It’s that time again folks! With pitchers and catchers reporting to camp throughout the next couple of days, fans are getting ready for baseball once again. The fans of all 30 MLB teams are getting geared up for hopefully a season full of success and ultimately a world championship. With that being said, a few of us writers at The Inscriber Magazine wanted to look at potential winners for a few of the league’s major awards. So let’s begin with the National League, shall we?
Stephen Reed – Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs: This was a toss-up for me. On one side you have Kris Bryant. On the other, you have Anthony Rizzo. Both of which could easily win this award. Bryant had a huge year last season hitting close to .300 with 39 home runs, along with a spectacular Postseason. I see a repeat on both, which I think will factor into him having an MVP season.
Ken Magner – Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies: You want to talk about a player who is fun to watch, look no further than Nolan Arenado. The man is a wizard in the field, making some of the best defensive plays I have ever seen at the hot corner, evident by the four Gold Gloves he owns and still only 25. Oh, and he is pretty darn good with the bat too. Last year he hit .294 with 41 homers and 133 RBIs. Expect more of the same as he continues to get better, hits and Coors Field and is surrounded by some other talented bats.
Blake Cole – Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals: Yes, Kris Bryant is breathing down his neck. Yes, Bryce Harper can be called “shaky” sometimes. But it’s Bryce Harper. He has established himself as one of the best players in the game, and certainly one of the best in the National League. He will regain the title, and prove that the name “Bryce Harper” still resounds in the minds of baseball fans everywhere.
Jon Blayne – Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs: While this may be a boring pick, I don’t want to bet against one of the better hitters in the National League. He is in a great lineup and he is still young, so I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon.
Elliott Gotz – Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers: He was third in the voting last year, having hit 26 home runs, 72 RBIs, and posting a .308 batting average. He was an All-Star last year in his first complete season in the Big Leagues. The Dodgers are poised to be in a dogfight with their rivals, the San Francisco Giants, this year. For the Dodgers to continue their surge as the leaders of the N.L. West, another step forward for Corey Seager can help propel them back into the playoffs, as well as earn Seager his first potential National League M.V.P.
NL CY Young
Stephen Reed – Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: This took me some time to pick a winner for the CY Young, as I don’t think there’s truly a clear cut favorite for this award. However, going off of track record alone, Kershaw has been one of the most dominant pitchers in recent memory. After missing a large amount of the 2016 season with back injuries, he looks to bounce back and be the strikeout machine we all know him as.
Ken Magner – Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets: The man they call Thor has absolutely dynamite stuff. While most will have this pick saying Clayton Kershaw, there are simply too many solid arms in the NL to go with the safe pick. Between Thor, Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta, Syndergaard is set to be the best of the group. The Mets’ have several top-notch pitchers, but none of them have the ceiling of this long-locked flamethrower.
Blake Cole – Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw is easily one of the best pitchers in all of baseball right now. After missing some time last season, Kershaw is healthy and ready to play ball. There is no doubt that he will be at the same elite level we’ve all come to know and love. He’ll even come back better than that.
Jon Blayne – Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs No I am not becoming a Chicago Cubs fan, but I recognize when a team is loaded with talent. However, this will probably be one of the closer races with guys like Lester, Syndergaard, and Kershaw in the league. But its something when you get close to 20 wins that has me feeling he will contribute big time in 2017.
Elliott Gotz – Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: This guy is a stud. I think that if he did not have a major injury that set him back last season, he would have won the award for the fourth time in his career. He’s a fierce competitor and remains in the upper echelon of pitchers, not only in the National League but in all of baseball. If he can dominate and maintain a low ERA in 2017, look for Kershaw to sit atop the realm of baseball’s best pitchers again.
NL Rookie of the Year
Stephen Reed – Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves: I know what you’re thinking, “Swanson played in 2016, so how can he be the Rookie of the Year?” Reason being is he didn’t play enough games in the 2016 season to lose the “rookie” status. The former first overall pick looks to make an impact after being traded last off-season in a deal that sent Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks.
Ken Magner – Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals: As you can tell, I like to break from the norm. 90 percent of people will take Swanson with this pick, but do not sleep on Alex Reyes. The 22-year-old righty has some seriously nasty stuff. He will have a chance to start the season in the Cardinals rotation with a solid Spring. Even if he starts down in the minors, it won’t take long before he makes it to the Bigs again. And when he does, the hitters of the National League better watch out.
Blake Cole – Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves: Dansby Swanson finished one at-bat shy of exceeding the rookie limits last season, getting a lot of crucial experience under his belt. He has the potential to be one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game of baseball. Watch him in 2017, you’ll be talking about this season 20 years from now.
Jon Blayne – Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals: He had a very dominating run in 2016, as he only gave up one homer in 46 innings. I expect him to be one of the bigger names that we hear in 2017. I also broke off the norm as well because being that a lot of the Braves players are rookies, it will be tough for them.
Elliott Gotz – Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals: In just five starts last season, he posted a 4-1 record, and in a total of 12 Appearances (starting and relieving combined) he only gave up one home run. He posted 52 strikeouts compared to 23 walks and finished the season with a 1.57 ERA. While he is certain to hit some snags in the road at some point in 2017, look for him to dominate the rookie class of pitchers, and put himself in a position to win the Rookie of the Year award for a St. Louis Cardinals team looking to de-throne the Cubs.
NL Manager of the Year
Stephen Reed – Bud Black, Colorado Rockies: The Rockies were just six games away from finishing .500 last season and look to build on that season with an even better one. The lineup for Bud Black looks dangerous, with power from every position in the lineup. There’s a chance we could see the Rockies competing for a Wild Card spot come September and potentially even competing for an NL West title.
Ken Magner – Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves: One of the most underrated moves of the Winter saw the Braves make the best possible move in naming their Manager. They kept Snitker, who managed the team down the road last season and had some success. The players know what to expect from him, and they showed they can gel under his leadership. While I am not expected a playoff season from Atlanta, I expect them to be improved enough to give Snitker the honor in his first season.
Blake Cole – Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs: Some think that picking Joe Maddon to repeat is a long shot. Honestly, I think the Chicago Cubs are going to completely dominate the National League again. Some of his momentum from 2016 will flow into this coming season, and the IBWAA will have no choice but to acknowledge his as the best manager in the NL again.
Jon Blayne -Terry Collins, New York Mets: Just like the CY Young race being close, I fully expect this to be a close race with Bud Black, Joe Maddon, Dave Roberts, Mike Matheny, and Dusty Baker. But Terry Collins was able to take a team last year who was injury prone to over 85 wins. Could you imagine what he can do with a fully healthy team?
Elliott Gotz – Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants: Last season, the Giants were four games out of the division, settling instead for a Wild Card spot. This season, the Giants have secured up the back-end of their bullpen with the signing of Mark Melancon to close out games. The Giants are poised to make a run at the Dodgers in 2017, but it will not be an easy task. Bruce Bochy is respected around baseball as being one of the game’s best managers. As he tries to get his team past the threshold in 2017, look for him to potentially earn Manger of the Year.
Stephen Reed’s NL Comeback Player of the Year – Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates: Maybe it’s the “yinzer” in me wanting this to happen or maybe it’s the realist in me realizing it’s possible. McCutchen had one of his worst statistical seasons ever last year and was a large reason the Pirates missed the Postseason. Cutch looks to step up and be the player we Pirates fans know him to be and return to MVP form this year and many more going forward.
Jon Blayne’s NL Comeback Player of the Year – Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers: We started seeing glimpses of what he is able to do as he hit over thirty homers and drove in over 90 runs last year. If he could pull those numbers in 2017 and continue to get past the whole steroids issue, I don’t see why he won’t win the Comeback Player of the Year.
Be sure to check back in tomorrow for our American League predictions!