The Season of Giving

Christopher Molinari ‘23

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It’s that time of year again. With the 2019 MLB season over, the fans eagerly awaited the final event of the season: the awards. Now, with the titles all given out, let’s take a look back to this year’s winners.

 

First up, we have the Cy Young Award, which in the NL was given to Jacob deGrom and in the AL was given to Justin Verlander. In 2019, Verlander tossed an impressive 223 innings, with 300 strikeouts and a 2.58 ERA. He also went 21-6 and threw a no hitter (courtesy of ESPN). After a ridiculous year, most would argue that Verlander definitely deserved the Cy Young. There are those, however, who would argue that fellow Astro Gerrit Cole deserved the award, after he turned in an outstanding year with a 2.50 ERA, as well as going 20-5 with 326 strikeouts. Obviously, it was a tight race, but Verlander’s no hitter and extra win pushed him over the edge. Perhaps it’s his consistency and the fact that he seems to only improve over time that gave him the advantage in such a tight race. Now, in the NL Jacob deGrom went back to back, earning this years Cy Young. Mr. deGrom chucked 204 innings, with 255 strikeouts and an incredible 2.43 ERA. These are absolutely ridiculous numbers and they clearly make up for the mediocre record of 11-8.

 

Moving along to the Rookie of the Year. In the AL, Yordan Alvarez, a rookie with stunning power who plays over in Houston. In 313 at bats, he hit .313 with a .412 OBP, 78 RBI and 27 home runs. These are absolutely ridiculous numbers, and the race for ROY really wasn’t even close. The three finalists in the AL were Alvarez, Branden Lowe, and John Means, whose numbers really don’t even compare to Alvarez. Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows that power is a huge factor nowadays for voters in the ROY, and Branden Lowe just didn’t have it. As for John Means, it is very hard for a pitcher to beat the numbers Alvarez put up, and Means just did not have the ERA or strikeouts. Over in the NL, the race came down to Fernando Tatis Jr, Mike Soroka, and Pete Alonso. Alonso’s real competition was Tatis, who was unfortunately knocked out late in the season with an injury. This really allowed Alonso to grab the edge in the race, powering down the home stretch. Let’s take a look at his numbers, shall we? In 598 at bats, Alonso hit .260 with a .358 OBP, 120 RBIs and a rookie record 53 home runs. While the average leaves something to be desired, Alonso’s ridiculous power and his ability to hit with runners on base gave him a huge edge in the race. It also doesn’t hurt that he won the 2019 MLB Home Run Derby.

 

The final major award, MVP, was highly anticipated. In the NL, it came down to Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, and Marcus Simeian. In 470 plate appearances, Trout hit a stunning .291 with a .438 OBP, 104 RBI and 45 home runs. In his ninth season and with his third MVP Trout continues to make a Hall of Fame case and solidify himself among greats such as Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig. To put it simply, he popped off. A great example showing just how good Mike Trout really is would be when, during a game, an opposing pitcher threw him a 97 MPH fastball, about as up and in as it gets, and what does Trout do? Instead of whiffing like almost any other batter would’ve, he pulls it and hits a nuke to left field. Let me say that again, he pulled it. A 97 MPH fastball at almost all of his chest. For those of you who know nothing about baseball, that is probably the hardest thing to do in sports. There are those, however, who think that Alex Bregman should’ve won the award, and they could make a decent case. But the numbers for Trout are just slightly better once you consider that he was out for the final month of the season. In 554 at bats, Bregman hit .296 with a .423 OBP, 112 RBI’s and 41 HR’s. Although most of these categories are actually better than Trout’s, excluding the HR’s of course, Trout was injured, and most likely would have edged out Bregman in RBI’s had he played the entire season. What most forget is that the award is for the most valuable player. To be truthful, Mike Trout is much more valuable to the Angels than Alex Bregman is to the Astros. Nonetheless, whatever your opinion may be on the matter, you can’t argue with Trout’s numbers.

 

Over in the NL, the finalists were Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, and Anthony Rendon. Let me just say, this could’ve gone any way. These are probably the three best players in the league save for Mike Trout. Essentially, it came down to Bellinger and Rendon, as Yelich was out for a good portion of the year (but that just shows how ridiculously good he was to be finalist after being injured for a good portion of the season). This year, in 558 AB’s Bellinger hit .305 with a .406 OBP, 47 HR’s and 115 RBI’s. These are incredible numbers. He did it all this year. He hit for contact, got on base, drove runners in, and hit the long ball incredibly well. He helped lead his team to the NLDS, where they would choke the series, losing to the Nationals (who would go on to win the WS). Compare this with Rendon’s numbers and you can see how Bellinger would just barely win. In 545 plate appearances, Rendon hit .319 with a .412 OBP, 126 RBI and 34 HR’s. As has been a trend with these awards, the number of home runs has really pushed the winners over the edge. Another reason Bellinger may have won is due to the fact that Rendon started cooler, heating up after the All-Star break. Bellinger, on the other hand, started hot and stayed hot all year. Either way, this was an extremely tight race and these two really both deserve the award.

 

So, however you may see it, these awards were all given to phenomenal players who just had immensely impressive years. The recipients really show the direction the game is going in as well. Many players with lower batting averages and higher home runs won. This just goes to show how valuable power is in today’s baseball.

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