The Baseball Writers Association of America will announce the winners of its annual awards over the course of this week, starting tonight. Here are the finalists and my thoughts on who should win each award.
American League MVP Candidates: Shohei Ohtani, Angels; Corey Seager, Rangers; Marcus Semien, Rangers.
Who should win: Ohtani
This will probably be the only preseason pick I get right. Ohtani is the clear winner here, posting a league-best 10 wins above replacement, hitting to a 1.066 OPS and pitching to a 3.14 ERA. Anyone else winning this award would be grand larceny.
National League MVP Candidates: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves; Mookie Betts, Dodgers; Freddie Freeman, Dodgers.
Who should win: Acuña
This is a lot closer than most in the Acuña crowd would have you believe, because Betts had a monstrous year with an NL-leading 8.3 WAR. Still, I’m going with Acuña, because hitting 41 home runs AND stealing 73 bases in the same year is absurd.
AL Cy Young Award Candidates: Gerrit Cole, Yankees; Kevin Gausman, Blue Jays; Sonny Gray, Twins.
Who should win: Cole
Cole’s been close a couple times, but this is the year he breaks through. One of the lone bright spots on an otherwise disappointing Yankee team, he was clearly the best pitcher in the AL with a 2.63 ERA and a 0.981 WHIP, or walks and hits per innings pitched, over 209 innings.
NL Cy Young Award Candidates: Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks; Blake Snell, Padres; Logan Webb, Giants.
Who should win: Webb
Snell will probably win, but he got historically lucky this season. Call me crazy, but if you lead the majors in walks, you shouldn’t win the Cy Young. Webb had a lower WHIP than Snell in 36 more innings pitched, and his 6.26 strikeout to walk ratio was the best in the NL.
AL Rookie of the Year Candidates: Tanner Bibee, Guardians; Triston Casas, Red Sox; Gunnar Henderson, Orioles.
Who should win: Henderson
Seeing as how Henderson’s 6.2 WAR was higher than Bibee and Casas combined, I’d say this is an easy pick. The top-rated prospect at the start of the season excelled with both the bat and the glove, and he looks to be the real deal.
NL Rookie of the Year Candidates: Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks; James Outman, Dodgers; Kodai Senga, Mets.
Who should win: Carroll
The Diamondbacks made a big bet on Carroll by giving him a $111 million extension in March, and so far he’s rewarded them. 25 home runs, 30 doubles and 54 stolen bases are outstanding power-speed numbers and should win him this award.
AL Manager of the Year Candidates: Bruce Bochy, Rangers; Kevin Cash, Rays; Brandon Hyde, Orioles.
Who should win: Bochy
Bochy came out of retirement this year to lead the Rangers to their first World Series in franchise history. To do that with a team that was expected by most (including myself) to miss the playoffs is remarkable.
NL Manager of the Year Candidates: Craig Counsell, Brewers; Skip Schumaker, Marlins; Brian Snitker, Braves.
Who should win: Counsell
The biggest news of the offseason so far is Counsell leaving Milwaukee for the rival Cubs, and there’s a reason Chicago just made him the highest-paid manager in MLB history. Counsell has consistently put together great teams with low payrolls, and this season was no exception.