As the Major League Baseball season ended with the Houston Astros beating the Los Angeles Dodgers, the league has selected the awards for exceptional play across the league. There’s the MVP, most valuable player in the American League and the National League. Recognizing dominant pitching in the game, there is the Cy Young Award for the best pitcher in each respective league. Finally there is the Rookie of the Year award, effectively recognizing each league’s most talented player in their first full season.
Starting with the World Series winning American League, the MVP for 2017 was Houston Astros’ second baseman Jose Altuve. The 27-year old infielder was selected over American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge. Altuve led the majors in batting average (.346) as well as hits (204). This is the fourth straight season Altuve has led the American League in hits. Altuve hit 24 home runs and drove in 81 RBI’s in 2017. The World Series Champion stole 32 bases this season, maintaining a pace of 30 or more stolen bases per year since 2012. Altuve proved to be valuable after the regular season by hitting a playoff best seven home runs in the postseason.
The Most Valuable Player in the National League was Miami Marlins’ right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton hit an MLB best 59 home runs. His 59 long balls surpassed World Series champion Gary Sheffield’s franchise record of 42 home runs. Third place on the Marlins’ single season home run tally is Stanton’s teammate Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna’s 37 home runs in the regular season tied both of Stanton’s season totals of in 2012 and 2014. Stanton, whose future with the Marlins is unclear, managed to lead major league baseball with 132 runs batted in. Ozuna had the third most RBI’s in the MLB with 124.
More often than not, the MVP is won by an offensive talent rather than a pitching presence. Just two pitchers have won the MVP award in the past 25 years; Justin Verlander (2011) and Clayton Kershaw (2014). Accounting for the dominance in pitching, the Cy Young Award has been the crown achievement. This season’s AL Cy Young Winner is Cleveland Indians righty Corey Kluber. This is Kluber’s second Cy Young Award, having also won it in 2014. He finished the season with an 18-4 record, a major league best 2.25 earned run average, and collected the second most strikeouts in the AL with 265 punchouts. Kluber and Minnesota Twins Ervin Santana both led the league in complete games (5), and shutouts (2).
The 2017 National League Cy Young winner was Washington Nationals righthander Max Scherzer. This is second consecutive season Scherzer has won the NL Cy Young Award. He also won the AL Cy Young in 2013 as a member of the Detroit Tigers. Scherzer is one of six MLB pitchers to receive the Cy Young honor in both leagues, (Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and the recently deceased Roy Halladay.) Scherzer led the NL with 268 strikeouts this season and recorded a career low 2.51 ERA. Since joining the Nationals in 2015, Scherzer has posted a record of 50-25. He was 16-6 this season.
The New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge took home the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year award. Judge hit an AL best 52 home runs. By hitting 52 long balls, Judge set the MLB home run record as a rookie. He succeeded Mark McGwire as the rookie home run king. McGwire hit 47 dingers with the Oakland Athletics in 1987, and went on to win a World Series with the Athletics in 1989. Home runs were not the only category Judge led the league in. The Yankee slugger also managed to lead the league with 128 runs scored, 127 walks and unfortunately recorded the most strikeouts with 208 K’s on the year.
Judge’s counterpart in the National League was Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger. Bellinger, a 22-year old true rookie, hit 39 home runs and broke the National League rookie record of 38 home runs set by eventual hall of famer Frank Robinson. Robinson set the record with the Cincinnati Reds in 1956. Bellinger’s dominance as a rookie follows a long line of Dodgers before him. The club has an MLB record of 18 Rookie of the Year winners. The list includes Jackie Robinson (1947), Frank Howard (1960), Fernando Valenzuela (1981), Mike Piazza (1993), Raul Mondesi (1994), Hideo Nomo (1995) and Todd Hollandsworth (1996). Bellinger’s teammate and current Dodger shortstop Corey Seager was the last to win the award and he did so just last season in 2016. Bellinger’s 39 home runs is the most by a Dodger rookie since Mike Piazza smashed 35 long balls in 1993. Bellinger’s Dodgers won the NL Pennant in 2017 but went on to lost to AL MVP Altuve’s Houston Astros.