A look at 2017 baseball awards finalists and how they fared in Box-Toppers rankings

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Box-Toppers pitching leaders and top rookies are among the finalists for the Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year honors. But Box-Toppers batting leaders are excluded from the list of finalists for Most Valuable Player Awards.

Award finalists

Here are finalists for the Cy Young, Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards to be given in mid-November, as named by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Players are listed by their Box-Toppers point (BTP) total for 2017 and their Box-Toppers rank in their award category. Both players who led their leagues in batting in Box-Toppers points who were not named as finalists are listed in italics.
 
Cy Young finalists
AL finalists Team BTP Rank*
Chris Sale Red Sox 25.1 1
Corey Kluber Indians 22.0 2
Luis Severino Yankees 21.1 4
NL finalists Team BTP Rank*
Max Scherzer Nationals 25.0 1
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers 23.1 2
Stephen Strasburg Nationals 22.5 3
Most Valuable Player Awards finalists
AL finalists Team BTP Rank*
Aaron Judge Yankees 11.2 2
Jose Ramirez Indians 10.0 5
Jose Altuve Astros 2.5 90
**Edwin Encarnacion Indians 12.1 1
NL finalists Team BTP Rank*
Giancarlo Stanton Marlins 14.2 2
Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 7.4 16
Joey Votto Reds 4.0 53
**Anthony Rizzo Cubs 15.5 1
Rookie of the Year finalists
AL finalists Team BTP Rank†
Aaron Judge Yankees 11.2 1
Andrew Benintendi Red Sox 7.2 4
Trey Mancini Orioles 7.2 5
NL finalists Team BTP Rank†
Cody Bellinger Dodgers 8.7 1
Paul DeJong Cardinals 4.5 12
Josh Bell Pirates 4.0 15††
BTP: Box-Toppers points
* Rank shows a player’s rank among potential players eligible for the award. For example, AL Cy Young finalists are ranked among AL pitchers, AL MVP finalists are ranked among AL batters.
** Edwin Encarnacion and Anthony Rizzo both led their leagues in Box-Toppers points among batters but neither was named a finalist for their league’s MVP award.
† Rookie of the Year finalists are ranked among players in their league who made their Box-Toppers debut in 2017. There were 82 AL players who made their Box-Toppers debut in 2017 and 87 NL players.
†† Josh Bell made his Box-Toppers debut in 2016 but still has rookie status in 2017. His 4.0 Box-Toppers points would have ranked 15th among the 87 NL players who made their Box-Toppers debut in 2017.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which votes on the award-winners, announced the finalists, usually the top three in voting. Rookie of the Year Awards will be given Monday, Nov. 13, Cy Young Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 15 and MVP Awards on Thursday, Nov. 16.

AL Rookie of the Year

Aaron Judge of the Yankees leads AL rookies with 11.2 Box-Toppers points and is among the finalists for AL Rookie of the Year. Judge ranks second among AL batters and 26th among all players. Judge is also a candidate for AL Most Valuable Player.

Other AL Rookie of the Year finalists:

  • Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox, who had 7.2 Box-Toppers points, fourth among AL rookies, 17th among AL batters and 94th among all players.
  • Trey Mancini of the Orioles, who had 7.2 Box-Toppers points, fifth among AL rookies, 18th among AL batters and 95th among all players.

NL Rookie of the Year

Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers leads NL rookies with 8.7 Box-Toppers points and is among the finalists for NL Rookie of the Year. Bellinger ranks 10th among NL batters and 64th among all players.

Other NL Rookie of the Year finalists:

  • Paul DeJong of the Cardinals, who has 4.5 Box-Toppers points, 12th among NL rookies. DeJong ranks 50th among NL batters and 231st among all players. 
  • Josh Bell of the Pirates, who has 4.0 Box-Toppers points, 57th among NL batters and 263rd among all players. Bell still has rookie status, but made his Box-Toppers debut in 2016, so doesn’t rank among the 87 NL players who made their Box-Toppers debut in 2017. However, his 4.0 Box-Toppers points would rank 15th among NL players who made their Box-Toppers debut in 2017.

AL Cy Young

Box-Toppers’ 2017 Player of the Year Chris Sale is among the finalists for American League Cy Young Award. Sale led all players in Box-Toppers points in 2017 with 25.1.

Other AL Cy Young finalists:

  • Indians pitcher Corey Kluber ranked second among AL pitchers with 22.0 Box-Toppers points, fifth among all players.
  • Yankees pitcher Luis Severino ranked fourth among AL pitchers with 21.1 Box-Toppers points, seventh among all players.

One AL pitcher not named an AL Cy Young finalist who finished ahead of Severino is Carlos Carrasco of the Indians, whose 21.8 Box-Toppers points ranked third among AL pitchers and sixth among all players.

NL Cy Young

Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer led all National League pitchers with 25.0 Box-Toppers points, second among all players.

Other NL Cy Young finalists:

  • Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw ranked second among all NL pitchers with 23.1 Box-Toppers points, third among all players.
  • Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg ranked third among all NL pitchers with 22.5 Box-Toppers points, fourth among all players.

NL MVP

Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs led NL batters in Box-Toppers points with 15.5, the second-highest Box-Toppers point total by a batter in the past six seasons. However, Rizzo is not among the top three finalists for NL Most Valuable Player, nor has he been much discussed as an NL MVP candidate. 

That’s a little odd considering that last year, Rizzo finished fourth in NL MVP voting and had very similar statistics. Both years, he had 32 home runs and 109 runs batted in, but batted slightly better in 2016 (.292) compared to 2017 (.273). On the other hand, he played in more games in 2017 (157 vs. 155), scored more runs (99 vs. 94), walked more times (91 vs. 74) and struck out fewer times (90 vs. 108). 

However, despite the similarity in statistics, Rizzo had far fewer Box-Toppers points in 2016 than in 2017—just 3.0. Why? In 2016, Cubs pitchers were dominant, earning Player of the Game honors in most of the Cubs’ wins. Five Cubs pitchers were among Box-Toppers’ overall top 20 players in 2016. That was different in 2017 as Cubs pitchers struggled and batters were more responsible for more of the teams’ wins. Rizzo was the chief beneficiary, leading all Cubs players in 2017 Box-Toppers points.

With Rizzo out of the running for MVP in 2017, the three finalists are:

  • Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, who ranks second to Rizzo among NL batters with 14.2 Box-Toppers points, 17th among all players.
  • Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks, who ranks 16th among NL batters with 7.4 Box-Toppers points, 91st among all players.
  • Joey Votto of the Reds, who ranks 53rd among NL batters with 4.0 Box-Toppers points, 238th among all players. In 2016, Votto had 10.5 Box-Toppers points, which was fourth among NL batters.

AL MVP

Edwin Encarnacion of the Indians led AL batters in Box-Toppers points with 12.1, the lowest Box-Toppers point total to lead AL batters since player tracking began in 1995. It is the fourth-lowest point total to lead any category—only NL batting leaders from 2014, 2015 and 2016 had lower point totals.

But Encarnacion is not among the three finalists listed by baseball writers for the AL MVP award. They are:

  • Aaron Judge of the Yankees, who ranked second among AL batters with 11.2 Box-Toppers points, 26th among all players.
  • Jose Ramirez of the Indians, who ranked fifth among AL batters with 10.0 Box-Toppers points, 38th among all players.
  • Jose Altuve of the Astros, who ranked 90th among AL batters with 2.5 Box-Toppers points, 387th among all players.

Despite his lack of Box-Toppers points, Altuve is odds-on-favorite to win the AL MVP, as he led the AL in hits (204) and batting average (.346). However, as a hitter who primarily hits singles (137 in 2017), Altuve’s contributions didn’t frequently rise to make him the key contributor to Astros’ wins. In 2017, he won Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors only twice during the regular season (and twice during the postseason, too, but those accomplishments are not taken into consideration for MVP voting).

While there is no doubting the Astros were very successful in 2017, with baseball’s third-best regular season record and a World Series title, Altuve’s teammates more frequently were the key contributors to those 101 regular season wins.

Pitcher Justin Verlander led Astros with 14.7 Box-Toppers points, however 8.7 of those points were earned prior to Aug 31, when he was still with the Detroit Tigers, prior to the trade that brought him to Houston. Pitcher Dallas Keuchel had 9.4 Box-Toppers points, most of any player who was with the Astros all season. And Josh Reddick led Astros batters in Box-Toppers points with 8.0, as he was the key contributor in seven of the Astros wins (he earned Box-Toppers AL Batter of the Day honors twice, worth 1.5 Box-Toppers points each).

Looking at the season as a whole and looking at Altuve’s overall statistics, a case can be made that he was AL MVP. But looking at the season game by game and determining which player most helped the team win the game that day, Altuve’s significance pales. Game by game, Reddick was the Astros batter who contributed most to Astros’ wins. Altuve ranked just 21st among all Astros players in Box-Toppers points in 2017, 11th among Astros batters.

It should be noted though that in 2016, Altuve had very similar statistics, leading the AL in hits (216) and batting average (.338), but also did far more to contribute to Astros wins. In 2016, Altuve had 12.5 Box-Toppers points and ranked third among AL batters and also finished third in AL MVP voting.

About Box-Toppers—Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.

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