By: John Albinson
As the NBA and NHL head into their postseasons, it’s time for the return of America’s Pastime: competitive rock climbing (just kidding, it’s baseball). Will the Cubs repeat and win the World Series again? Will Cleveland break its 69-year championship drought? Will Bryce Harper bounce back into MVP form? Will the Twins win more than 60 games? All of these questions and more will be answered in the ensuing six months. For now, I’ll share my predictions for the major awards, which will (most likely) look worse and worse as the season progresses. Let’s begin!
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Mike Trout has been the best player in baseball since he entered the league in 2012. After finishing in second place in MVP voting in both his rookie and sophomore years (both to Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers), Trout was finally bestowed the honor in his third season in 2014, and yet again last season. At this point, Trout is being given the LeBron MVP treatment—he’s so good that voters seem to get bored voting for him (that’s how the feel-good story of Toronto’s Josh Donaldson upset him in 2015). Anyway, Trout is only 25 years old. He’s just entering his prime. He’s the best player in the game and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
AL CY YOUNG: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Verlander, who finished second in AL Cy Young voting to Boston’s Rick Porcello (even though he received six more first-place votes than him), is 34 years old and still managed to have one of the best seasons of his career last year. I think Cleveland’s Corey Kluber could also snag the award, but Verlander is due for a second Cy Young.
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
After being unanimously named NL MVP in 2015, Harper took a setback in 2016, where he finished the season with underwhelming numbers (for him) of 24 home runs, 86 RBIs, and a .243 batting average. Harper has looked great in spring training, and if he comes anywhere close to his 2015 form, he should be a strong contender for MVP. The Cubs’ Kris Bryant, last year’s winner, is entering his prime and could also easily repeat.
NL CY YOUNG: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Like Trout, Kershaw is unequivocally the best pitcher in baseball. He had a 12-4 record last year due to a midseason injury, but finished with a 1.69 ERA with 172 strikeouts and only 11 walks. Max Scherzer of Washington, last year’s winner, still looks like one of the best pitchers in the league and will contest Kershaw for the award.
WORLD SERIES PREDICTION: DODGERS OVER INDIANS
The Dodgers have won the NL West the past four seasons, but have failed to reach the World Series each time (even with one of the highest payrolls in the MLB). This is the year that Kershaw & Co. finally get past the hump and bring the Commissioner’s Trophy back to L.A. for the first time since 1988, while Cleveland loses for a second year in a row.