We bring you another edition of MLB Monday as the sport has resolved its labor issues, changed some rules, and agreed to undertaking a full 162-game season for 2022. Cause for celebration? You betcha. This means we can return to some halted miniseries, too, on the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants. Oh joy … (note our sarcasm).
On with the show for 2013 now!
2013 AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera (original), Josh Donaldson (revised)
The top players in the junior circuit featured two players with failed drug tests on their resume, so we’re ignoring them. We are focusing on the top three, alone: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim center fielder Mike Trout (8.9 WAR), Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (7.5), and Oakland Athletics 3B Josh Donaldson (7.2). Cabrera won the vote last year, although we gave the nod to Trout.
But here we are again with Cabrera getting another trophy from the BBWAA. Last year, he had a negative dWAR, and this year? He was even worse (-1.3 dWAR). So he can’t keep this piece of hardware, either. Last year, Trout had a historic season; this year, not so much, while still playing for a team couldn’t crack .500 for the season. So, that leaves us with Donaldson: He checks all the boxes, so this is his award.
The A’s won the AL West by 5.5 games, so without their star cornerman, they don’t win it. He also posted 1.3 dWAR, so we’re sold. His offensive line was merely good—.301 average, 24 HRs, 93 RBI, 76 BBs, .883 OPS—but combined with the glove work, it all adds up to a valuable performance for a division winner.
2013 NL MVP: Andrew McCutcheon (original, confirmed)
Five guys are on our list here: Pittsburgh Pirates CF Andrew McCutcheon (7.8 WAR), Milwaukee Brewers CF Carlos Gómez (7.6), Cincinnati Red first baseman Joey Votto (6.6), St. Louis Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter (6.6), and Arizona Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt (6.3). McCutcheon took the vote as the Pirates made the postseason for the first since 1992, the last year Barry Bonds played for them.
This was one of the few years in McCutcheon’s career where he posted positive dWAR (0.7), so he’s in the discussion, with the Pirates clinching a postseason spot by 8 games. He was a difference maker. As for the others, the Brew Crew finished under .500, but the Reds also made the playoffs—by just 4 games. Votto was a negative defender, though (-0.5 dWAR).
Meanwhile, the Cards topped the Pirates by 3 games in the NL Central, and Goldschmidt was also a negative defender (-0.5 dWAR). Thus, McCutcheon gets to keep his trophy with the following stats: .317 average, 21 HRs, 84 RBI, 27 SBs, 78 BBs, and a .911 OPS. He was lucky this year as his -7.6 dWAR career mark will probably hurt him in subsequent years for these analyses.
2013 AL Cy Young: Max Scherzer (original), Hisashi Iwakuma (revised)
We have five real considerations here, although one of them is a confirmed cheat (Bartolo Colon), so he’s out. The four left to analyze: Seattle Mariners import Hisashi Iwakuma (7.0 WAR), Chicago White Sox phenom Chris Sale (6.5), Tigers fireballer Max Scherzer (6.5), and Detroit veteran Aníbal Sánchez (6.1). The teammates cancel each other out, which sucks for Scherzer as he won the vote at the time.
So … both the Mariners and the White Sox finished under .500, which means we’re going to have an odd selection here. But not only did Seattle win 8 more games than the White Sox, but Iwakuma also posted a higher WAR mark than Sale did, so the Japanese veteran will win this award from us, quite surprisingly, for posting a 14-6 record with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.006 WHIP over almost 220 IP.
This is not out of left field, though, as Iwakuma did finish third in the AL Cy voting at the time, so that’s important to clarify. He also struck out 185 batters, too, so that contributed heavily to his WAR mark above. Still, with the Mariners only winning 71 games, this is just a rare situation for our typical analytical process.
2013 NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (original, confirmed)
The top five here are Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (8.1 WAR), Philadelphia Phillies veteran Cliff Lee (6.6), Cardinals workhorse Adam Wainwright (6.3), Miami Marlins rookie José Fernández (6.2), and Colorado Rockies youngster Jhoulys Chacín (5.8). Kershaw won the vote, and he’s won the last two NL Cy trophies from us, too, even though he only won the vote in 2011 and not 2012.
With the Marlins, Phils, and the Rox finishing under .500, that reduces our field already. Meanwhile, St. Louis had an 11-game cushion for its postseason berth, while the Dodgers only had a 6-game margin for error. That means with the higher WAR and narrower playoff pathway, this award is going to go to Kershaw again, for the third straight season.
His pitching line: 16-9, 1.83 ERA, 2 SOs, 232 Ks, and a 0.915 WHIP. All those numbers led the NL, except the wins total, as Kershaw posted 235 IP at age 25. He joins a select group of pitchers who have earned 3 straight Cy awards from us, the last one being Pedro Martínez from 1998–2000.
2013 AL ROTY: Wil Myers (original), José Iglesias (revised)
This is a mediocre field of rookies, and someone has to win the award: Tigers shortstop acquisition José Iglesias (2.4 WAR), Kansas City Royals outfielder David Lough (2.4), Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers (2.2), and Rays starter Chris Archer (2.0). The two Rays cancel each other out, so we’re left with Iglesias and Lough. Myers won the vote at the time, by the way.
While the Royals did win 86 games to post a winning record for the first time since 2003, Iglesias was a difference maker for the Tigers, as they won the AL Central by just 1 game over the Cleveland Indians. His glove alone (0.9 dWAR) may have been the key element, of course. His bat? Eh. He did hit .303, but with just a .735 OPS, there was not a lot of punch there. But it doesn’t matter: Iglesias wins the trophy.
2013 NL ROTY: José Fernández (original, confirmed)
Fernández was the top NL rookie by a big margin, with a 6.6 WAR mark, overall. The next player was almost 2.0 WAR behind, and with the second- and third-best rookies playing on the same team, that all but clinches this award for Fernández, even though the Marlins were a bad team. His numbers—12-6, 2.19 ERA, 0.979 WHIP, and 187 Ks in just 172 2/3 IP—were amazing for a kid in his age-20 season.
Sadly, his career and life would be cut short, but … this piece of hardware will always be his family’s to cherish and remember.
Check in every Monday for our MLB awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!