My 2020 MLB Award Picks: National League MVP and Cy Young Awards
My 2020 MLB Award Picks
By Chris O’Connor
Today I will look at who I would choose for the National League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
This race had a much clearer top 3 than the AL. I don’t think there is anything more 2020 than giving both MVP’s to first baseman, but Freeman was just that good. He played in all 60 games, walked more than he struck out, and slashed .341/.462/.640 to the tune of a 187 WRC+. he was absolutely incredibly leading a Braves offense that was second in the league in runs and won their division. He is the MVP.
It was so hard moving Betts to number 2; he had a fantastic first year with the Dodgers. He actually outhomered Freeman 16 to 13 and had an terrific 149 WRC+ while providing his typical fantastic defense in right field. He is a finalist for a Gold Glove and will most likely win the award. It speaks to how good Freeman was that he beat Betts out. Betts played in 55 games to Freeman’s 60.
It was very hard to drop Tatis Jr. to 3 after his torrid start, but his start actually kept him on the ballot after he faded down the stretch. Tatis Jr. had the narrative for a while: the exciting young player who was leading a team that has struggled in recent years to the playoffs. He improved his defense at shortstop and matched Betts with a 149 WRC+ while playing nearly every game (59). Just 21 years old, the future looks very bright for Tatis Jr.
NL Cy Young
Since the entire season was a small-ishl sample size in a typical season, I think pitchers should be judged on their run prevention rather than what the advanced stats tell you what maybe should have happened. In this regard, Bauer was unbelievable: he actually almost matched Bieber in ERA+ (281 to 276). For more traditional fans, he led the league in ERA at 1.73 and was second in the NL in K’s/9 with 12.33.
Darvish actually led Bauer in innings (76 to 73) and his ERA and ERA+ trailed only Bauer in the National League at 2.01 and 221. He was eighth in the NL in K’s/9 and walked the fewest batters among the three, so he definitely is in the competition.
I have DeGrom at 3 which speaks to how close this race is from 1-3. DeGrom was the worst run-preventer of the group with an ERA and ERA+ of 2.38 and 178. He also threw the least amount of innings of the three with 68 but led the league in K’s/9 with 13.76.
This was the hardest race to pick. Bauer’s advanced stats were worse than Darvish and DeGrom and the spike in the spin rates of his pitches suggests something nefarious; Bauer has said in the past when discussing the Astros that the only way to significantly increase spin rates is through using illegal pine tar. Who you choose in this race says a lot about personal preferences when it comes to pitchers and smaller sample sizes.