MLB Awards Predictions: Picking the Winners
April has come to a close. The weather is starting to get warm. Some players have been making heat on their own.
It's early and these awards are pretty fluid until the Autumn months, but these guys have made a whole lot of noise.
In 2010, it looked like Robinson Cano and Albert Pujols had the MVP awards locked up, with David Price and Ubaldo Jimenez taking the Cy Youngs. Brennan Boesch and Jason Heyward looked like the Rookies of the Year. Everything changed in September.
With that said, I'm going to give you the frontrunner for each award, each with one runner-up, to see who everyone else in the league has to chase to win the awards.
AL MVP: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
There's only one way that I can describe Jose Bautista's game right now: video game good.
It's ridiculous to watch Jose Bautista. His bat speed is unreal. He looks like he is just flicking the ball into the seats every time he steps to the plate.
Now to the numbers. His average is .357. That number is the sole reason that he is my MVP. In 2010, he hit .260, which is alright, but hardly eye-popping. This years number shows me that he isn't just a home run machine. The ability now to combine his plate discipline with successful hitting makes him a superstar in the American League.
Speaking of plate discipline, his on-base percentage is an unreal .530. That means that he gets on base more than half of the time. This number is mostly from the fact that he has already walked 30 times this season.
The money making part of Bautista's game hasn't gone away. He already has nine home runs, which is right on pace for another 50 home run season. If he keeps the average over .290 and gets the home runs, it's his award to take.
Runner-Up: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
NL MVP: Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals
Lance Berkman is one of the best switch hitters ever to play the game, but he has grown a little older and is nearing the end of his career. Unfortunately for the National League, nobody told him that he's 35.
Who would have though that the best Cardinal wasn't Albert Pujols or Matt Holliday?
Berkman is hitting the ball all over the place, to the tune of a .402 average into May, good for the second highest in the majors, only behind Matt Holliday. He's also second to Alfonso Soriano in the NL for home runs with nine and second in RBI to Ryan Howard with 27.
Those are the stats that he's not first in. I forgot to mention that he's first in runs with 24, first in slugging percentage at .773 and first in OPS at 1.251.
Berkman's one problem may be his age. He's struggled the last couple of years with injuries and he's going to have to play right field to stay in the lineup for the Cardinals, which could be difficult to maintain over the course of a long season.
Runner-Up: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
AL Cy Young: Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels
Jered Weaver has been dirty so far in 2011. Hitters can't touch his nasty stuff and he's loving every second of it.
Weaver has the AL triple crown right now and would have the league triple crown if not for Josh Johnson's league leading ERA. I'll get to him later.
For now, I'm locked in on the six wins that Weaver has racked up. I'm usually not one for the win stat because it is sometimes skewed by the performance of the team behind them, a la Tim Lincecum. That said, Weaver has been earning wins and putting his team in a good position to return to their AL West throne that the Rangers stole in 2010.
Weaver also has 55 strikeouts in 51.2 innings, which leads the majors. He is fooling hitters left and right with his incredible changeup, curveball and mix of fastballs.
Weaver's 1.39 ERA currently leads the AL. He has done everything he needs to jump out early for the Cy Young and if the wins keep flowing in, the writers will have no choice than to name Weaver the winner of the Cy Young.
Runner-Up: Trevor Cahill, Oakland Athletics
NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins
Josh Johnson ended last year on the DL, but picked up just where he left off in 2011. Johnson led the majors in ERA in 2010 at 2.30 and now leads the league this year at 0.88.
Johnson has all of the right stuff to win the Cy Young. His team has been off to a great start and it's mostly thanks to his leading the pitching staff. He's mostly relied on a great fastball-slider-changeup combo to rip through opposing offenses, but has introduced a great curveball this year that has added to his dangerous repertoire.
The one knock on Johnson is that he's not the biggest strikeout pitcher. He currently ranks 9th in the NL with 39, but he won't push for the lead. He also has some serious competition in Roy Halladay. Halladay will likely win more games and have more strikeouts, so Johnson's ERA will have to take him to the award.
Runner-Up: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
AL Rookie of the Year: Michael Pineda, Seattle Mariners
This was one of my closest calls of the awards because there are two really spectacular rookie pitchers that are having incredible seasons this year. Ultimately, I had to go with Pineda because he has a few numbers that are a little more impressive.
To start, Pineda has the body of an imposing pitcher. At 6'7" and 260 pounds, Pineda seems to be a guy that is scary just to look at. Then the fastball comes whizzing past you at 98 mph.
That fastball is keeping hitters off balance very well. Pineda has struck out 30 batters so far and has a 2.01 ERA. Opposing hitters are hitting just .198 off of him. He has really stepped up to be a great piece in the Mariners rotation. The Mariners have a really nice 1-2 punch with Pineda and King Felix.
The impressive outings so far have come against Toronto and Kansas City, two pretty good offenses, where he held each team to one run over six innings to record a win. His only loss came in a quality start against the Texas Rangers.
This race is the most intriguing to me. Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Brett Lawrie seem right on the edge of making it to the big leagues to join in on the fun. Other than that, Zach Britton is the only competition, but is formidable. Britton would have taken the lead in the race if not for a rough game against Cleveland. His 7.2 inning shutout of the Rangers was extremely impressive.
Runner-Up: Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Not to discount Kimbrel, but it has been a really weak rookie class for the NL. With Posey, Heyward and Strasburg graduating from the minors last year, the next crop of superstars seems to be destined for the majors in a future season.
Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon and Casey Kelly are just a few names that are likely big impact guys, but are one or two years from a call-up.
The top prospects that have made the majors haven't really performed well. Brandon Belt, Domonic Brown and Jerry Sands have failed to meet expectations early on.
Craig Kimbrel has shined through all of the poor performances and has really stood out as a great part of the Braves future.
Kimbrel emerged from spring training as the closer for the Braves and has locked down the ends of games very well until a small rough patch lately. In eight chances, Kimbrel has saved six and has shown great stuff in the process. His fastball comes in very hard and gets a lot of hitters to swing and miss.
The Braves needed someone solid to fill the role of Billy Wagner and Kimbrel has not only done well, but has also given the Braves some security for the future.
Runner-Up: Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs
AL Manager of the Year: Manny Acta, Cleveland Indians
Who would have thought that the Cleveland Indians would be the best team in the majors at the end of April?
Manny Acta has turned around the Indians in just his second season with the club. After trading away superstars the past few years in C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez, the Indians had really struggled to get wins.
Acta has found success from the spoils of those trades and has developed young players well into integral pieces on his team. Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley have matured this year into everyday players and are really making the Sabathia trade look great. Justin Masterson, who was acquired from the Red Sox, has been lights out and is sinking the ball like he used to in relief for the Sox. Carlos Santana, who was in the Casey Blake deal with the Dodgers, has emerged as one of the best young catchers in the game.
Those players, mixed with veteran stars like Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera, have turned around the fortune of a lowly team. All of this could not be made possible without the leadership of Manny Acta.
His prowess was shown in their early series sweep of the Boston Red Sox, where Acta made the perfect pulls to coax his bullpen to shut down the heavy hitters that Boston has racked up.
Acta has made the Indians relevant again in the AL Central and they should be in the mix deep into the season thanks to his great tutelage.
Runner-Up: Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels
NL Manager of the Year: Edwin Rodriguez, Florida Marlins
It's hard to believe that the Marlins are near the top of the league right now. After losing Dan Uggla, it seemed they would regress, but they pieced together a terrific bullpen in their multiple deals that has brought them success.
Hanley Ramirez is struggling, but Edwin Rodriguez is finding ways to scrape together runs and win ballgames. The Marlins look like they did in the early 2000s, when they traded stars and still found success. They are going to have to fight to make the playoffs because while they have the 2nd best record in the NL, they are still trailing the division lead to the Phillies.
Edwin Rodriguez has done a fantastic job succeeding Fredi Gonzalez. He has the Marlins in the right direction and leads Gonzalez's Braves in the standings.
Runner-Up: Jim Tracy, Colorado Rockies
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
Gordon has always been highly touted, but for the last few years, it seemed he was just a guy who couldn't develop fully at the major league level. That was the case until this year.
Gordon has been great for the Royals in 2011, batting .328 with a couple of homers and 20 RBI. He has led the team to a resurgence in the Central that they have been waiting for for over two decades.
Since moving to left field, Gordon has not only unblocked Mike Moustakas and given himself a chance to stay on the team for the future, but also given himself a chance to show off pretty good defense to go with his bat. His success will be a great help for the Royals going forward and hopefully he can keep it going.
Runner-Up: Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals
I already mentioned all of Lance Berkman's stats that make him such a great player, but I want to mention how much of a surprise he has been considering his 2010 season.
Between the Yankees and Astros, Berkman managed just 100 hits and only saw the field in 122 games because of injuries. Already in 2011, Berkman has 39 hits. His nine home runs so far are just five less than the 14 he hit last year. He's almost at half of the 58 RBI he had in 2010, with 27 so far.
It has been incredible to watch the former Killer B get back to form. As recently as 2006, he hit .315 with 45 home runs, so he clearly has been a star and he looks like one again so far in 2011.
Runner-Up: Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs