It's tough to get into the Baseball Writers Association of America.
I won't bore you with all the requirements it takes to gain membership, but I don't meet at least one of them. While that may be bad news for me, it's good for you because I'm going to give you my ballot for this season's end of year awards, and I don't have to wait for the BBWAA to release my ballot!
Just like the real things, I've picked out ten players for MVP, five for Cy Young, and three each for Rookie and Manager of the Year. I'll also give you my rationale for why I put them in the order that I did.
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MOST VALUABLE PLAYER AWARD
- Jose Altuve, Astros -- Altuve is one of only two players in the AL who are in the top ten in all three of the "slash" categories (batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage). He's first in batting, second in on-base and fourth in slugging. He's likely to be the only player in the American League to have more than 200 hits (which with one more hit this year he will have surpassed each of the last four seasons), and set new career highs in home runs and runs scored. And with Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Dallas Keuchel all missing significant time this season, Altuve put the Astros on his back and nearly carried them to a 100-win season and an American League West division crown. He finished third in the voting in 2016. He won't be denied this year.
- Aaron Judge, Yankees -- His rookie season in the Bronx has been incredible. The first rookie to surpass 50 homers in a season, it was his offensive performance that helped carry the Yankees to the top Wild Card. And while he leads the league in walks, times on base and runs scored, his astronomical strikeout numbers are likely to keep him from the award this year. He'll have plenty more chances at the trophy.
- Jose Ramirez, Indians -- It's hard to believe that just two years ago, this guy hit .219/.291/.340 in what was his second part-time season with Cleveland. He has turned into a real hitting machine, cranking out a league-leading 51 doubles, and leading the league in total bases. Plus he has nearly tripled his season-high in home runs and has taken his OPS into the stratosphere. Oh, and he's only 24 years old.
- Mike Trout, Angels -- Remember that note about Jose Altuve being one of two AL players to be in the top 10 in all three "slash" categories? Trout is the other guy, as he is sixth in batting and tops in both on-base and slugging. Trout is also the only hitter in the American League with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title who has walked more than he has struck out. If he didn't tear a ligament in his thumb in late May and miss 39 games, he'd probably win his third award.
- Nelson Cruz, Mariners -- If Cruz was still playing in the eastern time zone, he likely ends up higher on this list. No one in the American League has more RBI than the Mariners DH (115), and while he may be 7th in slugging and 6th in OPS, only the four players mentioned above him in this list have a higher wRC+.
- Eric Hosmer, Royals -- The Kansas City first baseman finds himself third in batting average, second in hits, fourth in on-base and is one of only three players in the American League this season with a chance to play in all 162 games.
- Justin Upton, Tigers/Angels -- Upton's year went largely unnoticed because he played on a bad team in Detroit for most of it, but the younger Upton brother is third in RBI, fourth in doubles, sixth in slugging and seventh in OPS.
- Jonathan Schoop, Orioles -- Schoop's great season started in the World Baseball Classic in March, and basically never stopped. He's currently sixth in hits, fourth in RBI and fifth in offensive WAR.
- Jose Abreu, White Sox -- Quick, name the only player in the American League to hit .300 or better, 30 home runs or more, and 100 RBI or better. Yes, his team stinks, but the south side of Chicago's big first baseman does not.
- Avisail Garcia, White Sox -- If you thought I was crazy for having Abreu on the list, you must REALLY think I'm nuts for having a second player from the White Sox on here, but Garcia is second in batting average (up 85 points from last year) and tenth in wRC+. Plus he's hitting a league-high .392 on balls in play.
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CY YOUNG AWARD
- Corey Kluber, Indians -- Most people will tell you (and rightfully so) that the wins category is meaningless. But Kluber does lead the league in wins. He also leads the league in ERA, WH/IP, H/9 IP, BB/9 IP, and pitching WAR, and is also tied for most complete games and shutouts. He's also second in strikeouts, fourth in innings pitched, and his team has lost just once in a game he has started since July 23, a stretch of 13 starts.
- Chris Sale, Red Sox -- Sale's stumble down the stretch has become something to watch for every year, and 2017 has been no exception. After starting 13-4 with a 2.37 earned run average from the beginning of the year until July 31, from August 1 on, he is just 4-4 with a 4.09 ERA and with a 1.345 WH/IP for the month of September which is 27th out of 35 starters with enough innings to qualify. Not even the first 300 strikeout season in the American League since 1999 is enough to overcome it.
- Ervin Santana, Twins -- The workhorse that has powered Minnesota to the playoffs has pitched more innings in Major League Baseball than anyone whose last name isn't Sale. He's also fifth in the league WH/IP. sixth in batting average against, and eighth in adjusted ERA+, plus his five complete games and three shutouts are tied with Kluber for the league lead.
- Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox -- Yeah, I put a reliever on my list. I would have put Zach Britton first last year as well. While he isn't leading the American League in saves (that would be the Rays' Alex Colome), he has been the most dominating ninth-inning man this season. Kimbrel has struck out a ridiculous 16.39 batters per 9 innings, and 49.6% of the batters he faces strike out against him in 2017. In 67 innings so far this year, he has struck out 122 batters and walked just 14. Do you still think he doesn't deserve to be on here? He has one fewer strikeout this season than Jake Odorizzi, and more K's than Michael Fulmer, CC Sabathia, Blake Snell, James Shields, Cole Hamels and Jordan Zimmermann.
- Carlos Carrasco, Indians -- Corey Kluber gets the headlines, and deservedly so, but Carrasco has nearly been on par with his teammate. The 30-year-old is on the verge of breaking the 200 inning mark himself for the first time, though he will likely fall short. He's also fourth in the league in WH/IP, fourth in BB/9 IP, sixth in K/9 IP, seventh in H/9 IP, and tenth in ERA. "Cookie" won't get the same sort of love as the "Klu-bot" does, but he makes my ballot.
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ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
- Aaron Judge, Yankees -- You break the rookie record for home runs in a season that has been around for 30 years, you get my vote. If he isn't unanimous, I'll be floored.
- Trey Mancini, Orioles -- Mancini is currently second among AL rookies in batting average (to Rafael Devers, who has more than 350 fewer plate appearances), tied for third in home runs (behind Judge and Chicago's Matt Davidson), and third in RBI (trailing Judge and Boston's Andrew Benintendi). In most years, a rookie season like Mancini's is a shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year. He just ran into a baseball-demolishing cyborg this year.
- Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox -- Benintendi is eighth among rookies in batting average, fifth in homers, and as mentioned above, second in RBI. He's also second among rookies in hits (behind Mancini), but has been hot and cold all season. A .204/.296/.306 May and .222/.320/.322 July gives him the bronze.
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MANAGER OF THE YEAR
- Paul Molitor, Twins -- He took a team that lost 103 games in 2016 and has them in the postseason this year, despite losing his best power hitter to injury (Miguel Sano) and his front office selling at the trade deadline, flipping Jaime Garcia to New York, and sending closer Brandon Kintzler to Washington. Give him the hardware.
- Terry Francona, Indians -- Tito and the Tribe broke the American League record for consecutive wins and will most likely finish with the best record in the American League. His performance will get discounted because he's managing the defending American League champs, but this may be one of his best jobs at the helm of a team in his career.
- Joe Girardi, Yankees -- His rotation was questioned all year. He dealt with the albatross of a couple of gigantic contracts of underperforming veterans (*cough* Jacoby Ellsbury *cough*). He had no idea who was going to play first base...or third base. But the Yankees are back in the postseason again, and he's on my ballot because of it.