Kielar’s MLB Award IBWAA Ballot

Kielar’s MLB Award IBWAA Ballot

by September 29, 2020 0 comments

Now that the 2020 Major League Baseball regular season is over, it’s time to look at who will win the awards in this shortened season. With the Postseason starting Tuesday, let’s take a look at who I am giving first-place votes to on my official IBWAA ballot.

MVP

American League – Jose Abreu, White Sox

The first baseman from the South Side finished the year leading the AL in RBI (60), slugging (.617), hits (76), total bases (148), and XBH (34) while being second in home runs (19) and runs scored (43), and third in OPS (.994). Abreu also finishes with a 2.7 bWAR which is first among position players in the AL, and a 3.4 fWAR. Another note is that he played all 60 of the White Sox’s games and led them to their first postseason appearance since 2008.

Runner-up: Jose Ramirez, Indians

National League – Freddie Freeman, Braves

Freeman is yet to take home the MVP hardware with his highest finish being fourth place in 2018. This could certainly be the year he takes it home, but it is not a runaway. He was a big reason the Braves were able to win their third straight NL East title and he led the league with a .476 xwOBA. Freeman finished in the top four in the majors in runs (51), hits (73), doubles (23), RBI (53), and walks (45) and was in the top three in almost all major categories. The only other player to finish in the top 4 in the majors in all of those categories since RBI became an official stat in 1920? Lou Gehrig in 1927. That is some company for Freeman and he gets my MVP vote. Oh – and he did all this while getting hit hard with COVID at the beginning of the season.

Runner-up: Manny Machado, Padres

Cy Young

American League – Shane Bieber, Indians

The only real runaway on this ballot is this one and it is so clear that Bieber had this locked up since about week two or so of this short season. He led all pitchers in fWAR (3.2), bWAR (3.3), ERA (1.63), wins (8), K/9 (14.2), and ERA+ (281). Bieber was also second in the majors and first in the AL with a 2.06 FIP. “Not Justin” Bieber took home the pitching Triple Crown, with eight wins, a 1.63 ERA, and 122 strikeouts. He has a great chance to win the Cy Young and MVP as well; he is third on my MVP ballot behind Abreu and Jose Ramirez.

Runner-up: Kenta Maeda, Twins

National League – Trevor Bauer, Reds

This race will be a tight one between Bauer, Jacob deGrom, and Yu Darvish. This and the AL MVP race are probably the closest this year. Bauer finished the season as the NL leader in ERA (1.73) and was second in the majors to Bieber’s 1.63 mark. He was also first in the NL with a 275 ERA+ and 0.79 WHIP, and second with 12.33 K/9. Bauer was also able to surrender the fewest hits per nine with a 5.05 rate which led all pitchers. A couple of hiccups and a hamstring spasm for deGrom to finish his year probably cost him his third straight win.

Runner-up: Yu Darvish

Rookie of the Year

American League – Kyle Lewis, Mariners

Luis Robert was a favorite pick to win this award before the season. He was on track to win it before he ran into September blues. In the month, he went 11-for-81 over 23 games and watched his OPS fall from .960 to .738. That helped Lewis pull away in the race as he kept up his solid play. He wound up finishing with a .801 OPS with 11 homers and five stolen bases. He led all AL rookies with a 1.5 bWAR as well.

Runner-up: Luis Robert

National League – Jake Cronenworth, Padres

The Padres traded for Cronenworth last winter and he catapulted to the spotlight this season to help the Padres make their first postseason since 2006. He was second in the NL among qualified rookies with a 125 wRC+ and .356 wOBA, and first with a 1.4 fWAR. Cronenworth finished with a .285/.354/.477 slash line with four home runs, 20 RBI, and 26 runs scored.

Runner-up: Devin Williams

Manager of the Year

American League – Kevin Cash, Rays

The Rays’ manager led his team to their first AL East title since 2010 even while they were decimated with several injuries. They had 10 members of their pitching staff go down including their ace Charlie Morton and several other position players. The Rays went 8-2 against their division rival Yankees as Cash kept them focused through this obscure season.

Runner-up: Charlie Montoyo

National League – Don Mattingly, Marlins

The Marlins lost 105 games last season and now find themselves in the playoffs in this short season. With a 31-29 record, they made the playoffs for the first time since they won the World Series in 2003. The team was shut down for eight days after the season’s first weekend when they had 18 positive COVID-19 tests. The Fish wound up using 61 different players which included 37 pitchers. They clinched in a place Mattingly is very familiar with, the Bronx, which is also where the Marlins clinched the 2003 World Series. They won it all both times they have made the playoffs – 1997 and 2003 – so watch out MLB.

Runner-up: Jayce Tingler

Reliever of the Year

American League – Liam Hendriks, Athletics

Hendriks recorded 14 saves in 15 opportunities and held a 13.1 K/9 rate. He also had a 1.78 ERA and a phenomenal 1.14 FIP. He walked just three batters all season over 25.1 innings in 24 appearances.

Runner-up: Brad Hand

National League – Devin Williams, Brewers

While the numbers are obviously skewed in such a short season, Williams had one of the most dominant seasons for a reliever in recent memory. He has an argument for rookie of the year as well. In 22 appearances, Williams struck out 53 batters over 27 innings. He allowed just eight hits, nine walks, and four runs (one earned). He did this while using a 96.9 mph fastball and a filthy changeup. His 0.33 ERA works out to be the best of all time for a pitcher who made at least 20 relief appearances and pitched at least 25 innings. Williams tied for first with 17.7 strikeouts per nine.

Runner-up: Raisel Iglesias

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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