Predicting the 2017 MLB awards

By Justin Hubbard

 

Earlier this week, the finalists for the annual Major League Baseball awards were announced.

I would like to take some time and dissect each award and name the man I think is most deserving of it. Will you disagree with me at some point? Yep, most likely.

Regardless, this can be a fun exercise, and despite whatever differences of opinion you and I may encounter, it’ll be fun to look back on what was a fantastic season of pro baseball.

NL MVP Finalists: Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto and Giancarlo Stanton

While Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto each turned in their typical solid seasons, Stanton did something special: He made us care about a team with a losing record.

Stanton chased down Roger Maris’ mark of 61 home runs. Although 61 homers in one season isn’t technically the record, the men ahead of Maris on the list – Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa – had their names marred during the Steroid Era.

As such, most consider Maris’ 61-homer season (1961) the true benchmark. Stanton finished just two shy, blasting 59 dingers. His batting average was .281, a pretty great mark for a power hitter, and he led the National League in RBIs (132) and slugging percentage (.631). He also had the highest offensive wins above replacement (WAR) in the NL, 6.5.

Give this one to Stanton, and please give him to a better team so he can actually win a few ball games.

AL MVP Finalists: Aaron Judge, Jose Ramirez and Jose Altuve

A young superstar like Aaron Judge is great for baseball. Judge took the world by storm this season with his mammoth home runs and helped power the New York Yankees to an ALCS appearance, where they fell to the Houston Astros.

Ironically, the primary star leading the Astros – Jose Altuve – is the one I think most deserves this award. Judge was great in many aspects. He drilled 52 home runs to lead the American League, batted .284 and ranked second in the AL in overall WAR (8.1).

The man ahead of Judge in overall WAR was Altuve (8.3) and he should win AL MVP. Altuve batted .346 to lead the AL and he led the league in hits with 204. A case can be made for either man, but I think Altuve’s consistency makes him the favorite.

NL Cy Young Finalists: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw

This might be the most difficult one to predict. While I don’t think Stephen Strasburg turned in an overall resume good enough to win (despite how good he was in the second half of the year), a strong argument can be posed for both Scherzer and Kershaw.

It’s my opinion that Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet. He’s accomplished great things and dominated along the way. I’m a big fan of his but I must say this award belongs to Scherzer.

The Washington Nationals ace pitched almost 26 more innings than Kershaw yet still finished with fewer hits and homers allowed. The two pitchers’ ERAs weren’t too different, either, with Kershaw’s 2.31 ERA edging Scherzer’s 2.51. Scherzer had a slight edge in walks plus hits per inning (WHIP) with a mark of .902, which led the NL.

Style points count, too – Scherzer had an NL-best 268 strikeouts whereas Kershaw had 202.

AL Cy Young Finalists: Chris Sale, Luis Severino and Corey Kluber

Much like with the NL Cy Young, this feels like a two-horse race and there’s no clear favorite.

Chris Sale was probably going to win this outright up until he struggled a bit, relatively speaking, during the final two months of the season. It won’t help him that Corey Kluber went on a tear during the closing months.

Give Kluber the edge with this award, but don’t be shocked if Sale wins it.

NL Rookie of the Year Finalists: Paul DeJong, Josh Bell and Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger was a huge reason why the Los Angeles Dodgers made it to the World Series.

The right fielder/first baseman smacked an NL rookie record 39 home runs and had a .267/.581/.933 line. It will be interesting to see if Bellinger can find more consistency and patience (he had 146 strikeouts) but, for the purposes of a ROY award, Bellinger’s the clear favorite.

AL Rookie of the Year Finalists: Aaron Judge, Andrew Benintendi and Trey Mancini

As I mentioned above, Judge had a phenomenal freshman campaign. Benintendi and Mancini were more consistent in some respects, but the AL home run champion will cruise to the AL ROY.

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