Blake Snell in Game 6, but the process behind his decisions is about as impeccable as one can get from a manager.
NL Manager of the Year
Anytime a manager leads the Marlins to the postseason for first time in 17 years, they probably deserve some consideration. Miami has an up-and-coming squad and Don Mattingly was able to navigate a COVID breakout to the club’s first successful season since the days of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
Overall, the fans had a pretty good gauge on this year’s awards. The only difference was the choice for NL Rookie of the Year. Pretty impressive, to be honest.
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