The 2019 MLB season is finally here. Opening Day comes Thursday for most teams around the league, after the Mariners and A's kicked things off in Japan last week.
It's time to predict who will stand out at the end of it. Here are MLB.com's awards picks for 2019.
We polled over 50 MLB.com experts for their picks on the 2019 American League and National League Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year. These are the winners.
We're also breaking down the top three finishers for each award -- since three finalists are announced at the end of the season -- and other players who received votes are listed in order of how many they received.
1. Mike Trout, OF, Angels
Like you didn't know this was coming. How could Trout not be the favorite? Baseball's first $400 million man enters his age-27 season coming off a year in which he hit .312/.460/.628 with 39 home runs and 24 stolen bases and a Major League-best 1.088 OPS. In Trout's seven full seasons in Anaheim, he's won two AL MVP Awards and been runner-up four other times -- including in 2018 -- and his lowest finish is fourth. Our poll reflects that elite consistency, as Trout received the most votes of any player or manager in any of the awards categories. Nearly four times the number of MLB.com experts picked Trout than the next-closest MVP candidate...
2. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros
Houston's 24-year-old third baseman had a breakout 2018 season for the reigning AL West champs, hitting .286/.394/.532 with 31 homers and 51 doubles, earning his first career All-Star nod and finishing fifth in the AL MVP Award voting. Bregman's postseason resume is also impeccable. Bregman has six playoff home runs over the last two seasons, and they're all against All-Star pitchers -- Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw and two off Chris Sale. His star is on the rise.
3. Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees
One of baseball's most formidable sluggers, Judge followed up his monster 52-homer Rookie of the Year campaign in 2017 with another 27 long balls in 112 games in '18. The 26-year-old is the anchor of a powerful Yankees lineup that has led the Bronx Bombers to back-to-back playoff appearances and just set the single-season team home run record. Judge has a 160 OPS+ over the last two seasons, meaning he's been 60 percent better than an average hitter. Only Trout and J.D. Martinez rate better.
Also receiving votes: Carlos Correa, SS, Astros; Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox; Giancarlo Stanton, OF/DH, Yankees; Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
AL CY YOUNG AWARD
1. Chris Sale, LHP, Red Sox
Sale is a perennial Cy Young contender, but he's still searching for that elusive first trophy. If the MLB.com experts' prediction comes true, he'll get it in 2019. Sale has come close in both of his first two seasons in Boston, finishing as runner-up in 2017 after striking out 308 batters and finishing fourth in '18 after going 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA and 237 strikeouts even after a second half limited by injury. The electric left-hander enters 2019 on a run of seven straight top-six finishes in the Cy Young voting going back to 2012, tied with Clayton Kershaw (2011-17) and Greg Maddux (1992-98) for the longest such streak ever.
2. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Astros
The Astros' pair of aces, Justin Verlander and Cole, were as good as any frontline starter combination in the Majors. Cole went 15-5 with a 2.88 ERA and 276 strikeouts -- second in the AL to Verlander -- in an All-Star debut season in Houston, finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting to Verlander's second-place finish. Which Astro will have the more successful 2019? Our experts were divided almost right down the middle, with Cole getting one more vote than JV.
3 (tie). Justin Verlander, RHP Astros / Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians
Here's Verlander, who had a case for winning the AL Cy Young in 2018 but ultimately finished second to the Rays' Blake Snell. The 36-year-old veteran is as dominant as ever, going 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and a league-leading 290 strikeouts last season, and he got plenty of 2019 Cy Young love in our poll.
So did Bauer, whose breakout 2018 convinced enough of our experts to net him a tie for third place with Verlander (but not quite enough to equal Cole, his old college teammate and rival at UCLA). The 28-year-old went 12-6 with a career-best 2.21 ERA and 221 strikeouts, was a first-time All-Star and finished sixth in the Cy Young voting.
Also receiving votes: Blake Snell, LHP, Rays; Corey Kluber, RHP, Indians
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays
Vlad Jr. might be the most hyped prospect in years. He's currently out with a left oblique strain, but our experts still overwhelmingly picked MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect to be the AL Rookie of the Year. Guerrero's big league debut can't come soon enough for baseball fans. The 20-year-old son of Hall of Famer Vlad Sr. has raked at every level, including a .381/.437/.636 slash line with 20 home runs and a 1.073 OPS in 2018 at mainly Double-A and Triple-A.
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
Jimenez hasn't played a day in the Majors entering 2019, but that didn't stop the White Sox from giving him a six-year, $43 million deal last week -- by far the biggest ever for a player with no big league experience -- which also could reach up to eight years and $75 million. The 22-year-old outfielder is ranked MLB's No. 3 overall prospect, and now that he's signed long-term, he'll be making an impact with the Sox sooner rather than later.
3 (tie). Yusei Kikuchi, LHP, Mariners / Justus Sheffield, LHP, Mariners
Can Kikuchi follow in countryman Shohei Ohtani's footsteps and make it back-to-back AL Rookies of the Year out of Japan? The 27-year-old lefty made a good first impression in his MLB debut against the A's at the Tokyo Dome last week, throwing 4 2/3 innings and allowing just one earned run (two total) with three strikeouts, including one of Matt Chapman.
Kikuchi tied in our poll with another lefty on his own team, but this one's a prospect in the traditional sense -- Sheffield, the 22-year-old who was the centerpiece of the trade that sent James Paxton to the Yankees. Sheffield will start the year in the Minors, but the team's No. 1 prospect and No. 43 prospect in baseball could be a call-up candidate at any time, having already made his MLB debut for New York last season.
Also receiving votes: None
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
1. Rocco Baldelli, Twins
Baldelli takes over for Paul Molitor in Minnesota with the Twins looking to make it back to the playoffs after a disappointing 2018. Rookie managers have had plenty of success recently -- just look at what Alex Cora did with the Red Sox last season -- and Baldelli has been armed with a bunch of offseason upgrades to couple with the Twins' homegrown core, as the team's brought in players like Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Michael Pineda and more. With that in mind, our voters gave Baldelli a narrow edge in our poll.
2. Kevin Cash, Rays
Cash could have won AL Manager of the Year last year after he managed the Rays to a surprise 90-win season and broke new ground with the "opener" strategy. He was edged out by A's skipper Bob Melvin, who managed a surprise team himself and earned the playoff spot that eluded Tampa Bay. But if Cash can pull the right strings and the Rays contend again in 2019 -- and who knows what new innovations they'll have cooked up -- he'd have a great shot at taking home the Manager of the Year honors.
3 (tie). A.J. Hinch, Astros / Aaron Boone, Yankees
Now come two managers in the "powerhouse team" category. Hinch has led the Astros to a World Series title and an ALCS appearance in the last two seasons, and Boone led the Yankees to a 100-win season and a Wild Card Game win in his first year as manager in 2018. If those teams are back in the postseason again in '19, their managers will likely be in the awards mix.
Also receiving votes: Alex Cora, Red Sox; Bob Melvin, A's; Terry Francona, Indians; Brad Ausmus, Angels
1. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
Arenado always seems to be in the NL MVP conversation, but he hasn't won yet. He's getting closer, though -- last year was his first time as a finalist, and he's improved from eighth to fifth to fourth to third in the voting from 2015-18. An offensive and defensive superstar, Arenado has made four straight All-Star teams and won six straight Gold Gloves and four straight Silver Sluggers at third base. The Rockies rewarded the 27-year-old franchise cornerstone with a $260 million extension this winter, and our experts rewarded Arenado by picking him to win his first MVP trophy in one of our tightest races.
2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Cardinals
Arenado edged Goldschmidt by only two votes in our preseason poll. Like Arenado, Goldschmidt is a perennial MVP candidate without an award to his name. The 31-year-old finished sixth in the voting last season after hitting .290/.389/.533 with 33 home runs in his sixth straight All-Star season with the D-backs. The Cardinals traded for Goldschmidt this offseason -- and inked him to a five-year extension this week -- with the expectation that he'll be an MVP-caliber player for them, and our experts agree that he will be.
3. Bryce Harper, OF, Phillies
Bryce finally has his new team, and a good portion of our experts think he's going to add a second MVP Award to his trophy case in his first year in Philadelphia. Harper, who signed a free-agent record $330 million contract to join the Phillies, enters his age-26 season already with six All-Star nods, the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 NL MVP Award to his name. He hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs for the Nationals last year. Just five votes separated Arenado, Goldschmidt and Harper in our NL MVP poll.
Also receiving votes: Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Braves; Juan Soto, OF, Nationals; Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs; Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals; Christian Yelich, OF, Brewers; Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers; Manny Machado, 3B, Padres; Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies; Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs; J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies
NL CY YOUNG AWARD
1. Max Scherzer, RHP, Nationals
It's almost a surprise when Scherzer doesn't win the Cy Young these days. He's won three in the last six seasons, including back-to-back awards with the Nats in 2016 and '17, and he's finished in the top five of his league in all six of those years. Last season, Scherzer went 18-7 with a 2.53 ERA and MLB-best 300 strikeouts but finished as the NL runner-up thanks to a historic season by Jacob deGrom. Scherzer's consistent dominance made him the overwhelming NL Cy Young favorite for 2019 in our poll -- he held the largest vote margin over the second-place finisher in any award category.
2. Jacob deGrom, RHP, Mets
The reigning NL Cy Young winner gets some love from our experts coming off a season in which he posted a Major League-best 1.70 ERA while setting career highs with 217 innings pitched and 269 strikeouts. The Mets ace has become the rock of their rotation and could challenge Mad Max once again in 2019.
3. Walker Buehler, RHP, Dodgers
Buehler might be the best starter in a rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw. The 24-year-old looks like a rising star on the mound after going 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA and 151 strikeouts for Los Angeles in 2018 and finishing third in NL Rookie of the Year voting. His most recent start may have left a lasting impression with our experts: Buehler's seven shutout innings of two-hit, seven-strikeout baseball against the Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series last October.
Also receiving votes: Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies; Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals; Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Cubs; Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets; German Marquez, RHP, Rockies
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
Tatis, ranked MLB's No. 2 overall prospect, has put his all-around talent on display this Spring Training. The buzz around the 20-year-old shortstop swayed just enough of our experts to give him the edge in the NL Rookie of the Year race. The thought of Manny Machado and Tatis Jr. manning the left side of the infield should have Padres fans plenty excited for 2019.
2. Victor Robles, OF, Nationals
Robles gave the Nats a taste of what he can do in big league cups of coffee in 2017 and '18, including hitting .288/.348/.525 with three homers and three steals in 21 games last September. Now the starting center fielder in D.C., the 21-year-old No. 4 prospect in baseball is ready to shine for a full season in 2019.
3. Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets
The Mets' hard-hitting top prospect has had a monster Spring Training, batting .368 with four home runs and a 1.041 OPS, and it looks like it's won him an Opening Day roster spot. Alonso can really crush the ball -- the 24-year-old belted 36 home runs in the Minors last season.
Also receiving votes: Nick Senzel, INF/OF, Reds; Chris Paddack, RHP, Padres; Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves; Brendan Rodgers, INF, Rockies; Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
1 (tie). Mike Shildt, Cardinals / Craig Counsell, Brewers
This is the only race where our experts were split on the winner. But one thing they could agree on was that the NL Manager of the Year will come out of the NL Central.
Shildt's interim managing was so impressive down the stretch last season that the Cardinals made him permanent. After taking over for Mike Matheny, Shildt led the Cards to a 41-28 finish and just barely missed the playoffs. Now with a new star first baseman on the roster in Goldschmidt, Shildt's Cardinals enter 2019 looking to take back the NL Central.
They'll have to take it from Counsell's Brewers, the reigning Central champions after beating the Cubs in a tiebreaking Game 163 last season. Counsell not only led the Brewers to that 96-67 finish, he then took them to within a game of the World Series before Milwaukee fell to the Dodgers in Game 7 of the NLCS.
3. Gabe Kapler, Phillies
Kapler finished just two votes behind Shildt and Counsell in our poll. He enters his second year at the helm with the Phillies having just swung the biggest offseason of any team in baseball -- landing Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and David Robertson. Kapler, who kept the Phillies in contention for the NL East title for most of last season before the team faded late, is in fantastic position to lead the Phils to the postseason for the first time since 2011.
Also receiving votes: Dave Martinez, Nationals; David Bell, Reds; Bud Black, Rockies; Andy Green, Padres; Joe Maddon, Cubs; Brian Snitker, Braves