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OC Register: Whicker: Your 2018 ‘most valuable’ MLB awards

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Well, it appears Tina Fey and Amy Poulter are still caught in traffic, so let’s give out the baseball awards right now.

Note: The “Valuable” in Most Valuable Player does not pertain to your fantasy team..

MVP: Christian Yelich, the pride of Westlake Village, was the best September player in several years. His efforts won the NL Central for Milwaukee. The Red Sox had everything but power and J.D. Martinez brought it. But Martinez was largely a DH, and MVPs should play both halves of innings. Teammate Mookie Betts hit .346 and slugged .640 and showed you could do that without striking out 100 times.

BEST PLAYER: Mike Trout was Gold Glove-caliber in center field, was on base 46 percent of the time, and hit 39 home runs while being intentionally walked 25 times. Yelich nearly became the first NL Triple Crown winner in 81 years (Joe Medwick).

CY YOUNG: Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell topped the AL with 21 wins and took the an ERA title by an entire run. He also was 9-0 with an 1.17 ERA after the All-Star break.  The Mets’ Jacob deGrom lost nine quality starts and still went 10-9 with the only league ERA under 2.00. But, no, the “W” isn’t dead. The next four NL pitchers in the ERA  rankings went a combined 70-21.

MANAGER: Despite all the handiwork by Alex Cora in Boston, Oakland’s Bob Melvin should be unanimous or close to it. More people thought the A’s would be 65-97 than 97-65. With Brian Snitker bringing the kinds of minor league battle scars that today’s instant managers never absorb, Atlanta reversed its 72-90 record from last year and won the NL East.

ROOKIE: The Yankees’ Miguel Andujar was second in AL doubles, was in the Top 10 in four other major categories, and wore a third-base glove as his team won 100 games. He probably deserves this award, but Shohei Ohtani’s novelty act was too impressive to deny. Most of the thoroughbreds were in the NL, where Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. barely edges Washington’s Juan Soto. The two dynamic outfielders were virtually identical. “Make it a ‘co,’’’ Braves coach Ron Washington said.

EXECUTIVE: Boston’s Dave Dombrowski runs a team that won 108 games and a prospect-laden franchise, and he risked his neck by firing John Farrell so he could hire Cora. Milwaukee’s David Stearns, 33, had a spectacular season, acquiring Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. The Brewers needed every phone call Stearns made to overtake the Cubs in the NL East.

COMEBACK PLAYER: Andrew Heaney, the Angels’ lefty, pitched 180 innings and had a 1.200 WHIP in a solid comeback season. Matt Kemp, the prodigal Dodger, made the All-Star team after coming west in what appeared to be a salary dump.

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BREAKOUT PLAYER: Miles Mikolas hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2014 but returned from Japan to go 18-4, with a 2.83 ERA, for the Cardinals. Blake Treinen saved 38 for the Athletics in his first sustained chance to own the ninth.

COMEDOWN PLAYER: Adam Duvall was sputtering in Cincinnati, got traded to Atlanta, hit .132 and wasn’t on the postseason roster. He hit 31 homers in 2017. Michael Fulmer was the AL Rookie of the Year two years ago, faded to 3-12 this year.

MIS-MANAGER OF THE YEAR: The Orioles were bad but not 47-115 bad, and Buck Showalter was fired for it. Dave Martinez might not have been the reason Washington fled the NL East race, but he certainly was no Dusty Baker.

WIND FARM AWARD: The Phillies’ Cesar Hernandez fanned 155 times yet produced only 15 homers and a .718 OPS. In Baltimore, the sad decline of Chris Davis continues apace. He struck out 192 times, walked 41 times and had a .539 OPS with 16 homers.

BEST FREE AGENT: Martinez’s 43 homers and 130 RBIs fulfilled Boston’s monster investment. Cain, after he signed with Milwaukee, showed again why he’s one of baseball’s most underrated.

WORST FREE AGENT: The Cubs’ Tyler Chatwood signed for three years, $38 million and had a hideous season, with 95 walks in 103.2 innings and a 1.840 WHIP. Alex Cobb signed a four year, $57 million pact with Baltimore and started it by going 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA season.

STRONGEST TREND: The strikeout. There were more of them than there were hits (8.48 per game to 8.44, according to Baseball Reference). That’s an all-time high in strikeouts, but baseball has set a K record in each of the past 11 seasons. An intervention, with hours of Tony Gwynn videos, is needed.

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