Major League Baseball's regular season awards are slated to be rather intriguing, to say the least. The narrative will likely play a huge role in several of the awards (particularly the American League MVP and National League Cy Young), and, even without extenuating circumstances largely beyond a player's control, some are simply too damn close to call. And that's one of the most wonderful things about baseball; the more we know, the more difficult these heretofore easy decisions become. Without further ado:
AL MVP: Mike Trout - .299/.402/.590, 41 HR, 11 SB, 172 wRC+, 9.4 bWAR, 9.0 fWAR
For the fourth season in a row, Trout led the AL in bWAR and fWAR (and were it not for his NL counterpart, he would have led the Majors, as well), while also pacing the league in OPS+ and wRC+. He also set a career-high in home runs, SLG, and ISO, continuing his evolution into an elite (or, more accurately, even more elite) power hitter. Defensively, the metrics no longer see Trout as an elite center fielder, suggesting he is average to a tick above. However, his propensity for highlight reel catches has not change.
Yes - the Angels missed the playoffs by one game. But it's difficult to pin that on a player that batted .315/.430/.648 with 8 HR in September.
Also receiving votes - Josh Donaldson
NL MVP: Bryce Harper - .330/.460/.649, 42 HR, 6 SB, 197 wRC+, 9.9 bWAR, 9.5 fWAR
If you want to find a better offensive season than Harper's 2015, you have to look back to 2004, when a certain hulked-out gentleman hit .362/.609/.812 with a 233 wRC+. And the last non-Barry Bonds player to top Harper's 197 wRC+ was Mark McGwire, way back in 1998. And if you want to find a player that hasn't been conclusively linked to PEDs, you'd have to go back to 1994, when Jeff Bagwell and Frank Thomas tied for the MLB-lead with a 205 wRC+. In short, it would be difficult to overstate the excellence of Harper's season - it was historically great, regardless of age, era, or position.
Also receiving votes - N.A.
The between Keuchel and Price in most everything is minuscule, save for our choice's 1.2 win edge in bWAR and massive advantage in GB% (61.7 to 40.4). Keuchel allowed slightly fewer base-runners on a rate basis, averaged slightly more IP per start, prevented runs at a marginally better rate, and did so in more hitter-friendly environs. Were it not for the Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson impressions in the NL, this would have been the most difficult choice in recent memory.
Also receiving votes - David Price
NL Cy Young: Jake Arrieta - 229 IP, 150 H, 48 BB, 236 K, 1.77 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 8.7 bWAR, 7.3 fWAR
By good ol' fashioned runs, Greinke's the choice. If you prefer focusing solely on what a pitcher controls, Kershaw's the choice. We chose the middle-ground, and went with Arrieta, who was generally in between the two in most metrics that we consider. He was in a virtual tie with Greinke in terms of run prevention (when adjusted for park), and he allowed the least hard contact of any pitcher in the National League. By keeping the ball on the ground and limiting scorching line drives and deep fly balls, his dependency on his defense may be less significant than one would suspect based upon the gap between his ERA and FIP.
AL RoY: Carlos Correa - .279/.345/.512, 22 HR, 14 SB, 133 wRC+, 4.1 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR
Correa led all shortstops in ISO, SLG, wOBA, and wRC+, and finished fifth in fWAR despite playing in only 99 games (though, to be fair, Lindor finished 2nd). He was also an asset on the basepaths, and an average-ish defender by every metric but UZR (which viewed him as closer to awful). His consistency in the middle of the Astros lineup bears mentioning, as well, posting an OPS between .821 and .919 in every month. That bit of dependability helped keep the Astros afloat despite a late season swoon - and that sort of narrative can make all the difference in a choice as close as the one between Correa and Lindor.
Also receiving votes - Francisco Lindor
NL RoY: Kris Bryant - .275 .369 .488, 26 HR, 13 SB, 136 wRC+, 5.9 bWAR, 6.5 fWAR
A couple of months ago, this appeared to be yet another perilously close race, with Bryant, Joc Pederson, Jung Ho Kang, and Noah Syndergaard all vying for the award. Due to injuries and a bit of regression to his competitors, Bryant stands head and shoulders above the pack. That sells him short, though, as Bryant ranked 10th in the Majors in fWAR, and 15th in bWAR. In addition to having light-tower power and a terrific approach at the plate, Bryant ranked 6th in the Majors in BsR (FanGraphs' baserunning metric), and played above-average defense at the hot corner. Even with Harper's dominance, Bryant is closer to the MVP race than the other rookies are to him.
Also receiving votes - N.A.
AL Manager of the Year: Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers
This award is essentially "who was the manager of the team that overachieved the most?" While Hinch guided the Astros to the playoffs a couple of years early, Banister helmed a team that (1) outpaced its Pythagorean record by five wins, (2) lost the most games and most WAR in the Majors to injury, (3) started a Rule 5 pick in center field for most of the season, (4) let Adam Rosales pitch twice, and (5) managed to win its division by two games despite all of this.
NL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs
If it weren't for the ubiquitous discussion of Cardinals Devil Magic and the worst bullpen management in Major League Baseball, Mike Matheny may have garnered some love for guiding an injury-riddled team to the best record in the Majors. Instead, we went with the guy who turned a team led by rookies and twenty-somethings into a 97-win club.
Also receiving votes - N.A.
Were it not for Teixeira's injury and the feel-good nature of Rodriguez's return, this award would probably have turned out quite differently. The Yankees offense was surprisingly stout this season, and Rodriguez spent the majority of that season anchoring the lineup from the third spot in the order. He slowed down as the season wore on, but he still managed a 119 wRC+ in September (which matches Carlos Beltran's mark on the season).
Also receiving votes - Mark Teixeira
Mo Rivera Award: Dellin Betances - 84 IP, 45 H, 40 BB, 131 K, 1.50 ERA, 2.48 FIP, 3.7 bWAR, 2.4 fWAR
Despite a couple of scary outings late in the season, Betances managed to match last season's bWAR total while improving his already staggering strikeout rate by 0.5 K/9. His 131 strikeouts were fourth on the team, despite Betances ranking only 7th in IP (though he did lead all relievers in IP). He also led the pitching staff in bWAR, and finished second on the team behind Mark Teixeira. Betances' all-around numbers may not be as jaw-dropping as they were in 2014, yet he was dominant nevertheless.
Also receiving votes - Andrew Miller
This ... distinction ... came down to two schools of thought. On one hand, Capuano was the worst player on the Yankees this year, with -1.1 bWAR and -0.2 fWAR. He allowed 38 runs and 6 home runs in just 40.2 IP, including 16 runs in 13.1 IP as a starter. In short, he was a flesh and blood version of the white flag.
On the other hand, there was Ellsbury getting paid over $21 MM this season to bat .257/.318/.345 with an 83 wRC+. One-hundred and forty-three players garnered at least 500 PA, and among those Ellsbury ranked 118th in fWAR and 126th in wRC+. He was above replacement-level (1.9 bWAR/0.9 fWAR) mostly due to his position, as his defense slipped noticeably as the season wore on. Capuano may have been worse in terms of overall value, but his awfulness was limited to 22 games and 40.2 IP - Ellsbury's was spread out over 111 games and 501 PA.