Welcome to another edition of MLB Monday as we creep closer and closer to the 2022 season, in both real time and here as well. Cause for celebration? You betcha. This miniseries has been in production for two full years now, and it’s the longest-running one we’ve ever had here on the Daily McPlay. Surprise!
Bring on the award analyses … they always surprise us.
2014 AL MVP: Mike Trout (original), Josh Donaldson (revised)
Our top candidates for this award include Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim center fielder Mike Trout (7.7 WAR), Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley (7.0), Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson (6.9), and Toronto Blue Jays utility man José Bautista (6.9). Trout won this nod from us in 2012, and Donaldson won it from us in 2013—making this all the more fun!
The Angels won the AL West over the A’s by 10 games, making Trout a little less valuable than Donaldson, in truth, as Oakland barely clinched the last playoff spot—by 1 game. Cleveland and Toronto missed the postseason, which means we hand a second-straight AL MVP trophy to Donaldson, who finished a stunning eighth in the voting at the time. Trout won the vote, of course.
That may not seem fair to Trout, but it’s our rule. Donaldson posted 2.1 dWAR while hitting 29 HRs and driving in 98 runs. He hit only .255 with a .798 OPS, but he walked 76 times, with the defense and base running (8 SBs, no CS), Donaldson did a lot to carry a slumping Oakland team to the finish line. We’re surprised by this, but then again … not really.
2014 NL MVP: Clayton Kershaw (original), Anthony Rendon (revised)
Our top candidates for this award are Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (6.5 WAR), Washington Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon (6.5), Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (6.4), and Pittsburgh Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen (6.4)—our winner last year. These WAR marks are very tight, and vote-winner Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching ace, is ineligible here.
Miami finished under .500, and the Brew Crew missed the postseason with just 82 wins. Meanwhile, the Nats won the NL East by 17 games, and the Pirates tied for the final playoff berth in the National League. That could make McCutcheon our winner again? But no … his glove was brutal (-1.0 dWAR), as we noted last year as an anomaly. Therefore, this nod instead goes to Rendon, who was just 24 years old.
Rendon posted 2.0 dWAR, while adding an .824 OPS with 21 HRs, 83 RBI, and 17 SBs. He walked 58 times and led the NL with 111 runs scored. The .287 batting average was a good one, too, so his overall game helps him earn this award under surprising circumstances.
2014 AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber (original), Max Scherzer (revised)
The four best candidates here are Cleveland ace Corey Kluber (8.1 WAR), Seattle Mariners legend Félix Hernández (6.4), Chicago White Sox southpaw Chris Sale (6.1), and Detroit Tigers fireballer Max Scherzer (5.8). We took this award away from King Félix in 2010, and we also took it away from Scherzer last year. Does one of them get it back this time around? Kluber won the vote at the time, by the way.
Well, the Tribe missed the postseason by 3 games, while the Mariners only missed it by 1 game. The Pale Hose missed the playoffs entirely, while the Tigers won the AL Central by 1 game—with 3 games to spare overall for the general postseason. The WAR difference between Hernández and Scherzer isn’t enough to really overcome the three-game gap between the Tigers and the Ms, so Scherzer gets the nod here.
That’s tough luck for Félix, who topped the AL in ERA and WHIP. But Mad Max posted an AL-best 18 wins, as well as a 3.15 ERA and 252 Ks in just 220 1/3 IP. His 1.175 WHIP wasn’t too bad, either. Scherzer was a better pitcher in 2013, but his value was more meaningful in 2014. That’s the way it goes, and he still finished fifth in the vote at the time.
2014 NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (original), Adam Wainwright (revised)
Our five contenders here are vote-winner Kershaw (7.7 WAR), Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto (6.6), Philadelphia Phillies veteran Cole Hamels (6.4), St. Louis Cardinals veteran Adam Wainwright (6.1), and Chicago Cubs acquisition Jake Arrieta (5.3). Of course, Kershaw is going for his fourth consecutive nod from us, so how will it turn out for him?
The Cubs, Phillies, and the Reds all finished under .500 for the season, so this comes down to Kershaw or Wainwright—and the Dodgers won 94 games to the Cards’ 90 games. In terms of playoff cushion then, L.A. had more games to work with than St. Louis did—4 more, to be exact. That’s less margin for error on the Wainwright side, so he’s going to steal this hardware from the Dodgers ace. Oh well …
Wainwright’s numbers: 20-9, 2.38 ERA, 3 SOs (NL high), a 1.031 WHIP, and a league-best 0.4 HRs allowed per 9 IP. Hard to argue with that line, and the Cardinals veteran finished third in the NL Cy voting at the time. Kershaw was obviously very good, but Wainwright brought more value to his team’s postseason chase.
2014 AL ROTY: José Abreu (original), Yordano Ventura (revised)
Despite playing for 10 seasons in Cuba’s professional leagues, White Sox first baseman José Abreu (5.8 WAR) won the NL ROTY voting. We can’t give him this award with all that experience, so the next guys are Houston Astros starter Collin McHugh (3.8), Minnesota Twins utility man Danny Santana (3.8), New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances (3.7), and Kansas City Royals starter Yordano Ventura (3.4).
Since the Royals were the only one of these teams to make the postseason, this gives the nod to Ventura by default—especially since K.C. tied with Oakland for the final AL postseason slot. He posted a 14-10 record with a 3.20 ERA in 183 IP, posting 159 Ks in the process. Without him, the Royals would not have able to make their perfect run through the AL postseason and all the way to Game 7 of the World Series.
2014 NL ROTY: Jacob deGrom (original), Kolten Wong (revised)
We may have to dig deep for this one, as New York Mets starter Jacob deGrom (3.5 WAR) won the vote, despite his team’s 79-83 finish. And the next three rookies all played for teams even lower in the standings. By the time we get to No. 5 on the list—St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong (2.4)—we finally find a player who may have more value than DeGrom.
With the Cardinals barely winning the NL Central and finishing just 2 games ahead of the last wild-card entrant(s), we give this award to Wong for his even balance on offense (12 HRs, 42 RBI, 20 SBs) and defense (1.4 dWAR). This is the second time in five years (2010) that we have revised all six major awards, although none of the winners this time out lost because of PEDs. That’s progress, of sorts, right?