November 14, 2013
Internet Baseball Awards
NL Player of the Year
Prior to Pittsburgh’s NLDS matchup against St. Louis, a reporter asked manager Clint Hurdle his opinion on the NL MVP. The since-crowned Manager of the Year replied, “The NL MVP should be the baddest dude in the league and the baddest dude in the league for me is Andrew McCutchen.”
Internet voters agreed with Hurdle, as McCutchen received 450 of 615 first-place votes and was awarded his first Internet Baseball Awards National League Player of the Year. It’s hard not to be enamored of McCutchen’s hard-nosed play on the field combined with his fun-loving nature off it. The Pirates’ center fielder provided us with several highlight-reel plays and led Pittsburgh to its first playoff appearance in over two decades, while everything from spot-on impressions of Family Guy characters, to displaying his dance moves while taking his lead, to just plain badassness makes him one of baseball’s most entertaining characters. While these qualities don’t necessarily drive Player of the Year votes, McCutchen’s numbers this season weren’t too shabby either.
McCutchen is often considered a well-rounded player who, despite being above-average in most facets of the game, is never found at the very top of any statistical category. Well, in his IBA NL Player of the Year season, McCutchen led all qualified hitters in the National League with a .326 TAv on his way to accumulating 6.1 WARP, the highest single-season figure of his career (although if you lower the PA requirement, he did trail Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig in TAv). En route to his third straight 20-20 season, McCutchen produced an impressive .317/.404/.508 line and boasted the second-best strikeout-to-walk rate of his career.
McCutchen actually ranked fourth in WARP among NL players, trailing Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Carpenter, and Joey Votto. Part of the reason McCutchen ranked behind the trio in WARP was that FRAA favored him the least of the bunch, docking him for negative defensive value for the fourth season of his five-year career. The difference in FRAA made up the gap in WARP between McCutchen and both Votto and Goldschmidt, while Carpenter still held the slightest of advantages.
McCutchen has accumulated at least 5.0 WARP in each of the past three seasons, an achievement to which only Votto, Robinson Cano, and Miguel Cabrera can also lay claim. Considering Votto and Cabrera are both signed to deals upwards of $150 million and Cano is likely to command a similarly massive deal in free agency, the six-year, $51.5 million extension that Pittsburgh signed McCutchen to before the 2012 season is looking better each day for the Buccos.
The battle for second place was a close one between Goldschmidt and Clayton Kershaw. The voters ultimately decided to side with Goldschmidt, with a handful of voters being either all in or completely out when it came to Kershaw. The Dodgers’ southpaw received 60 first-place votes and 151 second-place votes compared to just 34 first-place votes and 113 second-place votes for Goldschmidt. However, Goldschmidt appeared on 517 of the 615 ballots compared to just 428 ballot appearances for Kershaw, which ultimately gave Arizona’s first baseman the edge. Kershaw finished in third place and was the only pitcher to crack the top 10, while St. Louis teammates Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina rounded out the top five.
You can view the full results of this year’s IBA NL Player of the Year voting here.