By Ryan Mayer
Opening Day is just two days away! That means spring is here and it’s time to get the tailgate gear ready to head to the local ballpark and watch some baseball. Here’s my predictions for the major awards (ROY, Cy Young, and MVP) in both leagues. We’ll start first with the national league. These predictions may not be bold, but if you’re looking for that kind of thing, check out my colleague Bryan Altman’s piece from earlier this week right here.
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
The reason for this pick is more projection than previous performance. Most will say Giancarlo Stanton, and I understand why considering that the Marlins slugger was having a ridiculous season before he was hit by a pitch in the face at the end of last year. He could absolutely return perfectly fine to that form and make me look like a complete idiot. Something about that injury just scares me off until I see him perform in a real game situation over the course of multiple weeks. Another option here is Yasiel Puig who will continue to improve on his first year and a half of performances out in LA. But for me, I think that Harper is primed for a breakout year. Keep in mind this kid is only 22 years old. Yes, it seems like he’s been around forever because we’ve been talking about him since he was 16, but let me repeat, he’s only 22. Three full years in, I think you see a leap forward.
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
The conversation will be had for Madison Bumgarner who was lights out in the postseason once again this past year. And many will point out Kershaw’s awful numbers in the postseason. Sometimes in sports there are guys who dominate the regular season and guys that dominate the postseason. That’s the difference between these two guys. Kershaw’s regular season numbers are flat out ridiculous and I see no reason why they won’t continue. Max Scherzer is another name to look out for in this race mainly because of the switch from the American League to the National League, which is generally easier on pitchers.
NL Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
This seems like an easy choice. Yes, he’s going down to the minors. No, it’s not because he’s not ready for the majors. He’s the number 1 prospect in baseball and has done nothing to dissuade me of that notion. After he spends the requisite 12 days in the minors in order for the Cubs to be able to control him for another full year before free agency, Bryant will come up and tear the cover off the ball as he has done at every stop he’s had. Other players to keep an eye on in this race: Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers and Noah Syndergaard, SP, New York Mets. Joc Pederson has made a strong case for himself to start and play everyday in the outfield for the Dodgers from Day 1. Syndergaard has pitched very well but as of right now is blocked by Dillon Gee at the backend of the Mets rotation. Gee is reportedly on the block for anybody that wants him though which means Syndergaard could get the call very soon. Or he could be left in the minors and Rafael Montero could get the call in which case Montero is the ROY candidate from the Mets.
AL MVP: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Trout finally got his first MVP award last year after previously battling with Miguel Cabrera the two years prior. Cabrera took a step back last season from his previous levels of production (albeit a small step and his best was and is otherworldly) and Trout continued his upward trajectory. There are other candidates to be had here with Robinson Cano in Trout’s division, the aforementioned Cabrera, but I think Trout is the favorite and in the end, the winner for the second year in a row.
AL Cy Young: David Price, SP, Detroit Tigers
This was a very tough one. Felix Hernandez continued his ridiculous production last year with a 15-6 record 2.14 ERA and 248 K’s. Corey Kluber had a breakout season and is the reigning AL Cy Young award winner. Chris Sale for the White Sox is right in this discussion when he’s healthy and would have garnered votes had he not gotten injured last year. There’s a wealth of aces in the American League, but the reason for picking Price is two fold. First off, he’s in a contract year in which he will be either playing to get Mike Illitch to continue his lavish spending to try and keep Price in Detroit or showcasing for another team to snap him up with a monster deal. Second, I think the Tigers defense has gotten better behind him which always helps to contribute to those surface numbers that make up a pitcher’s report card for this award.
AL Rookie of The Year: Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
The AL isn’t nearly as stacked with big time, big name prospects that seem primed to break out in the race for this award. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of young guys that could make us learn their names over the course of the season. With that said, I’m going to go with Lindor here, who is getting the same treatment as Kris Bryant to begin the year, but will definitely be up long enough this season to shine.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.