It’s always funny looking back on these articles. Seeing who was the best at certain points throughout the season. So today I’ll be handing out awards at the 20% mark of the MLB season. So without further adieu, here are your recipients.
AL Coach of the Year: Brandon Hyde (Baltimore Orioles)
Coming into the 2023 season, the Orioles had big aspirations and definitely expected a vase improvement, but nobody saw this coming. Sitting at 19-9, 2nd best record in the AL, the Birds are playing their best baseball in nearly a decade.
Brandon Hyde has been able to maneuver around a mediocre rotation. Also giving chances to players that straight up deserve it like Jorge Mateo who’s been the league’s best SS so far batting .347/.395/.667 with a 189 wRC+ and 1.5 fWAR. A combo SS that has 6 HR and 10 SB, a high prospect for the Yankees finding his footing with Baltimore.
Hyde has also seen production out of Adley Rutchman (139 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR), Cedric Mullins (126 wRC+, 1.0 fWAR), Austin Hayes and Ramon Urias. The Birds are gonna be fun to watch this season and it’s about time we see October baseball in Baltimore.
NL Coach of the Year: Derek Shelton (Pittsburgh Pirates)
When talking about getting production from players you didn’t know existed, the 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates are the epitome of that. If you’re a casual baseball fan, you probably aren’t aware of guys like Jack Suwinski or Connor Joe but both are playing All Star caliber baseball.
What manager Derek Shelton has been able to get out of these guys including the reincarnation of MVP Andrew McCutchen it just seems he’s getting 110% out of everyone he plays. Another reason why this award is unanimous right now is how he’s been able to trust his starting pitching which has been one of the better rotations in baseball and then know when to trust his bullpen who’s been mostly lightouts.
Shelton has taken a team with 100 losses last season to a season where the playoffs seem very possible and it seems the rebuild is finally over with the extension of Bryan Reynolds but gotta wait and see.
AL Rookie of the Year: Hunter Brown (Houston Astros)
An ace leaves Houston and another ones rises from the ashes, the former #1 prospect for the Astros is now taking over the MLB by storm with his nasty 92 mph slider that can reach 96 mph and currently has a -5 run value. In Brown’s last start against one of the best offenses in Tampa Bay, Hunter posted 7 innings of shutout baseball with 8 K’s.
And how is he able to do this? Well again the combination of his filthy slider that has a near 30% Whiff rate and a lively fastball that rides to the top of the zone. Currently sitting at a 2.37 ERA, Brown is a rising star and just another stud for the Astros pitching staff to pair with Cristian Javier and Framber Valdez.
NL Rookie of the Year: James Outman (Los Angeles Dodgers)
A freak of nature is a phrase I could use for a lot of these players but I wanted to use it for the rookie sensation James Outman. Currently slashing .292/.376/.615 with 7 HR with a 165 wRC+ is keeping the surprising mediocre Dodgers offense afloat. Sitting 5th in the league in fWAR at 1.5, the 8th ranked prospect in the Dodgers system can do it all.
Along with his.323 ISO (Isolated Power), Outman also is ranked in the 89th percentile in Sprint Speed and 92nd percentile in OAA (Outs Above Average). So not only is Outman barreling balls in the 93rd percentile, he’s able to run the bases and make plays in the outfield.
If Outman continues the pace, the projected stats say he will sit around a 20/20 season, which would be one hell of a rookie season. Outman is a fun watch, would highly recommend watching as many at bats as possible.
AL CY Young: Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees)
THIS…this is the Gerrit Cole that the New York Yankees threw $324 M at in the winter of 2019. This is the Ace the Bronx expected, posting a 1.11 ERA with a 2.17 FIP, Cole has been dominant to put it lightly. And what makes him so dominant this year? The control. Ask any Yankee fan what has been Gerrit Cole’s kryptonite and everyone would answer his control and well he’s figured out how to control his pitches without sticky stuff.
Gerrit Cole’s fastball is statically the best pitch in baseball right now in terms of run value at -10. Batters are hitting .192 against it with a 31% K%. The reason hitters cannot hit this fastball is because again it lives and rides at the top of the zone and appears to the hitter as a rising fastball and when you get the rotation on the fastball like that, it becomes unhittable.
Not a lot of good for the New York Yankees this season so far, sitting at the bottom of the AL East, but at least the Bronx faithful know every 5th day they have a true ace they can rely on to give them a fighting chance.
NL CY Young: Zac Gallen (Arizona Diamondbacks)
In my preseason awards that I never posted, I picked Zac Gallen to win NL CY Young and I thought it was pretty simple. After posting a 45 ⅔ scoreless inning streak and seeing the dominance and foolishness he puts batters through, you could just tell he’s arrived.
Coming over in a trade from the Miami Marlins, Gallen had a dry Arizona desert start to his tenure but turned it around and especially in 2023. 1.7 fWAR which leads all qualified pitchers, 2.15 ERA and 1.84 FIP, Gallen is throwing near perfect ball for a Diamondbacks team that’s looking to compete.
What has made Gallen so successful is his ability to get hitters to swing and miss, being in the 96th percentile in K%, and his ability to keep hitters off base, being in the 91st percentile in BB%. Pitching wise, the adjustment Gallen made was cutting out the cutter and limiting it because of how hart hit it was getting. But limiting that and increasing usage in his curveball have really back boned his early success.
AL MVP: Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels)
I mean do I have to explain myself really on this one? Every single year you can make a case for Ohtani to win MVP but for this it just makes sense. Now not gonna wow you with all these stats but man .300 BA with 7 HR, 144 wRC+ while having a 1.85 ERA? Like this is inhuman and truly the greatest athlete that has touched planet earth. 96th percentile in Average Exit Velocity, 82nd in Barrel% and when not worrying about injury at least 90th percentile in Sprint Speed.
Displaying a 98 mph 4-seam that touches 102, a sweeper that ranks as the 2nd best pitch in baseball with a -9 run value and a 37% Whiff%. Yeah truly insane stuff and even though it doesn’t translate to wins because baseball is a team sport, you can’t penalize Ohtani for that and it’s as clear as day when you’re a top 10 hitter and top 10 pitcher that you deserve MVP every single season unless you have a 2022 Aaron Judge season.
NL MVP: Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta Braves)
Now Ohtani’s reign as the best player in baseball is closer then what most people think. After a slow 2022 for Ronald Acuña Jr after coming off injury. In 2023, the generational talent Ronald Acuña is BACK and could be the best version of him. Slashing .352/.440/.546 with 5 HR and a 166 wRC+, Acuña is just on a tear.
And what makes Acuña so special is his ability to be a threat on the bases whenever he gets on base, having 29 in 119 games last season already 13 so far. Just a 40/40 threat and the ability to rip the cover off baseballs is truly a masterpiece to watch. Just listen to this, 98th percentile in Avg Exit Velocity, 98th in Max Exit Velocity, 96th in HardHit%, 99th in xWOBA, 99th in xBA, 97th in SLG% and 84th in Barrel%. Yeah, Acuña is still generational.
Acuña has also limited the strikeouts being in the 88th percentile in K% so he’s finding ways to get on base and with the special ability to time out pitchers timings and his 83rd percentile Sprint Speed, there’s nothing stopping Acuña from being the best player in baseball and so happy he’s back to MVP form.