It is #AwardsSZN in the MLB, with the finalists being announced this past Monday. There were some snubs, mainly J.D. Martinez not being a finalist when he beat Jose Ramirez in every category, but no other clear-cut winners were left off any list of finalists. Here are my picks for the 2018 MLB Awards.
Mookie Betts, BOS—32 HR, 80 RBI, .346/.438/.640
The Red Sox and Mookie Betts had a magical season, and it will end with an MVP season for the latter. The real MVP discussion is between Betts and Trout. Trout had a great season, hitting 39 homers and driving in 79 runs. He also led the league in OPS. However, Betts bested him in RBI, runs hits, doubles, batting average, stolen bases, and slugging percentage. Pretty cut and dry. Also, remember everyone harping on Trout having the best WAR? Yeah, Betts beat him, 10.9 to 10.2. Betts had the highest WAR in a season since Bonds in 2002.
Christian Yelich, MIL—36 HR, 110 RBI, .326/.402/.598
100 games into the season, there were no clear MVP candidates in the NL. Then, Christian Yelich happened. After the All-Star break, Yelich hit 25 homers, drove in 67 runs, and slashed .367/.449/.770, completely driving any other MVP candidates off of the ladder. He was also putting the league on Triple Crown watch in the season’s final days, and ended up leading the Brewers to coming within one win of the World Series
AL Cy Young
Blake Snell, TBR—21-5, 1.89 ERA, 221 K, 180 2/3 IP
One of my good friends, Erik Ostberg, who is a catcher in the Rays organization, told me before the season that after talking with Blake Snell, he knew he was going off this year, and he was right. The lefty finished north of 20 wins with an ERA below 2.00, leading the Rays to a quiet 90-win season. Chris Sale was the only other candidate for this award, but he faded down the stretch. Watch out for Blake Snell next year.
NL Cy Young
Jacob deGrom, NYM—10-9, 1.70 ERA, 269 K, 217 IP
Yeah, deGrom’s season was a weird one. Consider this; if the Mets gave him 3 runs of support every game, Jacob deGrom would have been 30-0. Forget the win-loss record. Jacob deGrom was the best pitcher in the NL, and don’t be surprised to see him somewhere near the top of the NL MVP voting, too.
AL Rookie of the Year
Shohei Ohtani, LAA—22 HR, 61 RBI, .285/.361/.564, 3.31 ERA in 10 starts
One of the biggest stories leading up to the 2018 season was whether Shohei Ohtani was for real. He was. His hitting numbers might have been almost enough to win him this award, but his pitching numbers put him over the top. Not only did he have an OPS over .900, but he also had a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings. Ohtani-san will be the AL Rookie of the Year.
NL Rookie of the Year
Ronald Acuña, Jr, ATL—26 HR, 64 RBI, .293/.366/.552
Acuña won this award in July and August by hitting all of those leadoff home runs. Seriously, he beat out Juan Soto over the course of two months, not only by his leadoff homers, but by his consistent hitting that led his Braves to the NL East crown. Acuña’s electrifying style of play captured the hearts of many Braves fans and had them calling for Jose Urena’s head after intentionally hitting him to lead off a game. Acuña was always in the middle of the action and will be for years to come.