Commentary: MLB Preseason Awards predictions


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After a stellar performance in the World Baseball Classic, will Shohei Ohtani be able to bring home hardware at the end of the season?

It’s time for baseball! The season kicks off today and why not take a stab at predicting the awards winners in the MLB?

Rookie of the Year

AL: Gunnar Henderson, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles almost walked away with this award last year, when catcher Adley Rutschman finished second in voting behind the Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez. Baltimore has a herd of prospects who could make a case for the award. However, the obvious selection is Henderson. He is baseball’s number one prospect, with a 65 overall grade (on the scouting grading scale). The 2019 second rounder is a true five-tool player, with his defense being his “weakness.” Henderson had a cup of coffee with the big club at the end of the last season, and he showed why he is the favorite to take home the award this year. He has the potential for a 25-home run, 25-stolen base season and should finish the season with a few MVP votes.

Other candidates: Anthony Volpe, SS, New York Yankees; Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles; Taj Bradley, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays; Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox; Logan O’Hoppe, C, Los Angeles Angels

NL: Corbin Carroll, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks have three prospects among the top 15 in baseball. While Jordan Lawlar and Druw Jones aren’t expected to debut this season, Arizona’s top prospect, Corbin Carroll, shoud be a focal point of their lineup. The 22-year-old outfielder began his season in AA, followed by a 33-game stint in AAA, ending his season with the pro club. Carroll is an all-around whiz, with speed graded as his best trait, sitting at 80 on the prospect grading scale. He proved the grades were correct with his 33 steals between AA, AAA and the big leagues.

Carroll also showed his hitting ability across all three levels, while proving he is going to be a defense anchor in the Diamondbacks’ outfield for years to come, with four defensive runs saved (DRS) over only 32 games. Carroll is going to get around 500 at bats this season, barring injury, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he tallies 25 doubles, 20 home runs, a handful of triples and at least 30 stolen bases, which is low-balling him.

Other candidates: Jordan Walker, OF/3B, St. Louis Cardinals; Andrew Painter, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies; Bobby Miller, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers; Sal Frelick, OF, Milwaukee Brewers; Kodai Senga, RHP, New York Mets

Cy Young

AL: Shane Bieber, RHP, Cleveland Guardians

Since joining the league, Bieber has been one of the most consistently dominant pitchers in baseball. Bieber previously won the award during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He finished last year within the top 20 for nearly every major pitching statistic, including fielding independent pitching (FIP), walks per nine, home runs per nine, earned run average (ERA), wins above replacement (WAR), innings and strikeouts.

Although his strikeouts per nine numbers dipped last year, Bieber dominated in Spring Training, seeing his strikeout per nine climb. He is the Opening Day starter for the Guardians and if he continues that Spring Training dominance, Bieber will hoist his second Cy Young.

Other candidates: Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Los Angeles Angels; Framber Valez, LHP, Houston Astros; Jacob deGrom, RHP, Texas Rangers; Dylan Cease, RHP, Chicago White Sox; Shane McClanahan, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

NL: Zac Gallen, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

This year is one of resurgence for Arizona. It’s time for the team to turn around the trajectory they’ve been on the past few seasons. One of the keys to this turnaround will be ace Zac Gallen. Gallen has been a solid pitcher since joining the league in 2019. Last year was his first full season, as other years were hindered by injuries and COVID-19. In his first full season, he dominated, finishing in the top 15 in nearly every major pitching category, en route to a fifth-place finish in the NL Cy Young race.

Gallen put up his career best in walks per nine, home runs per nine, opponents’ batting average, walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP), strikeout-to-walk ratio, and FIP. He’s earned the nod as Opening Day starter, proving that the organization has confidence that he’s their guy. Gallen is going to use that confidence to bring home the first Cy Young Award of his young career.

Other candidates: Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Miami Marlins; Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies; Corbin Burnes, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers; Justin Verlander, RHP, New York Mets; Yu Darvish, RHP, San Diego Padres

Most Valuable Player

AL: Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Los Angeles Angels

Shohei Ohtani has been a once in a lifetime talent since joining the majors. Whether it be his pitching brilliance or outstanding offense output, there is no denying his greatness. He won the award in 2021, and followed it up with arguably a better season in 2022. Despite the brilliant 2022 season, Ohtani placed second in AL MVP voting, behind Aaron Judge, who set the AL single season home run record. Ohtani’s dominance on both sides of the ball gives him an unfair advantage in the voting, but who can deny his dual threat ability? If anyone could do it, then why wouldn’t they?

Ohtani is in his final season under contract with the Angels, and players usually perform better during a contract season. On top of that, Ohtani dominated in the World Baseball Classic, helping Team Japan win its third title while earning the MVP. All signs point to Ohtani clinching the second MVP award of his career.

Other candidates: Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees; José Ramírez, 3B, Cleveland Guardians; Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Toronto Blue Jays; Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels; Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

NL: Nolan Arenado, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis brought home this award last season, thanks to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Teammate Nolan Arenado finished third in MVP voting. Arenado has finished Top-10 in MVP voting six times and placed third twice. He is arguably the greatest defender in baseball history, with 10 Gold Gloves and six Platinum Gloves.

Along with his lockdown defense, Arenado’s bat isn’t two shabby, contributing seven seasons of at least 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in, leading to five Silver Sluggers. Arenado finished in the Top 10 in slugging percentage, on base plus slugging (OPS) and weighted runs created plus (WRC+). Arenado is so long overdue for his nod as MVP, and this will be the season he finally brings home the one piece of hardware that’s eluded him.

Other candidates: Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres; Trea Turner, SS, Philadelphia Phillies; Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals; Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers; Juan Soto, OF, San Diego Padres

All stats are from FanGraphs as of March 29.

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