Baseball is back and so am I, busy life and school got in the way, but I am back and ready to get back into this blog for real. As the Boston Red Sox look to repeat as World Series champions let’s dive into the awards races (and my Red Sox bold predictions) and the divisions races/playoff predictions tomorrow. In late October/early November we’ll look back and laugh at how I’ll probably be wrong a good amount of times.
AL MVP: I heard that this Mike Trout guy is good at baseball, so he’ll be in the running because he always is. While I think JD will have another amazing season, I think his value was clearly shown this past season and I don’t think he’ll have as good of a chance to take the award this year. Mookie Betts however could win back to back MVP’s. His defense, base stealing ability and offensive prowess make him so much more likely than JD because he is this complete of a player. If Mookie is healthier, he could put up better numbers. A healthy Aaron Judge can reassert himself into MVP conversation with his extreme power potential in the middle of a strong Yankees lineup. If Oakland gets back to the playoffs Matt Chapman and his incredible offensive and defensive abilities could be in the running. The Astros have a couple of candidates In Altuve and Bregman, whose 2018 seems to be somewhat underrated. They are both very complete players who will be at the forefront of the Astros race towards another potential division title and 100+ win season. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor are both banged up and Lindor will miss the beginning of the season. As they lead the Indians to the most guaranteed division title in baseball (barring disaster) but they, Ramirez in particular, could put up another MVP type season. My pick is Mookie Betts going back to back. Trout in a close second.
NL MVP: The NL is wide open in terms of best teams and best player. Christian Yelich, is extremely important to the Brewers chances to repeat as division champs. Javier Baez, and the possible rebound of former MVP Kris Bryant could get the Cubs the division back. Paul Goldschmidt is a sleeper, especially if he can get the Cardinals back into the playoffs. Then out west Nolan Arenado will be as good as ever but what seems to be an extremely tight wildcard race (because the Dodgers probably win the west) Nolan may slip if the Rockies miss out. Maybe a healthy Justin Turner rebounds and leads the Dodgers to the best record in the NL and wins MVP. If the Padres somehow steal a wildcard spot, it will most likely be because of Manny Machado having an extremely good season. In the NL east, Bryce Harper could be out to prove he’s worth the money and want to lead the Phillies to the playoffs. If the Braves repeat as division champs Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna will be at the forefront of it for sure. Maybe even Anthony Rendon/Trea Turner or Juan Soto can lead the Nationals back to a division title. I’m picking Nolan for the third straight year.
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale coming back healthy, put noticeable weight in muscle on around his shoulders (to me it’s noticeable) and got is new contract, he’s always in the running. My sleeper David Price, he changed up his approach the second half of last season and he was phenomenal from about July-October and a full year of this approach and with less pressure on him as he now holds all the cards. Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer were highly in the running until they both were derailed by injury but they both showed they can be contenders for it. Blake Snell, the reigning winner, will also look to lead the Rays squad to the playoffs after a phenomenal breakout season. Severino will miss the beginning of the season and that could hurt his chances. Then Verlander and Cole will lead a somewhat shaky (for now) Astros rotation. I’m concerned about Verlander’s durability a bit because he’s pitched so much, so well for so long that father time will eventually catch up but for now he’s still phenomenal. Cole is in his last season before free agency and a cy young win or top 5+ finish could get him a really nice payday. I’m picking Sale again and don’t sleep on David Price.
NL Cy Young: Reigning winner Jacob DeGrom and teammate (and healthy) Noah Syndergaard are contenders, Max Scherzer also a perennial contender and a healthy Strasburg could sneak his way into the discussion. The third head of the three headed monster in Washington (Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin) that is Patrick Corbin can also get into the conversation after cashing in on a successful 2018. Aaron Nola is also looking to repeat his 2018 success and lead the Phillies to the playoffs. If Jack Flaherty or Miles Mikolas take the next step and help the Cardinals reach the playoffs the could sneak into the discussion. If Walker Buehler continues on his outstanding rookie season and takes the torch from Kershaw atop the Dodgers rotation he could win. Then guys like Kyle Freeland and German Marquez should get more credit for doing such good work in Colorado and if the repeat the work they did and lead the Rockies into the playoffs they could rise up the ranks. I’m picking Aaron Nola atop the Phillies rotation.
AL rookie of the year: I really just take shots in the dark with the rookie of the year awards and somehow got both of the right last year. So, I have guys to highlight. Eloy Jimenez in Chicago seems ready to take the MLB by storm. His new extension seemingly guarantees he’ll break camp on the big-league squad. Amazing minor league hitter with great power can be a bright spot for the White Sox as they try to finish off their rebuild. Vlad Jr will start in the minors to recover from his injury and “improve his defense” aka the Blue Jays want that last year of club control before calling him up. Also, an amazing hitter in the minors but Jimenez may get a head start. Yusei Kikuchi fresh from Japan has potential for a good season being one of the building blocks for the Mariner’s future. Jesus Luzardo of the Athletics seems like a dynamic young pitcher but will miss time to injury. The Astros have young top pitcher Forrest Whitley and outfielder Kyle Tucker. Tucker has less of a chance because of a somewhat crowded outfield. I’m taking Eloy Jimenez.
NL rookie of the year: Victor Robles looks primed to have an impact for the Nationals this season with Bryce Harper’s hole looming large. Fernando Tatis Jr could make an impact for the Padres this year but seemingly starting in the minors he may have to wait a while for his chance. Chris Paddack followed up a good 2018 with a great spring training an made the Padres starting rotation to start the year. A third Padre, catcher Francisco Mejia had a great spring and can make a push to be their everyday catcher while providing good offense. Mets first baseman Dominic Smith and particularly Pete Alonso have a good chance to make the Mets opening day roster and have an impact as the Mets look to make the playoffs after an offseason full of good baseball moves. Touki Toussaint had an up and down 2018 for the Braves and will start in the minors, to mainly work on his pitch control but as the Braves currently deal with injuries in the starting rotation and Toussaint could be called upon to help the Braves chances at repeating as division champs. I’m taking Victor Robles and his all-around talent.
AL Manager of the year: I think Rocco Baldelli could have a great sleeper season with the Twins as they are in a subpar division and the biggest threat to the Indians. Kevin Cash should also be in the running as he tries to build off of his success with the Rays from 2018. If they can get over the hill into the playoffs cash should have a great chance at this award. On the off chance that the Angels put it all together this year and make a push for the playoffs maybe Brad Ausmus makes a push for this award. If the Athletics can maintain their 2018 success, then Melvin could win 2 in a row. Then there’s the big-time candidates in Aaron Boone, Alex Cora and AJ Hinch. I think Cash edges out Baldelli by a narrow margin.
NL manager of the year: If they Brewers and Rockies continue their success from 2018 then Craig Counsell or Bud Black could win the award. If the cardinals push to the playoffs in a competitive division and wild card race, then maybe Mike Shildt comes in for the award. Gabe Kapler’s new look Phillies could get him the award. Same for Dave Martinez’s Nationals as they look to rebound after a disappointing 2018. The new look Reds and potentially dangerous Padres could get David Bell or Andy Green, respectively, the award, especially if the Reds somehow come away with a playoff push. I think Kapler takes the manager of the year by edging out Dave Martinez.
I need somewhere to put my bold Red Sox takes so here we go! I already said David Price is a Cy Young sleeper. JBJ is about to breakout, his started changing his swing at the all-star break and it showed as he drastically improved over the second half and is having a great spring. This along with his elite exit velocity shows signs of a breakout season for JBJ. Devers is also on my watch list for a breakout. Lastly the Red Sox bullpen will be better than expected. Judging players off of the past and name recognition isn’t a fair assessment and a healthy Red Sox bullpen has great upside with such a phenomenal coaching staff.