With spring training inching ever closer, now is the perfect time to take a look forward at the upcoming season to see just who will win the game's greatest awards. While both leagues are chock full of fantastic players, these are the men that will bring home the hardware.
Rookie of the Year
AL: Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays
In last year's playoffs, we got a real glimpse of how spectacular this guy is. In 2012, we're going to see it for a full season, and he's not going to disappoint.
With David Price and James Shields, the Rays already have a strong 1-2 punch. With Moore on board for a full season, they will make another run to the postseason, again going toe to toe with the high-profile Yankees and Red Sox.
Moore will be a big part of that, as he leaves very few breaks in the Tampa rotation. Look for them to be conservative with Moore early in the year, but he'll be turned loose at the end. That is where the award will be won.
NL: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Will Anthony Rizzo hit 20 or more HRs in 2012?
Unlike Moore, Rizzo isn't going to win this award during a pennant race. Quite the opposite, as the Cubs are effectively out of the playoffs right now.
But what that means is that Rizzo will get a lot of at-bats, which will turn into a strong season. Bryce Harper will likely make his debut this season, but I would look at him more for 2013, as he won't get the plate appearances needed to rack up ROTY numbers.
Rizzo is a good hitter and has been the prize of a few different farm systems. The third time will be the charm for him, as Rizzo will give the Cubs a nice building block for future seasons.
Cy Young Award
AL: Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels
This is the year that all of the talent that he obviously has is going to turn into a big season. Los Angeles now has the kind of offense needed to give Weaver a lot of run support, as the addition of Albert Pujols is going to put everyone in a proper position in the order.
That is really going to work to his favor, as Weaver won't have to paint corners anymore. His team can score runs and a lot of them. The plus to that is that Weaver's stuff is good enough that he can challenge the plate and still allow basically no loud contact.
He has been good before, but in 2012, everyone is going to see that this is one of baseball's elite arms.
NL: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
Very little needs to be said about Halladay. He is a true throwback in that when Halladay takes the ball, there is an excellent chance he'll finish the game off. Doc is undeniably the best pitcher in the game, and it's going to show again this year.
Most Valuable Player
AL: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Will Robinson Cano hit 30 or more HRs?
While they still have a lot of big-name hitters capable of getting hot, the Yankees are an aging lineup. Yet, they will still make the playoffs and have a strong offense.
Why am I so confident? Simple. They have Robinson Cano.
Playing in Yankee Stadium, the numbers are going to be plentiful. There is no real way to pitch around him in that lineup and the men will still be on base to drive in. On top of that, Cano plays a solid second base.
No player in baseball can beat you in as many ways as Cano. He will drive the Yankees all year and will claim the MVP.
NL: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Playing in Cincinnati with quality hitters up and down the lineup, a Triple Crown is a distinct possibility. Votto has a much power as anyone in the league, but he's not just a raw masher.
There is absolutely no doubt that he is Cincinnati's best player, and that is a team that will at least contend for a playoff spot. In 2010, they won the NL Central and he won the MVP. Look for similar results this year.