2018 MLB Award Predictions
Recently, the list of finalists for the 2018 Major League Baseball Awards were released. A few of the candidates stood out to me, and here’s who I think will walk away with the award in each category and why.
AL Rookie of The Year
- Miguel Andujar – New York Yankees – 3B
- Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels – SP
- Gleyber Torres – New York Yankees – 2B
Tough to say who will walk away with this one, but I’m predicting Andujar. Although Ohtani ended his season with a .285 batting average, his injury kept him from producing as much “show-time” as anticipated. That’s not to say he didn’t light up the league, or that he didn’t have a great rookie season, but Andujar was more notable. He had 200 more AB’s than Ohtani and finished at a .297 batting average. The lowest average of the three is the Yankees second baseman, Glyeber Torres. Although Torres’ 24 home runs aren’t anything to gloss over, his. 271 average and 77 RBI won’t cut it for the race. My final prediction to win AL ROTY: third baseman Miguel Andujar.
NL Rookie of The Year
- Ronald Acuña, Jr. – Atlanta Braves – LF
- Juan Soto – Washington Nationals – LF
- Walker Buehler – Los Angeles Dodgers – SP
This race is significantly tighter than the AL ROTY race, considering the explosive season that the three candidates had. To start, Ronald Acuña Jr. was the youngest player in the league when he was promoted in late April, and just his second game into his MLB career, he hit his first career home run off of Homer Bailey. After recovery from an ACL tear, he continued to light up the league even more. He finished his debut season posting a .366 batting average while hitting 26 home runs. As For Juan Soto, he was certainly a bright spot in the Nationals rollercoaster season. Amid Bryce Harper free agency rumors, Soto was a strength in the outfield, and at the plate. He averaged .292, with 22 home runs at the end of his debut season in the MLB. And the last finalist, Dodgers RHP Walker Buehler, was another shining rookie in the NL. He finished his first season posting a 2.62 ERA, and to add a little more flavor to that stat he recorded 151 punchouts to boot. Buehler was a key piece in the pennant-winning force that was the Dodgers. The right-hander threw 23.2 innings, recording 29 strikeouts overall in the postseason. This powerhouse rookie class makes it difficult to determine who will win, but I predict Ronald Acuña Jr. to take home the crown in this race. He was dominant throughout the NL, and one of the Braves strongest players at only 20 years old.
AL Cy Young Award
- Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians – RHP
- Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – RHP
- Justin Verlander – Houston Astros – RHP
The American League was full of star-studded pitching performances, and if it wasn’t for a late-season injury, there’s no doubt LHP Chris Sale of the Red Sox would be on this list. That’s beside the point, as the three finalists selected had incredible seasons of their own. Justin Verlander is no stranger to this discussion, as he’s been nominated twice before (2016, 2011) and won it once (2o11). Verlander led the American League in regular season strikeouts, finishing with 290 punchouts on the year. His MLB-leading WHIP of 0.90 is just one of the many stats that stand out to make a case for him winning this award a second time. Blake Snell finished his season with the lowest innings pitched of these three candidates with only 180 IP. He made every single one count though, which is why he’s even in this discussion. His 1.89 ERA is the best of these candidates, and that’s just one of the reasons he has a shot to win this. His MLB-leading 21 wins showed everyone that the Rays have a bright spot and room to grow in the coming seasons. The Indians right-hander Corey Kluber is the veteran winner of these three candidates, winning the Cy Young twice before (2014, 2017). He led the league in IP with 215 recorded and had the fifth best ERA (2.89) among the qualifiers. I predict Corey Kluber to end up winning his third Cy Young award, and topping off his amazing season.
NL Cy Young Award
- Jacob DeGrom – New York Mets – RHP
- Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies – RHP
- Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals – RHP
This Cy Young finalist class is star-studded. To start, Max Scherzer has consistently been dominant, winning the last two NL Cy Young awards. For the past three seasons, he’s lead the NL in strikeouts. Scherzer, like Harper, has been one of the brighter spots for the Nationals amid late-season struggles. He will have tough competition facing Jacob DeGrom, who fell 2nd to Scherzer in the strikeout leaderboard. He finished this past year with the lowest ERA of 1.70 while being one of the best things about this past Mets season. The Mets had a dismal year, but every start DeGrom had was something to look forward to. Finally, we have Aaron Nola, the ace of the Philadelphia Phillies this year. He was a reliable starter for the Phillies while trying to compete in a tough division, but they still came up short. He finished third in WHIP (0.97) and third in innings pitched (212 1/3). My prediction for this award is that Jacob DeGrom walks away with a Cy Young award. He had a 10-9 record, which is dismal, but his ERA and dominating starts clearly lacked offensive support.
AL Manager of the Year
- Kevin Cash – Tampa Bay Rays
- Alex Cora – Boston Red Sox
- Bob Melvin – Oakland A’s
Instead of putting my prediction at the end of this, I’ll tell you who will win right now. Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox will walk away with the AL Manager of the Year award. He is only the fifth rookie manager to win the World Series and led the Red Sox to their most successful season in franchise history. The Red Sox were a force to be reckoned with, and largely in part to Alex Cora’s quick thinking and baseball genius. The other candidates: Kevin Cash, and Bob Melvin, also had successful seasons. Kevin Cash led the Rays to an unexpected 90-win season while using his pitching to his advantage. As for Bob Melvin, he’s won the Manager of the Year twice before (2007, Arizona Diamondbacks and 2012, Oakland A’s) and this year was one of his strongest performances. The A’s started out slow, but eventually got themselves into a Wild Card appearance with the Yankees. He turned around the A’s season and has a bright future ahead. At the end of it all, World Series champion Alex Cora will walk away with the AL Manager of the Year award.
NL Manager of the Year
- Bud Black – Colorado Rockies
- Craig Counsell – Milwaukee Brewers
- Brian Snitker – Atlanta Braves
The Colorado Rockies had one of their best seasons yet under Bud Black, falling short to the Dodgers in game 163. Despite this, his regular season performance was outstanding, even in one of the toughest divisions this year. For Craig Counsell and his brew crew, he was a large key to turning around the past few years of coming short. He was able to overcome the Chicago Cubs in game 163 while also tying the Brewers franchise record for wins in a season (96). Lastly, Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves led his men to the top of the NL East VERY early in September and took the Braves to one of their most successful seasons ever. He’s projected to do even more with the tools he has. I expect Craig Counsell to win this award, as he was an outstanding leader for the Brew Crew and their star-studded season. From Josh Hader to Christian Yelich, he truly dominated the NL.
AL Most Valuable Player
- Mookie Betts – Boston Red Sox – OF
- Jose Ramirez – Cleveland Indians – 3B
- Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels – OF
Mike Trout makes the list again. Big surprise. He’s been one of the most dominant players of this generation, and he’s made his performance known time and time again. The Angels made a small push for the postseason towards late August, but couldn’t keep the momentum going. This season he set a career-high 1.088 OPS and .460 OBP. Along with that, he mashed 39 home runs and 24 doubles. Unfortunately for Trout, the Angels are always the deciding factor in this award. If it wasn’t for the 80-82 record there’s no doubt he would be a lock for this award. A competitor for this award, Mookie Betts, doesn’t have that problem as his Red Sox are the World Series champs. Betts had an INCREDIBLE season, like his team, and became the first 30-30 batting champ in HISTORY (.346 BA, 32 HR, 30 SB). He led the MLB in slugging percentage (.640) and runs scored (129). As mentioned, this was all nicely rewarded with a World Series ring. The quietest suspect of these three is Jose Ramirez, even though his performance is nothing short of booming. He reached the 30-30 club before Mookie in early September with his 30th stolen base, becoming the fourth third baseman to accomplish the feat. As for the Indians, they made it to the postseason but fell short to the Astros in ALDS. To me, the suspected winner of this award is Mookie Betts. He was a key piece to the Red Sox overpowering season, and although J.D. Martinez could have also made this list, Mookie was still the better of the two.
NL Most Valuable Player
- Nolan Arenado – Colorado Rockies – 3B
- Javier Baez – Chicago Cubs – 2B/SS
- Christian Yelich – Milwaukee Brewers – OF
This list presents three outstanding performers for the National League, and one of the tightest MVP races we’ve seen in a while. To start, we have Christian Yelich, the former Miami Marlin powerhouse continuing his dominance in a different uniform. He’s already sealed a victory of this award by leading the league in batting average (.326) and slashing .370/.508/.804 in the month of September alone. This late season push was a key to the Brewers postseason appearances, and also helped make his case for MVP even stronger. Yelich was the piece that the Brewers needed to set a franchise win record (96) and climb to the top of the NL Central. We also have Javier Baez, the Cubs young infielder with spark. He led the NL in RBI (111) while being extremely useful on defense. He was at 2nd base a majority of the time but also had the ability to play at shortstop and 3rd base comfortably. While doing all this he also was the first Cubs player in team history to have 40 doubles, 30 home runs, and 20 stolen bases in one season. He’s a strong competitor for Yelich, and could even grow more as a player over the years. Finally, we have Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. Arenado led the NL in home runs while being a key piece to the Rockies successful season. Not only did he tear it up at the plate, but he also received his SIXTH straight gold glove for his outstanding performance at third. Arenado’s case for MVP is as strong as the others, but Yelich is my prediction to win the NL MVP. He was an electric factory for the Brew Crew and really shined coming fresh off his trade from Miami.
These awards are all going to be announced from November 12th to the 15th, starting with Rookie of the Year. The 2018 season presented some of the best performances we’ve seen yet, and as the players continue to develop so will the baseball. I’m excited to see what next season presents us, and how my predictions pan out. These were not easy to decide between, and I hope this kind of decision only gets more difficult as baseball gets even better.
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