Earlier, I recapped our predictions so far into 2017. Today, I’m going to make a stab at some very bold predictions for the awards races the rest of the way. I’ll be focusing on six awards, the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year in each of the two leagues. I’m probably going to be wrong,because voters do weird things every year and it’s impossible to tell exactly what they are thinking. Also, I’m going to be wrong.
AL MVP - Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Chris Sale.
There are other players who might are being omitted, like George Springer, who would be the third Astro in the top 5 or 6 players, or Jose Ramirez, who has been playing way better than most probably expected. Ultimately, I just think this is Judge’s award to lose at this point. The only ones who have much of a chance of dethroning him are the players I named. Mookie, despite having a “down” season compared to 2016, has actually improved as a complete package ballplayer. He’s walking way more and striking out way less without sacrificing much power or contact ability. He’s getting slammed pretty hard by batting average on balls in play, but otherwise still looks to be one of the best players in baseball. It’s a good problem to have if this is Mookie when he’s “off”.
AL Cy Young - Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Chris Archer, Jose Quintana,* Yu Darvish.
Maybe I’m disrespecting Michael Fulmer by leaving him off the list. Same with Carlos Carrasco. Both are certainly great pitchers, who are among the top 15 or so starting pitchers in all of baseball, but I feel once you get past the top 3 in the AL, you get to a point where you could name just about any of those guys and not be all that wrong. It might seem weird that I have Quintana in my players to watch for this award, given how poorly he started the year, but he’s turned it on since the beginning of June. Since June 6th, he’s got a 2.70 ERA, and has begun to incorporate the strikeout game like he never has before. There’s a good chance he still commands a high price at the trade deadline, and a trade to a suitable contender might actually boost his Cy Young argument. It’s Sale’s award to lose, as he should finally win for the first time, after being one of the top 2-3 guys in the AL since he became a starter.
*AL Cy Young note - Quintana was traded after this article was originally written, because the writer’s curse just needs to continue.
AL Rookie of the Year - Aaron Judge.
That’s basically it, move along. Nobody is even close, or will even come close, unless he tears his ACL, and Yoan Moncada comes up, fixes all that was wrong with his game, and plays out of his mind (like Aaron Judge). I have been wrong a lot, but I feel pretty safe saying it’s going to be a unanimous vote.
NL MVP - Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Joey Votto, Corey Seager.
I might be disrespecting Anthony Rendon. He’s had a sneaky good year, but I wonder if he’s going to be overshadowed by Bryce Harper’s resurgence, and the utter dominance of Max Scherzer. As much as I hate to say, voters don’t seem likely to vote for a guy who doesn’t have that star appeal, if someone with star appeal is having a comparable year. I hope Rendon is in the top 3, because if he keeps up his play, he’ll definitely have deserved it. I have Goldy being the winner right now, simply because he’s been such a huge reason the D’Backs have emerged as a stealth contender and are still in it this late in the year. The D’Backs are presently a top wild card team, and should have enough cushion to make the playoffs, even with a drop-off that I don’t see coming.
NL Cy Young - Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Stephen Strasburg, Carlos Martinez.
The NL Cy Young race is basically between the top 3 names, but Strasburg and Martinez both have potential to make things interesting with a strong second half. When both are on, they are just as good as those above them, but they just haven’t gotten there quite yet. Scherzer is having a season for the ages, one that I think tips him pretty solidly into the Hall of Fame discussion once he retires. He already has two Cy Young awards, and I think a third would make him a lock for the Hall, if he somehow he wasn’t already. Winning a third would tie him for 5th all-time in Cy Youngs. His prime has been as good as anyone’s. Since 2013 his numbers have been unreal. Kershaw is still very close, and could easily win his fourth Cy Young. It’s weird to say, but Kershaw hasn’t won a Cy Young since 2014.
NL Rookie of the Year - Cody Bellinger, Manny Pina, Jeff Hoffman, Kyle Freeland, Sean Newcomb.
The Rockies pitchers have been really good for rookies pitching in Coors, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see any of them get into second place, but this is all Bellinger. A month ago, it would be much more open to debate, but both leagues have had a crazy strong superstar come out of nowhere.
Let’s have a fun second half! If I snubbed a candidate (or am overestimating someone), let me know!