AL Rookie of the Year
In an average season, the Indians would have two great candidates to win this award in Danny Salazar and Cody Allen. Allen was the second most used reliever in the AL despite being in his first full season and maintained an ERA of 2.43. There is no question that Allen was the best rookie reliever in the AL, leading all others in appearances, strike outs and ERA (among pitchers with at least 50 innings). Danny Salazar had an equally impressive rookie campaign, pitching in 10 games and striking out a truly amazing 11.3 batters per nine innings. Among rookies, this was the third best this season considering pitchers with at least 20 IP. He trailed just Danny Farquhar of the Mariners and Cody Allen.
Now that you know how great the Indians rookies were this year, here are a few reasons they won't recieve more than a few votes for the AL ROY. The Rays brought up their biggest rookie slugger since Evan Longoria this year and he knocked in more runs than any other rookie, but Wil Myers in unlikely to win the award either. J.B Shuck was a starter for the Angels and got into more games than any other rookie and still batted .293, but he will most likely not win. Jose Iglesius helped spur the Tigers on the Central Division title after Jhonny Peralta was suspended by batting .303 and playing stellar defense while Conor Gillaspie was one of very few bright spots for the White Sox at third base. This is not even mentioning the top three rookies in WAR in David Lough (Royals), Brad Miller and Nick Franklin (Mariners).
With this mass of great rookies, my prediction for the 2013 Rookie of the Year is Rays starter Chris Archer. Everyone loves a story like this. Archer was drafted by the Indians in 2006, but didn't make his debut until last season. This year, he has emerged as a top pitcher for the Wild Card winning Rays, going 9-7 in 23 starts and holding a 3.22 ERA. Only Oakland's Dan Straily struck out more batters and he threw in four more games. Every single player listed here in addition to quite a few others deserve solid consideration for the Rookie of the Year, but Archer deserves it the most.
It will be interesting to see who grabs this one as Carlos Santana may or may not qualify based on certain peoples opinions. He lead AL catchers in home runs, walks, runs and hits while coming in second in RBI and doubles, but only 84 games as catcher. Salvador Perez had similar stats to Santana, but actually played in 140 games as a catcher and batted about 30 points higher than Santana. Either could win the prize (there are no other true contenders), but Perez probably deserves it a little more.
The question here is really whether Jason Kipnis will finish second behind Robinson Cano, or third behind Cano and Dustin Pedroia. Kipnis beat both the other contenders in steals, triples and walks, but his .284 average and an East coast bias will be enough to easily give the award to Cano, who batted .314 and knocked in 107.
If the outfield awards were split between positions, Michael Brantley would have had a good chance to win, competing directly with Alex Gordon as the league's top hitting left fielders, but the three Silver Sluggers are given to the top three outfielders of any type. Because of this, Mike Trout (9.2 WAR) and Adam Jones (33 HR and 108 RBI) are heavy favorites the first two. The third could go to any number of players, including Brantley, but also considering much more likely candidates like two Boston outfielders, Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury, rookie Royal David Lough, Blue Jays Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista and the aforementioned Gordon.
Michael Brantley was one of three qualifying American League outfielders to have an error free season along with Coco Crisp and Nick Markakis. In addition, he ranked third in the league in outfield assists with eleven. This is the most likely Indian to win an award of those mentioned so far and if he doesn't, it will be robbery.
In addition to the three perfect outfielders, the competition for the outfield Gold Gloves very closely resembles the one for the Silver Sluggers. In this race, Alex Gordon looks even better with just one error and 17 assists, while Mike Trout and Adam Jones are also top competitors.
Manager of the Year
If there was ever a manager who truly deserved this award it was Terry Francona in 2013. Only Boston made a bigger turn around between 2012 and 2013 and this has much more to do with the Red Sox underperforming in 2012. With their huge payroll and roster filled of All-Stars acquired via free agency, the Red Sox should be expected to win 97 games every year, not to take anything away from former Indians farm director John Farrell.
Francona took a team that finished 20 games out of first in 2012 and gave it an identity, despite a roster half filled with new players. He dealt with injuries, multiple Carlos Carrasco suspensions, generally having a depleted roster until September. He handled difficult situations with Lonnie Chisenhall (offensively) and Chris Perez (legally) perfectly. It started from day one in Spring Training when he made it known that losing wasn't an option and shook his booty to the Harlem Shake and continued through the year. The Indians 92 win finish, just one game behind the Tigers should largely be attributed to Francona and the rest of the coaching staff who were able to turn around Ubaldo Jimenez and ride him to the finish. Yes the Royals and Red Sox also made strides from last season, but no team made a bigger turn around than the Tribe and no manager meant more to his team than Terry Francona.