With Opening Day about a month away, many baseball fans across the country like to state their opinions on what they think is going to happen during the season and what players are going to have big years. Anything can happen in a long 162 game regular season, but here is who I think will end up getting awards at the end of the 2018 season.
This one seemed like a no brainer to me as Trout is in my books the best all-around player in the MLB right now. Coming off of an injury-shortened 2017 season where he only played 114 games, I believe Trout will bounce back in 2018 and win his 3rd MVP since the start of the 2014 season. Since the start of 2012, Trout was named an All-Star each year, finished in the top five in the AL MVP voting the past six seasons, and has five silver sluggers in a row from 2012-2016.
Even though Trout has been thriving throughout the past few years, he has been put in an Angels lineup that has not had much protection around him. However, since the trade deadline last season, the Angels have added many pieces around Trout in the lineup. Last July, they acquired power hitting outfielder Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers and during the offseason, they traded to get second baseman, Ian Kinsler from the Tigers. They also signed free agent shortstop, Zack Cozart from the Cincinnati Reds and Shohei Ohtani from Japan.
So now that the Angels did some good work within the past nine months to acquire some bats to help solidify their batting order, Trout should be in a better position to get good pitches to hit and more RBI opportunities, setting up for a potentially great 2018 season for Trout and the Angels.
- 2nd place AL MVP: Jose Altuve, Second Baseman, Houston Astros
- 3rd place AL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton, Right Fielder, New York Yankees
It is time to stop using the Coors Field excuse against Rockies third baseman, Nolan Arenado and just accept the fact that this guy can FLAT OUT PLAY regardless of what team he is on. Since getting called up in 2013, Arenado has won five straight gold gloves, been to three straight All Star Games and won three straight silver slugger awards from 2015-2017. Not to mention he has hit at least 35 home runs and driven in 130+ runs in each of his silver slugger seasons.
Even though Arenado has been putting up MVP type stats and has been getting better each year, critics don’t give him enough respect because he plays half of his games each season in the hitter-friendly Coors Field. But in 2018, I think he will go to a whole other level and give those critics no choice but to hand him his first career MVP. I believe Arenado will get a career high in batting average and OPS in 2018 while hitting at least 40 home runs and driving in 130+ runs.
- 2nd place NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Third Baseman, Chicago Cubs
- 3rd place NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, First Baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks
- AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
In his first year in Boston in 2017, Sale seemed like the favorite to win the AL Cy Young throughout most of the year before struggling the final couple months of the regular season. This led to Sale finishing second in the Cy Young voting last year behind Cleveland Indians right hander, Corey Kluber.
Even though Sale has been one of the most dominant and consistent starting pitchers in the league since getting called up in 2010 with the Chicago White Sox, he has yet to win a Cy Young and I think this will be the year he gets it. Sale has also been selected as an All Star each of the last six seasons and finished in the top five in the AL Cy Young voting every year since 2013, with 2017 being his first, second place finish.
He had a very solid first season with the Red Sox last year as he posted an ERA of 2.90 with a 17-8 record and led the American League with 308 strikeouts in 214.1 innings pitched. If Sale puts up another season just like that in 2018, I think the Cy Young should be his.
- 2nd place AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
- 3rd place AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
- NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Until Clayton Kershaw has a year where he shows some decline, I will take Kershaw over any other starting pitcher in the big leagues on my team. Despite having his fair share of struggles in the postseason in the past, there is still no doubt that he is the most dominant starting pitcher in the big leagues with some unhittable type stuff. In every year since 2011, Kershaw was named an All-Star and has finished in the top five in the NL Cy Young voting (including winning three of them). Even though Kershaw hasn’t won a Cy Young since 2014, I believe he will win his fourth in 2018.
Kershaw had a very dominating 2017 season as he led the league with 18 wins and an ERA of 2.31 in 27 starts. But despite those numbers, he finished second in the NL Cy Young voting as Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals took the award for a second straight year. If Kershaw can have another very dominating year and stay healthy to start at least 25 games in 2018, the Cy Young should be his.
- 2nd place NL Cy Young: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
- 3rd place NL Cy Young: Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
- AL Rookie of the Year: Willie Calhoun, Outfielder, Texas Rangers
Calhoun was a trade piece that came the other way in the trade that sent starting pitcher, Yu Darvish to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer and I believe that Calhoun will make the Dodgers sorry that they traded him.
Calhoun is a 23-year-old left handed hitting outfielder who only stands at 5 foot 8, but has much potential. Calhoun had a cup of coffee in the big leagues late last season as he played in 13 games with the Rangers and batted .265 with one homerun, four RBIs, and a .677 OPS.
Calhoun tore up Triple-A last season prior to his call-up as he hit .300 with 31 home runs, 93 RBIs, and an OPS of .927 in 128 total games last season in the Dodgers and Rangers triple-A teams combined. He also batted .254 with 27 home runs, 88 RBIs, with an OPS of .788 in 132 games in Double-A Tulsa two seasons ago.
So with a strong Spring Training, Calhoun could be a candidate to make the Rangers Opening Day roster and I believe that he will seize the opportunity and make some big contributions with Texas this season, giving him the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year.
- 2nd place AL ROY: Willy Adames, Shortstop, Tampa Bay Rays
- 3rd place AL ROY: Gleyber Torres, Infielder, New York Yankees
- NL Rookie of the Year: J.P. Crawford, Shortstop, Philadelphia Phillies
With the Philadelphia Phillies in rebuild mode once again in 2018, they should see more of their top prospects reaching the big leagues and J.P. Crawford has been one of their most talked about prospects on the rise the past few seasons.
Crawford was the Phillies first-round pick in the 2013 MLB draft and got his first taste of the big leagues late last season. In 23 major league games, Crawford batted .214 with zero home runs, six RBIs, with a .356 OBP.
J.P. is the younger cousin of former big league outfielder, Carl Crawford who had himself a pretty successful big league career and there is no doubt in my mind that J.P. will have a solid future himself as well. In Triple-A Leigh Valley last year, Crawford batted .243 with 15 home runs, 63 RBIs, and a .351 OBP.
Not as much of a speedster compared to his older cousin, J.P. is a guy who is capable of getting on base at a high rate and is an above average defensive shortstop, which is why I believe he will win the NL Rookie of the Year in 2018.
- 2nd place NL ROY: Ronald Acuna, Outfielder, Atlanta Braves
- 3rd place AL ROY: Victor Robles, Outfielder, Washington Nationals
- AL Comeback Player of the Year: Aaron Sanchez, Starting Pitcher, Toronto Blue Jays
Just two seasons ago, Blue Jays right handed pitcher, Aaron Sanchez came out of nowhere and quickly became one of the most dominant starting pitchers in the American League. In 2016, he went 15-2 with an ERA of 3.00 in 30 starts and a strikeout to walk ratio of 2.5:1.
Going into last season, the Blue Jays expected Sanchez to continue his dominance and become a solid #2 starter behind their ace Marcus Stroman. However, that did not go as planned as Sanchez only made eight starts in all of 2017 and only won one of those starts. His ERA was also well over 4.00 and his WHIP increased drastically from 1.17 in 2016 to 1.72 in 2017.
The main reason behind Sanchez’s struggles and his limited playing time was because of a series of blisters he had on his right finger last year. Even though the injury didn’t sound so serious, it clearly had a drastic effect on him.
So I believe that Sanchez will get over his blister issues in 2018 and will once again show dominance in the Blue Jays rotation as he will make at least 25 starts and win at least 12 of those starts and keep his ERA below 3.00.
- NL Comeback Player of the Year: Matt Harvey, Starting Pitcher, New York Mets
The Dark Knight Rises (again) as Mets right handed pitcher, Matt Harvey will put his woes from 2016 and 2017 behind him and return to his old dominant form. There is no doubt that these past two years have been brutal for Harvey, both physically and mentally, but now it is 2018 and he seems healthy and behind the whole Adriana Lima saga, which will set up for a dominating season for Harvey in his contract year.
Harvey won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award back in 2015 as he went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA in 29 regular season starts and pitching a total of 189.1 innings, which was the most of any starting pitcher in their first year back from Tommy John Surgery.
Even though Harvey is not returning from a major surgery like he was in 2015, he has had his ailments the past two seasons, which has caused him to go 9-17 with an ERA of 5.79 in a total of 35 starts between ’16 and ’17 combined.
But with him being over a year and a half removed from thoracic outlet surgery and seemingly putting his confidence issues from last season behind him, I am expecting Harvey to win at least 15 games in 2018 and finish the year with an ERA below 3.00 making at least 25 regular season starts.