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Predicting MLB award winners

Every year, awards are given out to some of the best baseball players in Major League Baseball (MLB). However, I always find that these awards are very inconsistent. There are clearly players that are more deserving than others, however they don’t win. You might be asking why? It’s because people care more about the storylines of a season rather than who actually fits the description for the award. Storylines are what make the game interesting and fun to follow but they also can lead to some players being robbed out of winning an award. Although the award has no money directly attached to it, some player’s contracts have additional incentives based on where they finished in voting for certain awards. Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez, for example, recently signed a huge extension that varies in value based on his placement in Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award voting. If he finishes with no MVP votes in his first eight seasons, the contract will be worth $200 million. However, if he finishes in the top 10 in voting two or three times, it’s worth $240 million. The value increases with more voting and can get up to $350 million. Regardless of the numbers, it’s safe to say that voting actually matters, but sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. Here are my predictions for who I think will win these awards and who should win these awards in the National League (NL) and the American League (AL). 

National League MVP  

This award is pretty much a two-man race between teammates on opposite sides of the diamond. It’s between St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Before talking about those two, I want to bring up San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado. Although Machado will likely not win the award this year, he still had an extremely good all-around season. He was pretty much behind only Goldschmidt or Arenado for most offensive categories. It was a great season worth mentioning. Now who wins between Arenado and Goldschmidt. Arenado, like every season, was one of the best defensive players in all of baseball. He did that and was also 54% better than the average hitter. Although Goldschmidt had less value as a defender, he was a better hitter. He was specifically 80% better than the average hitter. Goldschmidt led baseball in slugging percentage and was second in total bases. Simply put, he was the best overall offensive player in the NL. One issue was his dip in production in September, so people might have a negative view on his play. I personally think Arenado should win the award because of his total overall production. Although Goldschmidt was the better hitter, it wasn’t by a large enough margin to justify the difference in defense. However, I think Goldschmidt will probably win the award because his offense was key for the Cardinals early in the season. 

American League MVP

The difference in who I think and who is actually going to win is most substantial for this award. It’s obvious that the award is either going to be given to Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani or New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. I have previously been adamant in saying that Ohtani always has to win the MVP because he simply just does more. He’s an elite hitter and pitcher at the same time. You literally cannot ask for more from a player. Yet, it is evident that Judge is going to win the MVP this year. I am not saying he didn’t have a great year. In reality, Judge probably had one of the greatest seasons ever. He set the AL home run record at 62. He led all of baseball in most offensive categories, and the difference to second often wasn’t even close. Judge was 111% better than the average hitter. However, Ohtani was 45% better than the average hitter but also 72% better than the average pitcher. Ohtani got my pick, but because Judge had the crazy storyline set with him trying to break the home run record, it’s safe to say he’s going to win the award. 

NL Cy Young 

I don’t really need to say a lot about this award. It’s obvious that the winner should and will be Miami Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara. Although he may not have had the lowest earned run average (ERA) or the most strikeouts, he did something we haven’t seen in a long time. Alcantara pitched well and a lot. His ERA was second in the NL, while also 228.2 innings. He pitched 23 innings more than the next closest pitcher. That’s roughly three games of high quality pitching that he had, more than anyone else. He had six complete games which was four more than the next closest pitcher in the NL. Being able to pitch that deep into games consistently and well is unheard of in the modern game of baseball. Alcantara gets my vote, and I am sure he will get everyone else’s as well. 

AL Cy Young

I am not particularly sure who should win this award. The top most likely pitchers are the Houston Astros’ Justin Verlander, Chicago White Sox’s Dylan Cease, Ohtani and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Alek Manoah. There is an argument for each of these pitchers to win the award. Verlander had the lowest ERA and allowed the least number of walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP). But he also pitched closets to the fewest innings out of all the guys mentioned. Cease had numbers very similar to Verlander and also finished in the top 10 in the AL for innings pitched. His only issue is that he also led the AL in walks. Ohtani led the AL in strikeouts per nine innings and was top five in the AL in WHIP. He, like Verlander, did not pitch as many innings as some of the other guys. Manoah was just pretty good at everything. He didn’t allow a ton of hits and pitched a lot of innings. I think Verlander is probably going to win the award because of the sheer dominance he had at the age of 39. It’s definitely a better storyline, especially because he was injured all of last season. However, I think Cease should win the award. Although the walks are concerning, considering he was still up there competing with Verlander in WHIP shows how dominant he was otherwise. 

NL Rookie of the Year

This is another battle between two teammates. It’s between two Atlanta Braves: outfielder Michael Harris II and starting pitcher Spencer Strider. Harris’ success was extremely surprising. In the minor leagues, he was mostly known for his defense, but when he was called up to the majors, he quickly found his footing on offense as well. In his rookie year, he had a .297 batting average and was 35% better than the average hitter. He also played elite defense in center field and stole 20 bases. His teammate, on the other hand, was just as crazy. Strider had a ridiculous 13.9 strikeouts per nine innings and ended up having 202 strikeouts in just 131.2 innings. At times he was pretty much unhittable. If he pitched more innings, he probably would have been in conversation to win the NL Cy Young award. In my opinion, the award should go to Strider. He had one of the greatest pitching seasons I have ever seen for a rookie. However, the award is probably going to Harris. Harris played every day, while Strider just pitched every five days. So, Harris had more overall impact on the team. 

AL Rookie of the Year 

This is another award that is pretty obvious. Rodriguez surely wins this award because he has quickly become one of the biggest superstars of the game. He was 47% better than the average hitter and had 28 home runs as a rookie. His only competition might be Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman. Rutschman also had a strong rookie season and already established himself as one of the best catchers in all of baseball. However, he had a slow start to the season and played a lot less than Rodriguez. Rodriguez also had a great storyline for the season as he was clearly one of the most hyped prospects in all of baseball. Then he quickly became the face of the Mariners after a strong first half of the season. During the All-Star break, he proceeded to go to the home run derby and made it to the finals while putting on an absolute show. This established him as one of the faces of sport in general. So, he’s probably going to win the award and I think it’s justified. 

NL Manager of the Year

Managers are so difficult to evaluate in general. You might look for who makes the best decisions or who has the best record but a lot of that rides on who the players are. With that in mind, I think the Manager of the Year is Rob Thompson of the Philadelphia Phillies. Every award is based solely on the regular season, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that he has helped lead the Phillies to the World Series. The Phillies started off the season in a shambles. After spending a ton of money in the offseason to get players like Kyle Schwarber and Nicholas Castellanos, it was time for the Phillies to be good. But while under former manager Joe Girardi, the team was 22-29. After he was fired, Thompson took over and suddenly the season turned around. The team went 65-46 under Thompson and snuck into the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Who knows what this change could have been attributed to? It’s possible that the Phillies players just stopped playing poorly, or maybe Thompson did make a change. That’s what makes managers so hard to judge. Thompson is who I think should win, but I would guess that Mets manager Buck Showalter will win the award. The Mets were 77-85 last year and jumped to 101-61 with Showalter. Again, a lot of factors could have played into this difference, such as signing starting pitcher Max Scherzer, but maybe Showalter did do something. My issue is the fact that Showalter and the Mets choked on the division lead. Also, the Mets spent a ton of money so they should have been good. 

AL Manager of the Year

I don’t really know a ton about the managers of the AL; however, I do know that two deserve credit. That’s Terry Francona of the Cleveland Guardians and Brandon Hyde of the Baltimore Orioles. Both managers were dealing with rosters that were extremely young and were projected to have subpar seasons. However, they both had very good overall seasons. The Guardians made it to the AL Division series while the average age of the roster was 26.2. Baltimore nearly made the playoffs after five consecutive seasons with a below .500 record. I would guess that the award goes to Hyde because of how surprisingly well the Orioles were this season and I wouldn’t be upset if he won it either.

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