2018 MLB Awards
By the end of the day on Sept. 30, barring any tiebreaker scenarios, we will know how the pennant races turned out.
Two days later, ballots are due for the Baseball Writers Association of America’s annual awards. However, the outcome of those races won’t be revealed until November after the World Series concludes.
A strong case can be made that the results of the voting might be more intriguing than how the final standings shake out. There are no clear-cut favorites for any of the awards.
A case can be made for at least six players to win the Most Valuable Player award in both leagues. As far as the Cy Young Award, there is a compelling three-pitcher race in the National League while the AL field seems wide open with just two weeks remaining in the season.
Both leagues offer multiple intriguing choices for the Rookie of the Year awards.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Here is how one writer’s ballot would look if forced to cast a vote today (please note I’m an old-school traditionalist and believe pitchers should win the MVP award in only extreme circumstances):
Mookie Betts, Red Sox. Yes, Mike Trout is the best player in baseball but even his greatness hasn’t kept the Angels from being eliminated from postseason contention for a fourth straight year. Betts has played the biggest role in helping the Red Sox have the best record in the major leagues at 103-47 with stellar play both offensively and defensively. The right fielder leads the AL in batting (.337), is second in runs scored (118) and doubles (42), fifth in stolen bases (28) and sixth in hits (166). He also has 22 defensive runs saved.
Said one scout: “Trout is the best player in the game, but Betts has closed the gap at No. 2. He’s a helluva player.”
The rest of the ballot: 2. Trout, Angels; 3. J.D. Martinez, Red Sox; 4. Alex Bregman, Astros; 5. Jose Ramirez, Indians; 6. Francisco Lindor, Indians; 7. Matt Chapman, Athletics; 8. Mitch Haniger, Mariners; 9. Jose Altuve, Astros; 10, Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox.
Christian Yelich, Brewers. OK, I’m not going to lie, this is like throwing a dart at a dartboard and happening to land on Yelich. A case can be made for just anybody in the top 10 but I’m giving the nod to Yelich because of the production and energy he has brought to the Brewers after being acquired from the Miami Marlins in a trade for four prospects in January. He is second in the NL in batting (.313) and runs scored (101), third in slugging percentage (.556), sixth in hits (166), fifth in total bases (295), eighth in on-base percentage (.381) and 10th in RBIs (89). Furthermore, he has 30 home runs and, since the All-Star break, is hitting .343 with a .700 slugging percentage. The only drawback is that Yelich’s fielding has been ordinary with just one DRS.
The rest of the ballot: 2. Javier Baez, Cubs; 3. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks; 4. Lorenzo Cain, Brewers; 5. Nolan Arenado, Rockies; 6. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals; 7. Trevor Story, Rockies; 8. Freddie Freeman, Braves; 9. Nick Markakis, Braves; 10. J.T. Realmuto, Marlins.
AL Cy Young
Chris Sale, Red Sox. Granted, the left-hander has pitched just twice in the last six weeks while he battles shoulder inflammation. However, Sale has been so dominant when he has been able to take the mound that he stands out above an excellent field. Sale’s 1.92 ERA leads the AL and he is third in strikeouts with 222 despite missing so much time. He also has a 12-4 record and is presently working on a streak of 35 consecutive scoreless innings. Oh, and he’s also started the last three All-Star Games.
The rest of the ballot: 2. Blake Snell, Rays; 3. Corey Kluber, Indians; 4. Trevor Bauer, Indians; 5. Justin Verlander, Astros.
NL Cy Young
Jacob deGrom, Mets. I may be old school but not old school enough to understand that the right-hander’s 8-10 record is one of most misleading statistics in baseball history. deGrom’s ERA is a miniscule 1.78, which leads the major leagues and is more than a half a run better than the 2.42 mark of the Phillies’ Aaron Nola, which ranks second in the NL. deGrom is also second in the NL with 202 innings pitched and 251 strikeouts. Topping it all off is his 27 starts in a row allowing three earned runs or less, which is the major league record.
The rest of the ballot: 2. Max Scherzer, Nationals; 3. Aaron Nola, Phillies; 4. Kyle Freeland, Rockies; 5. Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks.
AL Rookie of the Year
Shohei Ohtani, Angels. Ohtani came from Japan hyped as the next Babe Ruth and he has indeed showed the ability to excel as both a pitcher and a hitter, though a torn ligament in his pitching elbow limited him to 10 starts. He went 4-2 with a 3.30 ERA on the mound, striking out 63 in 51 2/3 innings with a 1.16 WHIP. He has also been a force at the plate, hitting .290/.370/.587 with 20 home runs in 102 games.
The rest of the ballot: 2. Miguel Andujar, Yankees; 3. Brad Keller, Royals.
NL Rookie of the Year:
Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves. The 20-year-old outfielder has handled himself like someone much older in helping Atlanta to the precipice of the NL East title. He is batting .292/.368/.574 with 25 home runs and 14 stolen bases in just 98 games. He has led off the first inning with a homer eight times, which is a franchise record. It is easy to envision Acuna and Washington Nationals 19-year-old wunderkind Juan Soto competing for the NL MVP award for many years to come.
The rest of the ballot: 2. Juan Soto, Nationals; 3. Walker Buehler, Dodgers.