Rookies of the Year
Shohei Ohtani of the Angels won the American League Rookie of the Year award by posting a 3.31 ERA and 63:22 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 51 2/3 innings across 10 starts while also batting .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs and 61 RBI. The Japanese import generated a lot of excitement as a rare two-way threat this season and ended up running away with the award. He underwent Tommy John surgery in early October and is not expected to pitch next year, although the hope is he will still be able to serve as the Angels' full-time designated hitter. Ohtani netted 137 voting points, largely on the strength of getting 25 of the 30 first-place votes.
Second place went to third baseman Miguel Andujar of the Yankees, who got the remaining five first-place votes and 89 points altogether. His .297/.328/.527 slash line with 27 home runs and 92 RBI was a lot better than many previous ROY winners but he had the bad luck of making his debut the same year as the Ohtani sensation. Second baseman Gleyber Torres of the Yankees finished third with 25 voting points after batting .271/.340/.480 with 24 homers and 77 RBI in 123 games. Also receiving votes were Rays second baseman Joey Wendle (17 points), outfielder Daniel Palka of the White Sox (one point) and pitcher Ryan Yarbrough of the Rays (one point).
Wendle actually led all American League Rookies in WAR (4.3 Baseball Reference, 3.7 FanGraphs) by batting .300/.354/.435 with seven homers, 61 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 139 games while also adding good value with his defense. Ohtani, Andujar and Torres all had negative defensive value according to WAR. For comparison's sake, here are the WAR scores for Ohtani (3.9 BR, 2.8 FG), Andujar (2.2 BR, 2.7 FG) and Torres (2.9 BR, 1.9 FG).
Ronald Acuna of the Braves won the National League Rookie of the Year Award by batting .293/.366/.552 with 26 home runs, 64 RBI, 78 runs scored and 16 stolen bases in 111 games as a 20-year-old. The outfielder entered the season as the top overall prospect in baseball and did nothing to tarnish that reputation -- in fact he took it to another level and seems poised to be a perennial early-round pick in fantasy leagues for the next decade. He earned 27 of the 30 first-place votes and snared 144 voting points to easily win the award in what had been expected to be a fairly close race. Nationals outfielder Juan Soto came in second place with 89 points and two first-place votes. He registered a .292/.406/.517 slash line with 22 home runs, 70 RBI, 77 runs and five stolen bases in 116 games as a teenager. Both Acuna and Soto are destined for fantasy greatness, but Acuna is likely to hold a bit more value because he has more speed and steals a lot more bases -- he stole 44 bases across three levels in 2017 whereas Soto has swiped only 15 bags in his three-year professional career.
Third place went to Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler with 28 voting points and one first-place vote. The 24-year-old right-hander went 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 23 starts and one relief appearance. He struck out 151 batters and walked only 37 in 137 1/3 innings. He is likely to be one of the best pitchers in the National League as long as he stays healthy. Also receiving votes were Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson (four points), Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty (two points), Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader (one point), 34-year-old Diamondbacks reliever Yoshihisa Hirano (one point) and Mets infielder Jeff McNeil (one point). Anderson actually finished second among National League rookies in Baseball Reference WAR with 3.9 -- just a bit behind Acuna's 4.1 WAR. Much of that is because unlike the top three finalists he played a full season, batting .273/.357/.400 with 11 homers, 65 RBI, 87 runs and two stolen bases in 156 games as a 25-year-old.
Managers of the Year
Athletics manager Bob Melvin has been named the 2018 American League Manager of the Year, beating out Alex Cora of the Red Sox and Kevin Cash of the Rays. The Athletics were one of the most impressive teams of the last decade considering they won 97 games this year despite the fact their $85.8 million payroll was the lowest in the major leagues (per Cot's Baseball Contracts). They won 22 more games this year than they did in 2017 and were able to make the improvement without much in the way of star power. Cora's Red Sox won 108 games this year, largely because their $237.8 million payroll was by far the highest in the major leagues. The voting was done prior to the playoffs, so Cora didn't get any extra credit for leading his team to a World Series championship. It was the third time Melvin has won a Manager of the Year award. He won the National League version in 2007 as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and won the American League version in 2012 in his second season with the Athletics.
Braves manager Brian Snitker has been named the 2018 National League Manager of the Year. The Braves were not expected to be legitimate contenders this year as they continued their rebuild, but they surged to 90 wins and won the National League East division title after winning only 72 games a year ago. Snitker wins the award in his third season as the Braves' manager. He has been in the Braves organization as a player, coach or manager since 1977. Bobby Cox was the last Braves manager to win the award back in 2005. Craig Counsell was considered by many to be the favorite for the award after leading the Brewers to a National League Central title with 96 wins. Bud Black of the NL West division champion Rockies came in third place in the voting.
Starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers was the only player in the league to accept a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer. He missed more than half the season due to a torn leg muscle but was fantastic when able to pitch. He registered a 1.97 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 15 starts with an 89:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 82 1/3 innings. The oft-injured left-hander has managed just 40 starts total over the past four seasons. It's still rather surprising that he didn't decline the offer so he could seek a more lucrative long-term contract on the free agent market. Many observers predicted Ryu's teammate Yasmani Grandal would also accept his qualifying offer but he ended up declining it. He was benched in the postseason for the second year in a row but was one of the top backstops in the league throughout the regular season. He batted .241/.349/.466 with 24 home runs and 68 RBI in 140 games. He is also one of the best pitch-framers and scores well in defensive metrics. He ranked third among all catchers (behind J.T. Realmuto and Yadier Molina) on the Yahoo Fantasy player rankings and was fourth on the ESPN Player Rater (Wilson Ramos was third).
Diamondbacks starting pitcher Patrick Corbin rejected his qualifying offer and is expected to become the highest-paid starting pitcher on the market this year after going 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 33 starts. He struck out 246 batters against 48 walks in 200 innings pitched as he had the best season of his career by a large margin. Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel also rejected the qualifying offer and becomes a free agent. He went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA in 34 starts this year but has turned in sub-3.00 ERAs in three of the last five seasons and also figures to command a large multi-year contract in the offseason. Reliever Craig Kimbrel turned down a qualifying offer from the Red Sox and is believed to be seeking a three or four-year contract in the range of $16 million per season. Outfielder A.J. Pollock rejected his qualifying offer from the Diamondbacks after hitting .257/.316/.484 with 21 homers, 65 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 113 games. The injury-prone soon-to-be 31-year-old has exceeded the 113-game mark only twice in his career. The draft pick compensation tied to him this offseason figures to harm his earning power more than any of the other players who declined their qualifying offers. In news that surprised nobody on Earth, superstar Bryce Harper also rejected a qualifying offer. He had previously declined a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Nationals and figures to garner a contract of at least 13 years and $350 million on the open market.
American League Quick Hits: Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals aren't interested in trading Whit Merrifield at this time. Merrifield is their best trade chip, and considering he'll turn 30 in January and how far the Royals appear from contention, it would make sense for Kansas City to explore moves while the value is high. He's also not eligible for arbitration until 2020, and he's been a very productive player over the last two seasons... Jayson Stark of The Athletic reports that the Yankees are doing "extensive" background work on Manny Machado. Shortstop is a position of need for the Yankees given incumbent Didi Gregorius is going to miss at least the first half of the season as he recovers from Tommy John elbow surgery... Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels have made outfielder Kole Calhoun and closer Blake Parker "highly available" in trades. The Angels are trying to shed some salary, and Calhoun is owed $10.5 million in 2019 with an option for $14 million in 2020. Parker made just $1.8 million in 2018 but is due for a big raise in arbitration this winter... Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright underwent an arthroscopy and debridement procedure on his left knee Monday... The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reports that Matt Shoemaker could be a non-tender candidate this offseason. He was limited to just 31 innings this past season and has battled health issues throughout his career... Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that there is "nearly a zero chance" that free agent Michael Brantley will return to the Indians. He batted .309/.364/.468 with 17 homers and 76 RBI in 143 games this past season and figures to be too expensive for the Indians to re-sign... Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. left the Arizona Fall League on Tuesday to attend to a family matter. There are only three games left in the season anyway... According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the White Sox are "actively trying" to trade Avisail Garcia. The sense is that the White Sox could non-tender Garcia if they are unable to find a deal. The 27-year-old struggled through knee and hamstring injuries this past season while batting just .236/.281/.438 with 19 homers over 93 games.
National League Quick Hits: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Zack Greinke could be one of several Diamondbacks available in trade. He was excellent in 2018 with a 3.21 ERA and 199/43 K/BB ratio, but he's 35-years-old and is owed $34.8 million annually over the next three years... Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Phillies are shopping Carlos Santana. He posted a disappointing .766 OPS with the Phillies in 2018, although he can still hit for power (24 homers) and get on base (110 walks). He is owed $35 million over the next two seasons with a club option for $17.5 million with a $500,000 buyout in 2021... David Wright's one-game goodbye cameo at the end of the season may have cost the Mets millions of dollars by voiding their insurance policy on his contract... The Dodgers' contract negotiations with manager Dave Roberts are "at a standstill" according to Jon Heyman of FanCred Sports.