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All these opinions would have been invalidated because we knew at the time that Ohtani had not reached his two-way ceiling due to injury concerns, Ray’s walk-prone style had affected his electric repertoire, and that Kapler’s Giants were ranked third in the NL West pecking list.
With the limited information we have today, good luck with next year’s Baseball Writers Association of America honors. It’s not impossible to try. If anyone of us predicts this stuff 8 times out of 8, that person should be awarded an award.
These are my top picks. There is nothing that could go wrong.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MVP: Wander Franco, SS, Rays
Although the odds seem to be against Ohtani reviving his historic 2021,, you never know. After his break out with the bat, the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might be my favorite. Carlos Correa is my favorite, although we aren’t sure if he will be in the AL next season. Rafael Devers, Jose Ramirez, Aaron Judge and Jose Ramirez are all established players who are capable of winning the MVP award. Mike Trout will be back with the Angels, where he can hopefully resume his nearly-annual MVP bid.
Franco is The Future. Franco is The Future. He had that 43-game on-base streak in which he had more hits (55) than swinging strikes (48). His hit tool and discipline are real, sustainable strengths that, when combined with his playing a premium position for what should be a good Rays team, can put him in the MVP conversation even at this crazy early stage of his career (he’ll be just 21 next season, so he’d be the youngest MVP ever).
There are obvious second-year adjustments, and there is the question of whether Franco has enough power to be a legitimate MVP. However, I believe the voters are becoming more savvy enough to see the whole package and Franco is one of them.
MVP NATIONAL LEAGUE: Juan Soto (OF, Nationals)
The NL is home to three young talent in Soto Jr., Ronald Acuna Jr., and Fernando Tatis Jr. who should all win MVPs. Acuna is still recovering from a horrible ACL injury, and Tatis has not had surgery to treat his left shoulder problem. I’m taking Tatis Jr. who finished second in the 2021 voting but had a valid argument to win first.
It would have been hard to argue that Soto did not get off to a slow start in 2021, if he had. Although he’s not Barry Bonds-level, his 145 walks in this season’s season were the highest since Bonds’ 232 record. He’s just like Bonds and can do enough damage when given pitches to hit to make him an MVP-caliber player. Soto was a. 465 on-base percentage. He could have made an out in his last 22 plate appearances and still led MLB in OBP. After the Home Run Derby, he unleashed his power. 639 SLG won the second half. A. 445 mark was in the first), so there is no reason to believe that it can’t be carried over.
Soto was not able to win Thursday night. But, give him one year. His time is near.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG – Dylan Cease RHP, White Sox
Will Gerrit Cole has finished second in voting in two of the past three years. He also placed in the top five in each of the previous four years. Can he finally get over his hump? It’s hard to know. Cole was 4. 15 ERA after word got around about MLB policing sticky substances, so, while a late-season hamstring issue also didn’t help his cause, that is a situation worth monitoring.
To be clear, this is a question that many guys are asking right now. This includes Cease. He saw his spin rates on his primary pitches, in his case, the four-seam slider, curve, and curve, decrease immediately after enforcement.
In the second half, however, spin rates for all pitches returned to Cease’s norms. He made the adjustment. And when you combine that adjustment with a dramatic improvement in strikeout rate (from 17.3 percent in 2020 to 31.9 percent) and walk rate (from 13.3 percent in 2020 to 9.6 percent), Cease, who has always had an exciting arsenal that just needed refinement in terms of command, will be a good candidate to make The Leap in his age-26 season. Robbie Ray, Shane Bieber and Shane Cox were not easy choices in preseason. Let’s try again. It is worth noting that three of the four Cy Young winners in the AL or NL have been from a Central team, which would continue the trend.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG: Walker Buehler, RHP, Dodgers
With apologies to the great Jacob deGrom, who has an iffy elbow, and Max Scherzer, who is 37, I’m going with a younger gun here.
This should not be difficult to understand. Buehler was fourth in the NL Cy Young voting and ninth in 2019.. He has a 2. He has a 2. He’s a workhorse (which used to matter) who led MLB this season in quality starts (27) by four. Buehler has Cy competition from Julio Urias on his team, but Buehler’s track record suggests he’ll win the honor again.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Scott Servais (Mariners).
Manager of the Year is often awarded to surprise squad skippers. To predict who will win these awards in a year is to predict within a prediction. They might not be a surprise if the Mariners have had as great an offseason than they should have. This is the team that has suffered the longest playoff drought in North American pro sports. To win the AL West, they would have to defeat the great Astros. Servais was third in the voting, and he had a strong argument to win in 2021, after bringing the Ms close to October in a year filled with organizational controversy.
Servais was Seattle’s manager for six seasons. In that span, the Mariners have outperformed their Pythagorean win expectation (which is based on run differential) by 25 wins. Although I am not smart enough to be able to mathematically evaluate a skipper’s performance, it sounds good to me.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MANAGGER OF THE YEAR: Bob Melvin (Padres).
I don’t want too much to say about the teams that I believe could surprise in 2021, mainly because I am still not sure which teams I should be wrong about. The Padres have too much talent to not turn things around and compete for the postseason 2022,. Melvin is too good at his job to not get credit when they do.
This would be the awarding The Narrative Melvin came in to kick butt. We sportswriters love The Narrative. Melvin is also a favorite of ours, as shown by his three wins in two leagues. He would tie Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa for the most all-time wins, even though this award dates back to 1983).. Go get ’em, Bob.
AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Riley Greene, OF, Tigers
This looks like a great rookie class for the AL. Each of MLB Pipeline’s top four prospects — Adley Rutschman, Julio Rodriguez, shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., and Spencer Torkelson, first baseman, of the Royals — have a chance to make an impact next season. Let’s not forget about Shane Baz of the Rays, who despite posting an incredible 0. 68 WHIP in 13 1/3 innings this past season.
But, I want to go further down Pipeline’s Top 100 rankings… yep… all the way up to No. 7. That’s the 21-year-old Greene, who could potentially break camp with the big league club on a Tigers team that will be looking to storm up the AL Central standings. They can do it. I believe they can, and I think Greene could do it as an everyday center fielder with a powerful left-handed bat.
NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Camilo Doval, RHP, Giants
As it would have been if I took Baz in AL, I’m cheating here because we’ve seen Doval’s potential before he exceeds his rookie limits. He uses a horrible slider-fastball combination that he used as a way to keep his opponents down to a 192 average while striking out 33.9 percent of batters faced in 27 innings this past season. His velocity and fastball release points are similar to deGrom’s, and his slider is crazy-moving.
At 24 years old, Doval has already been trusted with save opportunities on a 107-win Giants team. We can trust that Doval will continue to be able to obtain high-leverage assignments throughout 2022.. It is not easy to be a reliever and crack the top spot. Emmanuel Clase’s 2021 for Cleveland was incredible, but I ranked him fourth behind Franco, Arozarena, and the Astros’ Luis Garcia. Devin Williams was the winner in the NL 2020, and five other relievers won this century.
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