Connie Mack Award (Manager):
- Bruce Bochy, San Francisco
- Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
This isn’t a homer pick. Really, it’s not. Being a manager is about getting the most out of your players in the face of adversity. Every team had injuries, but the Giants lost a top pitcher, two starting outfielders and a first baseman for much of the year, on top of missing a second baseman all year, and having to demote two prideful pitchers. He managed a team through a super slump that another team in a similar position (the Brewers) miss the playoffs. Bochy did a truly amazing job.
Mattingly gets his vote for the regular season job he did. There is no doubt his team has an amazing amount of talent, but they do not get the most out of their talent at all times. Mattingly did a fine job of taking what could have been a bunch of problem children and got them to the playoffs and a division title. Hurdle’s job in Pittsburgh was also strong, as he’s developed a team around McCutchen. I nearly put Matt Williams up here as well, but the Nationals pretty much did what they were expected to do.
Willie Mays Award (Rookie):
- Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
- David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants
Frankly, it was a weak year for rookies in the National League. Jacob DeGrom was the best all-around rookie who played most of the year. He’s not a name that you’ll expect to overwhelm you, but he was consistently good, although he seemed to hit a wall in August. There were a smattering of hitters, but the biggest names had problems. I came close to putting Billy Hamilton on this list, but he was too one-dimensional. David Peralta was one of the league’s most balance hitters, posting the highest OPS among rookies with significant at-bats. Panik came on late in the season, but few rookies had an amazing impact on a playoff team.
Goose Gossage Award (Reliever):
- Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
- Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Braves
- Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
It wasn’t exactly a surprising year among closers. Kimbrel was the clear leader in almost all categories, across the board, and even if his team didn’t make it into the postseason, Kimbrel’s contributions couldn’t be ignored. Melancon wasn’t a closer full-time, so his 33 saves were only 8th in the league, but throw in his 14 holds and he was one of the best across the board. There were a few options for the third spot, but Aroldis Chapman was the most dominating, judging strikeouts versus walks.
Walter Johnson Award (Pitcher)
- Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
- Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
- Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
Yeah…like you expected anything different at the top of this list.
I doubt any of the top three need any sort of justification, and if they aren’t the consensus top 3 in that order, I think some voters may have just gotten bored. There were a lot of effective pitchers in the NL, with 13 with ERAs under 3, but Greinke and Bumgarner got the last two based on their dominance in strikeouts, durability and, yes, games won by their team that they started.
Stan Musial Award (MVP)
- Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
- Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
- Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
- Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals
- Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
- Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals
- Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates
It’s still hard for me to put a pitcher at the top of an MVP list, considering how rarely they go. Kershaw’s early injury was what really put that nail in the coffin, even if he still ranked highly. WAR tells me that Jonathan Lucroy was the best player in the NL, but…no. All stats and talent considered, McCutchen still ranks the tops in his overall skills, though Stanton is very, very close. McCutchen’s ability to lead a team into the playoffs was the biggest tiebreaker here. Posey wasn’t his MVP form that he was in 2012, but he was still one of the best all-around hitters in baseball and a steady player on a streaky team that had ups and downs.
As far as the rest of the list goes, Rizzo is a great player stuck on an awful team. Puig is the most talented player in baseball, but he’s a stupid player who is a distraction to his own team. Werth, Lucroy, Rendon and Harrison all had fine seasons, but not truly great seasons.