With Matt Carpenter’s swing and a miss at Koji Uehara’s low and away splitter in Game six of the World Series, the 2014 offseason had officially begun.
This week however, has provided fans with one final look back at the highlights of the previous year as the Baseball Writers’ Association of America doled out their annual awards.
Rookie of the Year
NL: Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
AL: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays
The awards went to players representing clubs from the state of Florida, Jose Fernandez the Cuban hard throwing Marlins pitcher and Wil Myers, whom the Rays acquired in a trade with Kansas City last fall.
Fernandez was the clear winner in the National League, garnering 26 of the 30 overall first place votes after a season which he also received votes in MVP race. The pitcher dominated opposing hitters with a 96mph fastball and a hard slider, going 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts. Fernandez deservedly beat fellow Cuban sensation Yasel Puig of the Dodgers by 47 total points.
Wil Myers stared off the year at Triple A Durham after the Rays exchanged him for rotation stalwart James Shields in the offseason. Myers became a regular presence in their lineup after being called up on June 16, producing a batting line of .293/.354/.478 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs. The young outfielder took 23 first places votes, beating second place Jose Iglesias of the Tigers by 51 voting points.
Manager of the Year
NL: Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
AL: Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
Hurdle swept the competition for the National League award, winning 25 of the 30 first place votes and finishing a commanding 72 points above second placed Don Mattingly. Perhaps not surprising after the former Rockies manager took the Pirates to the postseason for the first time in 21 years on the back off a 94 win regular season, managing a mix of young home-grown players led by Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole alongside veteran free agent pickups like Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano
Terry Francona won by a narrow margin in the American League, beating his former team’s new manager John Farrell by 16 votes and just four first place votes. Francona motivated a revamped Indians roster to 92 wins in the American League Central, overseeing turnaround seasons from rotation members Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez.
NL: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
Kershaw, the Dodgers prized left hander won the Cy Young award by a huge margin collecting all but one of the first place votes available, beating Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals by 120 points in the process. Kershaw won the 2011 award and finished second last year, cementing his place as one of the most dominant starting pitchers of this generation. In the process he became the first player since Greg Maddux in 1993-1995 to win three straight ERA titles whilst also leading the league in strikeouts (232).
Max Scherzer stepped out of the shadow of teammate Justin Verlander on the Tiger’s exceptional rotation, posting the best win-loss record of 21-3 since Cliff Lee in2008 (22-3). The ace has tightened his repertoire of pitches over the past two years and struck out 240 batters this year, behind only Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers. Again the voting wasn’t close with Scherzer missing first place on only two ballots.
NL: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
AL: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Another race that wasn’t particularly close was for the National League MVP where Pirate McCutchen ran out the comfortable winner, beating second placed Paul Goldschmidt by a margin of 167 points. The dynamic outfielder produced another strong season batting .317 with home runs, 27 stolen bases and 97 runs scored whilst playing exceptional centre field defence. The result may have surprised a few with Goldschmidt putting up stronger hitting numbers across the board whilst playing a decent first base and Yadier Molina, who led the Cardinals to the postseason from behind the plate.
Miguel Cabrera is the first American League player to be awarded consecutive MVPs since Frank Thomas in 1993-94 and has been achieved with a familiar backdrop of the Trout versus Cabrera debate. Analysts have praised Trout’s all game against Cabrera’s superior hitting stats but the Detroit third baseman’s batting line of .348/.422/.636 saw off Trout for a second straight year. If not for a late season injuries, Cabrera could of put up an historic season and is seen throughout baseball as the game’s best hitter.
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