Last week I predicted who I thought was going to be the best player at each position in Major League Baseball (MLB). This week I am going to predict the three finalists for each major award in the National League (NL) and the American League (AL). Of course, it is still very early, as spring training is still going on. I am going to compare my predictions with DraftKings’ betting odds.
AL Rookie of the Year Award
My three finalists are going to be Anthony Volpe of the New York Yankees, Hunter Brown of the Houston Astros and Gunnar Henderson of the Baltimore Orioles. Brown and Henderson both played in the major leagues last year. Henderson is currently baseball’s top prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Last year, he looked like he was going to be an absolute superstar. In 34 games, he had seven doubles and four home runs, making him 23% better than the average hitter. Offensively, there is nothing to worry about with this guy because he is going to be very good. Brown is the 43rd-ranked prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline. He pitched 20.1 innings last season and allowed just two runs. When I watched him for the first time, he looked extremely similar to his ex-teammate Justin Verlander. He’s got a great fastball and I think he is going to be a great starter or reliever for a while. Then there is Volpe. Volpe is the fifth-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He did not make the major leagues last year, but is definitely making a case so far in spring training. So far he’s hit two home runs and three doubles in just nine games. Volpe is definitely making his case to start, especially because the Yankees current shortstop is Isiah Kiner-Falefa who struggled a lot last year in his first season with the Yankees. Although I think Volpe and Brown will both do well in the major leagues next season, it is hard to argue against Henderson. He is probably the safest bet. According to DraftKings, Henderson is the favorite to win the award with Brown tied for fifth and Volpe in sixth.
NL Rookie of the Year Award
My three finalists are going to be Corbin Carroll of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Miguel Vargas of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cade Cavalli of the Washington Nationals. Carroll is by far the favorite with Vargas in third and Cavalli in seventh according to DraftKings. It makes sense that Carroll is the favorite because the guy can do it all. He was one of the fastest players in all of baseball last year, so you know he is going to be a stolen base threat. He plays great defense. He hits for average and some pop in his bat. MLB Pipeline has him as the second best prospect in all of baseball. Vargas is a bit different. He is the 37th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, but last year he wasn’t great in his limited playing time. However, in the minor leagues, he raked. He hit 32 doubles and 17 home runs with a .304 batting average in Triple-A. With Gavin Lux injured, Vargas is definitely going to get a shot. I always like to throw in some bias as a Nationals fan, which is partly why I decided to put Cavalli on the list. He is MLB Pipeline’s 58th-best prospect. I have watched plenty of highlights from Cavalli and I have to say he has the potential to be a great starter. His issue is definitely going to be with control. Cavalli definitely has a walk problem, but if he cleans that up I think he definitely has a chance to be a solid starter this season. Although Carroll is the favorite, I am going to go with Vargas. The Dodgers have a knack of getting the best out of their players. Vargas spent part of spring training so far just coming to the plate without swinging to track pitches. He still got walked a few times. Although he might not play great defense, I think he is an above average hitter this season and wins the award barely over Carroll. I would also like to say that Jordan Walker of the St. Louis Cardinals looks really good and he also has a high chance to win the award. My issue is that he might not get playing time because the outfield is crowded currently.
AL Cy Young Award
There are two finalists for me that are not super controversial. This includes Jacob deGrom from the Texas Rangers and Shohei Ohtani from the Los Angeles Angels. My third finalist is going to be Christian Javier from the Astros. DraftKings currently has deGrom as the favorite, with Ohtani tied for seventh and Javier tied for 13th. deGrom is probably the best pitcher I have ever seen live. He has a 100 mile per hour (mph) fastball and 90 mph slider. Hitters literally look like they have no idea what to do against him. His only problem is that he can never stay healthy. Recent years have been riddled with injury and that has definitely put some doubts on his ability. However, if he stays healthy he’s the best pitcher in baseball. Ohtani is another interesting one. The two-way superstar was better at pitching last year than hitting. He has only gotten better as a pitcher and I think that next year is not going to be any different. It is a contract year for him, so he is going to show the world why he is worth half a billion dollars. Javier is my unconventional pick because he didn’t start the entirety of last year. Sometimes he came out of the bullpen. This year I think he is fully going to be a starter and he should thrive. He was great all of last year as he was 52% better than the average pitcher. I want to say deGrom is going to win, but I have little faith he stays healthy the entire season. Instead I am going to go with Ohtani. What he is doing is just unbelievable and I believe that this year he is going to just one up everything he has done so far.
NL Cy Young Award
There are two guys I am instantly throwing out of the conversation: New York Mets pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander who are the fourth and third favorites on DraftKings. I think both of these players are great and are first ballot Hall of Famers for sure, however I think Father Time is finally going to hit them and they aren’t going to have stellar years. My favorites instead are going to be Zac Gallen of the Diamondbacks, Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers and Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins. Alcantara is the current favorite after winning the award last year. He doesn’t necessarily have the best strikeout rate, but he does pitch a lot of innings. Part of his dominance last year was that he pitched significantly more innings than the next closest pitcher and was a 53% better pitcher. Then there was Gallen. In the second half of his last season, he had the lowest walks plus hits per inning pitched in all of baseball. He has previously had extremely dominant stretches and I think he continues that this season. There is not much to say about Burnes. He won the award two years ago and has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball for the past three years. I am going to predict Gallen as the award winner. This season is the season where he puts it all together and has a full season at his peak.
AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award
DraftKings’ top two most favored to win the award are definitely two of my finalists. They are Ohtani and Mike Trout of the Angels. Then I am going with Kyle Tucker of the Astros. I have written many articles on Ohtani and how he should win every MVP Award. He is an elite pitcher and hitter combined. Sometimes Trout definitely needs to be in the conversation because he is the best player of the last decade. Injuries have definitely slowed him down, but a full season of Trout is one of the best players ever. Tucker is a great player. Throughout his career he has improved. He hits for a decent average and power, while also playing solid defense and stealing bases. If he takes a big jump this season, then he could 100% cement himself as one of the best players in the league. I can go on and on about how Trout and Tucker are great players, but in the end I am still going with Ohtani. He is doing something we have never seen before and will continue to be my MVP favorite for years to come.
NL Most Valuable Player Award
This is a little bit harder to predict. DraftKings’ favorite is Juan Soto of the San Diego Padres and I agree that he should be on the list. Although he had a “down” year last year, he still was 49% better than the average hitter. When he is fully locked in, he is the best hitter in baseball. He hits the ball everywhere for power and gets on base at a rate we have rarely ever seen. After Soto it becomes a bit uncertain. There’s Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldscmidt from the Cardinals. Both of them were finalists for the award last year, with Goldscmidt actually winning it. DraftKings has Mookie Betts from the Dodgers and Ronald Acuna Jr. from the Atlanta Braves next. Acuna Jr. did not look great last year so that’s a no for me. Betts has consistently been good, but he hasn’t won the MVP Award as a Dodger yet. I would say my last two finalists are Freddie Freeman from the Dodgers and Arenado. Freeman is a consistent hitter and has previously won an MVP Award. I don’t really have a basis for why I think this year is going to be so much better. Arenado always plays great defense and hits a ton so I think he is a safe bet. After all of this I am just going to go with Soto as the NL MVP Award winner. There was so much discussion about whether or not he would be worth the half a billion dollars he was seeking and I think this season he shows the world why he is worth that money.