The three finalists for each of the eight annual awards given by the Baseball Writers' Association of America were announced on Tuesday, and they're all great names worthy of attention.
The winners for Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year in the American and National Leagues (announced exclusively on MLB Network on Monday, Nov. 11, at 6 p.m. ET), AL and NL Manager of the Year (MLB Network on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m. ET), the AL and NL Cy Young Awards (MLB Network on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 6 p.m. ET) and AL and NL Most Valuable Player (MLB Network on Thursday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m. ET) will represent the very best of their fields in the 2013 regular season. They will be deserving winners, no matter who is chosen by BBWAA voters.
But some intriguing names were left off the final ballots, and those players deserve some acknowledgement, too.
AL Rookie of the Year: Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers
Perez wouldn't have been a bad addition to the final three that includes Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias, and Rays outfielder Wil Myers and starter Chris Archer. The left-hander helped stabilize a banged-up Texas rotation, making 20 starts and logging a 10-6 record and 3.62 ERA in more than 124 innings. Perez also accomplished all this at the age of 22, making him savvy and poised beyond his years.
NL Rookie of the Year: Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Dodgers; Evan Gattis, C/OF, Braves
You can't really argue with the choices of starter Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Cardinals starter Shelby Miller, but Puig's teammate, Ryu, went 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA and struck out 154 batters in 192 innings for a first-place club in his debut season in the Major Leagues after coming over from South Korea. And all Gattis did was hit 21 homers and drive in 65 runs in 354 at-bats while batting in the middle of the lineup for another first-place team.
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Girardi, Yankees; Ned Yost, Royals
Nothing against finalists Bob Melvin of the A's, who won this award last year, and John Farrell of the Red Sox and Terry Francona of the Indians, who orchestrated complete turnarounds with their teams in 2013, but Girardi and Yost deserve to be mentioned among the best in the AL this year. Girardi took a patchwork, aging lineup and pitching staff and somehow managed to keep New York in contention in the tough AL East all year, finishing with an 85-77 record. And Yost led Kansas City to its first winning record in 10 seasons (86-76) and a 14-game improvement over 2012.
NL Manager of the Year: Mike Matheny, Cardinals
There's no doubt that the three finalists in this category (Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and Clint Hurdle of the Pirates) had tremendous success molding their teams with their own methods and deserve their nominations. But Matheny should also get some love. He wasn't afraid to go young on the pitching staff or to try different combinations while battling injuries to key players such as first baseman Allen Craig, and his team ended up with the best record in the NL in the regular season and tied with the Red Sox for best mark overall.
AL Cy Young Award: Anibal Sanchez, RHP, Tigers; Koji Uehara, RHP, Red Sox
There's plenty of greatness to choose from in AL Cy Young finalists Max Scherzer of the Tigers, Hisashi Iwakuma of the Mariners and Yu Darvish of the Rangers, but let's not forget the work of these other guys. Sanchez was the league's ERA leader in 2013 (2.57), won 14 games and had 202 punchouts in 182 innings. And Uehara? He was simply unhittable as he rocketed up the bullpen ladder for the Red Sox and became a serious shutdown closer. Uehara finished the year with a 1.09 ERA, a 0.57 WHIP, 21 saves and 101 strikeouts, 33 hits allowed and nine walks in 74 1/3 innings.
NL Cy Young Award: Matt Harvey, RHP, Mets; Zack Greinke, RHP, Dodgers
The fact that huge favorite Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers was joined on the list of finalists by the sterling rookie Fernandez and perennial contender Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals should come as no surprise. But Harvey and Greinke warrant mention as well. Harvey brought to the table sheer brilliance in 2013. The possible knock on him going in was command, and he walked only 31 batters in 178 1/3 innings while striking out 191. His 2.27 ERA and 0.93 WHIP are Cy-worthy. He only won nine games, however, which still makes an award like this tough even though the evaluation of wins is changing as the years roll on. Former AL Cy winner Greinke, meanwhile, had the gaudy numbers (15-3 with a 2.63 ERA) but ran into the unfortunate problem of not only having Kershaw in the same league, but on the same team.
AL Most Valuable Player: Josh Donaldson, 3B, A's; Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles
The meaning of the word "valuable" in a Major League Baseball context will always be debated as long as this award exists, and there's little argument that finalists Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, Mike Trout of the Angels and Chris Davis of the Orioles all qualify as "valuable" and as having phenomenal statistical 2013 seasons. But look at Donaldson and Machado for a moment, because both had excellent offensive and defensive seasons. Donaldson hit .301/.384/.499 with 23 homers and 94 RBIs and held down the hot corner for a first-place club. Machado, during his age-20 season, hit .283 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs plus a league-leading 51 doubles while playing the best third base in baseball, according to several advanced defensive metrics.
NL Most Valuable Player: Matt Carpenter, 2B, Cardinals; Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves
Again, it's a great field of finalists, with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen and D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt all wonderful choices. Molina's teammate, Carpenter, led the league in three offensive categories: hits (199), runs (126) and doubles (55). He also batted .318/.392/.481 and drove in 71 runs. Simmons, meanwhile, didn't have offensive numbers that appear to be anything above ordinary, although he did show a bit of pop with 17 homers. But his defense at shortstop -- wow. Simmons was rated by advanced metrics as the best defender at any position in baseball, and it wasn't close. It was historic, in fact, and while that's not enough to get MVP votes in this day and age, it's something to talk about as statistical evaluations continue to evolve.