The 2023 Baseball Awards: All for One?
Something really unusual might happen this week: There’s a reasonable chance that all the major baseball awards*, to be announced this week, will be won unanimously.
*No, the Manager of the Year is not a major award. We’ll talk about this another day.
I’m actually starting this one on Monday afternoon BEFORE the announcement for Rookie of the Year, but I’m going to assume that Gunnar Henderson will win the award unanimously in the American League and Corbin Carroll will win the award unanimously in the National League. I can’t imagine anyone voting for anyone else. I mean:
American League finalists
Gunnar Henderson: 6.2 bWAR and led his team to the playoffs
Tanner Bibee: 3.6 WAR
Triston Casas: 2.2 WAR
National League finalists
Corbin Carroll: 5.4 bWAR and led his team to the playoffs
Kodai Senga: 4.5 bWAR
James Outman: 3.3 bWAR
I’ll have the actual results before I post this piece, so I’ll update you when I get there. But I’m going to continue with this premise. I feel entirely certain that Henderson and Carroll will win unanimously.
How rare is it for someone to win the Rookie of the Year unanimously? Not super-rare on an individual basis. The last person to do it before this year was, absurdly, Seattle’s Kyle Lewis in 2020. I say “absurdly” not because I think Lewis was a bad pick — I mean, it was the COVID year, and he had a perfectly fine mini-season — but because I have no idea how all 30 voters singled him out specifically. He didn’t even lead in Baseball-Reference WAR; that was Luis Robert, who had a lower batting average and OBP but was ranked as a much better defender in centerfield. Every single scout and baseball person I talked to thought Robert was much likelier to become a star than Lewis, and it has obviously played out that way. Lewis wasn’t a bad pick, but the unanimity still surprises me.
But the last time BOTH rookie choices were unanimous? That was 2017: Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger. And the time before that? I would have guessed 2001, since that was the year Ichiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols were rookies … but Ichiro actually was NOT unanimous. One person voted for CC Sabathia, I think on the premise that Ichiro wasn’t a real rookie since he had long been a star in Japan.
Instead, you have to go back to 1997, when Nomah Garciaparra and Scottie Rolen were elected unanimously. So, having both rookies voted unanimously is fairly rare. As you will see, this is a theme.*
*I sure hope both are elected unanimously or all this research was done in vain.
On Wednesday, we have the Cy Young awards. And, again, I think we might have unanimity. I think every American League voter will give their first-place vote to Gerrit Cole. Full transparency: I was an American League Cy Young voter this year. But, I mean, you see the same things all of us see:
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