2018 MLB Awards Predictions

American League MVP: George Springer, OF, Houston Astros Runner-ups: Mike Trout, Jose Ramirez, Carlos Correa Right off the bat, I want to start this off by saying that I think Mike Trout will most likely win this award. As long as he can avoid serious injury, he should have no problem winning his third MVP. The Houston Astros are so good that they have the reigning AL MVP, Jose Altuve, and one of the best young players in the game today, who is receiving a lot of pre-season MVP recognition, Carlos Correa. However, they also have Springer, who has a legitimate chance at being the best player on this team. Springer is the team’s lead-off hitter and hit 34 home runs last season from that spot. He also had a significant increase in batting average and slugging percentage from 2016 to 2017. Springer has the talent to hit around 40 home runs, 100 RBI and have an average somewhere around .300. If he can achieve those numbers, while stealing a few bases, I think he’ll be a serious contender for MVP. Cy Young: Corey Kluber, RHP, Cleveland Indians Runner-ups: Justin Verlander, Luis Severino, Jose Berrios Corey Kluber is the best pitcher in the American League, proven by the fact that he has won two of the last four Cy Young awards. Last season, Kluber went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA and 265 strikeouts in 203 2/3 innings, including an 11-1 record with a 1.79 from the All-Star break to the end of the season. Those numbers, along with the fact that the Indians will be fighting for the best record in the AL, should make him the favourite to win his third Cy Young. Also, I’m aware that not having Chris Sale in my top four seems insane. He has a very good chance at actually winning the award, but I just expect these four to be more impressive throughout the entire season, as Sale tends to fall off in production near the end of the year. Rookie of the Year: Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH/ Los Angeles Angels Runner-ups: Eloy Jimenez, Francisco Mejia, Willie Calhoun Shohei Ohtani had a terrible Spring Training. He had a 27.00 ERA on the mound, which stemmed from him allowing 8 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. At the plate, he went 4-for-32, a .125 average, and 10 strikeouts. It was somewhat surprising to see him start the year in the big leagues, but he has the talent to turn things around. I don’t think he’ll be an effective hitter in his first big league season. But, his skills as a pitcher, along with the fact that he has a chance at playing the entire season, give him the best shot of anybody to win this award.

National League MVP: Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies Runner-ups: Bryce Harper, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt When is Nolan Arenado going to get the respect he deserves? Over the past three seasons he’s averaged 40 home runs, 131 RBI with a .297/.353/.577 slash line, to go along with a 128 OPS+. He’s also the best defender among all infielders in the game today, winning five straight Gold Glove awards. Despite all of that, he has never finished higher than fourth in MVP voting. My belief is that the voters see that he plays half of his games in Coors Field, and immediately dismiss him from the top of their ballots. When in reality, Arenado is actually a very good hitter on the road. I also expect the Rockies to be in the postseason once again, so if Arenado can lead them to a division title or the first Wild Card spot, it will help his MVP chances immensely. Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals Runner-ups: Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard I’m not going to lie, I’m not completely in love with this pick. Gun to my head, I think Scherzer probably wins it. But, I just have a feeling when it comes to Strasburg. Last season, Strasburg finished third in voting, so it’s not like I’m going out on a limb when I say that he might win the award. He went 15-4 with an ERA of 2.52 and 204 strikeouts in 175 1/3 innings pitched. He’s also on one of the best teams in the league, which will give him a chance to get close to 20 wins. The biggest question with Strasburg will be health, as it is every year. Maybe, in his ninth season as a big leaguer, he’ll finally be able to win his first Cy Young, which many believed would come much sooner than this. The most exciting thing when it comes to the NL Cy Young will be watching Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw fight for the award. They are currently tied with each other at three career Cy Young awards, the most among active players. If either of them win it this year, they will become just the fifth player in history to win four Cy Youngs, joining Roger Clemens (7), Randy Johnson (5), Steve Carlton (4) and Greg Maddux (4). Rookie of the Year: Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves Runner-ups: Scott Kingery, Ryan McMahon, Lewis Brinson Outside of people within the Atlanta Braves organization, and their fans, I think I might be the person who is most looking forward to Ronald Acuna playing in the big leagues. Here’s what I wrote about Acuna in my NL East preview from a few weeks ago: “In 2017, at three levels of the minors league, Single-A+, Double-A and Triple-A, Acuna had 181 hits, 21 home runs, 82 RBI, 44 SB and a .325/.374/.522 slash line. Acuna struck out quite a bit and was caught stealing 31% of the time, but he showed why he’s the best prospect in the game. Acuna is actually pretty small, only 6’0” and 180 pounds, but he has some serious pop in his bat. On the 20-80 scale that is used to project a player in baseball’s five tools, a score of 50 in any category is considered average. Acuna had a rating of 60 or higher in all five categories, which is considered a ‘plus’ rating. In order, his hitting for contact, hitting for power, running, arm and fielding scores are 60, 65, 70, 60, 60. As an overall prospect, he was rated a 70 out of 80, which is a ‘plus plus’ prospect. For comparisons sake, here’s Acuna’s grades compared to a few current day MLB superstars from when they were considered top prospects: 2017 #2 prospect, Ronald Acuna - Hit: 60, Power: 65, Run: 70, Arm: 60, Field: 60, Overall: 70 2014 #2 prospect, Carlos Correa - Hit: 60, Power: 70, Run: 50, Arm: 70, Field: 50, Overall: 70 2014 #3 prospect, Kris Bryant - Hit: 55, Power: 75, Run: 40, Arm: 60, Field: 50, Overall: 70 2015 #2 prospect, Corey Seager - Hit: 60, Power: 60, Run: 40, Arm: 60, Field: 50, Overall: 70 As you can see, he’s rated as highly as Correa, who won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2015, and Kris Bryant and Corey Seager, who won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and 2016, respectively. In the name of transparency, Byron Buxton has probably been the highest graded prospect over the past five or so seasons. Buxton’s grades in 2015 were as follows, Hit: 70, Power: 60, Run: 80, Arm: 70, Field: 70, Overall: 70. Although Buxton had a great second half of the 2017 season, and showed why he was once the top prospect in baseball, so far in his career, he’s been nowhere near as good as Correa, Bryant or Seager. It’s not to say that he won’t be, but it’s just to show that these grades are purely projections of what a player can be and not absolutes. As a whole, MLB Pipeline’s projections have been very accurate year in and year out. It’s not often that a top prospect turns into a complete bust, which is why people should be as excited about Acuna as I am. Acuna has the talent to hit ~30 homeruns a season with 40+ stolen bases. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with once he makes his debut this season.” Acuna didn’t start this season in the MLB due to Braves being able to manipulate the service time rule in order to get an extra year of control. But, fortunately, for Acuna and us, he should be called up on April 13th, allowing him to get close to a full season in the majors. Acuna is the best prospect in baseball, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s dominating this league.

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