All Rise (and my other picks for MLB Award Winners)

It wasn’t all that long ago that I was watching Aaron Judge play in International League Playoff games in Allentown for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. He was big- really big. He hit the ball hard. He seemed to have fun. He was really good. It wasn’t long after that he became a Yankee, and he was really good there. It was fun to watch then. It’s even more fun to watch now.

Aaron Judge is my pick to win the AL MVP, and he should win it unanimously. His AL record of 62 home runs is one of the greatest seasons we’ll ever see, and he seemed to really enjoy doing it. What’s not to like? He won the home run title, the RBI title, finished second in batting average, and as a result narrowly missed the triple crown. It’s a historic season. No, it is not the record. Barry Bonds absolutely used performance enhancing drugs, we’re all sure of it, and I’m also sure that Major League Baseball turned the other cheek to cash in on him doing it. Both his single season and all-time homer records are certainly tainted, and denied the feats to more incredible people, but that’s the choice MLB made. They ruined their own record books for money, and they did it with McGwire and Sosa too. All that argument about records aside, Judge did set the American League record. He did it clean. It was fun to watch. He should win the game’s highest individual award, and win it without opposition (sorry, Shohei).

The National League MVP should narrowly go to Freddie Freeman. I don’t think you could go wrong if you gave this award to Paul Goldschmidt either, it’s really damn close. Freeman was second in batting average, first in hits and runs scored, and plays an elite defensive first base. Goldschmidt was third in average, hits, and runs, and second in RBI’s, while also being very good down at first. I’d vote Pete Alonso in fourth for his second in homers, first in RBI’s season. The gap here? Freeman played on the best team this season. I’d round out my ballot here with Dansby Swanson (yes, really), because that dude is clutch as hell, in fifth, and Trea Turner in fourth.

My National League Cy Young would go to Sandy Alcantara, ever so narrowly over Julio Urias. Urias edged Alcantara in ERA and won three more games, but had less strikeouts and 50+ less innings. Are my penalizing Urias for pitching on a team that could pace him? Sure. I just put a lot of stock in an arm being a horse out there. Max Fried, Corbin Burnes, Aaron Nola, Yu Darvish, and Zac Gallen all deserve a nice finish too.

My American League Cy Young would go to Justin Verlander. The future Hall-of-Famer won the ERA title and won the most games in the American League. Dylan Cease was right there with him in both categories and finished ahead in strikeouts and innings, but nine innings edge isn’t enough. Hat tip to Gerrit Cole, Shohei Ohtani, and Alex Manoah here too.

My American League Rookie of the Year would go to Julio Rodriguez, with ease. Nice job by Steven Kwan and Adley Rutschman, but not quite. My National League Rookie of the Year would go to Spencer Strider, just barely over his teammate Michael Harris. It’s all Braves here.

My National League Manager of the Year would go to Rob Thomson of my Phillies. He took over a team under .500 and lifeless, and took them to the playoffs. Other managers did more this season, but they did more with better teams. In the American League, Terry Francona should win Manager of the Year without a vote. Nobody had this team anywhere near .500, let alone winning 90 games. Seattle’s Scott Servais and Baltimore’s Brandon Hyde deserve votes, just for second place.

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