2013 NL Awards Predictions

With the season just a few days away, it is a great time to predict the next six months, trying to project who could win the major awards.  This is quite a tricky venture, as who would have thought R.A. Dickey would win the NL CYA last year, with Gio Gonzalez finishing 3rd?  I will give a top 3 for the three major NL awards, along with Gold Glove and Silver Slugger predictions.

NL MVP

1.  Joey Votto
2.  Andrew McCutchen
3.  Justin Upton

March 2, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) at bat against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning during a spring training game at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Votto was on his way to an MVP season until a knee injury forced him out of action, then limited his power after he returned.  Despite the late “struggles,” he hit .337/.474/.567 last season, as his 177 wRC+ was 11 points higher than Cabrera and Trout.  The 29-year-old Red is tearing the cover off the ball this spring, and he looks poised to add another MVP trophy to his mantle.

McCutchen looks to build off his 3rd place finish in the MVP race last year, though his .375 BABIP will be tough to repeat.  The biggest thing working against him is that the Pirates are still probably the fourth-best team in their division, which always skews the voters’ thoughts.  His spring hasn’t been great, but a .200 BABIP is the main culprit, so expect more of the same from the MLB The Show coverman.

Upton will be hitting in the middle of a deep Braves lineup, bound to run up his old-school stats, driving in runs and scoring plenty too.  His power has re-awakened this spring, though his plate discipline has been a bit sketchy.  He may not be the most stable player production-wise, but he should be in a great situation to thrive this season.

Just missing:  Buster Posey, Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton, Jason Heyward, Yadier Molina

NL Cy Young Award

1.  Stephen Strasburg
2.  Clayton Kershaw
3.  Cliff Lee

March 22, 2013; Viera, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) delivers a pitch against the Detroit Tigers during the spring training game at Space Coast Stadium. Detroit defeated Washington 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

While he may not amass the most innings this season, Strasburg is the most dominating pitcher in the league.  He was the only starting pitcher to strike out 30% of hitters faced last season, with no other NL pitcher within 5% of his mark.  A fairly flat fastball is the only weakness for the Nationals ace, as this year could be the start of many CYAs in his career.

Kershaw may have been the best pitcher in the NL last year, losing out to R.A. Dickey due to a low win total.  The Dodgers lefty just turned 25 and he’s had four straight seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA.  His hip was a concern at the end of last year, but it looks like that has subsided, putting him back into automatic CYA contention.

Another pitcher who suffered from a lack of run support, Lee is still one of the best pitchers in the league.  At 34 years old, the Phillies lefty is the closest thing to a robot, using perfect mechanics to achieve near-perfect command on four pitches.  He doesn’t walk anyone and strikes out many, a great recipe for success.

Just Missing:  Craig Kimbrel, Cole Hamels, Adam Wainwright, Matt Cain

NL Rookie of the Year

1.  Julio Teheran
2.  Jedd Gyorko
3.  Shelby Miller

March 17, 2013; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (49) delivers a pitch against the New York Mets in the spring training game at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

It may be a couple years later than expected, but Teheran should show what made him such a prized prospect.  He has absolutely dominated hitters this spring to the tune of a 1.04 ERA and a 0.615 WHIP.  He’s only allowed a .105 BABIP, which is absolutely silly, but his FIP below 3.00 shows some great skills starting to shine.

One of our writers’ favorite prospects, Gyorko will have a chance to start Opening Day at 3B for the Padres with Chase Headley‘s injury. Gyorko doesn’t have any big strength, aside from possibly a high LD rate, but his overall solid skills should lead to some good numbers in a fairly thin class.

Miller looked great in a September callup for the Cardinals last season, and he’s latched onto the 5th spot in the rotation.  He has never had problems getting whiffs and his control hasn’t been much below average.  Last year’s inflated ERA was primarily due to the home run ball, so that number should regress closer to normal, leaving him with a good chance at above-average numbers this season.

Just Missing:  Nolan Arenado (COL), Adam Eaton (ARI), Trevor Rosenthal (STL)

NL Gold Gloves

C-  Yadier Molina
1B-  Adrian Gonzalez
2B-  Danny Espinosa
3B-  Chase Headley
SS-  Andrelton Simmons
LF-  Bryce Harper
CF-  Ben Revere
RF-  Jason Heyward

NL Silver Sluggers

C-  Buster Posey
1B-  Joey Votto
2B-  Chase Utley
3B-  David Wright
SS-  Troy Tulowitzki
LF-  Ryan Braun
CF-  Andrew McCutchen
RF-  Giancarlo Stanton

It will be fun to see how poorly my predictions turn out, and I’d love to hear any differing opinions on any of the awards.

Topics: Atlanta Braves

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  • fireboss

    Don’t fall over but I agree with most of your picks. The few that I see slightly in flux are I think perhaps a bit of Rodney Dangerfield lack of West Coast appreciation and overlooking or under valuing the human part of the equation.

    Votto and McCutchen are perennial MVP candidates If as I suspect Justin Upton has the I’ll show you kind of season – 35+/100/ 30SB he could carry the Braves to the division and that would shove him ahead of those two for MVP. Matt Kemp is healthy again and in the middle of a potentially explosive lineup in LA. If Kemp stays healthy he could get close to his prediction for last season and hit 40, steal 40 and drive in 120. Dark horse – Yadier Molina.

    Strasburg or Kershaw are the obvious CY Young candidates but Matt Cain and a resurgent Tim Linsecum shouldn’t be ignored. Cain is one of the 4 or 5 real ACE pitchers in the league and pitched the Giants to their WS last year. Linsecum is out to prove his detractors wrong and he’s done that his whole career until his hiccup last year. In a walk year and with a chip on his shoulder he can be the dark horse.

    The Dodgers new pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu could also be a player in the RoY stakes though I agree that if Teheran’s spring is any indication he could walk way with it.

    Oh and I think Dickey won the CY not because of the counting stat on it’s own but because he did it pitching for a AAA team much Like Steve Carlton’s win over Steve Rogers who had a lower WHIP and higher WAR and ERA. What they did was so unpredictable and looking at their team unlikely the voters preferred them.

    See, I told you we agreed :)

    • Jeff Schafer

      Votto and McCutchen are both studs and will probably be in that race. Braun is another guy who shouldn’t have a bad season even with the suspension talks again. Another guy who could just have a monster season without a surrounding team would be Stanton.

      Linsecum is having another bad spring training, MLB network said the other day the Giants are looking to put him back in the bullpen and us him for long relief. I think we may have seen the last of the Linsecum days.

      If Simmons can win a Gold Glove in his first full season would be great. He’d should have plenty of hardware by the end of his career, might as well start early!