With the conclusion of the World Series now two weeks in the rear view mirror, this is the week that baseball gets back onto the sports talk shows as it hands out its awards. This year there are a few awards that seem to be a lock – but several others that are generating debate and will only do so after the winners are announced.
While neither Giuseppe or myself did so well in predicting even who would play in the World Series – let’s see how our pre-season awards predictions look headed into the week.
Rookie of the Year:
This award gets handed out Monday, and both leagues have several outstanding choices to pick from. In the American League, Shohei Ohtani and Miguel Andujar/Gleyber Torres seem to be the top three front runners. Giuseppe picked Ohtani, while I picked a dark horse Michael Kopech, who only got called up for 4 starts at the end of the season.
In the National League, the top three candidates are Walker Buehler, Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr. Both Giuseppe and I picked Acuna before the season started. This one has most people in the media pretty split between Soto and Acuna, as their numbers are very close. Both are under 21 years old.
Manager of the Year
The Manager of the Year Award, easily one of the most objective awards handed out – is Tuesday. Giueseppe had high expectations for his Angels this season (especially since in his predictions they had the AL MVP and ROY) and picked Mike Scioscia, who wound up retiring this season after a disappointing one. I picked Alex Cora, who ended up leading his team to the highest win total in all of baseball. Other favorites include A’s Manager Bob Melvin and Tampa Bay Manager Kevin Cash. The tricky part here is expectations. The Red Sox were expected to be very good, and Cora presumably made them that much better. Meanwhile, both the A’s and Rays played far above expectations.
On the National League side, my pick might have been the absolute worst pick in Dave Martinez of the Nationals, while Giueseep’s pick of Craig Counsell looks to be a good one. Other finalists include Brian Snitker of the Braves and Bud Black of the Rockies who led his team to their second straight playoff berth. Again here – the Brewers loaded up on talent to make a run – and ended up one win away from the World Series. The Braves had high hopes but weren’t expected to win the division until 2019.
Cy Young Award
Wednesday comes the Cy Young Award. Giuseppe and I both picked Max Scherzer, who ended up going 18-7 with a 2.53 ERA, 220 innings, and notched 300 strikeouts on the season. Pretty good, right? Any other season absolutely. Except that this season Jacob DeGrom had a 1.70 ERA in 217 innings with 269 strikeouts to boot. At just a record of 10-9, that will raise some eyebrows but most concede that deGrom on any other team with any amount of run support would’ve captured those wins. His pitching was the best of anyone this season.
On the American League side, again Giuseppe and I had very respectable picks with Justin Verlander (Giuseppe) and Chris Sale(Daryll). Sale was on track until late season injuries likely precluded him from the award, but Verlander is a finalist for the award. Who we didn’t see coming was Blake Snell of Tampa Bay. The hang-up on Snell is his low innings count, at just 180 innings. But his low ERA of 1.89 is nice, and going 21-5 doesn’t hurt either.
Finally Thursday comes the big one: the MVP Award. Every year we remember it is Most Valuable Player, not just best player. Giuseppe picked Mike Trout in the AL and I picked Carlos Correa. Correa battled injuries all season, but Trout is right in the mix after another tremendous season. Mookie Betts is the presumptive favorite right now though, with Jose Ramirez a finalist as well for his great season.
On the National League side of things, I went homer and picked Freddie Freeman, who was in the conversation through the All Star break but slid back later. Giuseppe picked Nolan Arenado, who did have another great season and is a finalist. All that to say – Christian Yelich seemingly cemented his MVP season with a huge September leading his Brewers to the playoffs and the best record in the National League. The Cubs Javier Baez had his best season to date as well, but he cooled some in September as the Brewers overtook the Cubs in the final couple of weeks.
Should be an exciting week as players are recognized for their work in 2018.