The home stretch of the baseball season is here. The dog days of summer have come and gone, and the schedule stands with just two weeks left in the regular season. That’s two more weeks until 10 teams embark on their quest for the World Series Crown. Here are my predictions on the four major awards in both the American and the National League.
MVP: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
Talk about a swan song. David Ortiz announced his retirement prior to the 2016 season, but the hefty slugger has played nothing like the way we expect 40-year-olds to play. Ortiz is hitting .318 with 36 home runs and 121 runs batted in. Ortiz deserves this award, especially considering that this is his final season. I believe he will win MVP, as he looks to guide the Red Sox on what could be a storybook ending to a sensational career.
CY Young: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
Orioles reliever Zach Britton should be given strong consideration, but ultimately this award will be given to a starter, and there is no pitcher in the American League quite as dominant as Corey Kluber. Coming on strong as of late, Kluber is the unquestioned ace of the Indians staff. He currently sits at 17-8 with a 3.12 ERA, accounting for 215 strikeouts in just over 200 innings pitched. While Britton has been stellar all season, former MVP Justin Verlander has had a renaissance season, and Boston’s Rick Porcello has won an eye-opening 21 games. Ultimately, however, this is Kluber’s award for the taking.
Manager of the Year: Jeff Bannister, Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers have far exceeded the expectations many had for them coming into the season. Sitting atop the AL West all season was completely unexpected from this inexperienced Rangers squad. Bannister has done a terrific job nurturing this young roster and has them primed to make some noise in the postseason.
Rookie of the Year: Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
It seems ludicrous to give an award to a player who debuted in late July, but Sanchez has been that good. He has singlehandedly made the Yankees relevant in the AL East after trading away three All-Stars at the trade deadline. Sanchez is hitting .327 with 17 home runs and 33 runs batted in. Even though he has played in just 42 games up until this point in the season, Sanchez is deserving of the AL Rookie of the Year Award. One could argue that he has not only been the best rookie, but the best player in baseball since he broke into the big leagues.
NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant is a bona fide superstar with all of the tools imaginable. Bryant has helped guide the Cubs to the best record in the MLB, and to such inordinate success that they clinched their division on Sept. 15, when they still had 16 games remaining. Hitting right around .300, Bryant will finish the season north of 40 home runs and 100 runs batted in. At just 24 years of age, this will most likely not be the last time Bryant will be MVP of the National League.
CY Young: Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs
This is Lester’s best season of his career. The four-time All-Star sits at 18-4 with a 2.36 ERA. Each time he takes the mound the Cubs expect to win, and more often than not they do. Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals is another potential candidate for this award as he has a chance of striking out 300 players this season. Clayton Kershaw was in serious contention for the award when he accomplished this feat last season, so Scherzer certainly has a fighter’s chance. Kershaw, Kyle Hendricks, Madison Bumgarner, Noah Syndergaard, and Johnny Cueto are other potential candidates. Ultimately, though, Lester will be awarded the CY Young for the overall success of his team and his role of anchoring the best pitching staff in baseball.
Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs
When you win over 100 games, guess what? You get properly rewarded with what some might call the trifecta: Bryant wins MVP, Lester wins CY Young, and Maddon wins Manager of the Year, and all deservedly so. Maddon has done a masterful job ever since he took over the Cubs prior to last season. He guided them to the NLCS in his first year with the club, and this season has them in perfect position to make a run at the World Series. While Dave Roberts deserves a mound of credit for all he has done keeping the Dodgers afloat despite a plethora of injuries, Maddon will win his second consecutive and fourth career Manager of the Year Award.
NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
This is undebatable, and set in stone. Very few players have such high expectations entering the professional sporting world and actually live up to them, but Corey Seager has done just that. Crowned the best prospect in baseball, Seager has posted a .316 batting average to go along with 25 home runs and 69 runs batted in. He is the main reason the Dodgers find themselves atop the NL West. Corey Seager will be the National League Rookie of the Year this year, and probably an MVP candidate in the near future.