Over the next week, The Redbird Daily writers will be participating in a few roundtable discussions on the upcoming Major League Baseball season. We would love for you to join the discussion by commenting below with your picks! Today we will tackle the major awards.
National League MVP:
Clay – I’ll get things started off here with a bang, and go with Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. It’s hard not to just be enamored with everything he does, both defensively and offensively. What you like about MVP candidates, especially when predicting them, is guys that are rising. What is scary about Arenado is that he might actually be getting better, after finishing 5th and 8th in MVP voting the last two seasons. Zach will love me for looking this up, but his GB/FB rates as well as hard hit rates aren’t slowing down either. This guy flat out mashes the ball, and don’t be surprised if he takes home the trophy at the end of the season.
Kyle Reis – First, I have to issue a disclaimer: I have never made these predictions before. I avoid them like the plague. “Why?” you might ask? BECAUSE THE BBWAA IS A SANCTIMONIOUS GROUP OF PRE-MADONNA’S THAT VALUE AN EXTINCT TRADITION OF PUTTING THEMSELVES AND THEIR POLITICS BEFORE THE SPORT AND ITS PLAYERS. That being said, Arenado will carry the Rox to the playoffs. Honorable mention for Bryce Harper, who’ll finish second.
Ryan Massey – When the Washington Nationals traded for Adam Eaton in December, I could only imagine the salivating from Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper. By acquiring Eaton, the Nats landed an on-base machine. The big winner in this trade will be Daniel Murphy, who will get the advantage of having Eaton hitting in front of him and Harper hitting behind him for protection. This is why Daniel Murphy is my pick to win the 2017 MVP.
Colin Garner – This won’t make Cardinals fans happy, but I have to go with Kris Bryant. He’s coming off a year in which he was worth 8.4 WAR and won a world title. For a while, it looked like he might power hitter who struck out a ton. But he brought his strikeout rate down to 22.0% from 30.6% in just his second full season, while still managing to increase is isolated slugging. Kris Bryant might be the best hitter in the NL Central since Albert Pujols (no disrespect to Joey Votto and Andrew McCutchen), and he’s my pick for NL MVP.
Austin Lamb – Bryce Harper bounces back and leads the Nationals to the best record in baseball and takes home his second MVP award. He may not match his unbelievable numbers from 2015, but he doesn’t have to. Harper’s season last year was a tale of two halves, and his second half was not good. At the all-star break he had an .891 OPS, 19 HR, 13 SB, 50 R, and 52 RBI, if he could’ve finished like he started he would’ve been a top three finisher. He needs to boost his batting average significantly over last season to appease the BBWAA, but we know he’ll have a few votes thrown his way merely for how good the team is.
Adam Butler – I’ll put my money on Corey Seager. He posted a 7.5 fWAR last season which was second to only Kris Bryant in the National league. He had a .308/.365/.512 batting line while playing very good defense at shortstop. He did all of this despite a 33.2% O-Swing% (percentage of pitches swung at outside of the strike zone). If he can tighten up the screws in his second season and improve his plate discipline then we’re looking at a player that will be tough to beat for MVP for years to come.
John Nagel – If the voters average age was slightly younger, I would probably join Adam and choose Corey Seager, however the voters are not young and hip to sabermetrics. I am going to be the third writer to choose Nolan Arenado. The Rockies look like they could be a solid team and could make the playoffs for the first time in a while. The man leading them there will get significant recognition.
Zach Gifford – I wouldn’t bet on a Rockie to win anything. Voters discredit everything done in Colorado, even though Arenado is almost as good on the road as he is at home over the last two seasons. I like that Clay went and found the contact stats, but I also see his exit velocity was down a little more than a MPH last year. He still hit the ball hard though, like Clay said. He’ll have a big year, but he won’t get votes.
I’m torn between Seager, Bryant, and Harper. I wouldn’t root for a Cub to win anything, so Bryant’s out. I buy into everything Seager did last year, and I think he gets up over 30 homers this year. He plays most glorified position in baseball, will probably score more than 100 runs, and might rack up 80 RBI. It’ll be a close race between him and Harper, but I’ll go with Seager.
Rusty Groppel – My First instinct was Nolan Arenado, and I can see that I’m not alone on that. The Rockies could be a serious contender this year and he is by far their best player. However, being part of a fairly stacked lineup could cost him some votes when purist writers consider the “valuable” part of the equation. I’m actually going to throw Paul Goldschmidt in as the wild card. He’s finished 2nd twice before. He dropped to 24 HR last season but swiped 32 bags. If he puts up a 30/30 season while maintaining his usual stellar numbers and Arizona even sniffs .500, he has shot.
National League Cy Young
Clay – Noah Syndergaard. Thor. Whatever you want to call the man, I think it is his year. He is now the legitimate ace of the New York Mets pitching staff, and looks really, really good. He is even hitting triple digits at times on the radar gun. At times overshadowed by guys like Matt Harvey, Syndergaard will look to take the reins as the true number one in the Big Apple, and bring home a Cy Young this season.
Kyle Reis – Is Clayton Kershaw still in the league? He is? OK, I’ll take him. He started only 21 games in 2016 and he still should have been the Cy winner. He’s the best pitcher in the world by a long shot and, yes, I do realize how good Thor and Scherzer are.
Ryan Massey – Madison Bumgarner… I really don’t want to talk about it.. He’s good, and he owns the Cardinals.
Colin Garner – Viva el Gallo! Carlos Martinez will win the NL Cy Young in 2017. He’s increased his innings each year, and is set to reach the 200 IP threshold for the first time. He posted a 3.04 ERA last year, despite being backed by one of the worst defenses in the league. I think the Cardinals will challenge the Cubs in the division more than people think, and Carlos will lead the charge. He’ll have plenty of chances to impress on national television against the reigning World Champion Cubs (wow, that hurt to type), with the first coming on Opening Day.
Austin Lamb – Until he is retired, I will never pick against Kershaw to win this award. He is the best pitcher on the planet, and has historically been healthy unlike last season. He was on his way to the Cy last year before the injury cost him significant time.
Adam Butler – This one is easy, it’s Clayton Kershaw. Injury is seemingly the only thing that can keep him from performing like the best pitcher in baseball. This is an all time great.
John Nagel – Kershaw it is. The greatest pitcher since the Maddux generation. Like Austin said, never pick against him. That is unless he is facing the Cardinals in the playoffs…..
Zach Gifford – Give me Kershaw. He had arguable the best season of his career last year, and I’d expect more production close to that level. In his worst statistical year since 2011, he finished 2nd in the voting and should have won.
Rusty Groppel – No crazy ideas here, I have to roll with Kershaw. He was denied last year only because injury held him to 21 starts, and it was still highly debatable.
National League Rookie of the Year
Clay – I want to pick him just for having a really cool name, but his baseball ability isn’t bad either. Dansby Swanson should be the National League ROY, and in my opinion, it won’t even be close. He looks, plays and acts like a Major League shortstop, and the Atlanta Braves could not be more ready to see him for a full year. In limited action last season, he hit .302 and look polished around the infield. The Braves have found a keeper in Swanson, now to just figure out the rest of that mess they call a ball club…
Kyle Reis – Finally, I’m in my element. Does Jose Martinez count? Kidding. Dansby Swanson is the obvious answer, but I’m not sold on his long term viability. Hell, or his short term viability, for that matter. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Koda Glover saves 45 games and K’s a guy per for the Nationals and wins NL Rookie Of The Year.
Ryan Massey – Dansby Swanson had 129 at-bats for the Braves in 2016. That was convenient as 130 at-bats would have ended his rookie eligibility. He slashed a 302/361/442 last year. I think this gives him a big advantage over the field. He’s practically a veteran. I think he runs away with the NL Rookie of the year. This is yet another sore subject for me because Swanson was acquired by Atlanta via the Shelby Miller trade.
Colin Garner – Everyone’s picking Dansby Swanson, and they’re probably right. But I’m going with Padres outfielder Hunter Renfroe. In AAA last season, he hit .306 with 30 bombs, and impressed in a MLB cameo, hitting .371 with 4 homers in just 36 plate appearances. Plus, a big season from Renfroe would be huge for my fantasy team.
Austin Lamb – When you consider the hair, the name, and the skills. How does Dansby not bring it home? Going out on a limb with my honorable mention to Cody Bellinger from the Dodgers. He absolutely mashes and has the versatility to crack that shaky Dodgers outfield.
Adam Butler – I’ll go with a bit of a dark horse here and say Amir Garrett from Cincinnati. With the injury to Anthony DeSclafani it appears that Garrett will start the season in the Reds rotation. They’ve done a pretty good job developing pitchers lately. Garrett had a 2.55 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP between AA and AAA last season. I expect his success to continue in the majors.
John Nagel – I really want to pick Dansby Swanson, but I won’t because that appears to be the “cool” thing to do. This really should be Alex Reyes, but that isn’t happening. I will go with a darkhorse and select Tyler Glasnow of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Zach Gifford – John stole my pick, Tyler Glasnow. I’m not sold as an MLB hitter yet (I know, he will be), but I think Glasnow comes in and makes an immediate impact. I’ve read more about him this offseason than I probably cared to, and I’m blanking on any other possibilities. That must mean there aren’t any.
Rusty Groppel – It would be fun to debate between a hitter and pitcher here, but with the unfortunate demise of Alex Reyes, it has to be Swanson. The fun part of ROY is that there could be an Aledmys Diaz-type candidate out there that we aren’t expecting.
American League MVP
Clay: Manny Machado deserves one, and I think one of these years, namely 2017, he gets it. He just has to stay healthy. His talent is unreal, the numbers will come, and as a result, so will the votes.
Kyle Reis – As my selection for NL Cy Young indicates, I’m all about correcting past-wrongs. Mookie Betts is the best player in the AL. Mike Trout and his high WAR(lol) might have been “instrumental” in helping the Angels go 74-88 in 2016, but Mookie got the Red Sox to the playoffs. He’s a better RF than Trout is a CF, and he’s your AL MVP.
Colin Garner – Its hard to bet against Mike Trout, but since I already picked Bryant in the NL and don’t want to pick only the reigning MVP’s, I’ll take a dark horse: Francisco Lindor. The Indians shortstop is the cornerstone of the franchise, and linchpin of both their offense and defense. He was 8th in WAR in MLB (although he was 3.1 wins worse than Trout). He’s still only 23 years old, the Indians are favorites to win the AL Central, and flashed power in the WBC that indicates he could hit more than 15 home runs. Plus, voters could tire of voting for Trout year after year.
Austin Lamb – Just like my comment on not picking against Kershaw for NL Cy Young, I can’t pick against Mike Trout for AL MVP. He’s finished top two every year of his career and could bring it home again this season. However, Mookie is just as good and plays for a winning team, so he could very easily win with Trout second.
Adam Butler – This is Mike Trout. Mookie Betts gave him a run for his money last season but Betts had a breakout season which is likely to be his career year. Trout had just another normal Trout season. The only argument against this guy is “Well we can’t give it to Trout EVERY year”.
John Nagel – Like I said with Clayton Kershaw, I will never bet against Mike Trout.
Zach Gifford – Mike Trout in what should be a landslide, as the Angels make the playoffs by winning the AL West while also winning less games than the St. Louis Cardinals.
Rusty Groppel – I think Trout takes this. If the Angels climb over .500, it’s a slam dunk.
American League Cy Young
Clay – This might be somewhat of a reach in some circles, but in others, maybe not so much. I fangirl’ed out over Marcus Stroman during the World Baseball Classic, and I am still riding the hype train. He took a no-no against Team Puerto Rico into the seventh for crying out loud! Clearly the guy has really good stuff. Stroman is looking to bounce back after an abysmal 2016, and has the potential to win in what I consider to be a down year for pitching in the American League.
Kyle Reis – Speaking of correcting the wrongs of the past, Rick Porcello is the worst choice ever for a Cy Young winners. Just wanted to throw that out there. I’m all in on Yu Darvish. His stuff is electric and he is healthy. He and Chris Sale finish 1 and 2, respectively. My potential surprise qualifier is Lance McCullers. Keep an eye out for his big breakout.
Ryan Massey – Like Clay, I too developed a man crush on Marcus Stroman in the WBC. Every pitch he throws has plus movement. However, I think this year will belong to Corey Kluber. He had a 2.52 ERA in the 2nd half of 2016, and threw 22 quality starts last year. He seems hungry and ready to go.
Colin Garner – Corey Kluber. If you haven’t noticed, I’m really high on the Indians this year. There’s no disputing Kluber is in the upper-echelon of American League pitchers, and I think he has a career year coming off a World Series appearance. I’d also keep an eye on Yu Darvish, who’s downright nasty and should be healthy this season.
Austin Lamb – The Red Sox have back to back Cy Young winners, but this year Chris Sale takes home the hardware. He will thrive from being on the big stage and finally having a contending team behind him. Let’s just hope the Red Sox don’t have any throwback uniforms they make him wear…
Adam Butler – I’ll go with another dark horse for this award with James Paxton. He lowered his arm slot last year and somehow found a significant increase in velocity, and I’m a sucker for a lefty that sits in the upper 90’s. There were some bumps in the road as he switched to his new arm slot. He wasn’t able to throw his curveball initially, which is the pitch that made him a prospect in the first place. Even through these struggles he managed 8.7 k/9, 1.79 BB/9 and a 2.80 FIP. There are big things to come for Paxton.
John Nagel – I will go with Chris Sale for AL Cy Young. He is moving from the Midwest to the East Coast. He will be more well known, if that is even possible.
Zach Gifford – Chris Archer. He was better last year than he gets credit for: his strikeout rate was strong, his BABIP was about in line with his career. He did give up a lot of hard contact, though. I don’t expect that to continue this season.
Rusty Groppel – I have to go with my boy Corey Kluber (and not just because he’s on my fantasy team). The dude is a monster. It took him most of the first half to find consistency, he kind of alternated between crazy good and decidedly mediocre games. I think he hits the ground running and wins it.
American League Rookie of the Year
Clay: This should be a two horse race between Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada. For me, I give the slight edge to Benintendi, as he’s going to be the everyday starter for the Boston Red Sox come Opening Day in left field. He is a special player to watch. He is a 70-grade hitter, and there is talk he may even hit for more power this year with his improved physique after adding some weight during the offseason. That only bodes well for his ROTY status, and the people of Beantown.
Kyle Reis – Coming off of an injury that cost him all of 2016, Greg Bird came 27 2015 AB away from qualifying for ROY, and that would have been the easy answer for me. I absolutely love the way that Jharel Cotton pitches. His repertoire and command have me really rooting for him. I’ll take him just barely over the highly touted Andrew Benintendi.
Ryan Massey- I still can’t believe the Boston Red Sox trade Yoan Moncada to Chicago for Chris Sale. This kid is the real deal. He has patience at the plate, quick hands, and a high baseball IQ. This kid could be something really special. (The White Sox just became relevant again)
Colin Garner – I’ll take Aaron Judge for AL R.O.Y. He plays in a small ballpark and huge market, and if the Yankees can return to the postseason, it will be a major story all summer long. Look for Aaron Judge to be right in the middle of it all.
Austin Lamb – The Red Sox could sweep all three major awards with Benintendi as the AL ROY. The team is good, he is good, and just like Dansby, look at the flow. He will benefit from the stacked lineup around him and being in the majors all season to boost his stats for the writers.
Adam Butler – I’m going with the favorite here and taking Andrew Benintendi. This guy is awesome. He has a great approach at the plate with a great hit tool and some pop. He can steal some bases too. He looks to be just an all around great player and could run away with the R.O.Y title if everything clicks for him.
John Nagel – I will join Colin in picking Aaron Judge. The guy is a beast and I would not want him to know I picked against him.
Zach Gifford – I’m going with Aaron Judge. He might not have the best statistical year among rookies, but he’ll hit enough majestic bombs to make up for it.
Rusty Groppel – I’m going to go with Benintendi. There are plenty of good hitters that lineup, which will keep the pressure off and allow him to do his thing.
Here is a recap of our picks
Kyle – Nolan Arenado
Ryan – Daniel Murphy
Colin – Kris Bryant
Austin – Bryce Harper
Adam – Corey Seager
John – Nolan Arenado
NL Cy Young
Kyle – Clayton Kershaw
Ryan – Madison Bumgarner
Colin – Carlos Martinez
Austin – Clayton Kershaw
Adam – Clayton Kershaw
John – Clayton Kershaw
NL Rookie of the Year
Kyle – Koda Glover
Ryan – Dansby Swanson
Colin – Hunter Renfroe
Austin – Dansby Swanson
Adam – Amir Garrett
John – Tyler Glasnow
Kyle – Mookie Betts
Ryan – Mookie Betts
Colin – Francisco Lindor
Austin – Mike Trout
Adam – Mike Trout
John – Mike Trout
AL Cy Young
Kyle – Yu Darvish
Ryan – Corey Kluber
Colin – Corey Kluber
Austin – Chris Sale
Adam – James Paxton
John – Chris Sale
AL Rookie of the Year
Kyle – Jharel Cotton
Ryan – Yoan Moncada
Colin – Aaron Judge
Austin – Andrew Benintendi
Adam – Andrew Benintendi
John – Aaron Judge