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Clubhouse Leaders: MLB Awards Edition 2017 – Final Predictions

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The end of another long Major League Baseball season is upon us. At the time this piece is going to press, a handful of games remain, but as far as making predictions for MLB awards, the season is effectively over.

A number of players have had spectacular seasons in 2017. In a year where both home runs and strikeouts have come at an unprecedented pace, we’ve seen some incredible individual performances.

Again, it’s possible that a truly monstrous final week – in either the good or bad sense – could alter the trajectory of one or more of these players. However, the likelihood of that is slim. The reality is that what we see is almost certainly what we get at this point.

And so, my final predictions for MLB’s 2017 award winners.

AL Rookie of the Year

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (Third quarter: Judge)

This has been a foregone conclusion since back in April. Judge has had a season for the ages, putting up home run numbers like we haven’t seen from a rookie since the heyday of Mark McGwire. He’s your AL home run leader and sits atop the list in runs and walks (and strikeouts too, but who cares?). He’s among the leaders in pretty much every other notable offensive category. In another year, Andrew Benintendi’s power-speed combo would have a shot. Oakland’s Matt Olson has made a late push. But this award has been Judge’s pretty much from Opening Day; it’ll be unanimous.

(Also noteworthy: Benintendi; Olson; Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles.)

NL Rookie of the Year

Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers (Third quarter: Bellinger)

Another no-brainer, Bellinger has been a key piece of this exceptional Dodgers season. His numbers have been huge; only Giancarlo Stanton’s monster year has kept him from leading the NL in home runs. He’s among the leaders in slugging, OPS and RBI as well. Any season without Judge and he’d have been the biggest rookie story in a decade. Instead, he’s the other guy. Colorado’s trio of rookie starters warrant a bit of attention, but they simply don’t measure up. Given a full season, Phillies phenom Rhys Hoskins might have caught him, but this is Bellinger all the way.

(Also noteworthy: Hoskins; Kyle Freeland, Colorado Rockies; Antonio Senzatela, Colorado Rockies; German Marquez, Colorado Rockies; Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates.)

AL Cy Young Award

Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians (Third quarter: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox)

This might be the toughest call out of every one of these races. The margin between Kluber and Sale is razor-thin, but while my heart tells me to give the benefit of the doubt to Sale, I have to come down on the side of Kluber. While Sale’s 300 strikeout season is undeniably exceptional, Kluber has the edge in almost every other respect. Again, not a large edge, but an edge. He’s got a better ERA. He’s got a better WHIP. He’s got a better batting average against. They’re the same with regards to wins. Yes, Sale has 50 more Ks, but Kluber is second in the AL. Both men would make worthy winners, but in the end, I have to give it to the Cleveland ace.

(Also noteworthy: Sale; Luis Severino, New York Yankees; Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians; Drew Pomeranz, Boston Red Sox.)

NL Cy Young Award

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (Third quarter: Scherzer)

Not as tough a call as in the AL, but still pretty tough. I stuck with Scherzer here over Clayton Kershaw, based almost entirely on the 30 or so more innings that Scherzer threw. Kershaw is the NL ERA leader, but Scherzer leads in strikeouts. Scherzer has the tiniest edge in WHIP as well, plus a larger lead in batting average against. I won’t be shocked if Kershaw pulls it out in the end; Scherzer’s got a couple of legit contenders on his own team in Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez that might split the vote. There are a handful of other pitchers having exceptional seasons as well, but in the end, it’s going to come down to Scherzer and Kershaw.

(Also noteworthy: Kershaw; Strasburg; Gonzalez; Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks; Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks.)

AL MVP

Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (Third quarter: Altuve)

I’ll freely admit that I’m rooting for Altuve to win. The diminutive second baseman has become one of my favorite players in the past few years. He’s got the goods, though. He’s looking at yet another betting title to go with his 200-plus hits, 20-plus homers and 30-plus steals. He’s among the league leaders in runs scored and OPS, plus he plays a premium defensive position. I think he wins, but only because Aaron Judge had a significant slump and the Angels’ Mike Trout missed six weeks due to injury. A full season of Trout wins this award in a walk – he’s got power and speed and an OPS that outpaces Altuve’s by 100 points. Still, it’s hard to win MVP in 115 games.

(Also noteworthy: Judge; Trout; Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians; Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals.)

NL MVP

Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (Third quarter: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds)

Honestly, I went back and forth between Stanton and Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt here. Ultimately, while Stanton’s Marlins are going nowhere, it’s hard to deny his power explosion. We haven’t seen home run numbers like Stanton’s since the height of the Steroid Era; he’s basically lapping the field in homers and sits close to the top in RBI. His OPS is shy only of Votto’s. So while Goldschmidt has a great argument – third in homers, runs and RBI with a .300 average and 18 steals to boot – I think that the writers are going to have trouble ignoring Stanton’s mammoth season. Votto’s huge numbers will continue to be largely ignored in Cincinnati; so too will the elevation-aided stats of guys like Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado.

(Also noteworthy: Goldschmidt; Votto; Blackmon; Arenado; Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 September 2017 13:14

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