We are just a couple games away from the start of the 2019 World Series. The Nationals have already punched their ticket to the Fall Classic and are awaiting the results of the final four games of the ALCS. Though MLB awards do not take postseason performances into account, a number of recipients may still be playing in October. With award presentations under a month away, it’s never too early to think about who will walk away with some serious hardware.
AL Most Valuable Player
This award really comes down to a two-man race between third baseman Alex Bregman of the Astros and the Angels’ center fielder Mike Trout. I can say with the utmost certainty that this award will go to the best player in all of baseball, Mike Trout. Though he was limited to 134 games and an even 600 at-bats after a foot injury cut his season short, Trout still put up a career-best 45 home runs with 104 RBIs and 110 runs scored. His .438 on-base percentage, .645 slugging percentage and 1.083 OPS led all of the American League, with his OBP and slugging percentages leading all of baseball. His bWAR is up to 72.5, good enough for 57th all time and even to surpass Derek Jeter in the stat this year. These numbers top his last MVP campaign in 2016 and should be enough to take home his third Most Valuable Player award in his nine-year career, despite his team missing the postseason. (It’s also criminal that Trout has not won a Gold Glove, but that’s for another article.)
NL Most Valuable Player
Much like in the American League, the National League MVP was a two-man race for much of the season, until the Brewers’ Christian Yelich went down with a broken kneecap in early September. That pretty much cleared the air for Cody Bellinger as the league’s Most Valuable Player. Though Yelich led the NL in almost every major average (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS), Bellinger played in 26 more games with a slash line of .305/.406/.629/1.035. He put up career-highs in home runs (47), RBIs (115), runs scored (121), stolen bases (15) and walks (95). He was also the first player since Albert Pujols in 2009 to hit at least .300 with at least 45 home runs, 110 runs scored and 110 runs batted in, all while playing an impeccable centerfield.
AL Cy Young Award
This award is a bit different this year in that the best two pitchers in the American League are on the same team. Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander have been an unstoppable duo for the Houston Astros this season, but the former should win the award. Though Cole trails his teammate by one win and a handful of innings pitched, the hard-throwing right-hander topped all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and a ridiculous 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings. His last lost decision came on May 11 and has since won 19-straight decisions. Though many will be quick to point to Verlander’s dominance over a longer period of time (15 MLB seasons) and his no-hitter against the Blue Jays, I think this is the year Cole earns his first Cy Young ahead of his monstrous pay day.
NL Cy Young Award
The Dodgers’ Hyun Jin-Ryu had a commanding lead on this award through the first half of the season, but his second half — that included a IL stint and 21 earned runs in 19 innings over four starts — opened up the race. deGrom did not have the start to the year that many expected after signing a four-year, $134.5 million extension, but his second half was pure deGrominance. After the all-star break, deGrom pitched to a 7-1 record and a 1.44 ERA over 94 innings. He’d finish the year second in ERA at 2.43 (Ryu finished first with 2.32), double his mark from a year ago, but led the National League in strikeouts (255) and WAR (7.3) along with the NL’s second best WHIP (.971).
AL Rookie of the Year
John Means in Baltimore and the White Sox’s young stud Eloy Jimenez had nice years, but were both blown out of the water when Yordan Alvarez made his MLB debut on June 9. The Astros’ rookie, who was a return in a deal that sent middle reliever Josh Fields to the Dodgers in 2016, burst onto the scene in a big way, blasting four of his 27 home runs in his first five games. In his 87 big-league games, Alvarez has hit to a .313 average, .412 OBP and slugged .655 with an OPS of 1.067. He drove in 78 runs and scored 58 times on 205 total bases, making him the clear front runner for the award.
NL Rookie of the Year
There were a handful of qualified candidates early on in the season between Chris Paddack and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres and Mike Soroka in Atlanta and a few others, but ultimately the Mets’ Pete Alonso ran away with the award. The Mets put the power-hitting first baseman on the Opening Day roster instead of keeping him in the minors for a few weeks, and boy, he didn’t disappoint. Polar Bear smashed a rookie record 53 home runs, beating Aaron Judge’s 2017 record of 52. Though his .260 average is not great, he still got on base at a .358 clip, slugged .583 for an OPS of .941, while driving in 120 RBIs and scoring 103 times.
AL Manager of the Year
While it may not look like it would be true based on the team’s success, the Yankees’ Aaron Boone deserves the award this season. His first place, 100+ win New York Yankees faced injury after injury after injury en route to an AL East title. Boone would be the first Yankee manager to take home the award since Joe Torre in 1998 and is the first manager to win 100 games in his first two seasons with a club.
NL Manager of the Year
The way Craig Counsel was able to rally his Brewers team to a wild card game, including a crazy 20-7 September run penciled Counsel in as NL Manager of the Year. His BrewCrew was down their top-notch pitching coach Derek Johnson from a season ago and had a lapse in production from some of their biggest names, including Jesus Aguilar, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Travis Shaw. And oh, the lost 2018 MVP Christian Yelich at the start of September. Still, the Brewers finished 89-73 despite a plus-three run differential.
Kevin Arnold is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @karnold98.