National League Awards: Harper, Arrieta & Matheny

The voting for the MLB awards takes place today, even if we won’t know the answers until November. Here’s how TheSportsNotebook would vote if I had a ballot. The National League honors are as follow…

MVP: Bryce Harper (Washington)—I looked for every reason I could not to vote for this guy, whom I basically I can’t stand. In a text thread with a couple of friends I threw out more alternates to Harper than the Republican Party has presidential hopefuls. None stuck and deep down I never really believed any of them myself.

Harper’s numbers were dazzling, a .460 on-base percentage, .649 slugging percentage, 42 home runs and 99 RBI. He continued to hit during Washington’s appalling second half collapse. His team didn’t make the playoffs, but look at it this way—without Harper, they would have been out of the race by early summer instead of winning 84 games. Which in turn means the good people of Washington D.C. would have had to start thinking about the Redskins a couple months earlier than they actually did. There’s something to be said for at least improving the quality of life for your fans even if you don’t make the postseason, and Harper did that for the Beltway.

Cy Young: Jake Arrieta (Chicago Cubs)—This race went from being a runaway for Zack Greinke in Los Angeles, to Arrieta making it a real debate and looking at the resumes know, I really don’t see the argument for anyone other than Arrieta.

There’s a world of difference between pitching in Wrigley Field and pitching in Dodger Stadium and that’s a difference that works against Arrieta. In spite of that, Greinke’s ERA is only modestly better (1.66 to 1.77) while Arrieta worked more innings (229-222), won more games (22-19) and led his staff without the benefit of Clayton Kershaw behind him, who probably had the best resume of anyone who will ever finish third in this voting.

One name that deserves an honorable mention both here and in the MVP discussion is Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon, who racked up 51 saves in 53 tries with a 2.33 ERA. The Pirate bullpen is what separates them from every team outside of St. Louis and Melancon is the biggest reason why. If he could have kept that ERA under 2, I probably would have picked him for an MVP-Cy Young sweep, a la Dennis Eckersley for Oakland back in 1992.

Manager Of The Year: Mike Matheny (St. Louis)—Adam Wainwright was lost right out of the gate. The Cardinals dealt with nagging injuries all year. No matter. They won 100 games and had complete control of the NL Central from the start, in spite of the fact the Pirates and Cubs had genuinely outstanding teams. I’m sure there will be some sentiment for Terry Collins with the Mets and Joe Maddon for the Cubs, but I think this has got to be Matheny’s year.