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.
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.
NL Cy Young Award
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.
NL Rookie of the Year
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.
NL Gold Gloves
NL Silver Sluggers
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