Baseball’s awards season begins tonight with the rookie of the year awards, as voted upon by a panel of Baseball Writers Association of America members. MLB Network will carry the announcement live, with the NL winner of the Jackie Robinson Award announced at about 5:15 p.m., and the AL winner about a half-hour later.
On Tuesday, the BBWAA will announce the manager of the year award winners, with the AL winner announced first, followed by Cy Young Award winners on Wednesday and Most Valuable Players on Thursday.
The top three vote-getters have been announced for each award, and it’s no surprise that there are no Twins among them. There are many disappointing wrinkles to the 2016 Twins season, but the fact that they don’t have a rookie of the year contender is one of the biggest. Before the season began, Minnesota was considered one of the favorites to produce a top rookie, with Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, Max Kepler and Byung Ho Park all eligible. But none had a breakthrough, award-worthy season. Kepler came the closest, hitting 15 home runs in his first 63 games, including three in an Aug. 1 win in Cleveland, but he slowed down as the season went on, adding only two more in his final 50 games.
Still, the Twins might get a mention or two this week. Voters for the top rookies and managers submit ballots with their top three choices, Cy Young voters list their top five, and MVP ballots go 10 deep. So it’s possible that Kepler might receive a stray vote or two in the rookie voting released tonight; the finalists are pitcher Michael Fulmer of Detroit, outfielder Tyler Naquin of Cleveland and catcher Gary Sanchez of New York. And it’s almost certain that Brian Dozier, who set a new league record for second baseman by smashing 42 home runs, will receive some down-ballot recognition from a few voters.
Dozier received one 10th-place vote for the 2015 MVP Award, finishing in a tie for 28th place, but he’s likely to place in the top dozen or so this year. Miguel Sano and Paul Molitor each finished third in rookie and manager voting last season, but no Twin has received a Cy Young vote since Phil Hughes’ seventh-place finish in 2014. The last time a Twin won a BBWAA award? It was Ron Gardenhire, chosen as manager of the year in 2010. Joe Mauer’s 2009 honor is the most recent MVP for a Twin, Johan Santana’s second Cy Young Award in 2006 (he also won in 2004) is the most recent pitching award, and Marty Cordova in 1995 was the most recent rookie of the year in Minnesota.
Voting is done by two BBWAA members from each chapter in the league, so eight Twin Cities chapter members took part in selecting the four award winners. Votes had to be turned in before the playoffs began, and voters are not supposed to reveal their ballots until the awards are announced, when all ballots will be released.
As a reminder, here are the finalists for this season’s awards:
AL Rookie: Fulmer, Naquin, Sanchez.
NL Rookie: Kenta Maeda, Dodgers; Corey Seager, Dodgers; Trea Turner, Nationals.
AL Manager: Jeff Bannister, Rangers; Terry Francona, Indians; Buck Showalter, Orioles.
NL Manager: Dusty Baker, Nationals; Joe Maddon, Cubs; Dave Roberts, Dodgers.
AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber, Indians; Rick Porcello, Red Sox; Justin Verlander, Tigers.
NL Cy Young: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs; Jon Lester, Cubs; Max Scherzer, Nationals.
AL MVP: Jose Altuve, Astros; Mookie Betts, Red Sox; Mike Trout, Angels.
NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Cubs; Daniel Murphy, Nationals; Corey Seager, Dodgers.