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Elephant Rumblings: MLB announces 2020 awards finalists

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MLB news roundup

Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers
They can have the hardware. We still won the postseason series against them.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation! Did you vote yet??

Today is Election Day, and the attention of the United States is firmly focused on who will win the job of president for the next four years, among other important offices and issues. Updates will pour in throughout the day, and we still may not even know the final outcomes when we go to bed.

While we wait for that crucial news to develop, the baseball world has its own set of voting results to explore. Finalists were announced for the major offseason awards, giving a clue about who might be in line for hardware this winter. Unfortunately no Oakland A’s made the cut, but here’s the full AL slate. (Click here to see the NL finalists.)

MVP

  • Jose Abreu, CHW
  • DJ LeMahieu, NYY
  • Jose Ramirez, CLE

Cy Young

  • Shane Bieber, CLE
  • Kenta Maeda, MIN
  • Hyun-jin Ryu, TOR

Rookie of the Year

  • Cristian Javier, HOU
  • Kyle Lewis, SEA
  • Luis Robert, CHW

Manager of the Year

  • Kevin Cash, TBR
  • Charlie Montoya, TOR
  • Rick Renteria, CHW

The A’s don’t have any realistic MVP or Cy candidates this year, as their strong season was more of a group effort. Their biggest standout was probably Liam Hendriks, but closers don’t often seriously factor into Cy voting anymore much less MVP (and he already won Reliever of the Year). Manager Bob Melvin has already won a MOTY with roughly this group (in 2018), and the voters like to mix it up in that award so don’t expect to see him again during this competitive window.

If there’s one snub, it’s Jesús Luzardo missing from the Rookie list, but even that is tough to argue. He and Cristian Javier had extremely similar numbers across the board, except for ERA where Javier had an advantage of over half a run. In terms of future analysis we know that’s mostly meaningless in a 60-inning sample, and there’s every reason to expect Luzardo to have the better career moving forward, but strictly in terms of 2020 stats there’s not really an argument for Luzardo over Javier. And it doesn’t matter, because the ROTY race is really between Lewis and Robert, so the pitchers are just battling for third place. (I’d guess Luzardo probably finishes fourth.)

It will also be interesting to see where catcher Sean Murphy ranks in ROTY. His numbers don’t jump off the page, batting .233 with seven homers and only 1+ WAR, but catchers are easily undervalued in these terms (especially plus defensive catchers) and some A’s fans might even rank him above Luzardo in terms of 2020 performance.

While no A’s will win these particular awards, they do still have a chance at another honor. The Gold Gloves will be announced today (Tue), with first baseman Matt Olson a favorite to win at his position and center fielder Ramon Laureano also a finalist.

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As for the MVP race, one notable absence is Mike Trout. Leaving aside his pre-rookie cup of coffee in 2011, he’s played eight seasons (thru 2019) and never finished worse than Top 4 for MVP. His lone fourth-place berth came when he got hurt and only played 114 games, so he’s never missed the Top 3 in a year when he played 120+ games. That’s still technically true, since nobody played more than 60 during this abbreviated campaign, but Trout did functionally play a full 2020 (with only a 164 wRC+) and could still end up in the Top 5.

The manager race includes an interesting wrinkle, as Rick Renteria was already let go by his team (and replaced by Tony La Russa). We’ve seen a manager win this award after getting fired before, with Joe Girardi and the Marlins, so there’s a chance history could repeat itself. I’d put my money on Kevin Cash, though, as he’s never won before and he just took the low-budget Rays to the No. 1 seed.

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I could see Matt Olson having his name on this list when all is said and done