Our prayers have been answered and baseball will likely be returning by late July. There is truly no way to predict how a 60 game season will pan out given the chaotic nature of such a small sample size. We can expect, however, to see some rather comical stat lines among the league leaders and award recipients.
As a refresher, here are the players that took home the most coveted hardware last year.
NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander
NL MVP: Cody Bellinger
AL MVP: Mike Trout
One can assume that three of the four previous winners are amongst the favorites to repeat (sorry Justin). But after a few years of predictable winners, it may be time for a darkhorse to sneak into the conversation. The 60 game season and late start is truly the perfect storm for this scenario to occur. Here are my predictions for the MVP and CY Young awards that may not be on everyone else’s lists.
NL Cy Young: Chris Paddack
Chris Paddack had a very solid rookie year with the San Diego Padres going 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA. Now that the Padres rebuild is officially over it is time for youngsters like Paddack to step up. His mid 90’s heater and mid 80’s change have often left hitters looking foolish at the plate. If Paddack can overcome the sophomore slump I can see him making some serious noise in a competitively daunting NL West.
AL Cy Young: Sean Manaea
For those who follow my writing (Hi mom and dad), this prediction was…well… predictable. I have been patiently waiting for Sean Manaea to become a star or at the very least beat the injury bug. This year is the year! “The Throwin’ Samoan” has some of the nastiest stuff in the MLB as was displayed in his 2018 no-hitter against the soon to be World Series Champion Red Sox. A healthy Sean Manaea is an evergreen Cy Young candidate in my book. I will continue to wipe the egg off my face until he pitches to the apex of his potential.
NL MVP: Ketel Marte
I would venture to guess that the average MLB fan couldn’t even name what team Ketel Marte played for. Despite his unknown factor, he finished 4th in MVP voting batting .329 with 32 HR and 92 RBI with a whopping 7.2 WAR. The Diamondbacks made some excellent free agent moves by adding Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte which should draw more attention to the team as a whole. If Marte can replicate last year’s success I don’t see why he doesn’t finish top 3 in NL MVP voting or better.
AL MVP: Yandy Diaz
This one is my biggest longshots considering Yandy Diaz has never played more than 80 games in a season. But that also makes the 60 game schedule ideal for a player like him. Diaz is an absolute specimen and he showcased his power against the Oakland Athletics in the AL Wild Card game last year hitting two home runs. In a shortened season, every game counts a little bit more and Yandy Diaz has proved he can step up when it matters most.