With the MLB finally reaching the home stretch of its schedule, it seems like it is finally the appropriate time to start the obligatory recap of the full season. This season has contained a whirlwind of excitement and has entertained fans for seven months.
As it winds down, we are being treated to a bevy of captivating playoff races across the American League (AL) and National League (NL) (AL West, NL Central, NL and AL Wild Card, NL West) that will surely prove to provide plenty of memorable moments in the coming weeks.
In conjunction with the entertaining team efforts that we have seen throughout the entire season, MLB fans have had a front row seat to amazing individual performances throughout the League.
From a potential Triple Crown winner, to a rookie two-way sensation, to a pitcher trying to carry an entire team on his back, there has been no shortage of deserving, season-long campaigns for the various awards that are presented at the end of the MLB season.
These are my predictions for all of the important end-of-season awards, for both the AL and the NL. All statistics are as of Wednesday, Sept. 12.
AL: J.D. Martinez, Left Fielder, Boston Red Sox
NL: Javier Báez, Second Baseman, Chicago Cubs
It would make sense that the best player leading almost every offensive category for the best team in the entire MLB would be a leading candidate for the Most Valuable Player award, wouldn’t it?
J.D. Martinez, possibly the best free agent signing in recent history, has been one of the catalysts for the Boston Red Sox, who lead the AL East and have 99 wins, the entire year. Martinez is currently the only legitimate candidate for the AL Triple Crown, which is given to the person who leads in the three major offensive categories; batting average, home runs and RBI.
He has a wins above replacement number at 5.8, and has already logged career highs in total hits and RBI. It doesn’t hurt his case that the Red Sox are the best team in the MLB.
Javier Báez has flipped the script on his public perception in the League. Early in his career, he was viewed as an electric, streaky and often inconsistent defensive talent. This year, he has turned into the model of consistency, spearheading the Chicago Cubs’ quest to return to the World Series.
He has reached a career high in RBI (100), a career high in home runs (30) and career highs in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He has also been a game changer in the field, helping to cut down runners on steal attempts and reduce baserunners with his range. Without Báez, the Cubs would not be where they are this season.
AL: Blake Snell, Starting Pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays
NL: Jacob deGrom, Starting Pitcher, New York Mets
Blake Snell is probably the second best pitcher on a non-playoff team this year (they’re still 79-65 as of Wednesday, which is better than any NL West team).
He has boasted a record of 18-5 and the second lowest earned run average in the AL at 2.06. He also has the lowest opponent batting average on balls in play in the AL at .238, meaning that even when hitters are able to make contact with his pitches, they rarely produce a positive result.
This impressive record even comes with the Tampa Bay Rays utilizing the “opener” technique, where they have a relief pitcher start the game for three innings, instead of the conventional use of the starting pitcher. His transcendent effort on the Rays should be more than enough reason to give him the award.
When I said that Blake Snell is the second best pitcher on a non-playoff team this year, I had Jacob deGrom in mind for the first place slot. Yes, he has a record of eight wins and nine losses. Yes, he plays on the New York Mets. But these facts should not be held against him. He has 25 quality starts, which is the second most in the League, behind Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer’s 26.
He also boasts an earned run average of 1.71, a WHIP of 0.95 and has recorded 239 strikeouts. His numbers are akin to the year in which Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw won both the NL MVP and Cy Young awards, if not better. His individual effort among the mediocrity of the Mets sets him apart from the rest.
Rookie of the Year
AL: Miguel Andujar, Third Baseman, New York Yankees
NL: Ronald Acuña Jr., Left Fielder, Atlanta Braves
The embarrassment of riches available to the Yankees is disrespectful to everyone else in the league, maybe besides the Boston Red Sox, who seem to care little about the Yankees. Andujar has stepped up to lead the Bronx Bombers’ young core, putting up huge numbers.
He is currently batting .299, with 23 home runs and 79 RBIs. He has also put up 153 hits this season, with a bawdy amount of doubles, 40 to be exact. His numbers are just a step above those of Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, who is Andujar’s only real competition for the award.
The table-setter for the Atlanta Braves has lit teams up at the start of games this season. Earlier this past week, Acuña tied the Braves franchise record for most leadoff home runs in a season with eight. This added to his 25 total home runs, leading all rookies. He has also posted a .290 batting average while logging 24 doubles, and a very respectable on-base plus slugging of .940. His role as the catalyst for Atlanta’s talented offense has been pivotal to their success this season, helping to lead them to the top of the NL East.