On Monday, the BBWAA announced the three finalists for each of their four major awards: Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP. They did so in both leagues. As is no surprise considering they were quite literally the best teams of all time, the Red Sox had a couple of representatives, but also a couple of snubs. The had a finalist in two of the four awards, with Rookie of the Year and Cy Young being the races that did not have a Boston player among the top three vote-getters. Here are the two who were finalists.
- Alex Cora is one of the three finalists for American League Manager of the Year. This does not come as a major surprise, of course, as the Red Sox were the top team in baseball from basically start to finish. The argument against Cora mainly comes down to payroll, but that’s silly. Consider that Boston was one of two teams to exceed the luxury tax threshold this year, and the other team (the Nationals) had a dumpster fire of a season that has been at least partially attributed to poor managing. Cora masterfully managed egos on this team and doled out playing time to keep everyone happy. This is going to be fascinating vote because the other finalists are quite deserving in their own right. His competition is Kevin Cash of the Rays and Bob Melvin of the Athletics.
- Mookie Betts is one of the three finalists for the American League Most Valuable Player. Frankly, there’s nothing I can say in this space that would do justice for what Betts did in 2018. He put forth one of the best all-around seasons in recent memory. He was the second-best hitter in baseball by wRC+ while providing elite production both on the base paths and in the field. He is the overwhelming favorite to win this award. Mike Trout and Jose Ramirez are the other two finalists.
There are a couple of snubs to talk about as well. The more surprising one was J.D. Martinez, who was a Triple Crown contender pretty much all year but didn’t make the cut as a top three vote-getter in AL MVP voting. This is probably shocking to some — Harold Reynolds among them — but maybe it shouldn’t be. We’re obviously more sophisticated with our player evaluations than we were even 10-15 years ago, and offense-only players just aren’t viewed the same. That’s not to say Martinez wasn’t incredible, because he was, but Trout and Ramirez were too and they were more impactful in different ways. I wouldn’t have batted an eye if Martinez was a finalist, but I’m also not going to flip out that he wasn’t. I will admit it certainly helps that Betts is very likely to win the award.
For the other one, I’m not sure it’s fair to call it a snub because it was probably the more likely expectation. That said, Chris Sale had a chance to be a finalist for Cy Young. Instead, Corey Kluber, Blake Snell and Justin Verlander nabbed the top three spots. Ultimately, Sale missing starts in the second half and not having a full workload upon his return held him back. I’d expect him to finish fourth in the voting, and to be honest I’m fine with the result.
Award winners will be announced next week.