Best (and Worst) of the AL West

By Nick Fathergill

As disappointing as the 2015 MLB season was for the American League West as a whole, it is very possible it could boast this year’s AL MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year winners come November. So, without further ado, here are my 2015 AL West postseason awards – and not all of them are positive.

Most Valuable Player – Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels) .299/.402/.590 slash line, 41 HR, 90 RBI, 104 R

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Perennial superstar Mike Trout continued his dominance over the baseball world this season in more ways than one. Aside from leading the American League in OBP and slugging and finishing third in homers and runs scored, Trout was a brilliant center fielder (yet again) and led the American League in Wins Above Replacement. One of the rangiest outfielders in the game, Trout captivated crowds all season long with catches like this. His stolen base numbers have declined over the past few years (49 in 2012, 33 in 2013, 16 in 2014, 11 in 2015), but he is still an excellent baserunner with tremendous speed. Certainly the MVP of the AL West, Trout’s only real challenge to winning AL MVP is Josh Donaldson, who hit .297 with 41 HR and 123 RBI while posting a Gold Glove-worthy season at the hot corner in Toronto.

Cy Young – Dallas Keuchel (LHP, Houston Astros) 20-8, 2.48 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 216 K

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Keuchel was the West’s best pitcher over the entire season, finishing stronger than Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics (14-7, 2.73 ERA). While not overpowering anybody with an upper-80s fastball and deceptive changeup, Keuchel’s excellent command and terrific numbers against lefties helped him win 20 games for the first time in his short career. Like Trout, Keuchel has a good shot at taking home the hardware in the American League, going up against David Price (18-5, 2.45 ERA).

Rookie of the Year – Carlos Correa (SS, Houston Astros) .279/.345/.512, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 14 SB

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Rookie sensation Carlos Correa made his long-anticipated Major League debut in 2015, and impressed so quickly he remained in the show for the rest of the year. In just 99 games, Correa led all rookies in homers, and has been compared favorably to Alex Rodriguez. Defensively, he has been one of the rangiest shortstops in the game, using a massive 6’4”, 210 frame to plug holes across the infield. Another impressive rookie was the A’s Billy Burns, who hit .294 and stole 26 bases in 125 games played. However, the Cuban sensation was simply too impressive in his age-21 season to warrant the award.

Best Surprise – Prince Fielder (1B/DH, Texas Rangers) .305/.378/.463, 23 HR, 98 RBI

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A year after having season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, Prince Fielder fueled a Rangers team to an American League West title. After a .273 average over the past two seasons, Fielder’s first full season with the Rangers was an unmitigated success. While the Rangers were plagued with injuries and off-field issues (Derek Holland, Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton), Fielder was the one constant that propelled the team to AL West supremacy.

Worst Surprise – Felix Hernandez (RHP, Seattle Mariners) 18-9, 3.53 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 191 K

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Don’t let the record fool you: King Felix was an extreme letdown this season. His 2015 campaign was reminiscent of that of a number 3 starter, not an ace coming off a 2nd place finish in the 2014 AL Cy Young race. The King’s 3.53 ERA was his worst since 2007, his WHIP the worst since 2011 and 191 strikeouts the lowest since 2008. Hernandez received an average run support of 3.97 per game, and used this offensively help to maneuver a deceiving 18-9 record. Yes, the King had a respectable year: just not for an ace.

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