As the Fall Classic kicks off, we wanted to try our hand at deciding the major awards given out by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). All the classics are here from MVP to Cy Young Award, Manager of the Year to Rookie of the Year. We even threw in Reliever of the Year because, darn it, those guys deserve credit too!
35 members of our staff were asked to vote on who they thought deserved each award. For MVP and Cy Young, voters were asked to rank their top three candidates in each league. Players received points on a 3-2-1 scale; three points for a first-place vote, two for second, etc.
With that, let’s see who our 35 voters would award after the 2022 season!
American League MVP
1. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, LAA (35 first-place votes)
.304/.412/.654, 44 HR, 180 wRC+, 10.0 bWAR
132 IP, 167 K, 3.14 ERA, 1.061 WHIP
It comes as no surprise that Shohei Ohtani was our unanimous MVP winner in the American League. Despite missing time at the end of the season, his offensive numbers alone across nearly 600 plate appearances were enough to earn him the MVP. Tack on another great year on the mound and we’ve witnessed another of the most uniquely impressive seasons in MLB history. Get well soon, Ohtani-san; baseball is better with you playing!
2. Corey Seager, SS, TEX (19 second-place votes)
.327/.390/.623, 33 HR, 198 wRC+, 6.9 bWAR
In Seager’s second season with the Rangers, everything fell into place. He posted career highs in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and OPS. He nearly secured the AL batting title, falling only 3 points short of Yandy Díaz’s .330 mark. Now, Seager finds himself a pivotal veteran presence in the World Series, all before he even turns 30 years old. Whether or not he secures a ring, he has had a season that should be celebrated and would likely win him an MVP in a league that didn’t include Ohtani.
National League MVP
1. Ronald Acuña Jr., RF, ATL, (32 first-place votes)
.337/.416/.596, 41 HR, 73 SB, 170 wRC+, 8.1 bWAR
It’s hard to argue with our staff here, as Acuña created a club of his own this season; no player had ever stolen 70 bases while hitting 40 home runs. Acuña became just the fifth member of the 40-40 club, the first entrant since Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Pair this with NL leads in runs, hits, OBP, OPS, and total bases and it’s easy to see why our staff believes Acuña should earn his first MVP award this year.
2. Mookie Betts, RF/2B, LAD (4 first-place votes, 28 second-place votes)
.307/.408/.579, 39 HR, 167 wRC+, 8.4 bWAR
Mookie Betts is a superstar. He is a perennial All-Star, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glover. In 2023, he finds himself back in the MVP conversation, putting up an excellent season, posting a career-high 39 home runs. Not only was his offensive production among the best in baseball, but his defensive versatility was a massive boon to the Dodgers, as Mookie returned to the infield for the first period since his minor league play, playing nearly half of his games at 2B or SS. I cannot blame any of our staffers for preferring Betts’ season to Acuña’s.
American League Cy Young
1. Gerrit Cole, RHP, NYY (33 first-place votes)
209 IP, 222 K, 2.63 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 7.5 bWAR
Gerrit Cole has become one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball since his move to Houston in 2018. He has thrown 30+ starts every season with 220+ strikeouts. Yet, he has never won a Cy Young award, coming up just short in 2019 and 2021 as the runner-up. That said, our staff believes this to be Cole’s year. He led the American League in innings pitched, ERA, and WHIP. He not only got more outs than any other pitcher, he was the best at preventing runs and baserunners. Let’s give him his long-due award!
2. Kevin Gausman, RHP, TOR (45 points)
185 IP, 237 K, 3.16 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 3.4 bWAR
It makes sense to see Kevin Gausman as our runner-up, as he led the AL in strikeouts with a career-high 237. While Gausman’s 2021 ace-turn may have been a bit unexpected, I for one am excited to see him continue to dominate batters for years to come. Our voters awarded Gausman with 2 first-place votes, 14 second, and 11 third for 45 points total.
3. Sonny Gray, RHP, MIN (28 points)
184 IP, 183 K, 2.79 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 5.3 bWAR
I for one did not have an All-Star and Cy Young candidate season for Sonny Gray on my 2023 bingo card, but here we are! Gray led a young Minnesota rotation to a playoff berth and their first playoff series win in over two decades. Looking over the peripherals, Gray seems to have had a legitimate renaissance in his age-33 season. Now a free agent, it will be interesting to see how he fairs in the 2024 season. Our voters gave Gray 11 second-place votes and 6 third, for 27 points total.
National League Cy Young
1. Blake Snell, LHP, SD (26 first-place votes)
188 IP, 234 K, 2.25 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 6.0 bWAR
What a strange season for Blake Snell. He once again had a rough start to the year, but clearly turned things around in a big way. Much like Dylan Cease last season, Snell led the NL in walks but succeeded despite them. He also led the Senior Circuit in ERA and hits-per-nine, limiting damage from the free passes. The 30-year-old lefty seems to be due for his second Cy Young award, his first in the National League.
2. Spencer Strider, RHP, ATL (49 points)
186.2 IP, 281 K, 3.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 3.4 bWAR
Spencer Strider is so much fun to watch pitch. His electric fastball and doosey of a slider remind me of prime Craig Kimbrel but stretched across 5-7 innings. Strider led baseball in strikeouts and wins, the only 20-game winner in 2023 (if that matters to you). Fun fact: Strider’s FIP was a full run lower than his ERA, suggesting he may be even better next season. Our voters gave Strider 3 first-place votes, 17 second, and 4 third for 49 points total.
3. Zac Gallen, RHP, ARI (20 points)
210 IP, 220 K, 3.47 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 4.4 bWAR
Fun fact: Zac Gallen and I were born on the exact same day. Additional fun fact: our staff awarded Gallen 1 first-place vote, 4 second, and 9 third. Gallen’s continued success played a major role in the Diamondbacks returning to the Postseason for the first time since 2017. He posted career-highs in innings pitched and strikeouts, becoming one of just five pitchers to throw 200+ innings in 2023. As the ace of a young and talented Diamondbacks team, it will be a lot of fun watching Gallen continue to be among the best aces in baseball for years to come.
This was the vote with the largest spread of points. Logan Webb got 20 points with one first-place vote while Zack Wheeler had 19 points with 4 first-place votes. Also receiving votes were Justin Steele (16 points) and Kodai Senga (2 points)
American League Rookie of the Year
1. Gunnar Henderson, 3B/SS, BAL, (91% of the vote)
.255/.325/.489, 28 HR, 123 wRC+ 6.3 bWAR
Gunnar Henderson was touted as another franchise cornerstone to complement Adley Rutschman; a solid defender on the left side of the infield with great plate discipline. While his season started off a bit rocky, he turned things around in June and was a meaningful contributor to the AL-best Orioles throughout the second half, often batting near the top of their potent lineup.
2. Tanner Bibee, RHP, CLE (6% of the vote)
142 IP, 141 K, 2.98 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 3.6 bWAR
Tanner Bibee was one of several young starting pitchers the Guardians gave a shot in 2023, and ended the year as arguably their most consistent starter in the rotation. While Logan Allen and Gavin Williams also showcased impressive rookie seasons, Bibee’s consistency along with a massive month of July that saw him post a 1.78 ERA while striking out 33 batters over 30.1 innings pushed him to the top of the pile. As seems to be the norm now, Cleveland continues to produce quality pitchers and Bibee is the next in that proud line.
I wanted to give a shoutout to Josh Jung, who was given the starting 3rd baseman role by the Rangers and ran with it. He posted an impressive rookie season, being named an All-Star while putting up a .266/.315/.467 slashline with 23 home runs. While his plate discipline leaves a bit to be desired, Jung seems to have started his career on a trajectory to be a consistent presence in a talented Rangers lineup.
National League Rookie of the Year
Corbin Carroll, OF, ARI (100% of the vote)
.285/.362/.506, 25 HR, 54 SB, 133 wRC+, 5.4 bWAR
Our unanimous NL Rookie of the Year is Corbin Carroll, the outstanding outfielder who has been a massive part of Arizona’s path to the World Series. Carroll led all MLB rookies in WAR, hits, and runs. He saw Michael Harris’ 20/20 rookie campaign last year and decided to blow it out of the water, posting 25 home runs and 54 steals! He’s been one of the top prospects in baseball for a while and this year we saw why.
It’s absolutely worth giving a shoutout to a few NL rookies that didn’t receive our vote. Kodai Senga had a great first year in America, posting a 2.98 ERA with 202 strikeouts across 166.1 innings. Nolan Jones took advantage of his home in Coors Field to slash .297/.389/.542 while putting up a quiet 20/20 season. James Outman stepped into the CF role for the Dodgers admirably with a scorching April and July. And, of course, we have to acknowledge the Cincinnati trio of Spencer Steer, Matt McLain, and Elly De La Cruz. Reds fans have a reason to be excited again, despite their lackluster ownership.
American League Manager of the Year
1. Brandon Hyde, BAL, 101-61, expected 77-85 (91% of the vote)
For the second year in a row, our voters decided to award the AL Manager of the Year to Brandon Hyde. Last year he oversaw a ragtag group of underdogs to their first playoff birth since 2016, just one year after the team lost 110 games. This year, Hyde was tasked with proving this young team was legit, and he succeeded with flying colors. His Orioles led the American League with 101 wins, the first 100+ win season for the O’s since 1980.
2. Kevin Cash, TB, 99-66, expected 89-73 (6% of the vote)
The perennial candidate for AL Manager of the Year, Kevin Cash, once again saw some love from a few of our voters. Cash’s unique, data-driven style of management certainly has proved effective as the Rays continue to be one of the most successful teams of the 2020s, reaching the postseason for the fifth straight season.
National League Manager of the Year
1. Skip Schumaker, MIA, 84-78, expected 77-85 (40% of the vote)
In his first season as an MLB manager, Skip Schumaker led his Marlins to the postseason for the first time since the shortened 2020 season. While Miami’s rotation had amassed several talented arms, their offense still had some doubts. In a dramatic final week of the season, Schumaker’s fish managed to come out above the Cubs, Reds, and Padres, surprising the baseball world.
2. Torey Lovullo, ARI, 84-78, expected 76-84 (26% of the vote)
Torey Lovullo has overseen the Diamondbacks since 2017, reaching the Postseason in his debut campaign, but falling short in 2018 and ’19 before the team underwent a soft rebuild in 2020. Now, young talent like Zac Gallen and Corbin Carroll are here and Lovullo is once again in a position to lead his team to a playoff push. Much like the Marlins, it came down to the last week for Lovullo’s squad to clinch their Postseason berth, but they have clearly made the best of it, clinching Arizona’s second NL Pennant.
3. Brian Snitker, ATL, 104-58, expected 95-67 (14% of the vote)
Atlanta was the best team in baseball in 2023, due in large part to the steady hand of Brian Snitker at the helm. Since taking the reigns in 2016, Snit has led his squad out of a rebuild to become one of the most successful teams of the 2020s. He is certainly blessed with perhaps the most talented starting lineup in the game, but he still makes sound decisions consistently enough to earn recognition from a few of our staffers.
American League Reliever of the Year
Félix Bautista, RHP, BAL (94% of the vote)
61 IP, 110 K, 1.48 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 33 SV, 3.0 bWAR
Easily one of our most decisive votes, Félix Bautista absolutely earned his recognition here. He was named an All-Star in his second big league season and was well on his way to one of the best reliever seasons in recent memory before unfortunately tearing his UCL in late August. He’ll miss the entirety of the 2024 season, which is such a shame. Hopefully, 2025 will see him return and continue his reign as one of the most dominant relievers in the game.
The only other reliever to receive a vote was Bautista’s teammate, Yennier Cano, who pitched a fantastic 71.2 innings to the tune of a 2.11 ERA.
National League Reliever of the Year
1. Devin Williams, RHP, MIL (46% of the vote)
58.2 IP, 87 K, 1.53 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 36 SV, 2.6 bWAR
In his first full season out from Josh Hader’s shadow, Devin Williams thrived as a full-time closer. He earned his second All-Star nod, as his changeup remains one of the most dominant pitches in the game. He’ll continue to play a pivotal role at the back end of the Milwaukee bullpen for years to come.
2. Tanner Scott, LHP, STL (20% of the vote)
78 IP, 104 K, 2.31 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 12 SV, 3.6 bWAR
Tanner Scott was one of the most worked relievers in 2023, throwing more relief innings than all but five others. Not only did he rack up outs, but he was consistently one of the most reliable bullpen arms in the Miami pen. He only worked in the ninth inning for 28% of his innings but was reliable when called on to close out games, only allowing 5 earned runs across his 21.2 innings in the 9th.
3. Josh Hader, LHP, SD (20% of the vote)
54.1 IP, 85 K, 1.28 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 33 SV, 2.4 bWAR
Josh Hader did everything in 2023, so long as you count 54 great innings as everything. Despite his candidate thoughts on the Padres’ letdown of a season, Hader himself returned to his brilliant Milwaukee form, posting his second career season with a sub-2.00 ERA. It will be interesting to see if he continues to pitch for the Padres in 2024, as some fans and insiders seem to be a bit frustrated with his conduct off the field.