MLB Mid-Season Awards Part Two
National League Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke (Brewers)
Let me be the first in stating that the Manager of the Year award is like the RBI of awards, relatively meaningless in comparison to MVP or Cy Young. It is much easier to point to somebody and say what a terrible manager they are as opposed to picking out the good ones. There are probably a couple good selections for this award, but so far I have to hand it to Ron Roenicke for sticking with Scooter Gennett at second base, when a number of managers would have probably let Rickie Weeks be the permanent second baseman. He also deserves credit with sticking Francisco Rodriguez as the closer again, where Rodriguez has performed well at this year. Coming into the year I did not expect this team to be in the National League Central playoff hunt, but here we are, with the Brewers leading the tough division by 6.5 games. Have to give some credit to Ron for decisions that have lead to their success.
American League Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin (Athletics)
Melvin has done a good job in Oakland this year once again, leading the American League West by five games. He probably has kept the offensively-anemic Eric Sogard in at second base for too many games, but the other choice for the spot is Nick Punto, so I cannot really blame Melvin. Melvin also deserves credit for keeping Brandon Moss as the daily first baseman as opposed to trying out Daric Barton, who has failed at first base time and time again. Oakland’s rotation has performed better this season than last, even with the injuries, and I will give Melvin some credit with not freaking out when given Scott Kazmir as your number two starter in 2014. Oakland currently sits with a wacky run differential of +134, which Melvin gets a tiny bit of credit for utilizing guys properly.
Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year: Starting Pitcher Scott Kazmir (Athletics)
It is hard to overemphasize how done Scott Kazmir looked a few years ago. Despite having a strikeout per nine innings rate of 9.2 last year, Kazmir posted a 4.04 ERA, which while improved was far from the ace that was once of the Tampa Bay Rays (then Devil Rays). In 103.1 innings pitched, Kazmir has an ERA of 2.61, an ERA+ of 145, a hits per nine innings rate of 7.1, a career low. His walks per nine innings are also a career low at 2.1. His strikeouts per nine innings are only 7.9, which is a bit disappointing, but he is not going for the Cy Young award. He is the number two starter on the best team in baseball and has produced when injury struck Oakland’s rotation. I am not sure it is fair to say Scott Kazmir is back, but he is no longer the joke he was thought of just a couple of years ago.
National League Comeback Player of the Year: Starting Pitcher Josh Beckett (Dodgers)
Beckett was viewed as dead weight last year, posting an ERA+ of 70 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, with his hits per nine innings reaching a high of 10.4. Beckett was walking 3.1 batters per nine innings. His home runs per nine innings reached a career high of 1.66. Everything suddenly changed for Beckett this year, reducing his walks per nine innings to 2.69 and his home runs per nine innings to 1.06. This year Josh Beckett has an ERA of 2.11 and an ERA+ of 168. Explaining Beckett’s magical comeback is probably another article if I could find a way to really explain it, but Beckett has had various slumps throughout his career, the latest lasting two full seasons in which he posted an ERA+ of 89 and 70. Beckett is holding his own and proving to be better than some of the others in the rotation (Greinke, Haren, Ryu). In ERA+, he is second only to the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, who has an ERA+ of 174. Beckett just being a step behind Kershaw after being dead weight last year makes him the National League Comeback Player of the Year.