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The Cubs Will Win Several Postseason Awards In 2015

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The BBWAA Award ballots are due before the season ends. The Cubs should do very well this year.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in seven years, the Cubs are going to the playoffs and for the first time in seven years, the Cubs have a chance to win some of the end of the season awards. It seems like those two things are related.

As you probably know, the Baseball Writers Association of America gives out four awards. By accident of history and tradition, those are the awards that everyone seems to care about. They care about them so much, in fact, that fans get angry and call you all kinds of names if you somehow think that a player on a different team is more worthy of the award than a hero of the local nine. That's not even getting into the endless debate on the semantics surrounding the meaning of the word "valuable." Some find these debates fun. Others find them tiresome. But it's rare to find someone who ignores them.

But as the ballots get handed in this weekend, how many awards can the Cubs expect to win this season? Let's take a look at the competition around each award, going from least to the most prestigious.

Manager of the Year

Joe Maddon will win this. Cardinals fans are making a lot of stink over the past couple of days about manager Mike Matheny's record number of playoff appearances to start a career, how the Cardinals won 100 games and how Maddon just gets more publicity because of his "stunts" rather than the quietly professional Matheny. It doesn't matter. The St. Louis area voters will vote for Matheny. Everyone else will vote for Maddon.

Here's the thing about the Cardinals fans' complaint though: I can't say they're wrong. Don't get me wrong, they definitely aren't right either. But the bottom line is that we have no objective way of evaluating managers. Proof of this is the fact that Nationals manager Matt Williams won this award last season and he should be out of a job shortly and no one is likely to offer him a new one anytime soon.

Separating the manager from the team he's been handed is impossible, so essentially the winner of this award usually comes down to a narrative. Traditionally, that narrative has been that the manager of the team that most exceeds preseason expectations wins the award. Since the Cardinals were expected to be good this year and the Cubs were still seen as being a year away from contending, Maddon is going to win. Toss in magicians, zoos and pajamas, and the vote won't be close.

The last Cub manager to win this award was Lou Piniella in 2008.

Rookie of the Year

Kris Bryant will win this. In what may just be the greatest rookie crop ever, Bryant leads the pack. He came into the season as the reigning Minor League Player of the Year and the overwhelming favorite to win the award. And during the season, several quality candidates emerged that challenged Bryant for the award: Matt Duffy, Joc Pederson, Jung Ho Kang, Noah Syndergaard and Randal Grichuk, just to name a few. But Bryant has hit .333 with a .403 OBP and 12 home runs since August 1 whereas the rest of the challengers, other than Duffy, fell off because of slumps or injuries. Duffy had a good second half, but not enough to keep up with Bryant.

Bryant could win this unanimously. There could be a stray vote for Duffy, Grichuk or Syndergaard from hometown writers concerned that they'll get the cold shoulder from the team they cover if they don't, but it won't be close.

In other years, Addison Russell or Kyle Schwarber would get some down-ballot votes. They probably won't this season as the competition is just too tough. If they do, it will likely be a hometown vote from a Chicago writer.

The last Cub to win this award was Geovany Soto in 2008. Current Cub Chris Coghlan won the award in 2009 with the Marlins.

Cy Young Award

This one is too close to call. Although there is a good argument to be made that Clayton Kershaw is still the best pitcher in the majors and should win the award, he won't. This is between Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke. You can read up on the debate herehere, here and here and probably a lot of other places on the net.

The bottom line is that there is no wrong answer here. Arrieta is having one of the greatest second-halves to a season of all time, but the first half of the season counts too and Greinke had a stretch in the middle of the season where he tossed 45 straight innings without allowing a run, the fourth-longest scoreless streak in the expansion era.

Having said that, I think Arrieta is going to win, albeit for the wrong reasons. Arrieta will win because he won 21 games (ignoring that Greinke has only lost three games this year to Arrieta's six) and because his excellence was later in the season, making it fresher in the voters' minds. The no-hitter on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball as well as a near no-hitter the next time out on Sunday Night Baseball will play a role too, since the writers weren't busy covering other games when they happened.

I'm not saying the voters would be mistaken for voting for Arrieta. Statistically, Greinke and Arrieta are basically tied. I'd probably vote for Arrieta. But because the "wins" statistic still holds some value for some writers, I think Arrieta takes home the Cubs third postseason award of 2015 by a solid margin. I wouldn't mind seeing a two- or three-way tie in this category, however.

No Cub has won the Cy Young Award since Greg Maddux in 1992.

Most Valuable Player

Sorry, no clean sweep here. Although Ben Lindbergh makes the argument in this article that Anthony Rizzo should be the MVP if you decide to base the award on "Championship Probability Added" (a metric he invented along the lines of Win Probability Added), this award is going to Bryce Harper, who is having perhaps the greatest offensive season in the majors since Barry Bonds retired. And he's not bad on defense either.

Harper should win this unanimously. He won't, because even though the instructions the BBWAA sends out to the voters specifically says "The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier," some voters won't give a first-place vote to Harper because the Nationals didn't make the postseason. Also, one or two writers might not vote for Harper just because they don't like the guy. It's sad that stuff like that factors in, but it does.

Having said that, Rizzo does have a solid chance to finish second. Other candidates behind Harper include Paul Goldschmidt, Buster Posey and Joey Votto, and none of their teams made the playoffs either which will likely be held against them on some ballots. Candidates on playoff teams include Andrew McCutchen and Jason Heyward, as well as the local beat writers pushing the candidacies of their hometown heroes Yoenis Cespedes and Yadier Molina. (Although a recent slump by Cespedes and the injury to Molina probably ended those campaigns.) Also, a pitcher won the NL MVP last year and you should expect Greinke and Arrieta to get a lot of down-ballot votes.

My best guess is that Rizzo finishes either third or fourth in the MVP balloting, behind Harper and one or both of McCutchen and Goldschmidt. But a finish anywhere between second and fifth would not surprise me.

Arrieta should get a lot of votes and he seems likely to finish in the top ten, as should Kris Bryant. I don't see any other Cubs getting any support.

The last Cub to win the MVP award was Sammy Sosa in 1998.