MLB awards: Our staffers make their predictions for MVP, rookie, pitcher and manager in the AL and NL.
A USA TODAY Network panel of nine writers and editors voted on their choices for Major League Baseball’s awards, which will be announced beginning Nov. 12. Below are our choices. First-place votes in parentheses.
American League MVP
Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox: The best player on the 108-win Red Sox, baseball’s top team during the regular season, Betts led the AL in batting average (.346), slugging percentage (.640) and runs (129) in 136 games and is our unanimous choice. He also played Gold Glove-caliber defense as a corner outfielder and ranked first in the AL with 10.9 wins above replacement (WAR). He had 32 home runs, 80 RBI, 30 steals in 36 attempts and a 1.078 onbase-plus-slugging percentage. He hit .415 with a 1.245 OPS with 15 RBI and 22 runs in 17 games against the New York Yankees, Boston’s primary AL East competition. Voting on a 14-9-8-7-6-etc. basis
Rk. Player Pts 1. Mookie Betts, Red Sox (9) 126 2. Jose Ramirez, Indians 71 3. J.D. Martinez, Red Sox 70 4. Mike Trout, Angels 66
5. Alex Bregman, Astros 55 6. Francisco Lindor, Indians 42 7. Matt Chapman, Athletics 38 8. Khris Davis, Athletics 32 9. Mitch Haniger, Mariners 12 10. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox 7 11. Blake Treinen, Athletics 4 T12. Jose Altuve, Astros 3 T12. Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox 3 14. Miguel Andujar, Yankees 1 T14. Michael Brantley, Indians 1
AL Cy Young
Blake Snell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays: The left-hander led the AL in wins (21-5) and ERA (1.89) as well as ERA+, which factors in his league, ballparks and opponents. Snell also closed by
winning his last nine decisions, compiling a 1.19 ERA and holding opponents to a .458 OPS from Aug. 4 to the end of the season as his team closed at 3418. Overall, he struck out 11 hitters per nine innings and compiled a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 0.974.
Voting on a 7-4-3-2-1 basis
Rk. Player Pts 1. Blake Snell, Rays (8) 60 2. Justin Verlander, Astros (1) 36 3. Corey Kluber, Indians 23 4. Chris Sale, Red Sox 22 5. Trevor Bauer, Indians 6 6. Blake Treinen, A’s 3 7. Gerrit Cole, Astros 2 8. Edwin Diaz, Mariners 1
AL rookie of the year
Shohei Ohtani, SP-DH, Los Angeles Angels: Ohtani edges New York Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar, primarily because Ohtani doubled as a fearsome designated hitter when he wasn’t starting games. The right-hander added an element the majors had not seen since Babe Ruth hit and pitched regularly for the Boston Red Sox in 1919. As a DH, he hit .285 with a .925 OPS, 22 homers and 61 RBI in 104 games. He also started 10 games at pitcher, going 4-1 with a 3.31 ERA, 63 strikeouts and 1.161 WHIP in 512⁄3 innings while pitching around an elbow injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery. Andujar hit .319 with 15 homers and 53 RBI with a .919 OPS in the second half as the Yankees held off the Oakland A’s to maintain the top spot in the AL wild-card race. Andujar was the overall hitting star of the AL rookie class, hitting .297 with 27 homers, 92 RBI and a .855 OPS in 149 games.
Voting on a 5-3-1 basis
Rk. Player Pts
1. Shohei Ohtani, Angels (6) 35 2. Miguel Andujar, Yankees (3) 33 3. Gleyber Torres, Yankees 10 4. Joey Wendle, Rays 3
AL manager of the year
Three strong candidates emerged, two using limited resources to succeed in smaller markets. Both Bob Melvin and Kevin Cash flourished, Cash pushing the Rays to the brink of a playoff berth and Melvin leading the A’s to a 22-game improvement at 97-65, second to the Astros in the AL West but good enough to claim the second wild-card berth. Melvin helped urge career years out of DH Khris Davis (48 homers, 123 RBI, .874 OPS), 24-year-old first baseman Matt Olson (29 homers, 84 RBI) and 25-year-old third baseman Matt Chapman (.864 OPS, Gold Glove-caliber defense). The A’s also boasted a no-name yet dominant bullpen led by closer Blake Treinen (0.79 ERA, 38 saves in 43 chances) as Oakland at one point went on a 49-19 run.
Voting on a 5-3-1 basis
Rk. Manager Pts
1. Bob Melvin, Athletics (7) 37 2. Kevin Cash, Rays (1) 22 3. Alex Cora, Red Sox (1) 21 4. Aaron Boone, Yankees 1
National League MVP
Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: Yelich let the NL in hitting (.326), slugging percentage (.598), OPS (1.000) and WAR among position players. But he seized this award when his team won 10 of its last 11 games, including eight in a row to close the season, stealing the NL Central title from the Chicago Cubs. Over those 11 games, Yelich batted .457 with five homers, 17 RBI and 1.057 OPS to become our unanimous choice. Yelich also had 36 homers, 110 RBI, 118 runs scored and 22 steals and played strong defense at all three outfield positions.
Voting on a 14-9-8-7-6-etc. basis
Rk. Player Pts 1. Christian Yelich, Brewers (9) 126 2. Javier Baez, Cubs 79 3. Freddie Freeman, Braves 65 4. Nolan Arenado, Rockies 61 5. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals 54
Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA, 221 strikeouts and 9.974 WHIP.