2018 Award Voting Open: Players to Watch
2018 MLB Pro Award Voting Is Open
With the 2018 MLB Pro World Series set to begin on Tuesday, the start of the off-season is not far away. While the focus will quickly shift to 2019, the next few weeks will also be time to reflect on the remarkable seasons so many of our players had here at MLB Pro in 2018.
The following takes a look at just some of the contenders for the various awards.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
The 2018 American League MVP race likely will be a battle between a pair of AL Central stars. Gary Sanchez of the Kansas City Royals, finished .005 batting average points away from winning the Triple Crown. Sanchez set an MLB Pro record in RBI’s (156) and became just the fifth player to belt 50 or more homers. Sanchez was instrumental in helping the Royals win 92 games this season, an increase of 13 wins from last season.
2016 AL MVP Gary Copeland put together another monstrous season as he helped lead the Twins to the AL Central title. Copeland finished the year hitting .324 with 43 home-runs, and led the AL with 122 runs scored. Copeland also led the AL in OBP, OPS, H, BB, and WAR.
- Bryce Harper: One of three AL players with an on-base percentage of .400 or better (Copeland and Nomar Mazara). Harper finished the season second in the AL in both runs scored and walks.
- Nomar Mazara: The reigning AL MVP won the AL Batting Title this season, while finishing second in OBP, third in slugging percentage, and fourth in WAR. Mazara played in 133 games after missing some time with injury.
- Travis Jankowski: The Baltimore Orioles won 102 games this season and Travis Jankowski was a large reason why. Jankowski finished the season ranked in the top five in the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored, and stolen bases.
- Mark Baker: Had it not been for a series of injuries that cost Baker over thirty games during the season, the Mariners outfielder would have had an even more impressive season. Nonetheless, Baker finished the year with a top-ten WAR (6.3), 21 homers and 40 stolen bases.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Last off-season, the New York Mets acquired Xue-liang Wong to help solidify their outfield. Little did they know, that it would be Josh Wilcox who would be the difference maker. After an inconsistent rookie season in 2017, Wilcox shined throughout 2018. While the Mets came up short in the NL East, it was no fault of Wilcox. Wilcox won the NL Batting Title while finishing in the top three in homers and RBI’s as well.
While Josh Wilcox and the Mets finished in second place in the NL East, it was the Braves who finished on top of the division. Among the many reasons as to why Atlanta had a great season is the obvious reason: Armando Cabanas had an MVP type of season. Despite only playing in 135 games, Cabanas finished the season with the NL’s 8th best WAR. The best player on the NL’s best team is definitely worthy of MVP consideration.
While the NL East had Cabanas and Wilcox battling it out on the field and in the standings, the National League West had a trio of its own shining all season long. San Diego Padre Giancarlo Stanton finished the season among the NL’s best in most offensive categories. After missing time with a fractured foot in mid-May, Stanton returned and finished the year hitting .304 with 27 homers and 66 RBI’s in his final 102 games of the season.
Los Angeles Dodger Juan Hidalgo had a terrific season hitting leadoff for one of the NL’s best offenses. With a top-five ranking in the NL in on-base percentage, hits, walks, and WAR, Hidalgo provided the Dodgers what they needed offensively to consistently win games.
The NL West trio concludes with a newcomer to the division in, San Francisco Giant, Anthony Hale. Hale came over from Baltimore in a blockbuster trade last off-season. Hale finished the season with an NL best 122 RBI’s and the third most runs scored. In September, Hale hit .337 with 8 homers and 25 RBI’s.
- Evan Longoria: Longoria finished second in the NL in WAR as he amassed 120 or more walks for the fourth time in his career. While it was a disappointing year in St. Louis, Longoria continued to shine bright.
- Braulio Pardo: A former NL MVP and consistently among the NL’s best was right there again this season. Pardo led NL catchers in virtually every single offensive category. Among all position players, Pardo finished in the top ten in: batting average, OBP, slugging, WAR, homers, and RBI’s.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG
It was another season in the American League in which a Seattle Mariners starting pitcher was dominant. This year, Nathan Eovaldi led the league in wins and ERA, while finishing just outside the top five in strikeouts. Eovaldi was tough to beat at home all season long going 11-3 with an ERA under 2.00 at Safeco Field.
Along with Eovaldi, fellow AL West pitcher Ryan Copeland had a terrific season with the World Series bound Los Angeles Angels. From June 1st through the end of the season, Copeland went 10-1 in 18 GS with an ERA of 2.11 in 119 2/3 IP. Copeland was one of the hardest pitchers to hit finishing the season second in opponents average while leading the AL in opponents on-base and slugging percentage.
While his season ended with a scary injury, it was Lucas Giolito who brought fear to opposing hitters throughout the season. The Rays right-hander led the AL in strikeouts with 210 (the only AL pitcher with 200 or more). Giolito also finished the year allowing the fewest hits per 9 innings.
After an off-season in which questions about his future in Minnesota were brought up, Juan Oramas had a terrific season for the Twins. Oramas matched Eovaldi’s twenty wins while doing so with a better winning percentage (80%). In his final fifteen starts, Oramas went 9-2 with 2 CG while posting an ERA of 2.53.
- Danny Hultzen: Tied for 6th most wins in the AL while pitching in the 5th most innings. Hultzen’s 194 punch-outs also placed in the top five among AL pitchers.
- Lucio Cruzado: Had it not been for a rough month of August, Lucio Cruzado would be a name worthy of great consideration for Cy Young. Cruzado walked just 24 batters, while striking out 159 in 216 innings pitched.
- Steve White: The knuckleballer began the year 9-2 with 4 complete games in his first 12 starts. White pitched in an AL leading 244 innings. White finished the season with the most shutouts and tied for the AL lead in complete games.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG
Perhaps the most wide open of any award this season will be that of the National League Cy Young race. Among those in contention for the hardware this season are a trio of pitchers that were out of playoff contention for much of the second-half of the season. Arizona’s Scott Clark, Cardinal’s Clayton Kershaw, and Washington’s Miguel Pineda will all be considered for the award.
Scott Clark, the National League leader in ERA, WHIP, hits per 9 innings, opponents average, opponents on-base, and opponents slugging went just 12-11 in 212 innings pitched. Clark lost four starts in which he allowed two or fewer runs.
Clayton Kershaw led the league in strikeouts for the first time in his career. The crafty lefty had a top five WHIP, WAR, and strikeout to walk ratio. While inconsistency likely will keep Kershaw off the top spot on many ballots, he is someone that still should find himself on many ballots.
Washington has quietly built a powerful 1-2 duo in Raynel Velette and Miguel Pineda. Pineda finished the year as the NL pitching leader in WAR, partly because he finished in the top five in ERA, wins, innings pitched, and opponents on-base and slugging percentage. In the final two months of the season, few if any were better than Pineda as he went 8-3 with an ERA of 1.66 down the stretch.
- Parker Markel: The NL All-Star game starter finished the season with the NL’s most wins and fewest walks per 9 innings. Markel was fantastic against right-handed hitters all season long holding them to an average of just .226.
- Mark Appel: Appel finished just behind Scott Clark for the NL ERA title. Appel went 13-4 in 26 outings, but dealt with a series of injuries that limited his innings pitched to just 162.
- Orlando Garcia: “The Vulture” picked apart his prey much of the season in Colorado. Garcia went 16-6 with an ERA of 3.19 in 163 2/3 innings. Perhaps most impressively was Garcia’s home ERA of 3.05 in 91 innings pitched.
- Zack Greinke: In his first full season as a Giant, Greinke went 15-5 with an ERA 3.47 in over 200 innings pitched. At age 35, Greinke once again finished among the top 10 in strikeouts while he also led the NL in complete games.
AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
As far as traditional counting stats go, Houston’s Edgardo Arredondo was better than the rest when compared to other American League rookies. The Astros power-hitter led all AL rookies in homers, RBI’s, and runs scored. In addition to being feared at the plate, Arredondo also stole 24 bases in 30 attempts.
While Arredondo was the king of the traditional stats, Toronto’s Brian Inoa, was the most productive rookie amongst the younger, more analytics based crowed. No rookie reached base at a higher clip than Inoa. Inoa finished with just one fewer run scored than Arredondo while posting a WAR 2.2 wins above Arredondo.
While several American League rookie pitchers posted strong debut seasons, it was Jamie Widner of Texas who will likely get the most consideration. In 180 innings pitched, Widner led or tied for the lead amongst AL rookie pitchers in wins, hits per 9 innings, WHIP, FIP, and WAR. The Rangers were 6-4 in starts made by Widner against AL playoff teams.
- Jorge Alvarado (CHW)
- Drew Childs (KC)
- Porter Curran (CHW)
- Richard Fowler (HOU)
NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Offensively, NL Rookie of the Year candidates come down to two players. First, Los Angeles Dodger Javier Garcia had the best batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, and WAR among NL rookies. Garcia was one of two NL rookies to hit more than 20 homers or to drive in more than 80 runs. Garcia’s offensive prowess was only matched by Philadelphia Phillies Ryobe Kamida. The former Japanese star hit 31 homers with 95 RBI’s in 160 games. Kamida led all NL rookies in slugging percentage, homers, RBI’s, and extra base hits.
On the mound, NL rookies were against led by a Dodger and Phillie. Jeffrey MacIntosh of the Dodgers had a 3.15 ERA in 191 2/3 innings pitched, the most of any NL rookie. Unlike other rookies, Macintosh helped guide his team to the playoffs. Carson Fulmer of the Phillies went 10-9 in 184 1/3 innings. Fulmer led NL rookie pitchers in ERA, hits per 9 innings, and strikeouts.
Other NL rookie pitchers with a notable first season include Walker Buehler (MIA – 10-9, 3.35 ERA, #1 WAR), Bill Hauck (ARI – 10-9, 3.42 ERA, 4th in K), and Jud Graham (COL – 10-6, 3.22 ERA, 137 K in 148 IP).