Who will win? Awards season is here

Betts among AL MVP favorites; deGrom, Scherzer for NL Cy Young

November 4th, 2018

It's MLB awards season, and the four Baseball Writers' Association of America honors -- Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year -- are on the horizon.
The three American League and National League finalists for each award will be announced tonight at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network. The winners will be revealed the following week, with each award announced live on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET on the scheduled day:
Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year: Monday, Nov. 12
Manager of the Year: Tuesday, Nov. 13
Cy Young: Wednesday, Nov. 14
MVP: Thursday, Nov. 15
MLB.com is previewing the potential finalists for each award before the top three candidates are announced.
Thursday, Nov. 15
American League: The AL has a deep group of MVP candidates this season, headlined by , who had a career year for the World Series champion Red Sox. Betts won the AL batting title by hitting .346 -- while also leading the AL in slugging at .640 -- joined the 30-30 club with 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases, played a premier defensive right field and led all players with 10.4 Wins Above Replacement (per FanGraphs). He could be joined as a finalist by Angels slugger , the Indians' , the Astros' and teammate J.D. Martinez. All those players are in the mix for one of the top three spots.

Trout had another typically brilliant season, leading the Majors with a 1.088 OPS after hitting .312/.460/.628 with 39 homers and 24 stolen bases. Ramirez, like Betts, went 30-30, with 39 home runs and 34 stolen bases for the Tribe. Bregman broke out with 31 homers 103 RBIs, and he was a huge part of the Astros' success, leading AL hitters in Win Probability Added. Martinez chased a Triple Crown for much of the stretch run, ultimately finishing second in the AL in batting average (.330) and home runs (43) while leading in RBIs (130).

National League: emerged as the NL MVP Award front-runner down the stretch, as he slugged the Brewers to the postseason with a monster second half. Like Martinez in the AL, Yelich chased a Triple Crown in the NL, and he ended up winning the batting title (.326) but falling just short in home runs (36) and RBIs (110). Yelich also led the NL in slugging (.598) and OPS (1.000). Electric Cubs star is another likely finalist, after hitting .290 with 34 home runs, 21 stolen bases, 101 runs scored and an NL-best 111 RBIs.

Beyond that, the field gets a little murkier. The Rockies' , who hit an NL-best 38 home runs while playing all-world defense at third base, could be a candidate. So could the Braves' Freddie Freeman (.309/.388/.505, 23 homers), the D-backs' (.290/.389/.533, 33 homers), the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter (.257/.374/.523, 36 homers) or even Yelich's teammate , who hit .308 with 10 homers and 30 steals while playing elite defense in center field.

It will be interesting to see where the NL's two most dominant pitchers, Mets ace and Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, finish in the MVP Award voting, but they don't seem likely to be finalists.
Wednesday, Nov. 14
American League: The two top candidates for the AL Cy Young Award look like Rays left-hander and Astros ace . Snell went 21-5, won the AL ERA title at 1.89 and notched 221 strikeouts. Verlander had a 2.52 ERA, but he was a huge workhorse for the 2017 World Series champs, pitching 33 1/3 more innings than Snell (214 to 180 2/3) and racking up an AL-leading 290 strikeouts. Some other potential finalists: the Red Sox's Chris Sale, the Astros' , the Indians' and maybe even A's closer .

Sale was a Cy Young Award front-runner into the summer, but his injury-plagued second half prevented him from qualifying for the ERA title; still, he finished with a 2.11 mark and 237 strikeouts in 158 innings. Cole finished second to his teammate Verlander with 276 strikeouts, and he had a 2.88 ERA. Bauer had a 2.21 ERA and 221 strikeouts in a career year for Cleveland. And while Treinen might be a long shot as a reliever, he was brilliant in 2018, finishing with 38 saves, a 0.78 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings, while leading the AL in Win Probability Added.
National League: The NL Cy Young Award competition turned into a three-man race down the stretch between deGrom, Scherzer, and Phillies ace . deGrom looks like the favorite as he led the Majors with a 1.70 ERA, pitched 217 innings and struck out 269 batters. But Scherzer will give him a run for his money after reaching the 300-strikeout mark to lead the Majors, while also pitching the most innings (220 2/3) and posting a 2.53 ERA.

Nola will probably finish third, but his numbers -- 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and 224 strikeouts in 212 1/3 innings -- are also exceptional. Pitchers like the Rockies' (17-7 with a 2.85 ERA, with a 10-2 record and 2.40 ERA at Coors Field) and the D-backs' (3.15 ERA, 246 strikeouts) would be other potential finalists, but they are likely on the outside looking in.
Monday, Nov. 12
American League: The AL Rookie of the Year Award race looks like it will come down to and . Ohtani, the Angels' two-way sensation, did things not seen in MLB since the days of Babe Ruth. As a hitter, he belted 22 home runs and had a .925 OPS. As a pitcher, even though his elbow injury cut short his season on the mound, Ohtani still made 10 starts with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings. Andujar, meanwhile, won the Yankees' third-base job and never stopped hitting, finishing the season with a .297 average, 27 home runs, 92 RBIs and 76 extra-base hits. His 47 doubles tied the AL rookie record.

Andujar's partner in the Yankees' infield, , could join him as a Rookie of the Year Award finalist after hitting .271 with 24 home runs and 77 RBIs. So could others like Rays second baseman Joey Wendle, who hit .300 with 16 stolen bases, or Royals right-hander , who had a 3.08 ERA over 140 1/3 innings in 41 games (20 starts).
National League: A pair of phenoms, the Braves' and the Nationals' Juan Soto, are the NL front-runners. The 20-year-old Acuna hit .293/.366/.552 with 26 home runs, 64 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 111 games, including a club-record eight leadoff homers. The 19-year-old Soto hit .292/.406/.517 with 22 homers and 70 RBIs in 116 games. Acuna had a .917 OPS; Soto had a .923 OPS. Acuna had a 3.7 WAR; so did Soto.

Who will the third finalist be? There are several candidates. The Dodgers' , who just shined in the World Series, is one -- the 24-year-old had a 2.62 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) in the regular season, with 151 strikeouts in 137 1/3 innings. The Cardinals' , who made 28 starts with a 3.34 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 151 innings, is another. His St. Louis teammate , who hit 12 homers and was one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball, could also be a possibility, as could someone like the Giants' , son of Pudge, who had a 2.81 ERA over 118 1/3 innings in 21 games (19 starts).
Tuesday, Nov. 13
American League: Bob Melvin looks like a top candidate in the AL after managing the surprising Athletics to a Wild Card berth. In 2017, the A's finished last in the AL West at 75-87; in '18, they challenged the Astros for the division title and finished 97-65.
Alex Cora is another. Even before the Red Sox steamrolled their October competition on their way to a World Series championship, the rookie manager had led them to a Major League-best and franchise-record 108 wins in the regular season.

Other managers in the mix for a finalist spot: the Rays' Kevin Cash, who presided over a team that innovated strategically (the "opener") and surged to an unexpected 90-win season; the Astros' A.J. Hinch, who kept Houston from experiencing a championship hangover and exceeded last year's win total, 103 to 101; and the Yankees' Aaron Boone, another rookie manager who led his team to a 100-win season.
National League: The Braves' Brian Snitker is one candidate for the NL Manager of the Year Award, after Atlanta flipped its record from 72-90 in 2017 to 90-72 in '18 and won the NL East. The Brewers' Craig Counsell, who improved on last year's surprise success and led a 96-67 team to the NL Central title -- capped by a win over the Cubs in Game 163 -- also fits the bill.

So does Bud Black, who led the Rockies back to the playoffs for a second straight year, and came within a tiebreaker game loss of the franchise's first division title. Another interesting possibility: the Cardinals' Mike Shildt, who took over for Mike Matheny midseason and led the Cards to a 41-28 finish, while getting them to the brink of a playoff berth.