Here’s a 2023 awards candidate for every team
Awards Week just wrapped up, and to celebrate, let’s look ahead to 2023, with one potential awards candidate for every team.
Don’t worry, we’re not accounting for free agency: Aaron Judge won’t show up as a Yankee, a Giant, a Dodger or anywhere on this list. Current players only. Who’s got the best chance on each team to get an award? Let’s make some guesses.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B (MVP)
Sure, last year was a step back for Guerrero, but 2021 was a titanic offensive season, one that would have earned him an MVP Award already if it hadn’t have been for that Ohtani fellow. Guerrero is still 23 years old. The best is yet to come. The best could be coming right now.
Orioles: Gunnar Henderson, SS (ROY)
There’s actually a little bit of a temptation to pick Adley Rutschman as MVP here, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Instead, let’s go with Henderson, who looked ready to go after debuting on Aug. 31. Doesn’t he already sort of feel like a veteran?
Rays: Tyler Glasnow, RHP (Cy Young)
He only pitched two regular-season games last year, but he looked very much like his old self. If he’s healthy, he has the very definition of Cy Young stuff.
Red Sox: Rafael Devers, 3B (MVP)
They still haven’t figured out an extension for him. It sure would be something to see him go all Judge and have a supersonic season in his contract year.
Yankees: Anthony Volpe, SS (ROY)
If Judge stays, he’s probably the MVP favorite again. But if he doesn’t, MLB Pipeline's No. 5 prospect could be the Opening Day shortstop and an instant sensation. Gerrit Cole for Cy Young is also a good answer here. Can you believe he’s never won one?
Guardians: José Ramírez, 3B (MVP)
He still hasn’t won one, though this year was the fifth of the past six that he’s finished among the top six finishers. One of these years, he’s going to wreck the league from start to finish.
Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS (MVP)
This is a stretch, sure, but we know the talent is there. He was merely “terrific” in 2022, which almost felt like a disappointment. The sky is the limit, and maybe immediately.
Tigers: Riley Greene, CF (MVP)
Now this is really a stretch. But the Tigers need some sort of leap from Greene -- and Spencer Torkelson -- to try to put 2022 behind them as quickly as possible.
Twins: Byron Buxton, CF (MVP)
If he can ever stay healthy for a whole season, he’s absolutely capable of winning one of these. But he’ll be 29 on Opening Day. It's starting to feel like that could be unlikely.
White Sox: Dylan Cease, RHP (Cy Young)
He finished second this year, and he seemed to just get better as the year went along. One more push forward could get him over the top in 2023.
Angels: Mike Trout, OF (MVP)
We’re going with Trout here rather than Ohtani because Trout still feels more likely to be an Angel in September than Ohtani does.
Astros: Yordan Alvarez, DH (MVP)
The AL is absolutely stacked with MVP candidates, and Alvarez's clutch breakout in the postseason only will make him more vivid in every voter’s mind. Also, he might be the best hitter in baseball -- that helps, too.
Athletics: Ken Waldichuk, LHP (ROY)
Waldichuk came over from the Yankees in the Frankie Montas deal and was a better pitcher after the trade. He’s a mainstay of the A’s rotation already and still has rookie eligibility.
Mariners: Julio Rodríguez, CF (MVP)
This year's AL Rookie of the Year is going to win one eventually. Why wait around?
Rangers: Josh Jung, 3B (ROY)
Even though he’ll be 25 on Opening Day, he’ll still be eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award, and you can make an argument that, as certain as his lineup spot is, he might be one of the favorites.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Spencer Strider, RHP (Cy Young)
You could go with Ronald Acuña Jr. as MVP if you wanted, but Strider might have been the most dominant pitcher in baseball for two months last year. Stretch that out over a full year, and he’ll be right in the middle of the race.
Marlins: Sandy Alcantara, RHP (Cy Young)
Jacob deGrom was the last person to win two Cy Youngs in a row, in 2018 and '19. Alcantara is more than sturdy enough to make a run at it.
Mets: Francisco Álvarez, C (ROY)
We’ve seen the thunder in his bat. This year, MLB Pipeline's No. 1 prospect will get every opportunity to dominate on the grandest stage.
Nationals: Robert Hassell III, OF (ROY)
The other guy the Nats got in the Juan Soto deal, he’s a better hitter than CJ Abrams and could man the outfield for this team for a long time.
Phillies: Bryce Harper, RF (MVP)
This may depend on whether or not he can play the field, but if he can and he’s fully healthy … well, we’ve seen what he can do when he’s not fully healthy.
Brewers: Brandon Woodruff, RHP (Cy Young)
There are rumblings that the Brewers might look to move Corbin Burnes this offseason, which is the only reason the also-fantastic Woodruff is the pick here. But you really can’t go wrong with either one. Heck, why not both?
Cardinals: Nolan Arenado, 3B (MVP)
He finished third this year, and even though teammate Paul Goldschmidt was the winner, you could make an argument that it’s Arenado who’s the heart and soul of this team.
Cubs: Brennen Davis, OF (ROY)
It might be aggressive to have him in the lineup on Opening Day, but his inevitable arrival will be one of the big early moments of the Cubs' season.
Pirates: Roansy Contreras, RHP (ROY)
He’s still rookie-eligible, and hey, he might be this team’s Opening Day starter.
Reds: Elly De La Cruz, SS (ROY)
This is very aggressive, no question: He won’t turn 21 until January. But the Reds are excited about MLB Pipeline’s No. 14 prospect, and the rest of us are likely to be soon as well. You may not have noticed, but he had 28 homers and 47 stolen bases in the Minors this year.
D-backs: Corbin Carroll, OF (ROY)
He’s probably the clubhouse favorite at this point, and why wouldn’t he be? This speedster is going to hit a lot of triples in that ballpark over the next few years, and who doesn’t love triples?
Dodgers: Mookie Betts, RF (MVP)
He was quietly top-shelf again in 2022, something he’s starting to make a habit of. He sure feels like a guy who’s going to win an MVP Award in both leagues at some point.
Giants: Logan Webb, RHP (Cy Young)
Lots of changes and turnover are coming for the Giants in 2023, and they might be the most fascinating team this whole offseason. But Webb is quietly their ace.
Padres: Juan Soto, RF (MVP)
Of the three candidates, he seems the most likely one to put up the best numbers … and boy, it’ll be fun to see him, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. together all year.
Rockies: Zac Veen, OF (ROY)
When in doubt … go with a Rockies rookie hitter.