With Opening Day beginning in just a few days, the writers of Doubleday Double Talk (Daryll and Giuseppe) have predicted the National League East, Central, West, the American League East, Central, West, and the 2018 Postseason, all before a single regular season pitch has been thrown. Now, for their last predictions article before the season commences, Daryll and Giuseppe are here to predict the winners of the 2018 MLB Awards.
American League Most Valuable Player Award
Giuseppe’s Pick: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout is the obvious pick for me and it is a total no-brainer. Trout is the best player in the Major Leagues right now by far, and he was so good in 2017 that despite a hand injury that kept him out for 41 sequential games, he still placed 4th in the American League MVP voting.
Since the beginning of the 2012 MLB season, the Melville Meteor has been selected for the All-Star every year, finished in the top five in the AL MVP voting the past six seasons (top 2 if you discount his injury-riddled 2017), and compiled 5 Silver Slugger Awards in a row from 2012-2016. Trout is a shoe-in for the MVP in 2018, and with a revamped Angels lineup around him, Trout will be better than ever in 2018, cruising to his 3rd AL MVP since 2014.
Daryll’s Pick: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
The Astros had the 2017 AL MVP in Jose Altuve, and this year I think that mantle is passed along to his double-play partner Carlos Correa. The 2015 AL Rookie of the Year had his best year to date last year, hitting .315 and an OPS of .941. Altuve’s OPS by the way last year was .957. Correa is 5 years his junior and ready to make a major jump.
National League Most Valuable Player Award
Giuseppe’s Pick: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
2018 will be the year where the Baseball Writer’s Association of America looks beyond the fact that Nolan Arenado plays in Coors Field and gives the star third baseman the recognition he deserves.
Arenado has been awarded 3-consecutive Silver Slugger Awards from the years 2015-2017 and has astonishingly hit 35 home runs and driven in 130+ runs in each of those past 3 seasons. I recently predicted that the Rockies would win the Wild Card Game and meet their Division Rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series, and if my prediction comes true, the leader of the underdog Rockies team will be a top candidate for the MVP, and I have him winning it in 2018.
Daryll’s Pick: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Freddie Freeman battled several nagging injuries last season that limited his production – but when he was healthy he was very productive. He had a .989 OPS and in only 117 games mashed out 28 home runs. The Braves have a lot of talent, and as I predicted them to make a Wild Card spot in the National League naturally that depends in large part on the production of their superstar and franchise player. The Braves have stuck with Freddie through their rebuild as the cornerstone and now with that time nearly up – Freddie is ready to lead them back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
American League CY Young Award
Giuseppe’s Pick: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Verlander has placed within the top 5 for the American League CY Young Award 6 times since 2007 and has won the prestigious award once. After coming painstakingly close to winning the CY Young in 2016 (which resulted in a profanity-laced Twitter tirade by then-girlfriend, now-wife, Kate Upton), I have Verlander winning his second CY Young in 2018.
Justin Verlander is at the forefront of a starting rotation that will continue to strike fear into the hearts of opponent batters and will be one of the Astros’ most valuable assets in 2018. The Astros will continue to win big and Verlander will continue to dominate, cruising to a CY Young Award.
Daryll’s Pick: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
Chris Sale was amazing last season – but blew it away during the second half ceding the award to Corey Kluber. After going into the break with an 11-4 record and 2.75 ERA the second half he fell back to 6-4 with a 3.12 ERA. Overall he still maintained 12.9 SO/9 ratio and a WHIP under 1. I think this year he manages his season a little bit better and comes out on top for the AL Cy Young Award.
National League CY Young Award
Giuseppe’s Pick: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
Scherzer became just the 10th pitcher in Major League history to win back-to-back CY Young Awards and I am betting on him becoming just the third pitcher in history to win 3 or more in a row (joining Greg Maddux, 1992-95, and Randy Johnson 1999-2002).
From the years 2015–2017, Scherzer accumulated the most innings, strikeouts, and pitching WAR of any pitcher in the Major Leagues during that time period and while he is getting older, Scherzer is showing no signs of regression. The only thing standing in Scherzer’s way is Clayton Kershaw, but if Kershaw can’t stay healthy as he has lately, Max will swoop in and take the CY. Scherzer will continue to prove that he is one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2018, and win his 3rd consecutive CY Young Award.
Daryll’s Pick: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
Max Scherzer can throw a no-hitter any time he goes out on the mound. I agree with Giuseppe that Kershaw’s health is of some concern where Scherzer’s is not. I expect the Nationals to go all out this year with Bryce Harper is in a contract year and Scherzer is a big game pitcher who can step up when he needs to.
American League Rookie of the Year Award
Giuseppe’s Pick: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
The Japanese Babe Ruth is attempting to do something in 2018 that has not been done in a long time, be a pitcher and a hitter in the Major Leagues at the same time. Ohtani will be pitching every 6th day for the Angels and DHing in between starts. Ohtani was easily the most sought-after player going into this offseason, and it will be fascinating to see how he performs at the highest level.
Ohtani battled injury in 2017, but his stats in the year prior are phenomenal. In 2016, Ohtani turned some heads hitting a full line of .322/.416/.588, with 18 doubles, 22 homers, 67 RBI, 65 runs, along with 7 stolen bases in 382 plate appearances. His pitching was equally impressive. Shohei had a win-loss record of 10-4, with a 1.86 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 174 strikeouts, 45 walks, with 4 complete games and 1 shutout in 140 innings. Despite a rocky Spring Training, Ohtani will bounce back and will win the AL ROY Award.
Daryll’s Pick: Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
Ohtani is the sexy pick here…but I’m not buying it. I think Michael Kopech could take it just because there aren’t a lot of other options. I see Ohtani struggling with the transition not trying to pitch and hit, but also just changing to American baseball. Kopech is the top pitching prospect in baseball, and the White Sox have nothing to lose by bringing up and getting some work. I think he can be dominant and even with 15-20 starts do enough to steal away the Rookie of the Year from the presumed winner Ohtani.
National League Rookie of the Year Award
Giuseppe’s Pick: Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
Ronald Acuna has the chance to be the next 5-Tool player in the Major Leagues, and despite the fact that he will be unable to play in the Major Leagues until at least April, Acuna is my obvious choice for the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
The 20-year-old phenom is a stud outfielder with a cannon for an arm, along with great hitting ability and a great deal of raw power. All of these attributes are likely to progress as he matures as a ballplayer. In 2017, Acuna hit .325 with 21 home runs, with 44 stolen bases in 139 games (mainly in Double and Triple-A). Acuna also amassed a .896 OPS and a slugging percentage of .522. During the 2018 season’s Spring Training, Acuña hit .432 with 4 homers and 11 RBI in 44 spring at-bats before being reassigned to the Minors.
Daryll’s Pick: Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
Old time players in Braves camp are comparing Acuna to Hank Aaron. The Braves know about Hank Aaron. While he won’t start the season in the majors, he has shown this spring he has nothing left to prove and will be up as soon as he can to avoid his service time starts. He is the most exciting rookie I can remember since the Braves brought up Rafael Furcal when he won the NL ROY in 2000.
American League Comeback Player of the Year Award
Giuseppe’s Pick: Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
Pujols had a disastrous 2017 in which he hit just 23 home runs and a .241 batting average. Additionally, Pujols garnered a -1.8 WAR and an 81 OPS+ (100 is league average). The only good stat that Pujols put up in 2017 was 101 RBI, which shows us that he still has his moments, but they are becoming fewer and farther between. A bounce-back season from Pujols will do wonders for the Angels and I am counting on the 38-year-old to have a breakout season. I’m not counting on him having an All-Star type season, just an above average one, which after his 2017 season, will be a massive improvement.
Daryll’s Pick: Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
Comeback Player of the Year is always hard for me to pick unless there is an obvious injury-driven reason. To call it an “award” for having a good season after a bad season seems almost like a backhanded compliment. Jason Kipnis has been a great player for the Indians in his career, but last year he battled injuries and played in less than 100 games. He is still just 31 and I think he can bounce back to have a good season and win this award.
National League Comeback Player of the Year Award
Giuseppe’s Pick: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
Noah Syndergaard is well on his way to becoming one of the best pitchers in the game, and many believed that the 25-year-old would be competing with the likes of Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw for the NL CY Young Award in 2017. Unfortunately for Syndergaard or “Thor” as he is affectionately called by Mats fans, he suffered a right lat injury in late April and was restricted to just 30 1/3 innings in 2017. If Syndergaard returns to 2016 form or better in 2018, the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award will be his to lose.
Daryll’s Pick: Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Here we go again: Pederson came up with high hopes for the Dodgers and last season things didn’t go so well as he was sent down to the Minor Leagues. The Dodgers have a crowded outfield with Matt Kemp back in left field and the mercurial Yasiel Puig in right – but if one of them or CF Chris Taylor slips up Pederson will be ready to come in and show that his World Series (6-18 with 3 HR) was a preview of 2018.
American League Manager of the Year Award
Giuseppe’s Pick: Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels
In the last year of his current contract with the Angels, I am predicting that Mike Scioscia will win his third career American League Manager of the Year Award. After just narrowly missing the 2017 Wild Card Game, and with a revamped lineup, a Wild Card spot will be Scioscia’s to lose. Even though the Halos will not make it past their division rival Houston Astros in the regular season or the Postseason, they will be back in the Playoffs for the first time since 2014, and it will be just enough to win Scioscia the Manager of the Year Award (and a contract extension).
Daryll’s Pick: Alex Cora, Boston Red Sox
Consider this: both the Yankees and Red Sox made the playoffs last year, and both find themselves with new managers. Tough crowd right? While the Yankees made the bulk of the headlines this offseason with the Giancarlo Stanton acquisition, I think Cora will shine in his role with the Red Sox after being on a Houston coaching staff that won the World Series.
National League Manager of the Year Award
Giuseppe’s Pick: Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers
I recently predicted the Milwaukee Brewers would reign as Division Champions over the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central in 2018, and if they manage to make my prediction come true, Craig Counsell will be a lock for the Manager of the Year Award. Manager of the Year Award voter always love a good underdog story, and a Brewers upset victory over Chicago will seal the deal.
Daryll’s Pick: Dave Martinez, Washington Nationals
Another rookie manager taking over for a playoff team is also my pick in the National League. The Nationals are the heavy favorites for the National League East, but I don’t think that Martinez should be discounted for still leading the charge. The Nationals have not had playoff success under several different managers now, and Martinez is hoping to change that while the team is at least still assured to have Bryce Harper through the end of 2018.