Take two? Award winners have work cut out to repeat
History shows for some another honor is more attainable, but it's less so for others
This week was for reflection -- Monday on the top rookies, Tuesday on the top skippers, Wednesday on the year's best pitchers and Thursday for those who were most valuable.
Now it's time to look ahead. And so we ask the question: Which of the players and managers who took home the hardware in 2012 might do the same in 2013 and beyond?
There's no reason to believe either of this season's MVPs, as voted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- Miguel Cabrera in the American League and Buster Posey in the National League -- can't repeat in 2013. Same goes for Cy Young winners R.A. Dickey (NL) and David Price (AL).
But, historically, there are certain trends to look for when determining who might have the best chances at repeating.
In the AL, Cabrera figures to be a lock to compete for the award in the future. He'll have Tigers teammate Prince Fielder hitting behind him for the remainder of his contract, and he plays on a team that should be in playoff contention for the foreseeable future.
By the numbers, it's already rare that Cabrera has only won the award once, given that he's finished in the top five in voting six times. In the past 50 years, only Hall of Famer Jim Rice has finished in top five as many times and won the award only once, having been the AL MVP for the Red Sox in 1978. What might that foretell? Well, if Cabrera keeps putting up numbers, history says he'll almost certainly win the award again.
"He's been doing it his entire career, people just haven't noticed," said Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who finished third in the NL MVP vote. "[He's] been one of the most consistent hitters in his career. His power numbers, RBIs, average, are always there. He's just the type of player that can spark a lineup, and he's done it every single year and is finally starting to get some credit for it."
Still, Mike Trout -- the Angels' rookie phenom who finished second in the voting -- will likely only get better. That could mean more fun MVP debates down the road.
For Posey, a second MVP would be historic, given his role as catcher. Only one other backstop has won multiple MVPs in the last 50 years -- Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.
Still, Posey, 25, has many years left to win another and if second-half performance is any indicator of potential numbers for the following season -- and it often is -- Posey would be hard to argue against. He hit .385 with a 1.102 OPS after the All-Star break.
But the talent is deep in the NL. Ryan Braun, who finished second, and McCutchen are perennial challengers, and a healthy Matt Kemp could be, too.
If there's one award that appears to be the most difficult to repeat, it's Dickey's NL Cy Young.
Only three pitchers have ever won multiple Cy Youngs after turning 35 -- Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton.
Not only would it be an exclusive list to join for Dickey, 38, but each of those three pitchers had already won the award before turning 35.
"To win the Cy Young Award at his age," former Met Dwight Gooden said, "is more incredible than when I won at age 20."
It would be more incredible if Dickey were to win two, especially with the recent influx of young talent on NL mounds.
Among proven pitchers under 25 years old in the NL are 2011 Cy Young winner and 2012 runner-up Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Washington phenom Stephen Strasbug.
There also is the Giants' Matt Cain, the Nats' Gio Gonzalez, the Reds' Johnny Cueto and the Phillies' Roy Halladay. So while there is no reason to call Dickey's season a fluke, a repeat of the Cy Young in 2013 seems a bit far-fetched, given his age and the potential of strong competition.
Then again, Dickey has proven folks wrong a time or two before.
In the AL, David Price capped the best season of his career by taking home his first Cy Young. He finished second in the voting in 2010.
"You can't get used to this," Price said Wednesday. "I would love to be in this position more times."
Price is in the prime of his career, so what's stopping him from being the favorite for the 2013 award? Well, Justin Verlander for one. Verlander, the Cy Young and MVP winner in 2011, finished second to Price in the Cy Young voting this year.
But young left-handed Cy Young winners have shown a tendency to compete for the award again after winning it. When you throw out Kershaw and CC Sabathia, who like Price could very easily win the award again, nearly half of the left-handers who won the Cy at Price's age (27) or younger went on to win another.
Of the nine other pitchers to do so, Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Johan Santana and Tom Glavine all won the award again -- though none of them would do so the following season.
Overall, repeating a Cy Young is no easy feat. Just ask runners-up Verlander and Kershaw. In total, it's happened seven times. San Francisco's Tim Lincecum most recently accomplished the feat. The rest of the list is nothing to scoff at -- Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson and Denny McLain.
Repeating on the hill may be difficult, but repeating from the bench is nearly impossible. To this day, Bobby Cox (in 2004 and '05) remains the only one to be named Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in successive seasons.
Why is it so difficult? In short, the expectations change in the following season. Managers of the Year have typically been the ones who catapult their teams from a low win total into contention. Typically, that's already been accomplished -- hence being honored for the first time.
Since Cox's repeat wins with the Braves, 10 of the 14 winners of the Manager of the Year Award led their respective clubs to an increase of 10 or more wins. For the Nationals' Davey Johnson and the Athletics' Bob Melvin to do that, their clubs would have to win 108 and 104 games, respectively.
"Somebody has to get these awards, and I'm lucky enough to be in the position for it," Melvin said after winning the award on Tuesday. "But it was a concerted effort from everybody in our organization to accomplish what we did this year, in a year that probably not a whole lot was expected of us."
Melvin knows in 2013 those expectations will be raised. Historically, it's the managers who best exceed expectations who take home the personal hardware. Instead of Melvin or Johnson in 2013, it's more likely that a manager of a mediocre 2012 club will springboard his team into the postseason and take home the award, much like this year's pair of winners.