Awards season for Major League Baseball concluded on Thursday with the announcement of the Most Valuable Player awards. In the American League, Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox got the nod, while Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers took home the prize in the National League. Neither was much of a surprise.
Betts had the much tougher task of taking down all-world everything (and former MVP) Mike Trout. Betts cracked 32 home runs, stole 30 bags, and played brilliant defense in Boston’s tricky right field. Trout actually had a slight edge in offensive production per wRC+, but Betts had the edge via weighted on-base average (wOBA). Those are the two most cited advanced offensive metrics, and it was virtually a dead heat. Betts also won the batting title, and took home a Gold Glove.
Things were actually clearer in the National League. Yelich took down fellow finalists Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs and Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies. The Brewers’ outfielder dominated in terms of wRC+ and wOBA, and led by one in steals over Baez, while falling just two home runs short of Arenado’s NL leading total of 38.
You can get a look at the final vote totals here.
Cy Young fallout
Once again, Justin Verlander’s Cy Young hopes crashed in Tampa, Fla. You’d almost think voters hold a grudge, as for the third time, Verlander put up the best numbers in most relevant categories but somehow came in second. Blake Snell had an excellent season, but compared to other elite starters who didn’t pitch what we typically think of as a full season — namely Chris Sale and Trevor Bauer — Snell didn’t really stand out. It’s hard not to conclude that pitcher wins once again reared their ugly head. However, this one wasn’t nearly the robbery that went down in 2016. Snell was outstanding, and our friends over at DRaysBay took a look at his historic season.
FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan voted for the former Tigers ace, and explained his process on Thursday. ESPN’ David Schoenfeld tried to argue that the votes for Snell and National League winner Jacob DeGrom reflect the growing impact of analytics, which is interesting, but rather forced.
Snell, meanwhile, was amused to find that he was suddenly set to be drug tested. Random testing?
So just got informed I’m being drug tested tomorrow how random do we think this drug test is!?— Blake Snell (@snellzilla4) November 15, 2018
Verlander took the loss in stride. He and Kate Upton had some fun with Upton’s outburst after the 2016 announcements.
I walk away for TWO SECONDS and she puts quotes on “joking”. https://t.co/7w3hIykZtm— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) November 15, 2018
Perspective is everything.
Justin Verlander is not sweating this. pic.twitter.com/vgfphONa0F— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) November 14, 2018
They also posted a very good reason why this is all small potatoes to the long-time Tigers ace at this point.
Arizona Fall League wraps
The Arizona Fall League concludes on Friday, and the Tigers have had a mix of good and bad out in the desert. On the good side, Daz Cameron has continued to turn heads. He cracked three more hits out of the leadoff spot for the Mesa Solar Sox on Thursday, with a double, a stolen base, and another caught stealing to his credit. He has posted a .903 OPS for the Sox.
Cameron has been fully unleashed on the basepaths. He has bagged nine stolen bases, but been caught seven times. More work is required on that front, but Cameron continues to grind and steadily improve every part of his game. Mike Rosenbaum at MLB Pipeline led off with Cameron in a look at 10 standout prospects from the AFL. Cameron was a featured subject in BYB’s podcast interview with Emily Waldon of The Athletic, as well. Beyond his skills, Cameron’s relationship with his father, former major league outfielder Mike Cameron, is a perfect encapsulation of the soul of baseball.
Around the horn
The Texas Rangers reportedly agreed on a two-year deal with 36-year-old free agent catcher, Jeff Mathis, on Thursday. Mathis is a historically bad hitter, and is already past the sell-by date for most major league players, let alone a catcher. He’s widely considered one of the best game callers in baseball, and continues to get work despite a career wRC+ of just 50, fifty percent worse than league average. Think of him as Brad Ausmus 2.0. There are some lessons here for the Tigers as they consider signing a veteran catcher.
MLB got the bag
Major League Baseball has reportedly agreed to an extension to their broadcast agreement with Fox Sports. The current contract is said to be an eight-year deal worth $4.2 billion, set to expire in 2021. The New York Times reports that the new extension will add seven more years, for a price tag of $5.1 billion. FOX will also increase its digital options, and will have the right to broadcast an undisclosed additional number of games starting in 2022. In totally unrelated news, MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, received a contract extension from the owners, and will preside over the league through 2024.