By: Will Burchfield
MLB awards season is fast approaching. Bring on the debate.
Ken Rosenthal was the latest writer to join the fray, releasing his votes on Friday morning for MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year. Per BBWAA convention, he listed ten nominees for MVP, five for Cy Young and three each for Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year. A number of Tigers appeared on his ballots.
Rosenthal noted that he is only voting on two of the aforementioned awards, but can’t say which ones until the winners are announced in mid November. “So for now,” he joked, “it’s up to you to guess which two categories I’m screwing up.
Tigers fans have taken a particular interest in the A.L. Rookie of the Year race. Michael Fulmer looked like the runaway winner for most of the summer, until Gary Sanchez came along in August and turned the baseball world upside down. If you value sample size, you’re voting for Fulmer. If you prefer history, you’re voting for Sanchez.
Rosenthal sided with the former:
“Sanchez has made an incredible splash, hitting 20 homers in 220 plate appearances and recording the second highest number of extra-base hits by a Yankee in his first 53 games since 1913, trailing only Joe Dimaggio.
The rap against Fulmer is his 4.76 ERA in September — but even with his late fade, he is within three innings of becoming the first rookie to win an ERA title since Mark Fidrych in 1976. His one bad month was preceded by three outstanding months — which is one more than Sanchez has been in the majors.”
1. Michael Fulmer
2. Gary Sanchez
3. Tyler Naquin
Another Tigers’ pitcher vying for an end-of-the-year honor is Justin Verlander, who has a legitimate claim to the A.L. Cy Young Award. In this debate, Rosenthal went somewhat off the board, selecting Baltimore reliever Zach Britton. Rosenthal felt that the starters in the discussion are simply too close to separate — and not overly impressive to start with:
“The top nine starters in the league are virtually indistinguishable, with ERAs between 3.06 and 3.21. And the last AL pitcher to win the Cy with an ERA above 3.00 was CC Sabathia in 2007.
So, it’s a good but not great group of starters vs. a record-setting reliever. Or hadn’t you noticed? Britton is a perfect 47-for-47 in saves. His 0.55 ERA would be the lowest in history for a pitcher with a minimum of 50 innings.”
1. Zach Britton
2. Rick Porcello
3. Justin Verlander
4. Corey Kluber
5. Chris Sale
Regarding the A.L. MVP race, Rosenthal sided confidently with Mike Trout. But Miguel Cabrera cracked his list of top ten candidates, and two other Tigers almost did as well:
“Frankly, I had a difficult time narrowing down the list to 10. Brian Dozier, Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez and Kyle Seager all warranted consideration outside of the top five.”
1. Mike Trout
2. Mookie Betts
3. Josh Donaldson
4. Jose Altuve
5. Manny Machado
6. Adrian Beltre
7. Francisco Lindor
8. David Ortiz
9. Miguel Cabrera
10. Robinson Cano
It’s worth nothing that despite some media members voicing their support for Brad Ausmus, Rosenthal did not give the Tigers’ skipper any consideration for Manager of the Year. He went with Cleveland’s Terry Francona, Baltimore’s Buck Showalter and Texas’ Jeff Banister, in that order.
“The Red Sox’s John Farrell, Yankees’ Joe Girardi and Astros’ A.J. Hinch all warrant consideration as well,” Rosenthal added.