Final 2017 MLB Awards Race Odds for MVP, Cy Young, ROY and More
Game 162 is in the rearview, and the MLB postseason is upon us.
As we plunge into baseball's annual October tournament—which kicks off Tuesday—let's check in with a final round of odds for the major regular-season awards in each league: Comeback Player of the Year, Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young and MVP Awards.
In some cases, such as National League and American League Rookie of the Year, the calls were easy. In others, such as National League and American League MVP, the voting should be close and possibly controversial.
Odds were generated by Bleacher Report; other oddsmakers may differ. And remember, this is who we think will win, not necessarily who we think should win.
NL Comeback Player of the Year
- Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals: 3-7
- Zack Greinke, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks: 9-1
- Greg Holland, RHP, Colorado Rockies: 19-1
- Lance Lynn, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals: 19-1
- Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates: 19-1
- Eric Thames, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers: 19-1
Every award involves a degree of subjectivity, but none more than Comeback Player of the Year. Theoretically, it could go to any player whose numbers leaped forward in 2017.
Generally, however, voters favor veterans with a proven track record who rebounded from injury or an anomalously bad season.
After posting a 4.37 ERA in 158.2 wobbly innings in his first go-round with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016, Zack Greinke eclipsed 200 innings and 200 strikeouts with a 3.20 ERA this year. Voters will also appreciate that his turnaround coincided with the D-backs' first postseason appearance since 2011.
St. Louis Cardinals starter Lance Lynn and Colorado Rockies closer Greg Holland each bounced back from Tommy John surgery with largely successful seasons.
Andrew McCutchen, the 2013 National League MVP, had his numbers trend up for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Former scrub Eric Thames translated the power stroke he discovered in Korea to MLB with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The clear leader, though, is Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. After posting an anemic .218/.272/.370 slash line with minus-1.3 WAR in 2016, Zimmerman slashed .303/.358/.573 with 36 home runs and 3.3 WAR for the National League East champion Nats.
His numbers tailed off in August, but Zimmerman nullified any doubts by hitting .329 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in September.
AL Comeback Player of the Year
- Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City Royals: 2-3
- Sonny Gray, RHP, New York Yankees: 7-3
- Jed Lowrie, INF, Oakland Athletics: 19-1
- Joe Mauer, 1B, Minnesota Twins: 19-1
After battling injuries and sporting a 5.69 ERA last season with the Oakland Athletics, right-hander Sonny Gray posted a 3.55 ERA and is headed to the playoffs with the New York Yankees.
Speaking of the A's, second baseman Jed Lowrie's WAR leapt from minus-0.8 to 3.5, though he'll be dinged for toiling in anonymity in the East Bay. A few votes could also go to Joe Mauer, who raised his average from .261 in 2016 to .305 and hit .325 in the second half for the playoffs-bound Minnesota Twins.
The favorite, however, is Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL and returned to bash 38 home runs in a contract year.
As Moustakas wrote in a piece for the Players' Tribune: "The more you play this game, the more you realize that anything is possible."
NL Manager of the Year
- Torey Lovullo, Arizona Diamondbacks: 2-3
- Bud Black, Colorado Rockies: 17-3
- Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers: 17-3
- Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers: 9-1
Manager of the Year tends to go to skippers who guide their teams to surprisingly strong finishes, and 2017 featured a number of those narratives.
In the National League, the Rockies snagged the second wild card after years of Mile High mediocrity, while the rebuilding Brewers arrived ahead of schedule and gave the Rocks a run for their money. Colorado's Bud Black and Milwaukee's Craig Counsell are thus in the conversation.
It's also impossible to ignore Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, whose team won an MLB-best 104 games. At one point, the Dodgers were on pace to break the all-time wins record. But they hit a prolonged skid, so Roberts joins the Nationals' Dusty Baker and the Chicago Cubs' Joe Maddon in the yeah-we-figured-you'd-win-your-division bin.
That leaves the Diamondbacks' Torey Lovullo, who presided over a Snakes squad that went from 69-93 to 93-69 and claimed the Senior Circuit's top wild-card position.
Arizona's culture change and concurrent about-face was among the season's coolest stories, and Lovullo is rightly the poster boy.
AL Manager of the Year
- Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins: 2-3
- Joe Girardi, New York Yankees: 4-1
- A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros: 4-1
Give credit to the Cleveland Indians' Terry Francona and Boston Red Sox's John Farrell, but their clubs were expected to win.
Instead, the American League MOY love will be directed at a trio whose teams made the playoffs after missing the dance in 2016.
A.J. Hinch's Houston Astros waltzed to the American League West crown, while Joe Girardi's Yankees grabbed the top wild-card spot.
No one, however, exemplifies the come-from-nowhere spirit better than Paul Molitor and the Twins, who rose from the ashes of a 103-loss season to improbably make the playoffs.
NL Rookie of the Year
- Cody Bellinger, 1B/LF, Los Angeles Dodgers: 0-1
Tip your cap to Philadelphia Phillies left fielder/first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who hit 18 home runs in 50 games. If his debut had come in the spring, maybe he'd have a shot at NL Rookie of the Year.
It didn't, though, and the award will unanimously go to Dodgers first baseman/left fielder Cody Bellinger, who finished second in the National League with 39 homers and posted a .933 OPS.
We'd say ROY cases don't get more open-and-shut than this, except...
AL Rookie of the Year
- Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees: 0-1
Yes, Aaron Judge hit a troubling rough patch after the All-Star break, when it appeared his first-half breakout was going to crumble into a heap of strikeouts. There was talk of a shoulder injury, or a swing broken by the Home Run Derby.
The Yankees masher hushed the haters with a monster September, hitting 15 home runs with a 1.352 OPS. Overall, Judge cracked a rookie record 52 home runs with an MLB-leading 8.2 WAR.
NL Cy Young Award
- Max Scherzer, RHP, Washington Nationals: 1-3
- Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: 9-1
- Zack Greinke, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks: 19-1
- Kenley Jansen, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: 19-1
- Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals: 19-1
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw paced the NL with a 2.31 ERA but missed time to injury and will always suffer from comparisons to himself.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen posted an eye-popping 14.4 strikeouts per nine innings and could pick up stray votes despite being a relief pitcher.
Greinke's comeback season will get attention, and the Nats' Stephen Strasburg remained mostly healthy and threw like an ace.
This award, though, will likely go to another hurler in the nation's capital. Max Scherzer finished second to Kershaw with a 2.51 ERA and led the league in strikeouts (268) and opponents' batting average (.178).
Scherzer's hamstring injury has Nationals fans on edge heading into the playoffs, but it won't hurt Mad Max's chances at his third career Cy Young.
AL Cy Young Award
- Corey Kluber, RHP, Cleveland Indians: 3-7
- Chris Sale, LHP, Boston Red Sox: 7-3
For a while, this looked like Chris Sale's award to lose. The Red Sox lefty still has a chance after becoming the first American League pitcher to reach 300 strikeouts since Pedro Martinez in 1999. Sale also led the Junior Circuit with 214.1 innings and finished second with a 2.90 ERA.
He'll be docked for some rough starts down the stretch, including his final outing Sept. 26, when he coughed up four home runs against the Toronto Blue Jays.
That opened the door for the Cleveland Indians' Corey Kluber. After wobbling early and battling a back injury, the Klubot switched into full-blown ace mode and finished with an MLB-leading 2.25 ERA and 265 strikeouts in 203.2 innings.
"He's doing it effortlessly," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said in early September, per Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. "We talk about it on the bench. You used to watch Michael Jordan play when he was the best, and you looked up and you were like: 'He's got 40 points? I didn't even realize that.'"
That isn't a ludicrous comparison, which says it all.
- Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Miami Marlins: 3-2
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks: 7-3
- Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies: 9-1
- Charlie Blackmon, CF, Colorado Rockies: 9-1
- Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs: 19-1
- Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals: 19-1
Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon had stellar seasons for the Rockies, but they'll suffer from the Coors Field bias, fair or not.
The Cubs' Kris Bryant put together a fine follow-up to his 2016 MVP campaign, but like Chicago, he'll be graded on a steep curve.
Anthony Rendon is an interesting dark horse who tied for the NL lead with 6.9 WAR, but he doesn't have the star wattage to rate as a front-runner.
In the end, this will be a two-man race between the Miami Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton and Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt.
Silly as it sounds, Stanton may have hurt his chances by failing to reach the 60-homer plateau. Still, he tallied an impressive 59 homers and 132 RBI. Voters will find those totals enticing, despite the Fish's sub-.500 finish.
Goldschmidt, meanwhile, stuffed the stat sheet with a .297 average, 36 home runs, 120 RBI and 18 stolen bases, a rare feat for a first baseman.
Stanton is the nominal favorite, but the playoff-bound Goldschmidt is an underdog to bet on.
- Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros: 1-1
- Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees: 3-2
- Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels: 9-1
Reigning AL MVP Mike Trout is the best all-around player in baseball, and he proved it with a characteristically excellent 2017. His Los Angeles Angels missed the playoffs again, though, and he missed extensive time with a thumb injury.
That leaves Judge and Astros second baseman Jose Altuve.
We've already described Judge's fence-clearing exploits, which will surely sway many voters. The kid has a real chance to join Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki in the exclusive MVP-and-Rookie-of-the-Year-in-the-same-season club. They've got smoking jackets and everything.
Still, give the edge to Altuve, who won the batting title with a .346 average, hit 24 home runs, stole 32 bases and posted a .957 OPS.
The Yankees and Astros are both playoffs-bound, but the 'Stros won their division and 101 games. Plus, don't discount the fact that Altuve is a diminutive middle infielder who has paid his dues, while the physically imposing Judge just burst on the scene.
That may seem superfluous, but these are the factors that tip close decisions. Feel free to disagree.