American League Awards: Trout, Kuechel & Molitor

The voting for the MLB awards takes place today, even if we won’t know the answers until November. Here’s how TheSportsNotebook would vote if I had a ballot. The American League honors are as follow…

MVP: Mike Trout (CF, LA Angels)—I know Josh Donaldson is almost certainly going to win this award, but I find the case for Trout more compelling than that of the Blue Jay third baseman. Trout’s on-base percentage is higher and by a lot (.402 to .371) and his slugging percentage is also superior (.590 to .568). Trout trails Donaldson by just one home run (40 to 41). The only area where Donaldson really enjoys a statistical edge is with his 123 RBI to 90 for Trout.

But what about the fact Toronto won the AL East while Los Angeles missed the playoffs? The Blue Jay lineup is stacked, most notably with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarcion. The Blue Jays’ pitching is better than that of the Angels. Donaldson is simply on a team much better and deeper than Trout is.

Trout is the only Angel hitter with an OBP higher than the league average of .318. Even allowing for the power production of Albert Pujols, it’s entirely fair to say that Trout put the Angels on his back and kept his team in contention until the final day of the season. That’s enough “value” for me to believe Trout should win his second straight MVP award.

Cy Young Award: Dallas Keuchel (Houston)—I’m not making many friends in Toronto in overlooking David Price, even though Price has narrow edges over Keuchel in ERA (2.45 to 2.48) and innings pitched (220 to 216). Keuchel has two more wins (20 to 18) and more important to me are the relative conditions each pitched in and again the question of value.

Houston is a hitters’ park. Price pitched most of the year in Detroit, which is a clear pitchers’ park. As far as I’m concerned that alone pushes Keuchel into the lead given how close the stats are. Kuechel was also the biggest reason the Astros’ pitching led the American League in ERA. He was one of only two starters on the staff to go to the post more than 30 times and led them into the playoffs.

Manager Of The Year: Paul Molitor (Minnesota)—This is a tough call between Molitor and A.J. Hinch, the manager in Houston who I would expect to win this honor by a landslide. But I like Molitor better. While Houston had a big turnaround, they’ve been stockpiling some young talent that you could see coming even if no one expected it to come this soon. No one saw Minnesota coming, yet they won 83 games and were in the wild-card race to the final few days of the season in spite of a serious lack of pitching.