The start of the 2014 MLB season is just over a week away, and now seems like the perfect time to begin looking at potential MVP and Cy Young candidates in both leagues.
In 2013, Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen were the AL and NL MVPs, respectively, while Max Scherzer (AL) and Clayton Kershaw (NL) won the Cy Young awards. Although the Detroit Tigers had the AL's MVP and Cy Young winners, they were unable to make it to the World Series, falling to the eventual champion Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
But this is a brand-new season, and the Tigers will be looking to take another shot at a World Series appearance. Meanwhile, a number of new candidates will be looking to win the MVP and Cy Young awards as well. With that being said, here are predictions for the award winners in both leagues for the 2014 season.
MVP: Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout may only be 22 years old and entering his third full MLB season, but the center fielder for the Los Angeles is the preseason favorite to win the AL MVP award.
Over the past two seasons, Trout has been one of the best players in the majors, hitting a combined .324 with 57 home runs, 180 RBI and 82 stolen bases. On top of all of those impressive numbers, Trout also led the majors in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in both 2012 (10.9) and 2013 (9.23).
The Angels appear to be ready to reward Trout for his play in the near future. According to Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times, the Angels are reportedly talking with Trout about a monster extension for six years and $150 million:
It would secure Trout financially for life and allow him to hit the open market at 28, giving him another so-called “bite of the apple” as a free agent in his prime. But it would not make as much sense for the Angels, who are believed to be looking to lock up Trout for at least eight years or more.
Angels owner Arte Moreno said at the beginning of camp that he was “optimistic” the Angels would be able to secure Trout to a multi-year deal, but an extension, which would start in 2015, is not expected to be announced until after the start of the regular season.
Now in his third season, Trout should continue to develop into a real superstar, and 2014 seems like the year for him to win the AL's MVP award after finishing second the last two seasons.
Cy Young: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
Yu Darvish, 27, went from really good to great in 2013, and considering his career in Japan, there's a chance that he may very well be the league's best pitcher in his third MLB season.
In 2013, Darvish dropped his ERA down to just 2.83, and he also recorded an AL-leading 277 strikeouts in 209.2 innings of work. The two-time All-Star nearly pitched a perfect game to start the season, too, but he gave up a single with one out to go against the Houston Astros. He then nearly won the Cy Young, but he finished second to Scherzer.
It seems almost fitting that Darvish's 2013 season started and ended with him nearly pulling off incredible accomplishments. But don't let that make you think he won't accomplish at least one of those feats before the 2014 season is over.
MVP: Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
Two of the youngest superstars in the league winning both of the respective league MVP awards would be sure to help the popularity of the sport, and it actually seems like a real possibility in 2014.
Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper played in just 118 games in 2013, but he still showed serious potential at just 20 years old. In that limited action, he hit .274 with 20 home runs, 58 RBI and 71 runs scored.
Those may not seem like MVP-caliber numbers, but Harper looks primed to break out in 2014, especially considering how much stronger he looks now. As you can see in this tweet from 106.7 The Fan, Harper looked much bigger heading into spring training this year:
With some added power, Harper could turn into a hitting machine and become the National League MVP for this coming season.
Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Sure, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has already won the Cy Young in two of the past three seasons, but that doesn't mean he can't win No. 3 this year, especially considering the fact that he's just 25 years old.
Last year featured what was easily Kershaw's best performance, without question, as he posted an insane ERA of 1.83 to go along with a 16-9 record and 232 strikeouts in 236 innings. As a result, he was a no-brainer for most Cy Young voters. Kershaw has been dominant to start his career, to say the least, posting an ERA below 3.00 for five straight seasons.
While the fact that Kershaw has pitched in more than 200 innings for four straight years may concern some, the fact that he's been so durable bodes well. Right now, Kershaw is in the prime of his career, and he'll make the most of it by adding at least one more Cy Young Award.
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