B/R's MLB Experts Predict Winners for Each Major 2019 Award
With the 2019 season officially underway, it's time for the MLB writers here at Bleacher Report to publish our official MLB award predictions.
The following five B/R MLB experts made up our panel of prognosticators:
- Danny Knobler, lead writer
- Scott Miller, national columnist
- Joel Reuter, national columnist
- Zachary Rymer, lead writer
- Jacob Shafer, national columnist
The five of us have made our picks for Comeback Player of the Year, Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP in both leagues.
Only one pick was unanimous, so there's a variety of opinions on the table.
Let's dive right in.
AL Comeback Player of the Year
Knobler: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
I'll always bet on talent, and his talent (and drive) have never been in doubt.
Miller: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
This dude is too good a hitter to not be productive when he's healthy. And this spring, so far, so good.
Reuter: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
Correa hit a lifeless .180/.261/.256 with two home runs in his final 153 plate appearances last season after returning from oblique and back injuries. With an offseason of rest and rehab, he should be back to the player who posted a 158 OPS+ and 6.1 WAR in 2017.
Rymer: Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
He had a lousy, injury-marred season in 2018, and then he had surgery on his left shoulder. Still, a young catcher with this much power is worth believing in.
Shafer: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
Correa is simply too young and talented not to bounce back after a disappointing 2018 season with the 'Stros. He could even enter the MVP conversation, but Comeback Player of the Year will do for now.
NL Comeback Player of the Year
Knobler: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Wouldn't be surprising if he starts slow coming off two surgeries, but over the course of the season, he'll be the guy the Dodgers remember.
Miller: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
He played in 102 games last year. Does that make him ineligible? No? Good! From May on, Bryant was playing on one shoulder and was a shell of his old self. With two good shoulders this year, KB could put together an MVP year.
Reuter: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Seager is too good of a hitter not to bounce back from a season lost to Tommy John and hip surgery. There's no doubt he'll have some rust to shake off after playing just 26 games last year. But you don't win two Silver Slugger Awards before your 24th birthday by accident.
Rymer: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
It could be a while before he's all the way back from Tommy John and hip surgery. But once he is, he should swiftly remind everyone that he was an MVP-caliber shortstop in 2016 and 2017.
Shafer: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
He's the clear pick and a near-lock after missing last season to Tommy John, which apparently won't spare any talented young MLB player whether he pitches or not.
AL Manager of the Year
Knobler: Brad Ausmus, Los Angeles Angels
As great a run as Mike Scioscia had in Anaheim, the Angels were ready for a change. And after a year away, Ausmus should be a better manager the second time around.
Miller: Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays
This is a guy who is getting better and better as a manager, and the Rays have the pitching to keep winning. Ahem, put your money on Cash.
Reuter: Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota Twins
A new voice in the locker room might be exactly what the Twins need to bounce back after a disappointing 78-84 season. There's enough talent on the roster to contend, and enough outside doubt that Baldelli will get a healthy dose of credit if they do in fact make a run at the postseason.
Rymer: Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays
He arguably should have won it last year. He'll win it this year if the Rays make the playoffs—which they will.
Shafer: Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota Twins
The retooled Minnesota Twins have a real shot to win the weak AL Central over the defending division champion Cleveland Indians, which would set Rocco Baldelli up for MOY honors.
NL Manager of the Year
Knobler: Gabe Kapler, Philadelphia Phillies
There's more pressure after the winter the Phillies had, but Kapler learns from experience, and he'll have learned from his first year.
Miller: Davey Martinez, Washington Nationals
In this first year post-Bryce Harper, Washington may be an even better team than it's been in the past. Certainly better than its record last year. There won't be much in-between for Martinez—the Nationals either win, as I expect, or they thud again and Martinez lands in the great junkyard of Nationals managers past.
Reuter: Bud Black, Colorado Rockies
The Rockies made the playoffs just three times in their first 24 years as a franchise. They've made it twice in two years with Bud Black at the helm. If Colorado can unseat the Dodgers atop the NL West standings, Black could add another NL Manager of the Year award after taking home the hardware in 2010 with the Padres.
Rymer: Bud Black, Colorado Rockies
Honestly, who knows with the National League side of things? But it seems like expectations for the Rockies are relatively low. Black could benefit if they surpass them in the end.
Shafer: Gabe Kapler, Philadelphia Phillies
If the Philadelphia Phillies win a tough, crowded NL East battle (it's no guarantee, but in Harper they trust), Gabe Kapler will be rewarded.
AL Rookie of the Year
Knobler: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
Everyone will be watching him, but with his name, everyone has always been watching him. He's ready.
Miller: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
Seems like we've all been awaiting his arrival forever, and Toronto has been more than willing to make us wait. A strained oblique delayed him this spring, which reminds me: I hope he keeps his body in shape to play, because he's got a big one, and injuries are the only thing that stands between him and superstardom.
Reuter: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
As long as he stays healthy, Guerrero will not only be the runaway AL Rookie of the Year, he could also challenge for the AL batting title and garner some lower-ballot AL MVP consideration. He's the most MLB-ready hitter to debut in a long time.
Rymer: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
The dude slashed .381/.437/.636 on a journey to Triple-A in 2018—and as a mere 19-year-old, to boot. Get ready to witness a special hitter, folks.
Shafer: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
It was tempting to go against the grain, but the son of Vlad is simply too pure a hitter and will get every opportunity to shine on a rebuilding Blue Jays squad once they call him up.
NL Rookie of the Year
Knobler: Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
The timing is good because the Padres are getting better as a team just as a touted star arrives.
Miller: Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
A true five-tool player, Eric Hosmer told me this spring that Tatis looks like Manny Machado from 10 years ago. High praise, but take a look at Tatis' rangy, 6'4" body and the way he goes deep into the hole at short and comes up firing with that terrific arm, and it leaves you wanting more. He will be a star.
Reuter: Pete Alonso, New York Mets
Alonso raked in the upper levels of the minors (574 PA, .975 OPS, 36 HR), he ranked in the Arizona Fall League (112 PA, .849 OPS, 6 HR), and he raked during spring training (75 PA, 1.006 OPS, 4 HR). A 30-homer, 100-RBI season is not out of the question.
Rymer: Victor Robles, Washington Nationals
Here's a 21-year-old with speed and arm strength fit for highlight reels. He's also an uncannily advanced hitter who could quickly become one of baseball's best table-setters.
Shafer: Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
Another second-generation MLB star in the making, Tatis Jr. is breaking camp with the Friars and should be off and running as Manny Machado's left-side-of-the-infield partner.
AL Cy Young
Knobler: Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
UCLA baseball is ranked No. 1 in the NCAA, and Bruin alums (and rivals) Cole and Trevor Bauer will battle for the Cy Young.
Miller: Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
He fanned a career-high 276 hitters last year and led the majors with a 12.60 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio, the third-best strikeouts-per-nine in AL history (behind Pedro Martinez's 13.20 in 1999 and Chris Sale's 12.93 in 2017). Cole and Houston are a great match.
Reuter: Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians
Bauer has added a changeup to his already vast repertoire this offseason. He finished sixth in the Cy Young voting last year despite making just 27 starts, and he led the AL with a 2.44 FIP. Expect his rise to continue in 2019.
Rymer: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Mark him down for over 200 innings, an ERA in the low 2.00s and over 300 strikeouts. Nuff said.
Shafer: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
He'll eat innings, he'll rack up strikeouts, and he'll front the rotation of the almost-certain AL West champion Houston Astros, who are incidentally my pick to win it all (not that you asked).
NL Cy Young
Knobler: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
He's won it three times and finished second once in the last six years. Until proven otherwise, he begins each season as the favorite.
Miller: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
For my money, the most exciting pitcher to watch in the game. His combination of filthy stuff and pure emotion on the mound continues to produce electric nights.
Reuter: Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
Over his final 12 starts last season, Buehler posted a 1.55 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 75.1 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .158 average and .477 OPS. The 24-year-old is ready to join the ranks of the game's elite.
Rymer: Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
He led everyone—including Cy Young Award winners Blake Snell and Jacob deGrom—in wins above replacement last year, according to Baseball Reference. And he still has room to get better.
Shafer: Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
Is this the season he makes the leap and surpasses the likes of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer for NL pitching supremacy? This intrepid prognosticator says yes.
Knobler: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
There's a reason the Angels gave him so much money. The reason is he's worth it.
Miller: Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
There are no limits for this baseball rat—said in the most complimentary way—and he wants greatness. He'll get it.
Reuter: Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
Bregman crushed 83 extra-base hits last season while posting a .926 OPS and 6.9 WAR. With the addition of Michael Brantley and a healthy Carlos Correa, the Astros offense could be the best in baseball, and that should mean impressive counting numbers for Bregman—something that still matters to some voters.
Rymer: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
He seems to be fully healthy for the first time since the first half of 2017, when he had a 1.139 OPS and 30 homers. If so, he's going to have an absolutely monstrous season.
Shafer: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
This will be the year the pendulum swings back and not ignoring Mike Trout's annual excellence becomes the new ignoring it.
Knobler: Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
There's a reason the Phillies gave him so much money. The reason is he's worth it.
Miller: Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
His smashing debut last season kept us riveted, and there's more where that came from. Soto is in Beast Mode when he steps into the batter's box, and he's mature beyond his years. He's one big reason the Nationals will miss Bryce Harper far less than some people think.
Reuter: Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have missed the playoffs three years running. If they make it back to October this year, there's a good chance Goldschmidt will be the leading MVP candidate on the roster. He's finished second in the voting twice before and was in the top six four times in the last six years.
Rymer: Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves
The NL MVP race will probably have about 50 different combatants this year. Acuna could simply be the best of them if he picks up where he left off from a second half of 2018 that featured a 1.028 OPS, 19 home runs and 14 stolen bases.
Shafer: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Perhaps he'll always be penalized for playing half his games at Coors Field, but if the Colorado Rockies return to the postseason (which they very well might), this could be the year Nolan Arenado's all-around awesomeness is recognized.