With two contests left in the 2016 MLB Season coming in the last two games of the World Series, it’s about time to start thinking about the MLB’s elite players and who deserves hardware for their tremendous accomplishments. Before I get into who I think deserves this year’s awards, I’ll make a quick prediction for Game 6 of the World Series, and who the top contenders for World Series MVP might be.
Game 6: Chicago Cubs Force a 7th Game
Last time Jake Arrieta pitched in Cleveland, he silenced their bats and helped the Cubs even the series. Now in a must-win situation on the biggest stage of his career, there is not too much doubt as to what he’ll be able to do a second time around. The Cubs showed that they have the capability to score runs when they’re not at home, and Kris Bryant was able to finally hit one out in the Cub’s Game 5 win last night. While the Cubs have only scored 10 runs and been shut-out twice, last night’s 4th inning showed the Cubs lineup is able to manufacture runs in the heart of its order, scoring the bulk of their runs in the middle innings of games and during the second time around the batting order. I expect Arrieta to go at least 6 2/3 innings, Anthony Rizzo to break his own home run ice, and hopefully Aroldis Chapman won’t have to pitch so that he can be used in Game 7. These last two games will be all about pitching; the team that scores the most runs in the World Series does not always win, as the 2002 Angels and 2003 Marlins both showed us that. The Cubs have been outscored by 7 runs, but don’t let that put doubt in your heads about the #1 team in baseball this year.
Come the end of Game 7, there are a few names on each team that stand out in terms of extreme statistical and performance-based value. If the Indians win, the award should be given to Corey Kluber. I expect Kluber to pitch in Game 7 if needed, and I don’t expect anything different than what he showed us in Games 1 and 4. If he doesn’t pitch in Game 7 and if this player’s hitting proves the difference in either of their potential wins, I would have to choose Francisco Lindor instead. As for Chicago, choosing an MVP becomes a little more complicated. I could envision Jake Arrieta, Aroldis Chapman, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, or Addison Russell all holding the trophy. I think a Cubs triumph in the Fall Classic would be dependent on pitching these two must-win games, and I think it comes down to whether Arrieta or Chapman are in positions to shut the door.
Rookie of the Year
AL: Nomar Mazara
Mazara’s first season in the big leagues has proved pivotal for his Texas Rangers, as his 516 at-bats, 20 home runs and 64 RBIs helped the Rangers to the best record in the American League. He got off to a hot start to the season, winning 2 AL Rookie of the Month Awards in April and May following Shin Soo Choo’s injury. He slowed down for the rest of the season, but never provided a lack of production. Many forgot about Mazara following the breakout of Gary Sanchez, but look no further than Mazara when it comes to which rookie made the greater impact on his team.
Honorable Mention: Gary Sanchez, Michael Fulmer, Hyun Soo Kim
NL: Corey Seager
This is really a no-brainer. The two top rookies in the National League happened to be on the Dodgers, and out of Kenta Maeda and this young man, Corey Seager provided one of the bigger sparks to any National League lineup. Seager’s .308 average and 26 home runs helped Los Angeles to the NLCS where they were overtaken by the Cubs in 6 games. If Trevor Story stayed healthy, it might be a different story.
Honorable Mention: Kenta Maeda
Cy Young Award
AL: Rick Porcello
Many might say I’m biased to my Red Sox, but all I can say is that if you win 22 times, have the highest winning percentage, among the league leaders in innings pitched and ERA, you’ve been pretty darn solid for the year. Porcello was a bright spot among an iffy Boston starting rotation and even though he didn’t perform well in the playoffs, I still think he was the most dominant pitcher in the league this year. I was unsure of who it would be coming into September, but a complete game in just 89 pitches allowed me to stand by that statement. There are people out there who will argue for Kluber, Masahiro Tanaka, or Justin Verlander, but I simply don’t see how you can be considered the best pitcher in baseball when you lose nearly 33% of your starts, or don’t get to the 15 win mark. Plain and simple.
Honorable Mention: None
NL: Max Scherzer
In a contentious discussion about the NL Cy Young Award winner, I also am not really seeing too much question as to who to choose. This guy’s stuff was absolutely untouchable. Don’t believe me? What if I told you he threw 20 strikeouts in a game this year? That’s scary. With only 3 pitches that he works with, it’s amazing how he continues to baffle hitters. Some people watch tape and study his pitching and STILL can’t figure it out. Only 20-game winer, sub-3.00 earned run average, league leader in innings pitched and strikeouts, this seems fairly simple. In a tight battle with Jon Lester for the hardware, I’m standing with Mad Max.
Honorable Mention: Jon Lester, Johnny Cueto
Most Valuable Player
AL: Mookie Betts
This guy does absolutely everything. Hits for percentage, hits for power, runs fast, is a great defensive asset, et cetera. Over-.300 batting average, 30+ home runs, 200+ hits, 40+ doubles, 100+ RBIs, 25+ stolen bases, and the highest fielding percentage for his position on a playoff team says it all for me. What a guy.
Honorable Mention: David Ortiz, Edwin Encarnacion
NL: Kris Bryant
Another no-brainer for MLB hardware. The 2nd scariest hitter in the league behind Nolan Arenado deserves some significant acknowledgement for his sophomore season. 39 home runs and 100+ RBIs aren’t necessarily the best numbers in the league, but this guy helped his team to the World Series. While playoff performance is technically irrelevant, I think Arenado doesn’t help his team any more than Kris Bryant does. I expect this kid to hit 600 home runs come the end of his career, and his 2nd season in the big leagues is deserving of an MVP Award.
Honorable Mention: Nolan Arenado, Noah Syndergaard
All images from MLB.com