At long last, we here at Crashburn Alley will hand out our end-of-season awards for the 2012 season. It was a surprisingly entertaining season from start to finish, headlined by one of the best rookie classes we have seen, arguably even surpassing the 2001 class (notably featuring Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki). Miguel Cabrera made the AL MVP vote interesting by winning the first batting Triple Crown since Carl Yazstrzemski in 1967. Feel-good story and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was a beacon of light in an otherwise gloomy season for the New York Mets. Yoenis Cespedes, when healthy, was a catalyst for the Oakland Athletics, who defied many odds in winning the AL West at the end of the season.
The five of us here at Crashburn Alley retreated deep into our underground bunkers, pulled out our calculators and test tubes, and got to work coming to a consensus on our award winners. Feel free to leave your own picks and opinions in the comments below. Without any further ado, let’s get started.
For placement, first place votes were given a value of five points, second place votes three points, and third place votes one point. This system varies from that of the Baseball Writers Association of America, but our ballots only run three deep and we have just five voters, so this system is quite simple.
American League Most Valuable Player
- Winner: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (25 of 25 possible points)
- Runner-up: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (11)
- Consolation: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees (8)
It was a runaway for Mike Trout. While he didn’t win the coveted Triple Crown nor did he play for a playoff team, Trout was the standard-bearer in the American League, helping his Angels in every conceivable way besides actually pitching (Wilson Valdez joke goes here). Trout, unlike Cabrera, played a premium position in center field with exquisite defense and ran the bases extremely well (49 stolen bases in 54 attempts). Trout had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all-time, arguably the best if you reserve some skepticism about the accuracy of Dead Ball Era players such as Shoeless Joe Jackson and Benny Kauff. But not only that, his 2012 was one of the greatest seasons period, rivaling even Barry Bonds in his prime.
National League Most Valuable Player
- Winner: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (23)
- Runner-up: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (10)
- Consolation: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (7)
The National League voting had slightly more variety, but Buster Posey ran away with our NL MVP award. The combination of world-class offense, impeccable defense, and playing a premium position led to his four of five possible first-place votes from us. Posey outpaced, by far, all other catchers in every important offensive statistic. The second- and third-place debate between Braun and McCutchen is interesting as well, as it simply comes down to a subjective weighting of defense — Braun voters weight it less than McCutchen voters.
American League Cy Young
- Winner: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers (25)
- Runner-up: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays (10)
- Consolation: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners (9)
Another runaway in the American League, as Justin Verlander unanimously takes home the AL Cy Young award from the five of us. Verlander’s big advantage over David Price was his 27 more innings pitched, while his big advantage over Felix Hernandez was an ERA more than 40 points lower. As with the NL MVP award, the second- and third-place debate was centered around only two players, though Max Scherzer did get an honorable mention and is a token of a DIPS-reliant approach to the award — his 3.74 ERA is unbecoming of a Cy Young candidate, but his 2.99 SIERA puts him in the upper echelon of starters.
National League Cy Young
- Winner: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets (21)
- Runner-up: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (19)
- Consolation: Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds; Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies (2)
Our first close call. Dickey barely edged out Kershaw, but the argument can go either way. Kershaw has an ERA 20 points lower, but Dickey got to 20 wins and led the league in innings pitched, complete game shut-outs, and raw strikeouts. He is also an all-around feel-good story. In the end, the consensus among the five of us is that Kershaw does not defend his Cy Young crown, surrendering it to the late-blooming 37-year-old knuckleballing Dickey. The third-place voting was interesting as Johnny Cueto and Cliff Lee both split the bill, with Cueto having the better argument from a traditionalist perspective, while Lee gets a helping hand from the Saber crowd.
American League Rookie of the Year
- Winner: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (25)
- Runners-up: Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics; Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers (8)
Trout takes home some more hardware unanimously. The race was much less competitive here, with Trout lapping the competition and then some. According to FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement, Trout was more than three times as valuable as Yoenis Cespedes, who by all accounts had an absolutely fantastic season leading the Athletics’ second-half surge into the post-season. The second-place debate ended up in a dead heat between Cespedes and pitcher Yu Darvish. A’s starter Jarrod Parker got a couple honorable mentions in a not-so-distant fourth place.
National League Rookie of the Year
- Winner: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (21)
- Runner-up: Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks (15)
- Consolation: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds (7)
Bryce Harper ekes his way out of the NL ROY race with the hardware, just ahead of starter Wade Miley. The 19-year-old Harper gave the Nationals a huge boost in the bookends of his season, May and September, as the franchise ended its 31-year playoff drought. Harper did it all: he hit for power (.206 isolated power), got on base (.340), stole bases (18 in 24 attempts), and played great defense at two outfield positions (center and right field). Miley is not to be forgotten, though, as he turned out to be the Diamondbacks’ most reliable starter, coming in at a 3.33 ERA with an extremely low walk rate, just above four percent. The third-place vote was interesting, including Yasmani Grandal of the San Diego Padres and Norichika Aoki of the Milwaukee Brewers. They were a distant third to Harper and Miley, however.
That wraps up the Crashburn Alley 2012 MLB awards show. What do you think of our picks? Which were on the money and which came way out of left field? Who would you have chosen? Let us know in the comments!