Opening Day 2019 is almost upon us and soon baseball will be in full swing. The new season is sure to deliver fans memorable moments and outstanding performances. When it is all said and done, which players will stand above the rest and lay claim to their respective league’s end-of-season awards? Will any of last year’s winners repeat?
American League MVP Mookie Betts put together one of the more memorable seasons in recent memory in leading Boston to the World Series title in 2018. No AL MVP has repeated since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera won the award in 2012 and 2013. Is there a player in the AL better than Mike Trout? With his new $430 million contract, Trout can relax and do what he does best. He has won the award twice already (2014, 2016). It might be time again.
The same could be said for Aaron Judge, who finally got an offseason where he didn’t have to rehab an injury. Instead, he focused his offseason on improving his skills. Francisco Lindor will likely also figure into the mix by season’s end.
National League MVP Like Trout in the AL, Colorado 3B Nolan Arenado has a nice, new contract in hand and can focus on baseball. A career .291 hitter, Arenado is going to hit somewhere near 40 homers and knock in 100-plus runs. If he can power the Rockies into the postseason, he could be a shoo-in for MVP.
Paul Goldschmidt’s change of scenery might unleash an MVP-worthy season, though his last four seasons have been MVP-like. The same could be said for Bryce Harper who now calls Philadelphia home. Last year’s NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr. could make the leap to MVP after becoming the youngest player in MLB history to hit a postseason grand slam.
AL Cy Young Award There’s a high probability the AL Cy Young winner comes from the Houston Astros. Justin Verlander already has one to his credit and this time around it might be Gerrit Cole who takes home the hardware. A 15-5 season last year (his first in Houston) has Cole primed and ready for more in 2019.
Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer has produced double-digit wins for the last four straight seasons. His ERA of 2.21 last year was a career-best. This could be his season or it might be Chris Sale’s opportunity to finally break through and prove he is one of the game’s best. Sale went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA last season for Boston.
NL Cy Young Award Any talk of the NL Cy Young begins with the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw and Washington’s Max Scherzer. Kershaw wasn’t his usual self last year going 9-5 and fighting some injuries. Scherzer hasn’t had an ERA above 2.99 since he played in Detroit. Both have won multiple Cy Young awards. Last year’s winner Jacob deGrom will make another play for the award and the dark horse candidate is Philadelphia’s, Aaron Nola. The Phillies right-hander went 17-6 last year with a 2.37 ERA and 224 strikeouts. He will benefit from having his new teammate – Harper – around.
Rookies of the Year The favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year has to be none other than Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He comes from quality stock. His father was a nine-time All-Star and the 2004 AL MVP. Guerrero Jr. should become an instant star in Toronto.
In the National League, Cincinnati’s Nick Senzel’s 2018 season was cut short by a torn ligament in his right index finger. This year, he’ll get the call-up and benefit from the home run-friendly Great American Ballpark.