Opening Day finally arrives Thursday, when all 30 teams kick off the 2021 regular season. But let's look into the future and make some predictions about which stars are going to shine in MLB this year.
We just made our World Series picks. Now, we asked 100 MLB.com experts to predict who will win each of the major individual awards in 2021: the American League and National League Most Valuable Players, Cy Young Award winners, Rookies of the Year and Managers of the Year.
Here are the results -- our predicted winners for the 2021 MLB awards.
(Besides the winners, other players who received votes are listed in order of how many they received.)
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels (53 votes)
When in doubt, pick Trout. That's what the MLB.com voters did. The Angels superstar has won three MVP Awards, finished as the runner-up for four more and placed in the top five for two others. That's nine top-five MVP finishes in nine full big league seasons. Why would he stop now? Only Barry Bonds has won four or more MVP Awards. This could be the year Trout joins him, and maybe even carries the Angels back to the postseason.
Trout got over five times as many votes as any other player, but the runner-up in our poll is an interesting pick: Shohei Ohtani, Trout's two-way star teammate, who has the potential for a historic-type season if he returns to top form on the mound and at the plate in 2021. So is the third-place vote-getter, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who could finally have the big breakout we've all been waiting for.
Others receiving votes: Ohtani (10), Guerrero Jr. (6), Tim Anderson (5), Alex Bregman (4), DJ LeMahieu (4), Aaron Judge (3), Luis Robert (3), Matt Chapman (3), Anthony Rendon (1), George Springer (1), Gerrit Cole (1), Gleyber Torres (1), José Ramírez (1), Matt Olson (1), Rafael Devers (1), Randy Arozarena (1), Yoán Moncada (1)
AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole, Yankees (59 votes)
Cole is still looking for his first career Cy Young Award, though he's gotten close with top-five finishes the last three seasons, during which time he has a 2.71 ERA and 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings. The Yankees are looking for their first Cy Young pitcher since Roger Clemens in 2001. MLB.com's experts think Cole and the Yanks will get it done in his second season in the Bronx. They gave Cole over twice as many votes as the runner-up, White Sox ace Lucas Giolito (25). Last year's AL Cy Young Award winner, Shane Bieber, came in third in the poll.
Others receiving votes: Giolito (25), Bieber (9), Hyun Jin Ryu (2), Kenta Maeda (2), Tyler Glasnow (2), José Berríos (1)
AL Rookie of the Year: Randy Arozarena, Rays (32 votes)
In the closest race of any of the player awards, last year's postseason hero for the Rays got the edge over much-hyped Mariners phenom Jarred Kelenic (25 votes), who has yet to debut in the Majors but looks ready to burst onto the scene. Arozarena, though, has already done that. He carried Tampa Bay to the AL pennant in 2020, setting MLB postseason records with 10 home runs, 29 hits and 64 total bases. The 26-year-old still has rookie eligibility for 2021, and our experts think he's going to keep raking. But keep an eye out for star prospects on the horizon like Kelenic (MLB's No. 4), Wander Franco (No. 1) and Bobby Witt Jr. (No. 7).
Others receiving votes: Kelenic (25), Andrew Vaughn (7), Franco (7), Witt Jr. (6), Bobby Dalbec (4), Ryan Mountcastle (4), Nick Madrigal (3), Tarik Skubal (3), Casey Mize (2), Triston McKenzie (2), Alex Kirilloff (1), Garrett Crochet (1), Luis Patiño (1), Michael Kopech (1), Nate Pearson (1)
AL Manager of the Year: Charlie Montoyo, Blue Jays (29 votes)
The MLB.com voters are picking Montoyo to lead the up-and-coming Blue Jays to more success in 2021 after making the postseason a year ago. Toronto has a great mix of young, homegrown rising stars (Bo Bichette, Vlad Jr., Cavan Biggio), veteran imports (Hyun Jin Ryu, George Springer, Marcus Semien) and recent breakouts (Teoscar Hernández). It's Montoyo's job in his third season as manager to bring it all together in a division with the powerhouse Yankees and defending AL champion Rays.
Others receiving votes: Tony La Russa (15), Joe Maddon (15), Aaron Boone (13), Dusty Baker (8), Bob Melvin (6), Kevin Cash (5), Mike Matheny (4), Rocco Baldelli (4), Terry Francona (1)
NL MVP: Juan Soto, Nationals (29 votes)
He's 22 years old but hits like Ted Williams. He might not just be the best young hitter in the game, but the best hitter in the game, period. Soto does it all at the plate. He led the National League last year in all three slash line categories -- .351 batting average, .490 on-base percentage, .695 slugging percentage (plus a 1.185 OPS to sum it all up). It's no wonder why our experts are predicting a monster year from Soto in 2021, even with strong competition in the MVP race from fellow young phenoms Ronald Acuña Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. and Dodgers superstar Mookie Betts. Somewhat interestingly, neither reigning MVP -- José Abreu in the AL and Freddie Freeman in the NL -- got any votes in our 2021 awards poll.
Others receiving votes: Betts (19), Acuña (19), Tatis Jr. (14), Francisco Lindor (6), Corey Seager (3), Nolan Arenado (3), Manny Machado (2), Bryce Harper (1), Christian Yelich (1), Jacob deGrom (1), Lorenzo Cain (1), Trea Turner (1)
NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom, Mets (66 votes)
The biggest landslide in any of the races was deGrom for NL Cy Young. No other pitcher even got double-digit votes (Dodgers flamethrower Walker Buehler was second, with nine votes -- four more than his new teammate and last year's NL winner, Trevor Bauer). deGrom has just become that dominant. He was always a very good pitcher. Now he's forcing his way into a Hall of Fame debate. deGrom throws 100 mph. He has a 2.10 ERA and two Cy Young Awards in the last three seasons (plus a third-place finish in 2020). A third Cy Young Award would put him in elite company with Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Pedro Martinez, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer and Sandy Koufax.
Others receiving votes: Buehler (9), Yu Darvish (7), Bauer (5), Corbin Burnes (2), Jack Flaherty (2), Luis Castillo (2), Aaron Nola (1), Brandon Woodruff (1), Chris Paddack (1), Ian Anderson (1), Max Fried (1), Max Scherzer (1), Mike Soroka (1)
NL Rookie of the Year: Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pirates (55 votes)
Hayes forced his way into the Rookie of the Year conversation in 2020 even though he only played 24 games -- he was that good. The 24-year-old hit .376/.442/.682 with five homers and an 1.124 OPS and ultimately settled for a sixth-place finish for the award. Now it's time to see what Pittsburgh's top prospect, and MLB's No. 9 prospect overall, can do over a full season in 2021. The MLB.com experts are excited for it, picking Hayes by a wide margin over fellow top hitting prospect Dylan Carlson (No. 13 in MLB), who started to break out late in 2020, and electric young pitchers like the Marlins' Sixto Sánchez (No. 15) and the Braves' Ian Anderson (No. 18).
Others receiving votes: Sánchez (15), Anderson (12), Carlson (12), Cristian Pache (3), Ha-Seong Kim (1), Joey Bart (1), MacKenzie Gore (1)
NL Manager of the Year: Jayce Tingler, Padres (30 votes)
This was the narrowest overall race for our voters, with Tingler finishing ahead of Mets manager Luis Rojas by five votes. While the MLB.com experts think Rojas will be able to guide the Mets to success now that he has a new superstar shortstop in Francisco Lindor, they also think Tingler will lead the breakout team of 2020 to another level in '21. The race between the Padres and Dodgers in the NL West is going to be must-watch baseball all year long. With star power on both sides -- Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and more leading the way in San Diego -- these teams should be World Series contenders, and it will be Tingler's job to help the Padres live up to expectations.
Others receiving votes: Rojas (25), Craig Counsell (14), Dave Roberts (8), Brian Snitker (6), Joe Girardi (6), Mike Shildt (5), David Ross (2), Dave Martinez (1), David Bell (1), Don Mattingly (1), Gabe Kapler (1)