The 2021 IBWAA Awards (My Ballot): NL MVP (1 of 2)
Over the next two weeks, I am going to be releasing my ballots for the various end-of-the-season awards across Major League Baseball. These are the same ballots/players that I submitted to the IBWAA before the postseason began.
This week we will go through all the National League Awards, continuing with the bottom 5 of the NL MVP.
For the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America), voters get to vote for the Top-10 players for the MVP, the Top-5 pitchers for the Cy Young, the Top-3 players for the Rookie of the Year, Reliever of the Year, and the Top-3 managers for the Manager of the Year awards.
Name: Tyler O’Neill
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Hitting Line: 138 Games, .286/.352/.560 (.912 OPS/150 OPS+), 34 HR’s, 80 RBI’s, +6.3 bWAR/+5.4 fWAR
Tyler O’Neill was a consensus Top-100 prospect heading into the 2017 season and while he won a Gold Glove in 2020, his offensive performance was lacking thanks to injuries. However, he put it together for the 2021 season as he really increased his power output. His ISO went above .250 for the first time in his career (.274), which helped him pass the 30 Home Run landmark (tied for 7th in the NL). Combined with decent defense, Tyler had the 6th best overall bWAR in the NL and the 7th for fWAR (among hitters). I placed him 10th because I wish he played more games, but he otherwise had a fantastic season.Embed from Getty Images
Name: Max Scherzer
Team: Washington Nationals & Los Angeles Dodgers
Pitching Line: 30 G, 15-4 Record (.78 WP%), 2.46 ERA (166 ERA+, 2.97 FIP), 179.1 IP, 0.864 WHIP, 236 K’s (11.8 K/9), 36 BB (1.8 BB/9), +5.3 bWAR/+5.4 fWAR
I had Scherzer as my #2 pitcher in the National League this year (as announced yesterday), and I cannot overlook the story he wrote for this season: a 1.99 ERA with the Dodgers to help them try and reel in the Giants in the NL West. Plus, he led the NL in WHIP. There’s not much else to say about Scherzer that I haven’t already stated, and I felt 9th was an appropriate spot given my history in devaluing pitchers for the MVP. (They have their own award for recognition.)Embed from Getty Images
Name: Paul Goldschmidt
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Hitting Line: 158 Games, .294/.365/.514 (.879 OPS/143 OPS+), 31 HR’s, 99 RBI’s, +6.2 bWAR/+4.9 fWAR
While Goldschmidt’s teammate (O’Neill) may have actually been the better player by advanced metrics, I will forever hold that the best ability is availability. Goldschmidt has had a few down years recently, but when you play nearly every day and continue to hit at nearly a .300 clip with 30+ Home Runs, and collect nearly 100 RBI’s…well, I think the case as to why I ranked him higher than O’Neill is a little clearer. Overall, Goldschmidt was 10th in NL Batting Average, 11th in NL Home Runs, and 7th in NL RBI’s. Only 2 other NL players (Nick Castellanos and Austin Riley) were better than Goldy across those three stats.Embed from Getty Images
Name: Bryan Reynolds
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Hitting Line: 159 Games, .302/.390/.522 (.912 OPS/146 OPS+), 24 HR’s, 90 RBI’s, +6.0 bWAR/+5.5 fWAR
Part of the problem with this year in trying to find who to vote for with my down-ballot votes (I’d say the Top-5 guys were pretty obvious) is that I fell victim to voting for guys who had good stories. Take Bryan Reynolds for example: a guy who hit to a .300 batting average while playing with nearly 0 line-up protection and still putting up solid numbers across the board. He’s a below-average defensive center fielder, but he is a switch-hitter who hits for average. At 26-years-old and a center fielder on a bad team, we will be hearing a lot about Reynolds as Yankees fans try and come up with a solution for this team. Outside of that, he played in 159 games which is a huge plus for me.Embed from Getty Images
Name: Brandon Crawford
Team: San Francisco Giants
Hitting Line: 138 Games, .298/.373/.522 (.895 OPS/141 OPS+), 24 HR’s, 90 RBI’s, +6.1 bWAR/+5.5 fWAR
The self-proclaimed “captain of the San Francisco Giants”, Brandon Crawford has been in the MLB since 2011 and just now (as a 34-year-old) had his best season. Crawford put up a career high batting average, on-base-percentage, slugging, OPS, OPS+, HR’s, RBI’s, bWAR, and fWAR. It also helps that he was the biggest contributor on the 107-game winning Giants. Like I said above, all these guys ranked 6-10 were VERY close and my best way to separate them was to give the guys with the best stories the higher vote. (Now, I also hold a soft-spot for Crawford as I got an autographed baseball card of his from the San Francisco Giants after I earned my rank of Eagle Scout, but, again, I’m not pretending not to be biased.) Embed from Getty Images