Welcome to MLB Awards Week.
The week started off with Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson unanimously winning American League Rookie of the Year honors and Corbin Carroll also winning unanimously in the National League. Next up, Henderson’s skipper, Brandon Hyde, took home AL Manager of the Year, with Skip Schumaker taking home the NL silverware.
The awards schedule is as follows (all awards announced starting at 6 p.m. ET):
Monday: Jackie Robinson Rookies of the Year: Corbin Carroll, Gunnar Henderson
Tuesday: Managers of the Year: Brandon Hyde, Skip Schumaker
Wednesday: Cy Young Awards
Thursday: MVP Awards
Below, we list the three finalists in each category, along with what you need to know before the results are announced and our picks to take home the hardware. We’ll update each section with news and analysis as the awards are handed out.
American League Manager of the Year
Winner: Brandon Hyde, Baltimore Orioles
Final tally: Hyde 144 (27 first-place votes); Bruce Bochy 61 (3); Kevin Cash 52; Rocco Baldelli 8; Dusty Baker 4; John Schneider 1
Experts’ picks: Hyde (9 votes), Bochy (4)
Doolittle’s take: Anyone paying attention knew the Orioles were a franchise poised to bust out — but few thought they’d do so in a 100-plus win fashion, let alone this year, just two seasons removed from a 110-loss season. With the laid back Hyde setting the tone, the Baby Birds won more game than any Baltimore team since the days of Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and Eddie Murray. The O’s added 18 wins to their 2022 win total (83) — which was in itself a major surprise.
While the manager awards are the hardest to contextualize with metrics at the individual level, Hyde stood out in all the areas that tend to attract observers to managerial excellence. Baltimore outperformed its run profile by 7.2 wins, second-largest positive gap in the majors. The Orioles beat their preseason over-under consensus by 23.5 wins, making them easily the most surprising team in baseball. And they went 30-16 in one-run games.
Beyond that, the Orioles were just fun, as Hyde and his staff continue to transition some of the game’s most promising young players into the big-league level. Who will forget the “Homer Hose” which was totally not at all exactly like a fraternity party beer bong?
Some managers are hired ostensibly to be a rebuild skipper, to hold down the fort as the losses pile up and the team builds its roster to contention worthiness. Often, those beleaguered managers are fired in favor of a big-name skipper as soon as the team starts contending. Anything can happen, of course, but it sure looks like Hyde and the Orioles are a fit poised for a long run together.
Hyde becomes the fourth Oriole to win AL Manager of the Year honors, joining Frank Robinson (1989), Davey Johnson (1997) and Buck Showalter (2014). Bochy finished a distant second, so he’ll have to be content with his fourth World Series trophy. Chances are he’s happy to do just that.
Here’s how my EARL leaderboard had it:
1. Brandon Hyde, BAL (17.3)
2. A.J. Hinch, DET (8.9)
3. Kevin Cash, TBY (4.8)
4. Bruce Bochy, TEX (0.4)
5. Scott Servais, SEA (minus-0.3)
Note: EARL is a metric that looks at how a team’s winning percentage varies from expectations generated by projections, run differential and one-run record. While attributing these measures to managerial performance is presumptive, the metric does tend to track well with the annual balloting.
Manager of the Year must-reads:
National League Manager of the Year
Winner: Skip Schumaker, Miami Marlins
Final tally: Schumaker 72 (8 first-place votes); Craig Counsell 51 (5); Brian Snitker 48 (8); Torey Lovello 42 (4); Dave Roberts 41 (4); David Bell 13 (1); David Ross 3
Experts’ picks: Counsell (7 votes), Schumaker (6)
Doolittle’s take: First off, I have to point out that the voters overlooked a prime candidate in David Bell, who led a rookie-laden Reds team to a 20-win improvement. Whether he did a superior job to Schumacher, Counsell or Snitker is an open debate — but the latter two piloted teams that most observers felt would contend, and Snitker led a loaded Braves team that you could all but pencil into the playoffs. None of this is to knock the finalists, but more to give some props to the overlooked Bell.
The Marlins hired Schumker, a former Cardinals coach, last winter to succeed Don Mattingly. The first-year skipper was up for the challenge, leading Miami to a 15-win improvement, a winning record and a surprise wild-card slot. And so he out-paced Counsell in the voting and prevents the Cubs’ new manager from being honored for his work in leading his old team past his new team in the NL Central race. (Baseball gets confusing at times.)
The Marlins outperformed their run profile by an MLB-high 9.1 wins this season on the strength of a surreal 33-14 record in one-run games. Leading a team that lacked offensive firepower — Miami ranked 14th in park-adjusted run scoring — Schumaker guided his club through a surfeit of tight, low-scoring games, belying his lack of experience as the top guy in the dugout. It’s hard to argue against his place atop the balloting.
At 43, the future looks bright for Schumaker at a time when his team is again feeling around for the elusive stability that has always eluded the Marlins franchise. He’s the fourth Marlins pilot to win Manager of the Year Honors. The previous three — Jack McKeon (2003), Joe Girardi (2006) and Mattingly (2020) — led the Marlins for a combined total of four seasons after being honored.
Counsell, perhaps the game’s best manager, has still never won the award — he’s now finished second in the balloting four times. Snitker fell short in his bid to win his second; he, too, has finished fourth or better in the voting in each of the last six years.
Here’s how my EARL leaderboard had it:
1. David Bell, CIN (8.5)
2. Brian Snitker, ATL (6.6)
3. Skip Schumacher, MIA (6.2)
4. Dave Martinez, WAS (5.7)
5. Torey Lovullo, ARI (5.5)
Manager of the Year must-reads:
American League Rookie of the Year
Winner: Gunnar Henderson
Final tally: 1. Henderson, Orioles 150 (30 first-place votes); 2. Tanner Bibee, Guardians 67; 3. Triston Casas, Red Sox 25; 4. Josh Jung, Rangers 16; 5. Yainer Diaz, Astros 6. Masataka Yoshida, Red Sox 3; 7. Edouard Julien, Twins 2; 8. Anthony Volpe, Yankees 1.
Experts’ picks: Henderson (13 votes) (unanimous choice)
Bradford Doolittle’s take: In many years, you are tempted to throw out the observation that the Rookie of the Year isn’t necessarily the best prospect in a season. This time around, the argument is more about whose long-term outlook is more sparkling — the AL’s Henderson or the NL’s Carroll. In terms of preseason consensus, both entered the season as the top prospect in their respective league, and, all these months later, they are no-brainer picks for the Rookie of the Year awards. It’s nice when things line up like that.
Henderson struggled at the plate early in the season. By the end of the season, he was a catalyst in the Orioles’ lineup, finishing with 28 homers. And he took over as Baltimore’s everyday shortstop, moving over from the hot corner in June. From there, he played at short more often but could flip back depending on the needs of the lineup. His defensive metrics were strong at both spots.
Moving forward, there is room for Henderson to get even better. He hit just .199 with a .595 OPS against lefties, carrying over the platoon split he displayed in the minors. That’s probably more of a concern for future Orioles opponents than it is for Henderson.
Henderson becomes the first Oriole to win AL Rookie of the Year honors since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1982. Last season, Adley Rutschman finished second in the voting behind Julio Rodriguez. With Jackson Holliday a popular pick as the current top prospect in the game, this foundation for the Orioles just keeps getting stronger and deeper.
Here’s how my AXE leaderboard had it:
1. Gunnar Henderson, Diamondbacks (130 AXE)
2. Tanner Bibee, Guardians (118)
3. Zack Gelof, Athletics (113)
4. (tie) Royce Lewis, Twins (112)
Edouard Julien, Twins (112)
Yennier Cano, Orioles (112)
Note: AXE is an index that creates a consensus rating from the leading value metrics (WAR, from Fangraphs and Baseball Reference) and contextual metrics (win probability added and championship probability added, both from Baseball Reference).
Rookie the Year must-reads:
National League Rookie of the Year
Winner: Corbin Carroll
Final tally: 1. Carroll, Diamondbacks 150 (30 first-place votes); 2. Kodai Senga, Mets 71; 3. James Outman, Dodgers 20; 4. Nolan Jones, Rockies 17; 5. Matt McLain, Reds 5; 6. Spencer Steer, Reds 4; 7. Eury Perez, Marlins 1; 8. Elly De La Cruz, Reds 1; 9. Patrick Bailey, Giants 1.
Experts’ picks: Carroll (13 votes) (unanimous choice)
Doolittle’s take: The NL’s 2023 rookie class was a strong one, but after April, there was little drama in the race for this award. Carroll rolled to a .910 OPS during the first month, though he was a bit overshadowed by James Outman‘s powerful first month for the Dodgers. After that, it was all Carroll, who displayed both the consistent and the spectacular on his way to a historic rookie campaign.
Carroll is the complete package at the plate. At 22, he manifested speed (54 steals, NL-high 10 triples), power (25 homers, .506 slugging), contact (.285 average) and discipline (57 walks and 13 HBPs). He hit at home (.902 OPS) and on the road (.843). He hit righties (.286) and lefties (.283), though he showed a lot more slug against righties. He became the first rookie to reach 25 homers and 50 steals in the same season.
Carroll was a beast in the early rounds of the postseason during Arizona’s unlikely run to the World Series, but he trailed off in the National League Championship Series and the Fall Classic. He’s not a finished product at 22, but who is? As with Henderson, that he still has weaknesses to iron out is a scary prospect for Arizona opponents. Carroll is the first Diamondbacks player to be named Rookie of the Year.
As mentioned, this was an awfully good rookie class in the NL. The Reds were a one-team ROY ballot on their own, with McLain, Elly de la Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Spencer Steer and Andrew Abbott all among the first-year standouts.
The Mets and Giants found their catchers of the future in 2023 (Francisco Alvarez and Patrick Bailey). The Brewers graduated a plethora of exciting outfielders (Sal Frelick, Joey Weimer, Garrett Mitchell). The Rockies’ dismal season was partially redeemed by the play and promise flashed by shortstop Ezequiel Tovar. Senga was the best thing that happened in the Mets’ disappointing year.
Ahead of this impressive group was Carroll, who, along with Henderson, showed us that sometimes even the most hyped prospects turn out to live up to their advanced billing.
Here’s how my AXE leaderboard had it:
1. Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks (137)
2. (tie) Kodai Senga, Mets (122)
Nolan Jones, Rockies (122)
4. James Outman, Dodgers (120)
5. Matt McLain, Reds (117)
Rookie of the Year must-reads:
American League MVP
Experts’ pick: Ohtani (13 votes) (unanimous choice)
What to know: We have written similar things about Ohtani for years now, but we’ve never seen anyone do what he did in 2023. At the plate, he led the AL with 44 homers, a .412 on-base percentage and a .654 slugging percentage. On the mound, he went 10-5 with 167 strikeouts and a 3.14 ERA. He earned 10.0 WAR at Baseball-Reference.com, 2.6 more than any other player in the AL, and 9.0 at Fangraphs, 2.7 more than anyone else. There is just no good argument for another player.
Still, even as Ohtani is a shoo-in for his second MVP trophy, the early end to his season and the Angels’ disappointing 73-89 record make this possibly anticlimactic to some voters. He threw his last pitch on Aug. 23 and made his last trip to the plate on Sept. 3. Not only did this quash Othani’s quest to post the best season in history, but it might have actually swayed some voters to turn to Seager, who missed a chunk of regular-season time as well. That might be especially true if the playoffs were considered, as Seager once again transmogrified into Playoff Seager when the games mattered most. — Bradford Doolittle
National League MVP
Experts’ picks: Acuna (12 votes), Betts (1)
What to know: The results from our experts’ picks suggest this will be a runaway victory for Acuna — and it probably will be — but that belies how close of a race this was between Acuna and Betts. In fWAR, they ended up tied at 8.3. In bWAR, Betts holds the smallest of edges at 8.3 to 8.2. In most seasons, that would lead to a hotly contested MVP debate, but Acuna had the flashier numbers: 41 home runs and 73 steals, becoming not just the fifth member of the 40/40 club, but blowing past that group to create the 40/70 club.
Besides leading the majors in stolen bases, Acuna led the NL in runs, hits, OBP, OPS and total bases. Despite those gaudy numbers and despite Acuna being the favorite for most of the season, Betts had arguably pulled ahead entering the final month, after hitting .455 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs in August. Indeed, via FanGraphs, Betts led in WAR, 7.7 to 6.7, at the end of August. Betts, however, struggled in September, hitting .244 with one home run, while Acuna finished with a burst, hitting .340 with 11 home runs. He should join Freeman (2020), Chipper Jones (1999) and Dale Murphy (1982-83) as Braves players to win MVP honors since the franchise moved to Atlanta. — David Schoenfield
American League Cy Young
Experts’ picks: Cole (13 votes) (unanimous choice)
What to know: Cole is one of the best pitchers to never win a Cy Young Award. Among pitchers who have never won, he ranks second in career Cy Young award shares at 1.90, just behind Adam Wainwright‘s 1.98. What’s an award share? If you are the unanimous winner, that’s one award share. If you get half the possible maximum points, that’s a half share. Cole has received Cy Young votes in six different seasons, including runner-up finishes with the Astros in 2019 (to Justin Verlander) and in 2021 with the Yankees (to Robbie Ray).
He’ll be getting the trophy this year, and the only question is whether it will be a unanimous selection. It should be, as there isn’t really a strong argument for anyone else. Cole went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA, leading the AL in ERA, innings pitched, batting average allowed, OBP allowed and OPS while ranking second to Gausman in strikeouts. He was the runaway leader in bWAR, 7.4 to 5.3 for Gray. It was a tight race until mid-August, and maybe Ohtani would have given Cole a run if hadn’t been injured, but Cole had a terrific stretch drive, going 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA over his final seven starts, lowering his ERA from 3.03 to 2.63. The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but it certainly wasn’t Cole’s fault. — Schoenfield
National League Cy Young
Experts’ picks: Snell (12 votes), Webb (1)
What to know: There is precious little to separate the three nominees, nor would there be if you added the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler, the Cubs’ Justin Steele and the Braves’ Spencer Strider to the mix. When we see how the voters landed among the nominees, we will find out how much they weighed Snell’s dominance (MLB-best 2.25 ERA), Webb’s durability (MLB-best 216 innings) and Gallen’s balance of results (210 innings, 3.47 ERA, 17 wins).
Advanced value metrics are supposed to help us sort these things out, but they don’t agree on who did what in the National League. In terms of bWAR, Snell outpaced Webb for the league lead (6.0 to 5.5). Meanwhile, in fWAR, Wheeler (5.9) and Strider (5.5) outperformed all three nominees. Sorting it all out, Snell feels like the favorite, but you could pick any of the six pitchers mentioned here and make a credible argument for why they should win. — Doolittle