With the Major League Baseball season almost upon us (finally), our baseball writers have collaborated to make our picks for the coming season. In this article we detail who will win the major awards for 2018; Most Valuable Player, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year for both leagues. We will follow this one up with a part two article covering our picks for the division winners and the postseason.
American League Most Valuable Player
Scott Frizzell – Mike Trout is my pick for this year’s MVP winner because he is awfully hard to pick against. Trout is the best player in baseball, and his first six seasons match up pretty favorably with just about any player in the game’s history. He could be a top ten player of all-time once he hangs them up. Dark Horse Candidate – Francisco Lindor
Matt O’Halloran – Mike Trout seems like the best pick, as he has been for the past five years. He won the award in 2014 and 2016, and has been close to winning it in the other years. The Angels missed the Wild Card by five games in 2017, and a playoff run combined with a healthy season should guarantee a third MVP for the outfielder. Runner up – Jose Altuve
Kyle Porch – Mookie Betts will win MVP this year because he has a lot to prove. Simply put, he got robbed of the award two years ago by Mike Trout, and he needs the numbers to get the extension he wants. With a third straight gold glove award in sight, the five tool player can rip it up offensively to which we have seen the last two seasons.
Justin Gonzalez – It has always been Mike Trout’s award to lose ever since he stepped foot in the MLB. Widely renowned as baseball’s best player, Trout seems to be catapulting himself towards a first ballot hall of fame vote already at the age of 26. Last year was seen as a down year for him since he only played in 114 games but was still able to post a 1.071 OPS, 33 HR, 72 RBI, .306 batting average while swiping 22 bags. Now batting in the best lineup he has ever been in, it is time for Trout to show us what he is truly capable of and all we can do is sit back and enjoy the show.
David Latham – It’s Altuve’s world, and we’re all just living in it. I’ve been a huge fan of Altuve ever since he entered the league, and outside of Mike Trout, there’s no other player I’d rather have on my team. He’s everything you want in a baseball player: he can hit for average, power, he’s a great athlete, and he gives 110% every single play.
Brandon Fazzolari – Carlos Correa is in the middle of a lineup that tests pitchers every step of the way, setting Correa up to produce huge numbers.
National League Most Valuable Player
Scott Frizzell – Bryce Harper has more or less become the player he was supposed to become over the last three seasons. Last year, his season was derailed by injury, but he was putting up big numbers before he went down. Now entering his first contract season, expect Harper to play as well as he ever has. I think numbers similar to his 2015 campaign are within reach. Dark Horse Candidate – Christian Yelich
Matt O’Halloran – Nolan Arenado has been consistently great during his career, but never really talked about. It could be the Colorado market or blind fans chalking up the success to Coors, but that silence changes this year. Arenado is in a contract year, which should bolster his already impressive stats. The young third baseman is an outstanding defender and great hitter (even out of Coors). The Rockies made the wild card game last year, and another postseason berth combined with impressive numbers should get him the MVP. Runner up – Corey Seager
Kyle Porch – Nolan Arenado will win the NL MVP award simply because of a continuation from last season. The Rockies third baseman will continue on his upward trend while earning a massive payday next season.
Justin Gonzalez – It must really suck to be Harper. I mean think about it: he has luscious hair, a beard that a lumberjack would approve of, a career WAR that is one point higher than his actual age (26 over 25), and is heading into one of the biggest contract years ever. Okay, maybe that doesn’t suck, but what I was getting at is imagine a baseball world without Mike Trout. We would be talking about Harper like he was the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr. I believe that this contract year for Harper is what will put him on the map clearly as the second best baseball player in the world.
David Latham – There are very few baseball players more talented than Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper. Another guy that can do it all, Harper is set to hit unrestricted free agency at the end of 2018. Look for Harper to have an absolutely crazy 2018 before breaking the bank in 2019.
Brandon Fazzolari – Bryce Harper is a versatile performer that can hit for average and power from the left side. Barring injury, this award should be his.
American League Cy Young Award
Scott Frizzell – I like to dig a little deeper on AL Cy Young oftentimes, so my pick is going to be Lance McCullers this season. McCullers just needs to stay healthy, as he has never pitched more than 22 games in a season. His first two seasons he had a 3.22 ERA, and he struck out 11.8 batters per nine in 2016. When he went down with an injury last June, McCullers had a 2.58 ERA and 10.4 k/9. He pitched well in the postseason and so far this spring he has been lights out. Dark Horse Candidate – James Paxton
Matt O’Halloran – Justin Verlander posted a 1.06 regular season ERA after he was traded to the Astros on August 31st. The ace was a big part of their world series run and should put up impressive numbers again. He won the award in 2011, and was a runner up in 2016. He has been consistently dominant since he entered the league in 2006, and there is no reason to believe that will stop. Runner up – Chris Sale
Kyle Porch – Chris Sale will give hitters deja vu of his 2017 season to win the award. While working out with Jason Groome over the offseason, he has built muscle and the velocity has improved while under-exerting himself during spring training.
Justin Gonzalez – The 2017 Cy Young award runner up has some unfinished business to take care of in 2018. He got his inaugural Red Sox season out of the way and is looking to take back what was clearly his in the first half of the season. Sporting the highest career SO/W (strikeout per win) figure in MLB history, Sale does two things extremely well: strikeout batters and win games. Pitching in front of a better lineup than last season, he has a chance to have a career year. Pair all of this with his longevity boosting workout regimen and he is really in line for another spectacular season.
David Latham – For the first four months of the 2017 season, this award was Sale’s to lose. Unfortunately, fatigue set in and Sale had a rough end of the season. He ended up finishing second for the award, behind Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber.
Brandon Fazzolari – Chris Sale is the consummate power pitcher. He shows no signs of slowing down in his prime.
National League Cy Young Award
Scott Frizzell – Sticking with my theme of underdogs for Cy Young, I am taking Noah Syndergaard to win in the NL this year. Syndergaard isn’t quite the underdog McCullers is, but anyone not named Kershaw or Scherzer in the National League seems like a bit of one. After missing most of last season, Syndergaard is healthy and strong for this season. He came out firing 100 miles per hour early in spring. Dark Horse Candidate – Aaron Nola
Matt O’Halloran – I could have flipped a coin between Kershaw and Max Scherzer. It is a two man race barring a major injury because they are the only best pitchers in the NL and whoever is third is a distant third. I predict Kershaw just because the Dodgers should finish ahead of the Nationals in the standings. He won the award in 2011, 2013, 2014, and was a runner up in 2017. Runner up – Max Scherzer
Kyle Porch – Clayton Kershaw will continue his dominance by winning another Cy Young award. The Dodgers pitcher could opt out and with his 4th award he can get a huge payday.
Justin Gonzalez – Want to read a preposterous sentence? Clayton Kershaw could possibly have a better career than Trout when it is all said and done. Everyone knows that he is the best pitcher in baseball (you do know that, right?) but just how good is he? Well for starters, he hasn’t had an ERA over 2.50 since 2012 (2.53) and has only had an ERA over 3.00 ONCE in TEN seasons (his rookie year). Get my point? He already has a career WAR of 60.6 and is heading into a contract season. His recent injuries would be the only thing that would stop him from winning the award for the 4th time, but then again, injuries could happen to anybody on this list. I would be absolutely floored if Kershaw didn’t run away with the award yet again.
David Latham – Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, and it’s not even that close. Until someone dethrones him as the best, this award will always be his to lose.
Brandon Fazzolari – Joining most others, I am picking Clayton Kershaw to win this award. It’s hard to believe Kershaw is still just 30 years old because he has been so good for so long.
American League Rookie of the Year
Scott Frizzell – Shohei Ohtani seemed to be the clear favorite for this award before his lousy spring training. I wanted to go elsewhere with this pick anyways, Ohtani was too easy. Willie Calhoun of the Rangers is starting the season in the minors, but I think he will be up by the end of April. A former fourth round pick, Calhoun batted .300 with 31 home runs in AAA last season. In a hitter’s paradise in Arlington, Calhoun should make his mark this season. Dark Horse Candidate – Austin Hays
Kyle Porch – Willie Calhoun has great speed not only in the outfield, but on the base path as well. If he can continue his hot hitting from the minors, he should be a lock for Rookie of The Year.
Justin Gonzalez – Eloy Jimenez ranks as the number four prospect in all of baseball and seems to be overshadowed by another soon to be star, Yoan Moncada. Originally from the Cubs organization before being traded to the ChiSox in exchange for Jose Quintana, Jimenez seems to be a player that can really be a pivotal piece towards the White Sox rebuild. The 21 year old has an eye-popping OPS of 2.381 in his first Spring Training. Jimenez recently got optioned to double-A, but there should not be any reason why the White Sox wouldn’t promote him at some point during the season.
David Latham – If Rafael Devers were eligible, I’d pick him here. However, he’s not, so the award goes to Texas Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun. Calhoun is a power bat on a popular organization that should be average at least, so why not him?
Brandon Fazzolari – There’s a lot to like about the multi-talented Ohtani, but mostly that he’s in a lineup alongside Mike Trout.
National League Rookie of the Year
Scott Frizzell – It is hard to pick against Ronald Acuña at this point. He will start the season in the minor leagues, but that is only to extend his years under team control. Acuña will be up before long and he is one of the most talented prospects to come up in sometime. Acuña has some all-around ability to his game in the vein of Mike Trout. In three stops last season. Acuña batted .325, hit 21 home runs and stole 44 bases. So far this spring, he has batted .432 with 4 homers and 4 steals. Dark Horse Candidate – A.J. Minter
Kyle Porch – Ronald Acuña has flown through the Braves minor league system. Their number 1 prospect is expected to branch out in the majors this season.
Justin Gonzalez – J.P. Crawford seems to be one of the more overlooked players to get excited about in today’s baseball world. In a league where shortstop seems to be a position abundant with raw talent, it is hard to get noticed. However, Crawford will be the everyday shortstop for a Phillies team that has suddenly become decent. The acquisition of Carlos Santana, a full season of Rhys Hoskins and a hopeful season for Maikel Franco will really help Crawford out from the get go. His patience at the plate along with his ability to hit to all fields as well as his plus defending makes him one of the early front-runners for the NL Rookie of the Year.
David Latham – The Dodgers will be good this year, and Walker Buehler should be a big part of that. He won’t be the top arm in the rotation, which honestly should help his win total. He’s got a lot of talent, making it to the majors after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2016.
Brandon Fazzolari – If spring training is any indication, Acuña should win this award in a cakewalk.