Do the Rays have a shot at seasonal awards?

by Gary Shelton on September 14, 2018 · 4 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Should Cash win Manager of the Year?/JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

As they say at the Academy Awards, it's nice just to be nominated.

Nothing is wrong with finishing second for a major award, or third. Nothing is wrong with someone talking about your excellence. Nothing is terrible about finishing high in the balloting.

On the other hand, you can make a great argument for the Tampa Bay Rays as the major league baseball awards are announced in the coming weeks.

All things considered, has any manager been better than Kevin Cash? Is there a Cy Young candidate more complete than Blake Snell? A rookie who has been

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Snell now leads ESPN's Cy Young predictor./JEFFREY S. KING

more versatile than Joey Wendle? A comeback player who has come back from more of a distance than Matt Duffy?

For the Rays, those are the four candidates who deserve some discussion about the final awards balloting.

The case for each:

Manager of the Year

Yes, the smart money says that Bob Melvin of the Oakland A's wins the award. Like Cash, his franchise doesn't' have a lot of money, and the A's currently are 8 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay for the second wild-card. If Melvin doesn't win it, expect Boston's Alex Cora or Houston's A.J. Hinch to take it home.

That's wrong. Yes, Cora has won more games, but Boston spends three times more money than Tampa Bay. Cora winning it makes sense only if the award is for sale. Boston has five players who make more than $10 million a year.

In the meantime, Cash saw his starting lineup nuked, and then nuked again. He has made the "bullpen days" work. He has groomed a. young team to 15 games over .500. If the Rays were in another division, they'd be in the race.

Again, Cash probably won't win. Voters are big on the won-loss total, no matter what it costs to get there. But he should.

Cash's odds of winning: 39 percent.

Cy Young Award Winner

After his 19th win, Snell has now taken over ESPN's Cy Young Predictor. The question is whether a guy in his first big season can pull it off.

Granted, it's a seasonal award. But Chris Sale, Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander have been successful for years.

Still, Snell's ERA is better, and his won-loss is better. He's shut down the top offenses in baseball. Both Kluber and Verlander have pitched 31 more innings than Snell, which could hurt him.

Snell's chances of winning: 47 percent.

Rookie of the Year

In another time, you pronounced Joey Wendle's name differently. Back then, it was "Ben Zobrist."

Wendle has played all over the field, and he's hitting .294.

Granted, this seems to be a Yankees' award. Both Miguel Andujar and Gleybar Torres have had good seasons for New York, and with the injury to  Shohei Ohtani, one of them figures to win it. Not enough people are aware of the season Wendle has had.

Wendle's chances of winning: 28 percent.

Comeback Player of the Year

The most impressive thing you can say about Matt Duffy's 2018 season is this: He didn't have a 2017 season.

Look, this award isn't supposed to be a reward for someone having a decent season after he stunk up the joint in 2017. I even saw one list of potential winners that included Cleveland's Michael Brantley. For crying out loud, Brantley was an all-star last year. How do you come back from that?

Duffy's chance of winning: 36 percent.



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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller September 14, 2018 at 9:23 am

I think it’s pretty cool that after a long season this team has left us wanting more. I can’t wait for 2019. There are still questions for sure and a new batch of injuries will crop up as they always do but this farm system the Rays have built is finally producing talent and that has made all the difference.

Let’s hope management makes the right moves in the off season to help the team in the immediate future not 3+ years down the road. The Rays payroll is more manageable at this point than it has been in years so that should not be an issue. The off season should be all about how do we build a team that can contend now.


Gary Shelton September 14, 2018 at 11:00 pm

Absolutely. This is the start of the Rays’ building something, and the front office needs to augment what they have.


Larry Beller September 14, 2018 at 6:16 am

The Rays are mostly invisible as far as the national media is concerned which is a big obstacle to overcome for anyone on the Rays to win these awards. All 4 are deserving but probably none will win. That’s unfortunate because they have all had special years. I congratulate them.


Gary Shelton September 14, 2018 at 8:26 am

They’ve been fun to watch. But writers lean heavily to the big winners/big spenders. But would you swap any of them (maybe Wendle) for the eventual winners?


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