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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Extra Innings: 2024 MLB award picks

Who’s walking away with this year’s hardware?

extra innings-henry blickenstaff

These are my thoughts on who will win the MVP and Cy Young awards in each league, as well as some dark horses to watch out for.

National League MVP

My pick: Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers

Just because I feel like everyone will be picking either Acuña or Ohtani, I’m giving the nod to Mookie, who I believe is absolutely in the same league. If he does win, he’ll be just the second player to win both AL and NL MVP, along with Frank Robinson. Use that one for your next trivia night.

Dark horse: Matt McLain, Cincinnati Reds

This is an extremely deep cut, I’ll admit. McLain is unfairly overshadowed by his teammate and Statcast darling Elly De La Cruz, but he was miles better last year over a similar sample size, as he accumulated 3.7 wins above replacement with a .290 average and .864 OPS. He’s also on a Reds team that I think will surprise some people this year.

American League MVP

My pick: Juan Soto, New York Yankees

I’ve made my admiration for Soto clear on several occasions, primarily for his unreal plate discipline at such a young age. But this year, I’m betting that moving from pitcher-friendly Petco Park to the lefty hitter’s paradise that is Yankee Stadium will make his power even more pronounced and land him an MVP award.

Dark horse: Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals

Witt improved on his rookie season in every way last year, helping him secure a mammoth contract extension. His OPS jumped from .722 to .814, his outs above average from -11 to 14, and he stole 49 bases compared to 30 in 2022. He’s a five-tool player with a monster upside.

National League Cy Young

My pick: Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants

Webb carried the Giants’ starting rotation last year, throwing an MLB-leading 216 innings with a 3.25 ERA, 1.074 WHIP and NL-best 6.26 strikeout to walk ratio. Since his first full season in 2021, he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball, and I’m betting on him breaking through this year.

Dark horse: Shota Imanaga, Chicago Cubs

This is an unabashed homer pick but bear with me. While nowhere near as sought-after as his countryman Yoshinobu Yamamoto this offseason, Imanaga is coming off of a great season in Japan in which he posted a 2.77 ERA with a stupidly good 7.83 strikeout to walk ratio. If he can limit home runs — his Achilles’ heel — his exceptional command will lead to a big season.

American League Cy Young

My pick: Corbin Burnes, Baltimore Orioles

After a so-so start to last season, Burnes was filthy down the stretch, posting a 2.73 ERA and striking out over 28% of batters he faced in his last 15 starts. Opposing batters managed only a .557 OPS over that span. Add that to his nearly unmatched pedigree over the past three seasons, and it’s not hard to see why he’s among the favorites.

Dark horse: Grayson Rodriguez, Orioles

After being demoted to Triple-A midway through last season, Rodriguez was outstanding in the 13 starts after his July recall, pitching to a 2.58 ERA in 76 ⅔  innings and surrendering just three homers in that span. The No. 7 prospect entering 2023 is poised for a big sophomore season.