The Orioles’ regular season was surprisingly successful, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that awards season was a success, too.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise that Gunnar Henderson was the unanimous choice for American League Rookie of the Year. That was obvious.
While I thought Brandon Hyde deserved to be Manager of the Year, and would be chosen, I was taken aback that so many of the 30 voting writers of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America felt that way.
Hyde got 27 first-place votes to three for Texas’ Bruce Bochy. That was the most first-place votes since Joe Maddon received 27 in 2008.
Unlike the other three votes, which can be statistically quantified, the winners of the Manager of the Year usually come from teams that have exceeded preseason expectations, which Hyde did twice in a row. He finished second to Cleveland’s Terry Francona in 2022 when the Orioles won 31 more games than they did in 2021.
Of the eight awards, five were unanimous. In addition to Hyde’s, only the National League Manager of the Year, which went to Miami’s Ship Schumaker, and the NL Cy Young, awarded to San Diego’s Blake Snell, were contested.
Because it’s a “feel” award, Manager of the Year votes are often as close as Schumaker’s was. I thought Hyde should have won the award last year, but it went to Francona, Cleveland’s recently retired manager.
Starting pitcher Kyle Bradish finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting. Had I voted, I would have ranked him third behind New York’s Gerrit Cole and Minnesota’s Sonny Gray.
Bradish was the first Oriole starter to receive votes since Mike Mussina in 1999. Closer Félix Bautista, who didn’t pitch in the last five weeks of the season because of an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, received three fifth-place votes. Had Bautista completed the season, I think he could have finished third, or even second. He was that dominant.
I got to vote for the American League Most Valuable Player and joined the crowd by voting for the most unique player in my lifetime, Shohei Ohtani.
The rest of my ballot was Texas’ Corey Seager, Tampa Bay’s Yandy Diaz, Texas’ Marcus Semien, Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez, Henderson, Houston’s Kyle Tucker, Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. Chicago’s Luis Robert Jr. and Houston’s Yordan Alvarez.
Seager’s terrific numbers — .296 average, 33 home runs, 96 RBIs, 1.013 OPS and 6.9 WAR — were compiled in just 119 games, and he would have won the MVP in many years.
Diaz finished sixth in the voting, but I had him third. He led the league in batting average, .330, and was unusually consistent. He hit .300 in each calendar month and did his best work in August and September after star shortstop Wander Franco was put on administrative leave.
In the last month of the season, Diaz hit .345 with a 1.052 OPS.
Rodriguez finished fourth, and I thought he was hurt by a weak September. In August, Rodriguez helped propel the Mariners into the playoff race with a .429 average and 1.198 OPS, but in September, he fell to .227 with a .773 OPS as Seattle missed out on the playoffs.
The second half of my ballot wasn’t easy because there were others, including Rutschman, Cleveland’s José Ramirez, Houston’s Alex Bregman and Toronto’s Bo Bichette, whom I considered.
Henderson and Rutschman, who finished ninth, were the first pair of Orioles to finish in the top 10 of the vote since Chris Davis (third) and Manny Machado (ninth) in 2013. Rutschman finished 12th last year and it’s likely the pair will be MVP staples for years to come.
As this fruitful awards season nears its end, Henderson, who also won two other Rookie of the Year awards and a Silver Slugger, Rutschman, who won a Silver Slugger, could be joined by Bautista.
Later this month, the top relievers will be named, and despite missing so much time, Bautista was still third in the AL with 33 saves, and his 1.48 ERA, his four home runs allowed in 61 innings, and his 110 strikeouts of 237 batters faced should win him the award.
His stats are far superior to Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase and Toronto’s Jordan Romano, the only AL relievers with more saves.
While Hyde earned Manager of the Year and Mike Elias took home Executive of the Year, it will be hard for them to repeat because the Orioles will be expected to contend in the AL East in 2024.