Baseball, Columnists, Sports

On-Deck Circle: Predicting MLB’s award winners

The 2024-2025 MLB season kicks off tomorrow with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres squaring off in the first-ever MLB Seoul Series. 

Chloe Patel | Senior Graphic Artist

The teams will play a two-game series in Seoul, South Korea, marking South Korea’s first regular season MLB games. 

While these games will start at 6 a.m. ET, and will most likely not be watched by most fans in the United States, they are a clear sign of the league’s efforts to globalize. 

While it’s only been 139 days since the last MLB game that meant something, it’s been a long offseason for baseball fans. With superstars like Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani moving teams, Opening Day can’t come soon enough. 

While the other 28 MLB teams won’t start their regular season until next week, the two-game series between NL West rivals will be a sign of things to come ahead of a new baseball season. 

That said, here are my predictions for the four major individual awards on both sides of the league. 

American League Most Valuable Player: Juan Soto, New York Yankees

This award feels the most wide open, with a handful of players in contention to win it. Last year’s winner, Ohtani, made the move to the National League. The Yankees have two viable options for MVP in Soto and Aaron Judge, but Soto feels like the safer pick. After being traded from San Diego, Soto will be on a mission in his first season in the Bronx. 

National League Most Valuable Player: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Dodgers

While two contenders for MVP may seem like a lot for the Yankees, the Dodgers have three. Ohtani, along with Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, could all win the award in the National League. Some people may disagree with this pick because of Ohtani’s lingering injury that will keep him off the mound, but Ohtani is just as dominant as a hitter. Ohtani won the award last year after missing 27 games but still hitting 44 home runs and driving in 95 runs. Give him an entire season, and his numbers will be even better. 

American League Cy Young: Framber Valdez, Houston Astros 

The two-time All-Star and one-time World Series winner has done everything besides win the Cy Young. If Valdez wants to win the award, he’ll most likely need to pitch the most innings and finish close to the top of the list of wins. With a new manager in Houston, Valdez could be the workhorse ace for the Astros. If he stays healthy, he’ll be right in the mix for Cy Young. 

National League Cy Young: Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves

Strider is the clear pick in the NL. Last year, he led the NL with 20 wins and 281 strikeouts. However, his Achilles heel was his ERA. If he can maintain his consistency with winning games and striking out batters, the lower ERA will follow, and he will be the surefire winner. 

American League Rookie of the Year: Evan Carter, Texas Rangers

Like Corbin Carroll, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year winner, Carter already has major league experience but will retain his rookie status this season. Carter’s competition will most likely be Jackson Holliday of the Baltimore Orioles, but Holliday has no MLB experience and may not even make the team’s Opening Day roster. In 23 regular season games, he hit for a .306 average and hit five home runs. Give him a whole season to produce similar numbers, and he’ll be right in the conversation for this award. 

National League Rookie of the Year: Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Los Angeles Dodgers

Yamamoto is the clear favorite to win the award. The Dodgers’ biggest signing this offseason, aside from Ohtani, won his third consecutive MVP of the Nippon Professional Baseball Pacific League before signing with Los Angeles for 12 years and $325 million. After signing the most lucrative contract for a major league pitcher ever, having not pitched a single inning in the league, Yamamoto will prove his worth this season. 

American League Manager of the Year: A.J. Hinch, Detroit Tigers

Hinch, who was fired in 2020 after his alleged involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, is now in his fourth season as Detroit’s manager. In a very weak AL Central, the Tigers could surprise many and take the division crown. For a team that finished 66-96 just two seasons ago, winning the division would be a historic turnaround. Hinch, who has two pennants and a World Series win under his managerial belt, would certainly follow that up with an award win. 

National League Manager of the Year: Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers

While Manager of the Year can go to a manager whose team may not be the best in the league, it also can go to managers whose teams just dominate the season. That’s exactly what the Dodgers are capable of. I would not be surprised to see LA win 75% of their games and finish more than 70 games over .500. A different kind of history being made could lead to Roberts winning this award.

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