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OC Register: Whicker: The envelope, please, for baseball’s top actors in 2021

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Who should win the baseball awards in 2021? Why can’t I just go to a stadium ticket window and get an actual ticket anymore? Whatever happened to Yasiel Puig?

I ask myself these questions, but only one was answered:

AMERICAN LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: None of Shohei Ohtani’s landmark magnificence affected the American League outcomes in any way whatsoever. He was only “valuable” to the Angels, who were irrelevant themselves. But there were no standouts among those who played important games, so Ohtani is the default pick.

NATIONAL LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford was the daily two-way producer on a team that won 107 games.

AL PLAYER OF YEAR: Ohtani. You could also go with Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez and his 48 homers.

NL PLAYER OF YEAR: You can’t blame the Phillies’ fate on Bryce Harper, who led the league in doubles, slugging and OPS.

NL CY YOUNG AWARD: Throw a blanket on Max Scherzer, Corbin Burnes and Walker Buehler, but neither Burnes nor Scherzer threw 180 innings. Buehler threw 207 ⅔, second to the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler. A starting pitcher’s job is to provide chances to win. Buehler’s quality-start percentage of 82 was by far the NL’s best.

AL CY YOUNG AWARD: The league was a pitching desert. Toronto’s Robbie Ray won only 13 games but nobody won more than 16, and Ray was the ERA, WHIP and quality-start percentage leader (and is a free agent, for our Anaheim-based audience).

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Alek Manoah of Toronto went 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 20 pressure starts. He edges out Tampa Bay’s Wander Franco, a future MVP.

NL ROOKIE OF YEAR: Cincinnati second baseman Jonathan India played 150 games and dealt with the adjustments. His .376 on-base percentage sets him apart.

AL MANAGER OF YEAR:  Alex Cora of Boston navigated the bumps and helped a problematic team into the ALCS. Seattle’s Scott Servais gets a laurel and hearty handshake for the way his youngsters fought to the final weekend.

NL MANAGER OF YEAR: Again, a 107-win season is self-evident, and Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff of thousands made it happen in San Francisco. Craig Counsell in Milwaukee did his usual thing, and Atlanta’s Brian Snitker never blinked during midseason difficulties.

AL COMEBACK: It’s notable enough that Baltimore’s Trey Mancini could play 147 games after sitting out 2020 while he fought colon cancer, but he also hit 21 home runs with 71 RBIs.

NL COMEBACK: After Buster Posey sat out 2020 he had a .889 OPS in 2021, his best in nine years. He was one of the drivers of the Giants’ phenomenal season, then retired on that soaring note. Next stop is Cooperstown, probably in 2027.

AL EXECUTIVE: No matter how weird their playoff decisions are, Tampa Bay is a wonderment. It had the best record in the American League, thanks to many years of shrewdness by folks like general manager Erik Neander.

NL EXECUTIVE: Alex Anthopoulos of the Braves had to re-do his entire outfield on the fly and came up with Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson and Adam Duvall.

AL BREAKOUT PLAYER: Houston’s Kyle Tucker hadn’t played more than 58 games in a season. Given 140 games in 2021, he was third in the league with a .917 OPS.

NL BREAKOUT PLAYER: Cincinnati’s Tyler Mahle had won 13 games in his previous four years and won 13 this year. He also struck out 210 in 180 innings.

AL MIS-MANAGER: The Twins’ 73-89 collapse had many fathers, but it’s hard to exempt manager Rocco Baldelli.

NL MIS-MANAGER: The Padres already acknowledged this by firing Jayce Tingler, last year’s genius who was a bystander at the collapse.

AL COMEDOWN PLAYER: Whatever happened to the Yankees’ Gleyber Torres? He hit 38 home runs two years ago, nine this year, and apparently can’t play shortstop anymore.

NL COMEDOWN PLAYER: Injuries played a part, but it was still unnerving to watch Cody Bellinger post a .542 OPS in his 95 Dodger games. The Padres’ Tommy Pham is a strong second.

AL EXECU-STIFF: The award goes to the accumulated wisdom of the Angels’ front office and ownership over the past 10 years, in which they made the search for pitching seem harder than finding Amelia Earhart (or, for that matter, Anthony Rendon).

NL EXECU-STIFF: Pick a Met, any Met. Jared Porter got fired for sending dirty pictures to a sports writer. Zack Scott, the acting GM, lost his career thanks to drunk driving. This follows the misadventures of former manager Mickey Callaway. Meanwhile, nobody wants to be the Mets’ new GM, at least not when good lion-taming jobs are out there.



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