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MLB awards and World Series predictions: Trout claims second MVP, Cubs win first championship since 1908


The Spectrum

Last season, no one predicted the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals would meet in the World Series, nor did they predict Josh Donaldson, traded from Oakland to Toronto, would claim the MVP over Mike Trout. Bryce Harper was so good last season, that voters overlooked the Washington Nationals missing the playoffs and gave him the award.

This year, with so much talent spread across several teams in both leagues, the World Series is just as open as ever. Half of the league, including the defending champion Kansas City Royals, could make the World Series this year. While the MVP awards seems destined for a handful of players, the Cy Young awards are always pretty random.

Let’s talk about the predictions for MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of The Year and World Series.

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

The best player in baseball should have four MVP awards by now, but I digress. Even though the Angels aren’t projected to make the playoffs, Trout is the best talent in baseball and should be in the discussion to win the award, if not outright win the award. No one combines the ability to hit for power and hit for average quite like Trout and when he doesn’t knock it out the park, he can get you 30 to 40 stolen bases.

NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

Ok. I just didn’t want to pick Bryce Harper again. That’s boring.

It has to happen for Stanton at some point, right? Stanton has monster power. Go YouTube some of his best home runs to see just how far he puts the ball out of the park. The issue has been health. If Stanton can simply stay healthy, he has the ability to hit for a .300 batting average and 50 home runs.

Oh, and he’s also being coached by the best player in modern baseball history, Barry Bonds. I say some of Bonds’ greatness rubs off on Stanton, assisting in his first ever MVP campaign.

AL Cy Young: Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics

The best pitcher you’ve never heard of.

In a league where teams want big power pitchers, Sonny Gray does it all while barely reaching six feet tall and with pristine control, rather than a dominant, triple-digit fastball. Gray mixes in a fastball, sinker and cutter in his arsenal, resulting in one of the most dangerous arms in the West.

David Price will get consideration because he’s great and playing in a larger market. Last year’s winner, Dallas Keuchel will have a chance to win it again and Corey Kluber always remains in contention, but I’m going with Sonny Gray to have a season so good, it overshadows how bad Oakland will be this season.

NL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

Clayton Kershaw is going to be on a great Dodgers team, one of the Mets many arms will get consideration and I quietly like Tyson Ross from San Diego, but I’m going with Cole to claim his first ever Cy Young award.

I mentioned how the league loves big pitchers who throw hard and Cole fits the description. Cole throws a four-seam fastball that was clocked in a 99 miles per hour last season, daring some of the best hitters in the National League Central, a division that saw three teams make the playoffs last season, to catch up to it.

Oh, and he’s just 25 years old and won 19 games last season. The Pirates will rely on Cole to be the ace of the rotation as they look to not only get back to the playoffs, but also win a game or two. I think Cole gives Pittsburg an excellent season, one that nets him his first Cy Young award of the season.

AL Rookie of The Year: Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

The Twins traded Aaron Hicks to the New York Yankees to open space for Buxton, so the opportunity is there for the 22-year-old outfielder.

In the minor leagues, Buxton was a five-tool player, capable of affecting the game in a multitude of ways, while playing elite defense in centerfield. As he rose through the minors, he suffered a series of fluke injuries. Even as he made his major league debut last season, Buxton struggled, suffered an injury and went back down to Triple-A, eventually being overshadowed by third baseman Miguel Sano.

This year, I envision Buxton giving the Twins a bit of everything - some power, some stolen bases and some good defense, which should be just good enough for him to claim the award. He won’t have one single stat that pops out, but several strong stats in several categories.

NL Rookie of The Year: Trea Turner, Washington Nationals

Corey Seager is going to be the frontrunner here, but man do I like Trea Turner.

Seager is the better hitter, but I think Turner will be able to hit AND create havoc on the base paths. Turner never produced outrageous stolen base numbers, but he’s the type of player that can steal 20 to 25 stolen bases, including this season. At shortstop, that’s pretty valuable.

Last season, he struggled in his first stint in the major leagues, but he did show promise, highlighted by a nine percent walk rate. If he can improve on that total, cut down the strikeouts and maintain good defense at a premier position while providing value when he gets on base, I think Turner will be in the discussion for the award.

World Series: Chicago Cubs over Kansas City Royals

In terms of talent, the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs are the two best teams in baseball. However, I’m going with just one of the two best teams. It always seems to go that way – rarely have we ever had the two best teams make it to the World Series.

In the National League, the Cubs are just too talented. They really didn’t know what they were doing and they made it to the NLCS last season. Guys like Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant were dealing with major league pitching for the first time. The additions of Ben Zobrist, John Lackey and Jason Heyward should only help this team get over the hump and into the World Series.

As for the American League, it’s anyone’s game. I like the Astros, but they’re still very young. The Red Sox added David Price, but the backend of the rotation could hurt their chances. Cleveland still needs one more bat to be a good offense. This led me back to Kansas City.

The Royals have several good hitters - Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain - to hold up a solid batting lineup, predicated on getting on base. The pitching staff will take a step back without Johnny Cueto, but the addition of Ian Kennedy, a breakout season from Yordano Ventura and rookie Miguel Almonte could replace that production.

Lastly, the Royals have that experience of pulling out the clutch hit when needed. I see the Royals and Cubs coming out of the playoffs as the two best teams, with the Cubs claiming their first World Series title since 1908.

Quentin Haynes is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at quentin.haynes@ubspectrum.com. Follow him at @HaynesTheWriter.


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