The players of Major League Baseball are almost ready to take the field and start making history. The 2017 season looms, with the Chicago Cubs eager to defend their long-awaited and unforgettable World Series championship and the other 29 clubs fired up to unseat them in October.
Each team's questions from the offseason will be answered over the next 162 games and the postseason, but before we get to Opening Day, it's always fun to make some predictions.
With that in mind, we polled more than 50 experts from MLB.com and MLB Network to see how they envision the 2017 season shaping up, in terms of individual awards. We used the traditional Baseball Writers' Association of America awards as our framework, and these can also give us a sense of who the contenders will be for the Esurance MLB Awards, which do not take league designation into account.
Here are the results:
AMERICAN LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
1. Michael Trout, OF, Angels: This one seems to be an annual no-brainer, and for good reason. Trout won his second AL MVP honor last year and has finished second in the voting for his other three full seasons. Oh, and this will be his age-25 season.
2. Carlos Correa, SS, Astros: Correa did not ascend into the MVP conversation in 2016 after a brilliant Rookie of the Year campaign the previous year, but he did slash .274/.361/.451 with 20 home runs and 96 RBIs at the age of 21 while a bit banged up. That bodes quite well for the year to come.
3. Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles: With career-high totals in homers (37), RBIs (96), runs (105), batting average (.294) and OPS (.876) at the age of 23 in 2016, the future and present look exceedingly bright for Machado and his Orioles.
Also receiving votes:Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox; Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays; Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers; Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees; Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros; Jose Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
AL CY YOUNG AWARD
1. Chris Sale, LHP, Red Sox: Sale went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA and 233 strikeouts in 226 2/3 innings for the White Sox. That was good enough for fifth in the Cy voting. Now he's in Boston, where the Red Sox are gearing up for postseason contention.
2. Corey Kluber, RHP, Indians: The 2014 AL Cy Young winner was 18-9 last year with a 3.14 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 215 innings, then shined in the postseason as the Indians made it to the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series.
3. Yu Darvish, RHP, Rangers: Darvish's 2016 season was inconsistent, and not surprisingly so, considering it was a shortened first year back on the mound after Tommy John surgery. Even in those circumstances, he put up a 3.41 ERA and struck out 132 batters in 100 1/3 innings.
Also receiving votes:Justin Verlander, RHP, Tigers; Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays; Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays; Felix Hernandez, RHP, Mariners; Jose Quintana, LHP, White Sox; Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, Yankees
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox: Benintendi showed up in Boston ahead of schedule last year and impressed, slashing .295/.359/.476 in a 105 at-bat audition and looking good in the outfield.
2. Yoan Moncada, 2B, White Sox: Moncada was the big piece coming back to Chicago in the Sale trade, and while he struggled in a brief stint in the Major Leagues last year, he's the No. 2-ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com, and he doesn't turn 22 until May 27.
3. Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees: Judge is big and powerful and will hit a lot of home runs. He had four long balls in 84 at-bats in his short time in the big leagues in 2016 and should get his chance in the Bronx at some point this season.
Also receiving votes:Jose De Leon, RHP, Rays; Joe Musgrove, RHP, Astros; Jharel Cotton, RHP, A's; Yulieski Gurriel, IF, Astros; Gleyber Torres, IF, Yankees
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
1. A.J. Hinch, Astros: Hinch was the choice to win this award prior to last season, but the team's slow start hurt him. Still, Houston got close to a postseason berth and made key roster additions in the offseason that have the Astros primed to rebound.
2. Scott Servais, Mariners: Servais led the Mariners to the cusp of October with an 86-win season in his first year at the helm in Seattle in 2016, and then he got a new shortstop in Jean Segura and other upgrades to the roster.
3. Terry Francona, Indians: Francona won this award last year and did it despite not having Michael Brantley in the outfield for most of the year and without Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco for the last month. All three are expected to play a lot more than they did in 2016.
Also receiving votes: Jeff Banister, Rangers; John Farrell, Red Sox; John Gibbons, Blue Jays; Brad Ausmus, Tigers; Joe Girardi, Yankees; Mike Scioscia, Angels
NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP
1. Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals: Harper won this honor unanimously in 2015 and slowed down a bit last year, perhaps because of nagging physical maladies that he played through quietly. Clearly, our prognosticators think he'll bounce back, with a lot more great years ahead of him at age 24.
2. Kristopher Bryant, 3B, Cubs: Bryant won the 2016 NL MVP in a magical year for the third baseman and his team. The possibilities seem boundless for Bryant, who just turned 25 in January and cut down on his strikeout rate from his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2015 to the next season.
3. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers: Seager was Rookie of the Year in the NL in 2016 and finished third in this vote after a 26-homer season and a line of .308/.365/.512 while playing a premium position.
Also receiving votes:Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs; Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Mets; Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies; Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves; Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins; Javier Baez, IF, Cubs; Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
NL CY YOUNG AWARD
1. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers: He's won three of these awards and an NL MVP and has finished in the top five in the voting for NL Cy Young in each of the past six years. And despite making only 21 starts last year because of back issues, Kershaw still dominated, putting up a 1.69 ERA and finishing fifth in the Cy voting.
2. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets: It seems like it might only be a matter of time for Syndergaard to contend for this award as long as he stays healthy. Last year's 2.60 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 183 2/3 innings have him primed for another huge season.
3. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants: Bumgarner, well-known as the hero of three Octobers past, just steams along in the regular season as one of the game's best. Last year, he was 15-9 with a 2.74 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 226 2/3 innings and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting.
Also receiving votes:Jacob deGrom, RHP, Mets; Max Scherzer, RHP, Nationals; Carlos Martinez, RHP, Cardinals; Jacob Arrieta, RHP, Cubs; Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Cubs
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. Dansby Swanson, SS, Braves: Things are coming quickly to Swanson, who went from the first overall pick in the 2015 Draft to a sterling warmup at the big league level last year, when he slashed .302/.361/.442 in 129 at-bats.
2. Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres: Renfroe had four homers in 35 at-bats after making it up to The Show in San Diego. He figures to get plenty of at-bats for a young team in 2017.
3. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates: Glasnow throws hard, and his big right arm was on display for seven games (four starts) in 2016. The Pirates figure to lean on him at some point in 2017.
Also receiving votes:Manuel Margot, OF, Padres; Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
1. Dave Roberts, Dodgers: Roberts won this award for his brilliant job as a first-year skipper, winning the NL West, and his Dodgers appear to be even healthier and deeper throughout the roster heading into 2017.
2. Bruce Bochy, Giants: It might not be an even year, but the Giants made it to October yet again in 2016 and are heading into the new season with a loaded roster and fewer question marks in the injury category.
3. Terry Collins, Mets: If Collins gets full, healthy seasons from starters Syndergaard, deGrom and Matt Harvey, there's no telling how good this team can be. Having three or maybe even more aces (take your pick between Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Zack Wheeler) makes managing games easier.
Also receiving votes: Bud Black, Rockies; Brian Snitker, Braves; Dusty Baker, Nationals; Joe Maddon, Cubs; Torey Lovullo, D-backs; Clint Hurdle, Pirates; Mike Matheny, Cardinals
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.