Around the NL East: Awards watch

Around the NL East: Awards watch
September 24, 2013, 4:45 pm

Though the Atlanta Braves are the only team from the National League East headed to the playoffs this season, there should be plenty of representation from the division in this year’s regular season awards. From breakout players to redemption stories, the NL East had its fair share of stars in 2013. Here is a look at which players from the division should get consideration for individual awards.

NL Cy Young

Jose Fernandez –12-6, 2.19 ERA, 187 SO, 172.2 IP

Fernandez had a remarkable rookie season which by some measures was among the best first years in MLB history. Though he didn’t get the hype and attention of the New York spotlight that Matt Harvey did, he was just as good. And now that he still has his arm intact, has to be considered the best young pitcher in the division, maybe even across all of baseball.

Jordan Zimmermann -19-8, 3.18 ERA, 159 SO, 206.1 IP

For a few months it looked like my preseason prediction of Zimmermann taking home the NL Cy Young was a real possibility. But the right-hander tailed off after the All-Star break, as resting his stiff neck and sitting out the game may have backfired. He still put together a fantastic season and just by wins alone will get some consideration for the award. Spoiler alert: it’s going to Clayton Kershaw.

Matt Harvey - 9-5, 2.27 ERA, 191 SO, 178.1 IP

Fernandez was just as good, as I mentioned, but Harvey had an impact on the game that we haven’t seen in a while from a young pitcher. He was tremendous on an otherwise terrible team and earned the honor of starting the MLB All-Star game in July. Hopefully he recovers from this arm ordeal because he’s one of baseball’s brightest young stars. He has good comedic timing on late night talk shows as well.

NL Most Valuable Player

Freddie Freeman –.314 BA, 23 HR, 105 RBI, 85 R

Freeman came up as a top prospect in the shadow of Jason Heyward, but has emerged as even better asset for the Braves. He could be the most underrated young star in the game and should easily finish in the top five in NL MVP voting. Heck, he could win it. 105 RBI with a .314 average at 23 years old is scary, he could be a force in the division for a long time.

Jayson Werth –.318 BA, 24 HR, 79 RBI, 82 R

The fact Werth could pull out his best season as a big leaguer at the age of 34, even after missing time due to nagging hamstring injuries, is one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 season, not just on the Nats. He won’t win the MVP award because of the time he missed and the Nats' record, but the future of his contracted time in Washington - $83M over four years – looks a whole lot better than it did just four months ago. If the Nats can get this type of production from him next season, plus improvement from some of their younger players such as Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos, and Anthony Rendon, they’ll be right back in the mix of pennant contention.

Ian Desmond –.285 BA, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 21 SB

The Nationals’ most consistent player this season, Desmond should receive some MVP votes for the second consecutive year. He now has two straight seasons under his belt as an elite shortstop, becoming just the seventh shortstop in MLB history to post 20 home runs and 20 steals in two different seasons. Desmond placed 16th on last year’s ballot so we’ll see where he ends up this year. He had just as good of a season individually, but the Nats weren’t quite as good a team.

NL Rookie of the Year 

Jose Fernandez –12-6, 2.19 ERA, 187 SO, 172.2 IP

Fernandez may not win the Cy Young, but he’s a near lock for the rookie of the year honors. If he indeed does take home the award, he’ll be the third consecutive player from the NL East to get it. Bryce Harper of course won it last season and Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was the 2011 selection.

Julio Teheran – 13-8, 3.09 ERA, 167 SO, 180.2 IP

Believe it or not, Teheran is still eligible for the award despite this being his third major league season. This year he broke out and finally tapped into the potential that made him a top prospect. He’s only 22 and was one of the Braves best starters this year. With Teheran, Kris Medlen (27) and Mike Minor (25), the future is bright for Atlanta’s rotation.

Evan Gattis – .230 BA, 20 HR, 59 RBI, 41 R

Gattis was one of this year’s biggest surprises, but his .230 average weighs him down a bit in a deep NL rookie class. The former janitor has 20 homers and 59 RBI this year in 99 games. He also has the longest home run in the majors (484 ft. in Philly) and perhaps the most memorable, at least for the guy he hit in Miami.