The Baseball Writers’ Association of America has presented awards for decades, and despite an ever-changing media landscape, those honors have retained their prominence within the sport. Some news organizations, including The New York Times, do not allow their writers to vote — but we still have opinions, and here’s how the awards picture looks as the regular season scrambles to the finish on Sunday afternoon.
N.L. MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
This race was a lot more fun before Christian Yelich broke his kneecap with a foul ball on Sept. 10, ending his season. Yelich still played in 130 games for the Milwaukee Brewers — as many or more than past winners like Mickey Mantle (1962), Willie Stargell (1979), George Brett (1980) and Barry Bonds (2003).
Bellinger is close enough in O.P.S. (1.025 through Thursday), with more home runs and total bases. And if his average (.301 through Thursday) holds up, he will be the first player since Albert Pujols in 2009 to hit .300 with at least 45 homers, 110 runs scored and 110 runs batted in. He has also been, perhaps, the N.L.’s best defensive outfielder.
Would Yelich have reached those figures, too? Almost certainly. But we can only use what actually happened, and Bellinger was the N.L.’s best from start to finish.
Runners-up: 2) Yelich, Brewers; 3) Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves; 4) Anthony Rendon, Nationals; 5) Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks; 6) Nolan Arenado, Rockies; 7) Pete Alonso, Mets; 8) Freddie Freeman, Braves; 9) Juan Soto, Nationals; 10) Eugenio Suarez, Reds
A.L. MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Mike Trout, Angels
It is possible to overthink the A.L. Most Valuable Player Award race and find a reason not to honor Mike Trout. The Angels had another losing season. Trout did not play after Sept. 7 because of a foot injury. Alex Bregman was terrific for Houston, and shifted from third base to shortstop when Carlos Correa was hurt. The Yankees’ D.J. LeMahieu was a force at three infield spots as teammates fell to injuries all around him.
Trout’s narrative was not as compelling. He was simply the best in the league, as he always is, providing more value than any other player. Yes, his teammates often failed to translate that value into victories — but Trout’s value was still there.
He hit 45 homers, batted .291 and leads the A.L. in on-base percentage (.438) and slugging percentage (.645). He scored 110 runs and drove in 104. He had 303 total bases (more than he had in 2016, his last M.V.P. season), and came to bat 600 times despite the injury.
Trout did it all, of course, while meeting the demands of center field. How many other center fielders (with a minimum 100 games) have hit 45 homers with an O.P.S. as high as Trout’s 1.083? Hack Wilson in 1930, Joe DiMaggio in 1937 and Mickey Mantle in 1956 and 1961.
Runners-up: 2) Bregman, Astros; 3) LeMahieu, Yankees; 4) Marcus Semien, A’s; 5) Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox; 6) Justin Verlander, Astros; 7) Nelson Cruz, Twins; 8) Gerrit Cole, Astros; 9) Matt Chapman, A’s; 10) George Springer, Astros
N.L. CY YOUNG AWARD
Jacob deGrom, Mets
The Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu was the Cy Young leader through July. But a stint on the injured list and a dreadful late-summer stretch (21 earned runs in 19 innings over four starts) opened up the race, and Jacob deGrom took over.
Just like in 2018, the Mets have made a maddening habit of wasting deGrom’s brilliance. They will again have a losing record in his starts — they were 14-18 last year and 14-18 again this year. But deGrom has done his job better than any other N.L. pitcher, logging more than 200 innings while leading the N.L. in strikeouts (255) and WHIP (0.971), categories in which he finished second last season, with a 2.43 E.R.A.
Runners-up: 2) Stephen Strasburg, Nationals; 3) Ryu, Dodgers; 4) Max Scherzer, Nationals; 5) Jack Flaherty, Cardinals
A.L. CY YOUNG AWARD
Justin Verlander, Astros
Justin Verlander won the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards in 2011. Since then, he has been runner-up for the Cy Young three times — in 2012, 2016 and 2018 — without winning it again. The voters should fix that this year, despite strong competition from his Houston teammate Gerrit Cole.
Cole’s sublime season should earn him a fortune in free agency this winter — he topped 300 strikeouts for the first time and just turned 29 years old. But Verlander (20-6 with a 2.53 earned run average going into his final start) has been better in nearly every category, combining durability and dominance like no other pitcher and punctuating it with a no-hitter on Sept. 1.
Runners-up: 2) Cole, Astros; 3) Shane Bieber, Indians; 4) Charlie Morton, Rays; 5) Lance Lynn, Rangers
N.L. ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Pete Alonso, Mets
This has been an extraordinary year for N.L. rookies. There were stars in San Diego (starter Chris Paddack and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.), .300 hitters in Pittsburgh (second baseman Kevin Newman and outfielder Bryan Reynolds), and valuable contributors in Arizona (first baseman Christian Walker), Cincinnati (outfielder Aristides Aquino), Milwaukee (second baseman Keston Hiura), St. Louis (infielder Tommy Edman) and San Francisco (outfielder Mike Yastrzemski).
Pete Alonso’s production makes him the clear winner, of course, and the Mets deserve credit for allowing him to play a full season, without delaying his service-time clock by holding him in the minors for the first few weeks. But two rookies were rotation anchors for division winners, and at least deserve consideration: Atlanta’s Mike Soroka and St. Louis’ Dakota Hudson. Neither specialized in strikeouts, but both logged quality innings without giving up many hits, and Soroka’s 2.60 E.R.A. is among the majors’ best.
Runners-up: 2) Soroka, Braves; 3) Reynolds, Pirates
A.L. ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Yordan Alvarez, Astros
The A.L. equivalent to Alonso is the Chicago White Sox’ Eloy Jimenez — a much-hyped rookie who was promoted on opening day, without regard to service time. In Jimenez’s case, the White Sox welcomed him only after he had signed a long-term contract that could tie him to the team for eight seasons. Jimenez matched the buildup with a strong season.
But Houston’s Yordan Alvarez did more in fewer games. Alvarez averaged roughly one run batted in per game, blasting 27 home runs in 83 games through Wednesday, with a 1.099 O.P.S. That is quite a return for Josh Fields, the middle reliever Houston traded to the Dodgers for Alvarez in 2016. He’s got a long way to go before he can rank with Roberto Clemente and Pedro Martinez as future superstars the Dodgers gave away, but Alvarez is at least on the path.
Runners-up: 2) John Means, Orioles; 3) Jimenez, White Sox
N.L. MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Craig Counsell, Brewers
When the Brewers won the N.L. Central last season, they got crucial production from Jesus Aguilar, Corbin Burnes, Jhoulys Chacin, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Travis Shaw.
All of those players fizzled this season, Christian Yelich got hurt down the stretch — and the Brewers’ celebrated pitching coach in 2018, Derek Johnson, left before the season for Cincinnati. Yet with a run differential that suggested the Brewers should be roughly a .500 team, Craig Counsell again found a way to make it work.
Runners-up: 2) Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks; 3) Mike Shildt, Cardinals
A.L. MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Aaron Boone, Yankees
This award tends to go to the manager perceived to have done the most with the least. Understandably, then, no Yankees manager has won it since Joe Torre in 1998. With high payrolls come high expectations.
But Aaron Boone is the choice now, for leading the Yankees to a runaway division title despite an unrelenting barrage of injuries. As a player in 2009, Boone underwent heart surgery in spring training. He was 36 and could have retired, but he fought back to finish his career on his terms. His players were just as relentless this season, making Boone the first manager ever to win 100 games in each of his first two seasons.
Runners-up: 2) Kevin Cash, Rays; 3) Bob Melvin, Athletics