Oh how it is good to have baseball back. Spring Training officially kicks off today for some teams, meaning America’s Pasttime is officially getting underway for the 2017 MLB season. Yesterday five of our writers here at INSC took a look at the National League and potential award winners for the coming season (check it out here). So obviously we have to do the American League as well! So take a look below for some of MLB writers predictions for the AL MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year!
Stephen Reed – Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles: For the past couple of seasons, it’s been the Mike Trout show, and you could call this the Mike Trout award. However, Machado is one of the most dynamic young guys in the league. His game changing bat and cannon for an arm makes him an easy favorite here, even with all the other talent in the AL.
Ken Magner – Carlos Correa, Houston Astros: Machado and Trout are just too boring picks here. With way too early predictions, you need to be a little different. So why not go with a 22-year-old who was expected to be one of the best players in MLB last season following a sizzling rookie campaign, only to suffer from a bit of a sophomore slump? We know Correa has some monster talent and when a down season sees him hit .274, 20 homers and drive in 96, a monster year is not out of the question. The expectations will not be as high this season compared to a season ago, setting Correa up for a big-time breakout.
Blake Cole – Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout is the greatest player currently in Major League Baseball. Enough said.
Jon Blayne – Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angeles: I am aware that several of my colleagues will pick Trout, but there’s no one else who comes close. As the face of the Angeles team, he has carried that team on his shoulders for some time and I don’t see him slowing down.
Elliott Gotz – Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: Since the league votes its MVP based on how great a player is, and not how well that player contributes to the success of a team, Trout is the answer. Are the Angels going to make the playoffs? No. Are the Angels a good team? No. But Mike Trout is the overall best player in the game, so barring injury, he will win another MVP this year if he has another Mike Trout-like season.
AL CY Young
Stephen Reed – Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox: Chris Sale was traded this off-season and the only thing he needed to do was change the colors of his sox. Moving from the Chicago White Sox up north to the Boston Red Sox. He will have all the run support he could need in Boston and then some. He will certainly make a run for the Cy Young award, without a doubt.
Ken Magner – Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays: At the age of 28, Archer is entering the prime of his career. He had a rough start to the season in 2016, leading to a final stat line that was not all that special. But this guy has plenty of talent and that rough first half was mainly from bad luck in hit percentage and homers per fly ball. The skills he flashed late in the season were some of the best in his career and I expect him to build on it in 2017. Hey if Rick Porcello can win a Cy Young in 2016, why can’t a guy from the Rays do it in 2017?
Blake Cole – Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians: Let’s be honest. The American League pitchers are far from the talent level of their National League counterparts. With that being said, there has to be a Cy Young winner in this half of the league. Corey Kluber stands just about the best chance. He won two games against the Cubs in the World Series. How did he manage that? He did it with a sick breaking ball and a nasty two-seam fastball. You can’t deny his talent. And with the rest of the AL pitchers to consider, he’s the easy pick.
Jon Blayne – Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros: I know this is out of left field, but I see him as one of the better pitchers in the American League. It will be interesting to see if the addition of Brian McCann will do wonders for Dallas.
Elliott Gotz – Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers: After a down year in 2015, Justin Verlander was back to the ace form Tigers’ fans had come to expect. He had a solid year, and statistically overall a better year than 2016’s winner (and his former teammate) Rick Porcello. If Verlander can remain healthy, and truly is back to the type of ace that he has been in his prime, then there is no reason to think that he cannot make a run again at the Cy Young Award. Perhaps the news of owner Mike Illitch’s passing will even provide a little more spark for Verlander, and all of the Tigers, to leave a little more on the field this year.
AL Rookie of the Year
Stephen Reed – Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox: Both my AL and NL picks for Rookie of the Year are both players that played a limited time in 2016. I believe that will give them each a leg up on the competition. The Boston Red Sox prospect is the top rated prospect in all of baseball and will make that Boston Red Sox outfield one of the deadliest in baseball.
Ken Magner – Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox: This kid had a small taste of the Bigs in 2016 and he certainly showed some skill. Over the course of 34 games and 105 at-bats, he batted .295 and slugged .476. Considering he could very well be batting second for the Boston Red Sox, he could be poised for a very impressive statistical season with the bat. Expect him to become a household name in not only Boston, but all MLB households around the world.
Blake Cole – Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox: Yoan Moncada is the clear top prospect entering 2017. A lot of people are counting Moncada out, because the ChiSox have Brett Lawrie at second, and there really isn’t anything wrong with him. However, during Spring Training, this club will see the full potential of Moncada, and I fully expect to see him start on Opening Day, and become one of the most intriguing players to watch during the season.
Jon Blayne – Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox: He had a short run in 2016 and did well. He didn’t qualify last season for the award as he didn’t play enough games. In 2017, he has the potential to do wonders.
Elliott Gotz – Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox: This lefty outfielder already created a lot of buzz for himself in his 34-game sample size of 2016. He hit .295 with 11 doubles of 31 hits last season. On a team that has enough stars on it for him not to be put in a role to do too much, expect for Benintendi to have a monster year in his first full season with the Red Sox.
AL Manager of the Year
Stephen Reed – Scott Servais, Seattle Mariners: The Mariners were competing for a Wild Card position for most of the year and look to only take a step forward. Servais enters his second season as Mariners coach and appears to have the M’s firing on all cylinders. With the young talent in the rotation, and around the diamond these Mariners look as if they could return to the winning ways this season.
Ken Magner – John Gibbons, Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays will be without slugger Edwin Encarnacion this season, as he has moved on to the Cleveland Indians. But the club will still be poised for success, as their starting rotation and bullpen are both set to be pluses for the team in the coming season. I am expecting an AL East Championship from Toronto, which will help Gibbons earn the honor.
Blake Cole – AJ Hinch, Houston Astros: The Houston Astros are going to make a huge splash this season. After finishing third in the AL West, at 84-78, the team disappointed expectations. With a few new additions and some time, full comprehending the makeup of the team, A.J. Hinch will lead the Astros to success in 2017.
Jon Blayne – John Farrell, Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox look to be loaded this year with the addition of Chris Sale and others and I don’t see why they don’t win the AL East. I feel Farrell will be a lot of the reason why this happens.
Elliott Gotz – Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians: Francona took the Indians to the promised land last year, making it to the World Series before collapsing and losing the seventh game. His team has improved with the addition of Edwin Encarnacion to the lineup, and a full season of Andrew Miller in the bullpen. Terry Francona will have a lot of resources to draw from as he works to conquer the American League Central again. Aside from the young talent that has a year of maturity under their belts, the Indians will also have a healthy Michael Brantley. Terry Francona is a manager who has dealt with high expectations before, and his even-keel attitude will continue to serve the Cleveland Indians well as he enters a year in which his team is no longer going to be a sleeper choice for Ameican League Division or American League Champions.
Stephen Reed’s Comeback Player of the Year- Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers: Choo was limited to just 48 games last year due to injury and looks to be a pivotal part of this Rangers offense and defense going forward. He was also shadowed by the emergence of young gun Nomar Mazara and the success he had when Choo was injured. With the departure of Ian Desmond, Choo’s rightfield position is open for him to get back.