Early Predictions for the 2014 MLB Season's Major Award Winners
Fans and critics alike were on the edge of their seats awaiting the coveted 2013 MVP award winner announcements. And while the ongoing debates about "Miguel Cabrera versus Mike Trout" were at full force yet again, it will hardly be the last time the pair square off.
Looking ahead to 2014, the potential winners for all major awards could go in a variety of directions. For instance, a strong season from 2013 Rookie of the Year Award-winner Jose Fernandez could unseat ace Clayton Kershaw as the reigning Cy Young Award winner.
And perhaps to the pleasure of stat-heads everywhere, it’s possible that the maturing Trout could finally earn the MVP award that is rightfully his.
Read on to see all the early predictions for the 2014 MLB season’s major award winners.
NL Cy Young Award: Jose Fernandez
If not for the self-inflicted Miami Marlins' rotation dearth, Jose Fernandez would have likely been a September call-up—not the Rookie of the Year Award winner and Cy Young Award finalist he became.
Fernandez dazzled fans and critics alike with a 2.19 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 176 ERA+), 0.97 WHIP and 3.22 K/BB over 172.2 innings. The young hurler also boasted four plus pitches, according to FanGraphs, with his fastball (worth 13.9 runs above average) and slider (worth 18.0 runs above average) leading the charge.
If the right-hander can build on his rookie campaign, it's very possible Jose Fernandez could unseat Clayton Kershaw as the 2014 Cy Young Award favorite.
AL Cy Young Award: Yu Darvish
Since coming over from Japan in 2012, Yu Darvish has emerged as one of the most feared pitchers in baseball. And the 27-year-old's notable improvement from 2012 bodes well for further maturation in 2014.
After tossing a 3.90 ERA (versus a 112 ERA+), 1.28 WHIP and 2.48 K/BB in 2012, the pitcher blossomed in 2013. Darvish befuddled hitters to the tune of a 2.83 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 145 ERA+), 1.07 WHIP and 3.46 K/BB. His impressive 277 strikeouts illustrate just how dominant the right-hander was in 2013.
Even with stiff competition like Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Anibal Sanchez and Felix Hernandez, Darvish still has a great chance of adding the Cy Young Award to his resume.
NL Rookie of the Year Award: Oscar Taveras
From 2012 to 2013, St. Louis Cardinals blue chipper Oscar Taveras jumped 71 spots in Baseball America's annual Top 100 prospects list.
The spike was well-founded, as Taveras posted a .321 batting average, .953 OPS, 23 home runs and 10 stolen bases at Double-A in 2012. But 2013 wasn't as kind to the top prospect.
Taveras only managed to garner 188 plate appearances due to a variety of injuries. Despite the lacking health, the 21-year-old still managed to post a .310 batting average, .819 OPS, five home runs and five stolen bases (mostly at Triple-A).
With Carlos Beltran likely departing via free agency, the Cardinals could hand Taveras the vacant right field gig. And if the left-handed hitter has an opportunity to play full time, Oscar Taveras could very well be the favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
AL Rookie of the Year Award: Xander Bogaerts
Boston Red Sox fans got a small taste of the future when Xander Bogaerts was called up on August 19.
The 20-year-old contributed at both shortstop and third base, posting a .250 batting average, park-adjusted 88 OPS+, one home run and a stolen base over 50 plate appearances. Bogaerts’ flexibility proved to be valuable during the postseason too, as he accumulated 34 plate appearances between the ALDS, ALCS and World Series.
But the 21-year-old, who was signed as an amateur free agent in 2009, did most of his damage between Double-A and Triple-A. Bogaerts hit to the tune of a .297 batting average, .865 OPS, 15 home runs and seven stolen bases between the two levels.
With Stephen Drew seeking a multi-year deal as a free agent, according to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, the Red Sox will likely slip Bogaerts into the starting shortstop role in 2014. Given Bogaerts’ minor league accolades, the infielder is undoubtedly an early favorite for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
NL MVP Award: Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt bumped it up a notch in 2013. The 26-year-old posted a .302 batting average, park-adjusted 160 OPS+, 36 home runs and 15 stolen bases over 710 plate appearances, and was elected to the All-Star Game.
Goldschmidt also led the league in home runs (36), RBI (125), slugging percentage (.551), OPS (.952), OPS+ (160), total bases (332) and even intentional walks (19).
The first baseman even fielded well too. FanGraphs' UZR/150 valued his defense at a stellar 4.4 UZR/150 in 2013. And apparently the voting public (managers and coaches) agreed, handing Goldschmidt his first Gold Glove Award.
There will always be a strong group of MVP award candidates like David Wright, Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen and countless others. But Goldschmidt’s increasing offensive prowess might be enough to outshine all of them in 2014.
AL MVP Award: Mike Trout
Mike Trout can’t seem to shake Miguel Cabrera.
Despite posting a better overall season (offense, defense and baserunning) in 2012, Miggy still snagged the MVP award. The Trout snub evolved into a battle between sabermetricians and traditionalists, who argued about which statistics (surface versus advanced) should be emphasized in the voting.
And while the 2013 MVP award went to Cabrera, Trout again deserved the crown. The 22-year-old posted a .323 batting average, park-adjusted 179 OPS+, 27 home runs and 33 stolen bases. Trout was also a plus fielder, according to FanGraphs' UZR/150, posting a combined 4.0 UZR/150 in center and left field.
Given Miggy’s popularity, however, it would take a truly incredible season from Trout to win the MVP award in 2014. But considering how Trout has steadily improved from year to year, it’s possible the New Jersey native will finally trump the great Detroit Tigers slugger.
NL Manager of the Year Award: Bryan Price, Cincinnati Reds
In a somewhat surprising move, the Cincinnati Reds decided to let go of manager Dusty Baker. Considering the Reds had advanced to the postseason three times in six years under Baker’s rule, the longtime skipper seemed to have job security.
But the organization not only felt it was time to move on from Baker, but also that his replacement was already in house. That person being pitching coach Bryan Price.
Price has served as a pitching coach in the major leagues consistently since 2000. The San Francisco native launched his career with the Seattle Mariners in 2000 (from 2000 to 2006). After three seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2007 to 2009, the Reds hired Price to take over the role in 2010.
Under Price’s guidance, the Reds rotation owned the third-best ERA (3.43) in baseball this past season. Even though pitching coaches are rarely promoted to manager, the Reds obviously felt Price was a special case.
With a talented squad in tow, Price’s new powers could elevate the team from an early-exiting playoff team to a serious competitor. And if the Reds do well, it’s possible Price could be handed the Manager of the Year honors.
AL Manager of the Year Award: John Farrell, Boston Red Sox
After guiding the Boston Red Sox to a World Series victory in 2013, most fans felt John Farrell was a no-brainer for the Manager of the Year Award. But since the award is voted on before the playoffs, Terry Francona of the surprisingly successful Cleveland Indians—not Farrell—took home the prestigious honors.
Looking ahead to 2014, Farrell is the clear favorite to win the Manager of the Year Award. Despite not wielding the most impressive Red Sox team in 2013, it’s possible Farrell will possess an even weaker squad next season.
With Mike Napoli, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew all possibly departing via free agency, the second-year Boston skipper might have to pull out all the stops to unite his existing team and defend its title.