Full 2018 MLB Award Predictions at the Three-Quarter Mark

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2018

Full 2018 MLB Award Predictions at the Three-Quarter Mark

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    We've reached the home stretch of the 2018 MLB season. Postseason races are coming into focus. Most, if not all, of the big trades have been consummated.

    It's a fine time, then, to gaze ahead and predict the winners of the major awards in each league: Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young and MVP awards. 

    Hot streaks, cold spells and injuries could shift the calculus between now and Game 162. But based on where things stand, here are the men who should clear space in their trophy cases. 

National League Manager of the Year

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    The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies have each blossomed ahead of schedule in the National League East and are locked in a close battle for division supremacy.

    Manager of the Year tends to go to a skipper whose team exceeds expectations. Thus, the winner of this tussle will likely end up with the award.

    We'll toss a dart and say it'll be the Braves' Brian Snitker, though the Phillies' Gabe Kapler is not to be ignored.

    Other contenders: Gabe Kapler (PHI), Craig Counsell (MIL), Torey Lovullo (ARI), Bud Black (COL)

American League Manager of the Year

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    The Oakland A's entered the 2018 season as a presumed also-ran. Now, they're in position to claim one of the American League's top wild-card berths. Heck, they're nipping at the heels of the defending champion Houston Astros for the division lead.

    It's one of the coolest stories of 2018 and another feather in the small-market Athletics' cap.

    Assuming Oakland doesn't collapse, AL Manager of the Year is in the bag for Bob Melvin.

    Other contenders: Alex Cora (BOS), Scott Servais (SEA)

National League Rookie of the Year

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    Juan Soto is making the looming post-Bryce Harper era look a lot better for the Washington Nationals.

    In 74 games, the 19-year-old outfielder is hitting .301 with a .968 OPS and 15 home runs. He's been a revelation in every sense of the word and earned the nickname "Childish Bambino." 

    It's fair to wonder if a teenager who made the jump straight from Double-A to The Show can maintain this pace, but for now, Soto's star is blasting into the MLB firmament.

    Other contenders: Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL), Dereck Rodriguez (SFG), Brian Anderson (MIA), Jack Flaherty (STL)

American League Rookie of the Year

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    The AL Rookie of the Year race should be a battle of two New York Yankees.

    In one corner, there's third baseman Miguel Andujar, who's hitting .292 with an .837 OPS and 18 home runs. In the other corner sits second baseman Gleyber Torres, who's hitting .261 with an .827 OPS and 18 homers.

    It's nearly a statistical draw and will come down to who gets hotter over the final weeks.

    We'll pick Torres, who was a more hyped prospect entering the season, but Andujar is a dark horse to bet on.

    Other contenders: Miguel Andujar (NYY), Shohei Ohtani (LAA), Lou Trivino (OAK)

National League Cy Young Award

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    Max Scherzer leads MLB in innings pitched (168.2) and strikeouts (227) and ranks second in the National League in ERA (2.19). 

    Not only is Mad Max in line for a fourth career Cy Young Award—he's garnering MVP chatter

    The only wet blanket? The Washington Nationals might miss the playoffs. That's not Scherzer's fault, but it could prevent him from bringing home the Cy Young/MVP combo. 

    Other contenders: Jacob deGrom (NYM), Aaron Nola (PHI)

American League Cy Young Award

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    Chris Sale gave the Boston Red Sox a scare when he landed on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort, but he returned strong with 12 strikeouts in five innings on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles. 

    Overall, Sale paces the AL in ERA (1.97) and strikeouts (219). He's a dominant ace on the club with baseball's best record.

    "Sale took it to a different level," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the southpaw's DL-return performance, per Peter Schmuck of the Washington Post. "He was carrying a lot of fastball. The first fastball he threw today was 98 [mph]. The second one was 99. He was throwing a changeup at 88 and 90. That didn't seem fair."

    Other contenders: Trevor Bauer (CLE), Justin Verlander (HOU), Blake Snell (TBR)

National League MVP

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    Here's a tough one.

    This award could go to Scherzer, and that wouldn't be a travesty. Considering the Nats are on the fringe of the playoff picture, however, it doesn't seem especially probable.

    Instead, let's assume the Braves hang on and claim either the NL's top wild-card spot or the division flag. If so, Freddie Freeman is a solid NL MVP pick.

    The 28-year-old is hitting .319 with a .928 OPS and 19 home runs. According to FanGraphs' calculation, his 4.7 WAR ranks behind only the St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Carpenter (5.1) and the Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado (4.8) in the Senior Circuit.

    Carpenter could be dinged if the Cards miss the playoffs and Arenado could be hurt by the presumed Coors Field affect. 

    If so, look for Freeman to slide in and snag the hardware.

    Other contenders: Matt Carpenter (STL), Nolan Arenado (COL), Max Scherzer (WAS), Javier Baez (CHI)

American League MVP

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    The AL MVP race is an embarrassment of riches. 

    From the Cleveland Indians, there's third baseman Jose Ramirez (7.9 WAR) and shortstop Francisco Lindor (6.7 WAR). J.D. Martinez (5.1 WAR) has clubbed an MLB-leading 37 home runs with 104 RBI for the Boston Red Sox. 

    Oh, and let's not forget a fellow by the name of Mike Trout (7.6 WAR), who is having arguably the best season of his venerated MLB career for the Los Angeles Angels.

    The leader in the clubhouse, though, is Mookie Betts (7.8 WAR).

    The Red Sox right fielder leads baseball in batting average (.350) and ranks second in on-base percentage (.438) and slugging percentage (.668). In the field, he's posted 11 defensive runs saved and an 8.8 ultimate zone rating. 

    He also plays for the club with the game's best record and is ticketed for the playoffs, while Trout will almost surely watch from the sidelines. 

    Betts will need to keep raking to win the award, but for the moment, it's his to lose.

    Other contenders: Mike Trout (LAA), Jose Ramirez (CLE), Francisco Lindor (CLE), J.D. Martinez (BOS)

            

    All statistics current entering play Tuesday and courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs