Willson Contreras Was a Star Rookie, Award or No and Other Bullets

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Willson Contreras Was a Star Rookie, Award or No and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

willson-contrera-batBack from the Chicago wedding, and now it’s a stretch of no travel and relative normalcy for me. It’s been a fantastic couple months, there is no doubt about that. But I’m very ready to not be away from the family for a few days every week, driving 12+ hours for each trip, etc.

  • It’s awards week, with Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP results coming out today through Thursday. The Cubs have at least one finalist in each category, except for tonight’s installment. Even though this year’s NL rookie crop was so loaded at the top that no one named Corey Seager has a chance at this award, and even getting into the final three would have been tough sledding, I do hope to see Willson Contreras receiving some down-the-ballot votes. He deserves it. The awards show is tonight on MLB Network at 5pm CT, and the full results of the vote should probably be available in the second half of that hour.
  • In a season of other stories, you don’t want what Contreras did to be lost in the shuffle: the 24-year-old rookie was summoned to the middle of a big league pennant race after less than a half-year of experience at AAA, then was asked to play in the outfield, where he hadn’t in years. Then he was asked to move back behind the plate and gear up for the playoffs, where he started back there more than any other Cubs catcher. On the year, Contreras played excellent defense, though his receiving skills are obviously still developing – understandable especially when you consider he’s barely worked with any of these pitchers before, and converted to catching full-time only a few years ago. He hit .282/.357/.488 (126 wRC+), and posted a 2.2 WAR in just 283 plate appearances. In a full big league season, he probably would have eclipsed the 4.0 WAR mark as a rookie. That’s truly incredible, and deserves a lot of love, even if he will not be in the top three tonight.
  • I’ll say it again: long-term, it is not at all crazy to think that Contreras has MVP-caliber potential in his future when you consider the whole package of value he could provide. Also: he does things like this.
  • Speaking of the awards, Jayson Stark goes through all of them with a “who should win” and “who will win” view, and I almost uniformly agree with his takes. The only one I question is whether Kyle Hendricks will win the Cy Young. I can absolutely make the argument that he’s deserving (obviously), but I still question whether the voters will pick him over his bigger name teammate in Jon Lester, or if the two of them (and the Cubs’ stellar (but not award-winning) defense) will pull down the hype a bit, and leave the door open for an also-very-deserving Max Scherzer.
  • David Laurila’s Sunday Notes are always a good read, and often provide “whoa, seriously?” moments like this one: former Cub Kosuke Fukudome is not only still playing in Japan, he raked this year. The 39-year-old outfielder, whose big signing with the Cubs in 2008 came with mixed results, and who last appeared in the big leagues with the White Sox in 2012, hit .311/.392/.453 this year in the NPB.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.