Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter talk about the end of the season and highlights of the season. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)
If you're wondering how the voters from the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) could have left Orioles closer Zach Britton out of the top three in this year's American League Cy Young balloting, you're not alone.
Britton had a near-perfect season and did things no left-handed reliever had ever done before. He had one of the most dominant single seasons in the history of baseball. And it wasn't good enough to be a Cy Young finalist.
That wasn't a giant surprise, however, because of the way the voting for baseball's major awards has evolved over the years. Several relievers have won the Cy Young Award, but it has always been considered an honor meant for starting pitchers.
The top reliever generally settled for the Rolaids Relief Man Award until Major League Baseball instituted the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year and Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year awards in 2014.
Britton won the Mariano Rivera Award, but remained eligible for the Cy Young. Corey Kluber, Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander were the top three vote-getters in the AL.
That's too bad, because the Cy Young field in the AL wasn't exactly otherworldly. Kluber had a great season, but his postseason heroics don't count because the ballots have to be mailed before the playoffs. Porcello probably was the most deserving starter after a 22-4 season and a strong 3.15 ERA. Justin Verlander's 16-9 record doesn't jump out at you, but he led the AL in strikeouts (254) and WHIP (1.001), and finished second in ERA (3.04).
Though it's hard to justify any comparison of ERAs between starters and relievers, it's still fair to point out that the three AL Cy Young finalists all had ERAs that started with a 3 and Britton had the best ERA (0.54) in major league history for anyone who pitched more than 50 innings.
Let's not forget he was a perfect 47-for-47 in save situations.
You can make a case for all three of the finalists, but Britton should have been among them.
I can't get as worked up over Manny Machado not making the list of MVP finalists. He had a terrific season and his defensive excellence should factor into the equation. But I think the BBWAA voters got it right with Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts and Mike Trout. Altuve led the league in batting while scoring more runs than Machado and equaling his RBI total. Trout hit .315, led the majors in runs scored and had his usual great power and run production numbers. And Betts probably wins the award with the best all-around offensive numbers in either league.