1. Mike Trout
2. Felix Hernandez
3. Corey Kluber
4. Robinson Cano
Trout skates to this in his worst season by far as a pro. That should tell you a lot about his first two years. His .287 batting average isn't concerning, especially considering his 27 point loss in BABIP from last year. What is concerning, however, is uptick in strikeouts and decreasing speed. This year he struck out 184 times, well up from his last year's mark of 139. He also isn't stealing as often, going from 49 in his rookie year, all the way down to 16 this year. Of course, he also led the league in runs, RBI, and hit nine more homers than last year. It's a little disappointing, but man, is it impressive.
AL Cy Young
1. Felix Hernandez
2. Corey Kluber
3. Chris Sale
This one goes down to the wire. Hernandez has an advantage in ERA, (2.14 to 2.44) but Kluber has a lower FIP, (2.35 to 2.56) with Hernandez winning by a slim margin in WHIP (0.915 to 1.095). They both play in very pitcher friendly parks, so that argument on either side goes out the door.
Another factor to look at here is defense. Mariners were slightly below average this season, with a DRS of -11, (which means their fielding cost their pitchers about 11 runs this season) but that doesn't compare to the train wreck the Indians were, costing their pitchers 75 runs this season. That gives Kluber an advantage, but one more stat swings it toward Hernandez.
I've always found line drive percentage to be a good barometer of effectiveness, as it shows how hard a pitcher was getting hit. Hernandez destroys Kluber in that area. giving up 3.9 less percent of liners. Hernandez also wins in groundball percentage, by 8.2 percent this time (56.2 to 48.0). It's tight, but I'm going with Hernandez. By a hair.
1. Jose Abreu
2. Masahiro Tanaka
3. Danny Santana
This isn't close so I won't waste my words on it. Jose Abreu had one of the best rookie years of the 2000s and should win this unanimously. His .317/.383/.581 batting line only tell part of the story. The towering homers he hits made him one of the most fun players to watch and gave a reason to flip over to a White Sox game other than the fact that they're on free TV and it's always fun to hear Ken Harrelson freak out.
I'm taking a different approach for this one, since I already wasted way too much of my life trying to decide between Kershaw, McCutchen and Stanton, for my hypothetical ballot we're going to break this down in its own way.
The case for Kershaw
Just had the best pitching season since Pedro Martinez, had a 1.77 ERA, won the nerd stat pitching triple crown, (ERA+, FIP and WHIP) the "pitchers shouldn't win MVP award" theory doesn't work here because he had more batters faced than McCutchen or Stanton did at bats, created a ton a weird trivia with all of his dominance: he, Koufax and Marichal are the only pitchers to ever have seven straight wins with seven strikeouts.
The case for McCutchen
Clubhouse leader of the Pirates, won MVP last year and had possibly an even better season this year, had a .314/.410/.542 line, has the best hair in the league by far.
The case for Stanton
Singlehandedly kept the Marlins in contention, despite losing Jose Fernandez for almost the entire year, hit 37 homers despite being injured for the last part of the season, surprisingly fast for a big man, (13 stolen bases while being caught just once)
It all comes down to the definition of valuable. If you think of it like, where the team would be if they didn't have this guy, it's Stanton. If you remove Kershaw or McCutchen from their respective teams, they still have Puig, Harrison, Grienke, Marte, etc. This year's Marlins won 77 games with two other guys hitting over .280 and Henderson Alvarez as their only pitcher with an ERA below 3.85.
On the flip side of that coin, you can just decide, whoever had the best year should win it, in which case it would be Kershaw. I went over his season a few paragraphs ago. After spending way too much time deciding, I'm going with Kershaw. That took me way too long, I hope the next award is an easy one.
NL Cy Young
1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Johnny Cueto
3. Zack Grienke
One more fun stat: This's from Jayson Stark: If you remove Kershaw's scoreless innings streak in June he would still have the lowest ERA in the NL.
1. Jacob deGrom
2. Billy Hamilton
3. Ken Giles
Early in the year, it looked like Hamilton would win this easily, going into the all star break with a .285 average and 38 steals before falling off the map in the second half, with just 18 stolen bases and hitting .200/.254/.257. Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom got better and better as the season went on, saving his best for last with a 1.67 ERA in September and posting an overall ERA of 2.69 and an ERA+ of 130. Hamilton may be the most entertaining player in the league, but this race isn't even close.