As we close out the final games of another eventful regular season, the Baseball Writers Association of America work to finalize their votes for MLB’s annual awards. Several analyst and reporters share their opinions on who will win the league awards, but not many give thoughts on team awards. Well, I thought it would be a good idea to breakdown our team’s season awards (#DodgerTeamAwards) in Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Gold Glove, Cy Young and MVP.
Rookie of the Year – Kenta Maeda
Coming into the season it was well documented that the Dodgers had one of the best minor league organizations in all of baseball. It just so happened that the Dodgers made most of their prospects by using 18 rookies this season. Now, we’ve all see each Dodger contribute in their own way, but surprisingly the rookies played a pivotal role in this season’s success. The not so surprising, obvious pick is our stud shortstop, Corey Seager. But, let’s look away from Seager for our team award. Let’s give the #DodgerTeamAwards ROY award to our iron man pitcher, Kenta Maeda.
Maeda, 28, was the best signing Friedman made over the offseason. An established veteran pitcher overseas translated to a durable, reliable pitcher in his rookie season in the MLB. Maeda led the team in innings pitched at 173 innings by starting a team high 31 games. Only two other pitchers started more than 20 games for the Dodgers this season (Kazmir, 26 & Kershaw, 20). Aside from Maeda’s durability, his production also puts him atop the team’s rookie list. Before his final start on Sunday Maeda’s owns a 16-10 record with a 3.28 era and an impressive 9.16 K/9. On top of those consistent numbers all season long, Maeda owns a 3.3 WAR rating, good enough to lead all pitchers in the Dodgers roster not named Kershaw.
Maeda has not only made his mark with the Dodgers, but he also leads all NL rookies in games started, innings pitched, and wins. With categories like that Maeda is sure to receive a few votes from BWWAA in the NL’s Rookie of the Year, even though the clear front runner is Seager. Maeda has not only been a stellar surprise but also a fun part of the Dodger clubhouse and fit in really well with the clubhouse chemistry.
Manager of the Year – Rick Honeycutt
The #DodgerTeamAwards Manager of the Year award goes to our own pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. I know, right, you wouldn’t expect it. But the reality is that although Roberts has been in front of the media addressing all the adversity the Dodgers have overcome this season, Honeycutt has been right by his side all season long. Roberts has done a spectacular job in his first year as a manager and deserves to be the NL manager of the year in my opinion. But that doesn’t say Honeycutt’s contribution should go unnoticed. Seemingly unthinkable, Honeycutt managed to make the Dodgers pitching staff one of the best in all of baseball with Kershaw only contributing 21 starts this season.
The Dodgers entire pitching staff ranks 4th in the league in era (3.65), 6th in the league in innings pitched (1429) and 3rd in the league in WAR (22.7). To manage a staff that used over 15 different starters and 22 different relievers. The bullpen has certainly picked up the slack as the rotation suffered from the injury bug all season long and bullpen coach, Josh Bard also did an excellent job making sure the bullpen was not overworked and continued to be ready at any given moment. All in all, kudos to Dave Roberts for assembling a great coaching staff and a tip of the hat to Honeycutt for preparing one of the best pitching staff in baseball.
Gold Glove – Yasmani Grandal
The Dodgers managed to repeat their solid defensive season after finishing last season with the league’s best fielding percentage at .988 %. This year the team dropped to 4th in the league in fielding with a .987 fielding %. Needless to say the team is one of the better defensive teams in the league. Outside of team defense there were a few players that held their own at their positions. There are four Dodgers with a fielding percentage above .990, Adrian Gonzalez (.998), Yasmani Grandal (.995), Joc Pederson (.992) and Chase Utley (.990).
The #DodgerTeamAwards Gold Glove award would go to Grandal. Outside of the nearly perfect .995 fielding percentage, Grandal holds a league high 9.0 pitch framing value. What that means is that He is able to get his pitcher to gain an extra 9% called strikes on pitches that normally would be called balls (relative to strike zone). In comparison to the league’s 7.2 pitch framing average, he is clearly in a class of his own with Buster Posey being the only other catch with a pitch framing value as high as him. On top of his pitch framing, Grandal has also caught over 40% of base stealer this season (23 of 57). His ability to frame strikes and keep runners off the base paths have been vital to the success of our pitchers. While you aren’t likely to see a catcher make a highlight reel play on defense, Grandal’s defense makes a significant presence that has helped the team win.
Cy Young – Kenley Jansen
You rarely see closers receive recognition for the “best pitcher of the year” award, but that’s exactly what I’m doing here. Kenley Jansen with his second best 47 saves in the NL, has been the Dodgers best pitcher this season and is deserving of the #DodgerTeamAwards Cy Young. With a 1.86 era and an impeccable 102 strikeouts to 9 walks this season (13.85 K/9) Jansen has solidified himself as one of the best closers in the league and the anchor of the Dodgers bullpen.
What makes Jansen so impressive is his dominance with one pitch. Jansen throws his cutter 90% of the time (4% fastball & 6% slider). To show how filthy his pitch is, he owns a 23.4 pitch value on his cutter, which equals a 2.7 pitch value over 100 pitches.
To put that in comparison, let’s compare it to the great Mariano Rivera, infamous for the game’s best cutter ever. Rivera’s statistically best season was in his career was in 2009 where he managed 22.7 pitch value, which translated to a 2.71 pitch value over 100 pitches.
Now I’m not ready to proclaim Jansen as the next Mo, but at the very least his dominance with his cutter this season was worthy of winning the #DodgerTeamAwards Cy Young.
MVP – Corey Seager
Don’t think because I didn’t give Seager ROY I was going to stump him from all the #DodgerTeamAwards. Seager has been Mr. Consistent for the Dodgers all season long taking over where he started late last season. After his first full season as a big leader, any questions regarding the hype of him as a prospects were smashed out the windows with his 26 home runs. Seager leads the team in batting average (.311), OBS (.888), doubles (40), runs scored (104) and perhaps most impressively, hits (192). Those type of numbers have granted Seager the rights to become the most valuable Dodger according to Fangraphs WAR rating. Seager has surpased Kershaw this season with a 7.6 WAR rating compared to Kershaw’s 6.5.
Justin Turner is no doubtly deserving of an honorable mention. Turner deserves credit for his leadership in the clubhouse and the power he’s provided with 27 home runs and 90 rbis. But Seager has clearly been the most well-rounded, consistent player for the Dodgers all season long.
Seager’s spectacular rookie season has many baseball enthusiast reminiscing of the great Cal Ripkin Jr. What’s impressive for Seager is his poise at such a young age. He’s proven to be a leader in the midst of several veterans in the clubhouse. Seager’s durability and consistency on the field is without a question the reason why the Dodgers were able to clench their fourth consecutive NL West title.
The Dodgers have pulled together a great season on a valiant team effort. Let me know what you think about each unique award by tweeting me (@cbece013) using #DodgerTeamAwards!