Below are the postseason picks for the major baseball awards, compared with the preseason picks.
The theme to this story is, we can’t get them all right.
Actually, only one prediction came true, and that goes against the grain – NL Cy Young.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
In 2012, Cabrera became the first to win a Triple Crown (batting average, home runs, RBIs) since 1967 and had a shot at repeating until being injured late in the summer. Already being compared with the greatest hitters in baseball history, the 30-year-old third baseman led the AL in batting average (.348), on-base percentage (.442) and slugging percentage (.636) despite an abdominal injury that suppressed his September numbers (.278, two extra-base hits, seven RBIs).
Preseason pick: Mike Trout, L.A. Angels. The best all-rounder in the league played for a team that was out of the running after April.
AL CY YOUNG: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
No one saw this coming six months ago and now, he is the easiest pick of all, no matter the critics pointing to his generous run support as a contributing factor in the flashy 21-3 record. The only pitcher in the majors to eclipse the 20-win mark, the right-hander ranked first in walks-and-hits allowed per inning (0.97), on-base percentage (.254), and on base plus slugging percentage (.583).
Preseason pick: Yu Darvish, Texas. Led the majors in strikeouts and AL in batting average against and was en route to the award at 12-5, but a pair of no-decisions and four losses in six straight games down the stretch scuttled his candidacy.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays
Held down in the minors for future salary considerations (otherwise, surely he’d have been our preseason pick!) the outfielder helped the Rays recover from early-season struggles with a .295 batting average and 53 RBIs in 87 games. His numbers were better on the road than at home, and after his .209 August raised flash-in-the-pan doubts, he responded by hitting .317 in September to help the Rays surge toward a post-season berth.
Preseason pick: Aaron Hicks, Twins. Oops -- .192 in 81 games.
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
After the Red Sox fired Francona following a September collapse in 2011, newspaper reports alleged that a trio of pitchers had dined on chicken and drank beer in the clubhouse during the middle of games. Asked Monday to explain the Indians 21-6 record in September and 10-game winning streak, he said: “We stayed away from chicken and beer.” Known for his humour and remarkable people skills, Francona left his Sunday night baseball gig at ESPN to bring notable people skills to a team that had lost 94 games the year before. From the opening series in Toronto, Francona preached a no-excuses message. The Indians, with a low payroll and mediocre talent, qualified for a wild-card berth, finishing one game behind Detroit in the division with 92 wins. Runner-up John Farrell similarly reversed Boston’s record this season, returning to a roster with a winning culture ingrained and an experienced staff he had familiarity with, as the team’s former pitching coach under Francona.
Preseason pick: Ned Yost, Royals. The Pittsburgh of the AL, Kansas City had a winning record in every month but May (8-20) to finish 86-76. Maybe next year?
AL HOME RUN CHAMPION: Chris Davis, Baltimore, 53, nine more than Cabrera.
Preseason pick: Jose Bautista, Toronto. Played only 124 games due to injuries, ranked 13th with 28.
NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Sabermath has derived a debatable statistic called wins above replacement and known simply as WAR. In this case, the number best explains McCutchen’s value to the Pirates. It determined that McCutchen was worth 8.3 wins, compared with a replacement player in his centre field spot. In other words, where would they be without him? A leader on and off the field, McCutchen enabled the Pirates to overcome two decades of losing to reach the post-season as a wild-card qualifier.
Preseason pick: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds. Pride of Etobicoke played every game, led the league in on-base percentage for a fourth straight season, hit 24 HR, collected only 73 RBIs in part due to drawing 135 walks.
NL CY YOUNG: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals.
Tied for the league lead in wins with 19, led in innings pitched with 241, constructed an unreal 6.26 strikeout-to-walk ratio, ranked seventh in walks and hits per inning. Popular pick Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers led in ERA and WHIP.
Preseason pick: Wainwright.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jose Fernandez, Marlins
Fernandez went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA in 28 starts for the Miami Marlins. Can we call it a tie? A fellow native of Cuba, outfielder Yasiel Puig, hit .319 with a .925 OPS in 104 games. Dodgers rebounded from a slow start after promoting Puig from the minors.
Preseason pick: Jedd Gyorko, Padres. Produced 26 doubles and 23 home runs in 125 games.
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Don Mattingly, Dodgers
Clint Hurdle of the Pirates is the popular choice, and he deserves the nod for leading the Pirates to their first playoff berth and winning record in two decades. So does Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves for overcoming a wave of injuries to dominate the NL East, as does Mike Matheny for leading the Cardinals to the best overall record. Mattingly is discounted in part due to the $230-million payroll. Who couldn’t win with that cast, right? It’s easy to forget that at one point the Dodgers sat 12 games under .500 and were being dismissed in the same sentence as the Blue Jays and Angels as a team gone bust. Mattingly withstood rumours of his impending dismissal, remained even keel, and showed the way as the Dodgers went 42-12 in July and August.
Preseason pick: Davey Johnson, Washington. Swan song for Johnson never did hit the right key.
NL HOME RUN CHAMPION: Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh, and Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona, 36.
Preseason pick: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati. Finished third, with 30.