Let’s start by saying I do not have an American League Cy Young vote this year. I have an AL MVP vote, and I’m sure some people aren’t going to be happy with how I filled out that ballot.
And that’s OK. That’s the fun of baseball awards – they spur debate like no other sports’ awards.
Well, Monday night, one sure got spurred.
Orioles closer Zach Britton, who turned in arguably the greatest season ever by a reliever, did not make the Top 3 for Cy Young this year. He was beaten out by starters: Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, Boston’s Rick Porcello and Detroit’s Justin Verlander.
And now here’s my take:
Britton should have been in the Top 3. No question in my mind.
Frankly, I probably would have voted him first. Yes, there is a bit of a homer aspect to this. I saw him pitch all season. I saw just how dominant he was. How he gave up just one homer, how he came into 43 games at one point without giving up an earned run.
I can say, and the statistics back me up, if he had just a good year – blowing say three or four saves – the Orioles wouldn’t have made the playoffs (and the votes had to be in before the postseason began).
I get the argument that the top starters, like the ones that were finalists, pitched at least 215 innings whereas Britton threw just 67.
And if one of those candidates had an ERA in the mid-2s, I might change my mind. But all three had ERAs above 3.00 – still exceptionally impressive, but not dominant. They’re deserving of accolades, but none had a season that blew us away.
Britton did. Four earned runs in 67 appearances. No blown saves in 47 tries. One home run. Normally, I’d go with the starter if it’s close. For a closer to win – it hasn’t happened in the AL since 1992 – it has to be a particularly special year. I’d say the lowest ERA for anyone in the history of the game with at least 50 innings pitched in the season qualifies as particularly special.
And, again, I’m not even arguing that Britton should win the award. But I can’t see how he’s not a finalist. The players seem to agree. He’s Top 3 for AL Outstanding Pitcher in the Players’ Choice Awards, with the winner named Wednesday.
So, yeah, this is one of those instances that I think the writers – my brethren – got it wrong.
Qualifying offer thoughts
I’m not surprised that the Orioles made a $17.2 million qualifying offer to Mark Trumbo and not one to Matt Wieters. There’s no way that Trumbo, coming off his best season, would take it. And, since Wieters accepted it last year, I guess there was concern he might take it again this offseason.
My response to that?
Who cares? So, the worst thing that happens is you get Wieters for another season while most of your key players are in their primes. Yes, it’s an overpay, but it’s also insurance while top prospect Chance Sisco matures and backup Caleb Joseph is given a mulligan from 2016 without any added pressure to be the man in 2017.
The most likely scenario is that Wieters would have rejected the offer and then the Orioles would have received a 2017 supplemental draft pick if he signed elsewhere. Plus, by saddling Wieters with the offer, it hurts his market value, which means, theoretically, the Orioles would be competing with fewer suitors if they want to re-sign him. That’s what gets me about this decision.
It raises the red flag that the Orioles don’t want to re-sign Wieters, despite the leadership, familiarity and competence he brings.
Not making the qualifying offer had to be almost purely a financial decision, considering how weak the current catching market is. In all other ways, it makes sense.
I’m sure some believe that by not paying Wieters, the Orioles are planning to use that money on other holes. But that’s not how I read the tea leaves here.
Based on this move, I’m of the belief that this signals the Orioles don’t envision that kind of money – for anyone – available in the 2017 budget. We’ll see, I suppose.
Showalter as a Manager of the Year finalist
Showalter has a chance to win his fourth “Manager of the Year” award, now that he has been announced as a finalist, along with Cleveland’s Terry Francona and Texas’ Jeff Banister.
I don’t think he’ll get it; my money is on Francona, even though the votes have to be in before the postseason starts.
For many, Showalter’s season this year is tainted by his decision not to pitch Britton in the Wild Card loss in Toronto. But, for the most part, it was another good managing effort by Showalter this season.
You can definitely pick nits with some of the things he did – maybe more than in any other of his campaigns here. But, once again, he convinced a flawed team to believe in itself and win enough games to make the playoffs. That ability shouldn’t be taken for granted.