The Baseball Writers Association of America just announced the finalists for their marquee player awards, including the Cy Young Award, the Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player. Using the same mentality as last year’s prediction article, I will tell you my vote and my prediction, since not in all cases the most deserving (in my opinion) takes home the hardware.
AL Rookie of the Year
Finalists: Tyler Naquin, Michael Fulmer, Gary Sanchez
Snubs: Nomar Mazara, Alex Bregman
My Vote: Tyler Naquin – OF, Cleveland Indians
Prediction: Michael Fulmer – SP, Detroit Tigers
Fulmer broke onto the scene in an explosive fashion, but had cooled down from his original 9-2 start with a 2.11 ERA in early July. I even heard his name tossed around as a potential American League All Star starter. But, by the end of the season, Michael Fulmer was 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA with 132 strikeouts in 159 innings pitched. Many people think that Fulmer is a borderline definite to take home the AL Rookie of the Year award but as you can see above, my vote goes to Tyler Naquin. Naquin really thrived during his rookie season when he was prematurely tossed into a starter’s role after the Indians outfield was hobbled due to a few injuries, mainly Michael Brantley. Naquin batted 0.296 with 14 home runs in 321 at-bats spread across 116 games. Also, don’t sleep on Gary Sanchez. Sanchez tore up the Big Apple for the Yankees with 20 homers and 42 RBIs in 53 games. The main aspect that takes my vote away from Sanchez (except for the fact that he plays for the Yankees) is the fact that he only played in 53 games, and that is not his fault, but the voters tend to favor players that played for playoff teams (Naquin) and for the majority of the season.
NL Rookie of the Year
Finalists: Kenta Maeda, Trea Turner, Corey Seager
Snubs: Jon Gray, Trevor Story
My Vote: Corey Seager – SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
Prediction: Corey Seager – SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
This one is borderline automatic, Seager is an NL MVP candidate as well so he doesn’t have any competition in this award race. Not to discredit Turner and Maeda because they both played very well. Trea Turner batted 0.341 in 73 games while Kenta Maeda went 16-11 and was a key part to the Dodgers regular season success. Turner and Maeda in a different year, perhaps would win Rookie of the Year for the National League but it’s this year. And in this year we have Corey Seager who had a WAR above 6 with a 0.308 batting average and over 25 home runs.
AL Cy Young
Finalists: Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander, Corey Kluber
Snubs- Zach Britton, Andrew Miller
My Vote: Rick Porcello – SP, Boston Red Sox
Prediction: Corey Kluber – SP, Cleveland Indians
I truly think that Corey Kluber is the least qualified candidate here but he’ll win the award and here’s why. Rick Porcello went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA, Pretty Ricky simply just got the job done, but he didn’t have the sexy stats that voters love to see like strikeouts. Verlander and Kluber were pretty comparable, Verlander went 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA and 254 Ks while Kluber went 18-9 with a 3.16 ERA and 227 Ks. Verlander’s WAR was 6.61, Kluber’s was 6.45 while Porcello’s was 5.04. The main reason that Kluber will take home the honor is merely the fact that his team made the postseason. So did Porcello’s team, but as I mentioned before, Kluber’s statistics appeal more to the voters than Porcello’s do. With all of that being said, how on EARTH did Zach Britton not finish in the top three for this award?! Britton had a lead-leading 47 saves and finished the year with an unreal 0.54 ERA. If a reliever was to ever win the Cy Young Award in the modern era of baseball, this was the year. He did win the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year Award, so at least he won’t go home empty-handed.
NL Cy Young
Finalists: Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks
Snubs: Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard
My Vote: Max Scherzer – SP, Washington Nationals
Prediction: Max Scherzer – SP, Washington Nationals
The NL Cy Young Award is extremely up for grabs and I really wasn’t sure who to pick for this one, but obviously I ended up choosing Max Scherzer to capture his second Cy Young Award. It is hard to argue against Hendrick’s ERA of 2.13, but I’ll do my best. Scherzer was a workhorse for the Nationals, pitching 228.2 innings which is over 25 more than both Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks. Scherzer led the league in both innings pitched and strikeouts with 284 Ks. All three are great candidates and all three made the postseason so like I said before this award is up for grabs. Hendricks went 16-8, Lester went 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA and Scherzer finished at 20-7 while finishing with a 2.96 ERA. I really don’t know what else to say regarding this award race because I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if any of the candidates comes away with the NL Cy Young honors.
Finalists: Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout
Snubs: David Ortiz, Francisco Lindor, Josh Donaldson
My Vote: David Ortiz – DH, Boston Red Sox
Prediction: Mookie Betts – OF, Boston Red Sox
I’ll start this off with saying, David Ortiz is the Most Valuable Player for the MLB this year regardless of what any award says or any other baseball writer says. What David Ortiz did this year, at 39 years old was unprecedented. However, Ortiz was snubbed as a finalist but fellow Red Sox player, Mookie Betts is the front-runner. Betts batted 0.318 with 31 homers and 113 RBIs for the AL East Champion Boston Red Sox. Mookie finished second in the MLB for Wins-Above Replacement with 9.55 behind fellow candidate Mike Trout. Trout played great this season and he slashed 0.315/0.441/0.550, but the Angels didn’t make the playoffs. It seemed that this was Jose Altuve’s award to lose in late August when he had a batting average of 0.366, but he played poorly down the stretch for a Houston Astros team that did not make the postseason. Altuve dropped to 0.338 by the end of the season and for all intents and purposes, Altuve lost the award more than Mookie won the award. Still love Mookie though and he’s definitely more than deserving, but Altuve’s statistics speak for themselves.
Finalists: Kris Bryant, Daniel Murphy, Corey Seager
Snubs: Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto
My Vote: Kris Bryant – 3B, Chicago Cubs
Prediction: Kris Bryant – 3B, Chicago Cubs
Kristopher Bryant. Well, he absolutely ran away with this award late in the season. Just shy of 40 home runs while batting 0.292 for the World Series Champion Cubs. Similar to the 2015 NL MVP race where Bryce Harper dominated the voting, this year’s voting will be owned by Kris Bryant. Bryant led the league in runs scored with 121 and was named to his second All Star Game in as many seasons as well as finished this season with a WAR of 7.7. Daniel Murphy was a big surprise this season. I know that some people felt that the Nationals overpaid him in the offseason due to a great 2015 postseason from Murphy, but he lived up to, if not exceeded, his price tag this season. Murphy slashed 0.347/0.390/0.595 and his slugging percentage of 0.595 with his 47 total doubles were both good for the league’s best. I mentioned Corey Seager earlier in the article and just to refresh your memory his statline was headlined by a 0.308 average with 25 homers. It is interesting to see that fellow Cub Anthony Rizzo wasn’t listed as a finalist but if that means anything it’ll mean that not many votes were split between Rizzo and Bryant. Last season’s NL Rookie of the Year, Kris Bryant can pick out a nice spot in his home for the 2016 NL MVP Award.
Do you agree with my predictions? Let me know in the comments below, on Facebook via N2K Sports or on Twitter @N2KSports. And be sure to keep you eyes out for the actual announcements of this year’s MLB Honors.
Cover Photo via MLB.com
GIFs via MLB.com, Grantland, GF Baseball, Bless-You-Boys