Thursday, August 29, 2013

Keith Law Picks Kershaw, Puig for 2013 Awards

Keith Law apparently got aced out of the BBWAA voting this year due to an administrative malfunction. Scorned, he took his thinking public so he could announce for whom Law would be voting, had he gotten the opportunity (link insider only). And there are a couple of Dodgers which come up:

National League MVP

Clayton Kershaw is having a season for the ages, leading the NL in Baseball Reference's WAR (rWAR) so far, with an ERA (1.72) that would be the second-lowest for any ERA qualifier in a non-strike season since MLB lowered the mound in 1969, with only Dwight Gooden's 1.53 ERA in 1985 lower than Kershaw's.

His FanGraphs WAR (fWAR), derived from his FIP (fielding independent pitching) of 2.39, might do him a slight disservice, as Kershaw posted BABIPs below league average from 2009 through 2012 -- in the .262 to .275 range -- and that figure is down to .231 this year. If Kershaw is truly capable of keeping his batting average allowed on balls in play around .270 -- as opposed to the league average, which is closer to .300 -- then his FIP this year would be about 2.25, which would be the second-best mark in the NL.

The real debate this fall won't be over Kershaw's FIP or his rWAR, but between Kershaw and Andrew McCutchen, by far the best position player in the NL this year. He's third in the NL in OBP and 10th in slugging (with two of the top three playing in Colorado) while playing above-average defense in center. The Mets' David Wright might have had a chance to challenge McCutchen, but missing four or more weeks to a hamstring strain will create some separation between him and Cutch.

My pick: McCutchen / Who I think will win: McCutchen

NL Cy Young

Kershaw wins this in a rout -- he has been the most valuable by rWAR, near the top by fWAR, and didn't get to fatten up on bad NL East offenses all year. Adam Wainwright probably ends up taking second place over Matt Harvey (who is now out for the year), Jose Fernandez and the somewhat unheralded Mat Latos.

But really, if Kershaw finishes with a sub-2.00 ERA, I'll be shocked if he's anything short of unanimous.

My pick: Kershaw / Who I think will win: Kershaw

NL Rookie of the Year

Puig has the narrative here -- not only has he played extremely well, but the Dodgers started winning right around the time of his arrival. (That their run of success also started when Hanley Ramirez and Zack Greinke came off the DL will be conveniently ignored as it doesn't support the desired story.)

But Fernandez leads Puig comfortably in both flavors of WAR, and while he hasn't been seen as much by a national audience, he has been just as exciting, turning into a bona fide ace as a 20-year-old while playing for a team in his adopted home state. That this wonderful thing is happening to a team owned by Jeffrey Loria is a fact I will conveniently ignore.

Beyond those two, I'd probably follow up my ballot with Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran, giving them the edge over the much older Hyun-Jin Ryu.

My pick: Fernandez / Who I think will win: Puig


BJ Killeen said...

Aren't these the same people who voted for Ryan Braun?