The 2017 season has concluded and with the Houston Astros standing on top of the baseball world, MLB now focuses on recognizing individual efforts from those who stood apart from the others, those who were so essential to their team’s success from both the playing and managerial standpoints.
So many candidates, but only a handful of winners. Thus, here’s a look at the candidates most likely to take home MLB’s most cherished individual awards.
1 AL Manager of the Year: Paul Molitor
The Minnesota Twins had the league's worst record in 2016 at 59-103 and with a roster that underwent minimal changes, how could manager Paul Molitor hope to improve the following year?
Well, Molitor helped his team turn a 59-103 record in 2016 to an 85-77 record in 2017. Combining the speed of Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario with the power of Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier proved deadly as the Twins found themselves on top of the AL Central for a short time before being overtaken by the Cleveland Indians.
Despite a late-season push from the Los Angeles Angels, the Twins clinched their first postseason berth since 2010 and played in the AL Wild Card Game against the New York Yankees. Joe Girardi (Yankees) and A.J. Hinch (Astros) present formidable candidates, but Molitor takes this one.
2 NL Manager of the Year: Torey Lovullo
Despite being swept out of the playoffs by the eventual NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks made 2017 a year to remember.
J. D. Martinez put together the most incredible season of his career, Paul Goldschmidt emerged as an MVP favorite, and manager Torey Lovullo pressed all the right buttons as the Snakes powered their way to their first postseason berth since 2011. Lovullo should be the clear winner of this award, despite fellow NL West manager Bud Black (Rockies) also being deserving of it.
3 AL Rookie of the Year: Aaron Judge
There should be no argument over this because while Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi and Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman put together good seasons, neither of them came close to the phenomenal rookie campaign put together by Yankees 6-foot-7 slugger Aaron Judge, who powered his way to a league-leading 30 homers and a .330 batting average in the first half of the season.
Despite a slump throughout July and August, which saw a record 37-game strikeout streak, Judge rebounded in September and finished his season with an incredible 52 home runs and 114 RBI. Not only is Judge the clear winner for AL Rookie of the Year, but he has also established himself as a potential MVP candidate.
4 NL Rookie of the Year: Cody Bellinger
This Rookie of the Year race is no contest either. Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell put together an impressive campaign, but Los Angeles Dodgers star Cody Bellinger's rookie season was special.
After an injury to then primary first-baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Bellinger quickly won the hearts of the LA faithful, powering his way to a home run race with Yankees rookie Aaron Judge throughout the months of May and June. While his power numbers took a bit of a dip, Bellinger still finished with an impressive 39 home runs and 97 RBI. He is the most deserving winner of this award.
5 AL Cy Young Award: Corey Kluber
The Cleveland Indians put together a historic 2017 season which included a record-breaking 22-game win streak most recently held by the 2001 Oakland Athletics at 20 games. Much of the Tribe's success is thanks to the 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, who was nothing short of spectacular this season, as he put together an 18-4 record with a 2.25 ERA and 265 strikeouts despite missing a month with a back injury.
Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale also had a great campaign but didn't play as well towards the end of the season. Therefore, the man the Cleveland faithful call 'Klubot' since his consistency is almost automatic should win his second Cy Young Award.
6 NL Cy Young Award: Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer was nothing short of dominant this year. Much like his 2016 campaign, he made opposing hitters look silly while putting together a dominant 16-6 record with a 2.51 ERA and 268 strikeouts. While his ERA and record aren't as impressive as Dodgers' southpaw Clayton Kershaw's (18-4, 2.31 ERA), Scherzer spent less time on the disabled list and was much more crucial to his team's success than Kershaw was for the Dodgers'. Scherzer will earn his third Cy Young Award in the last five years and his second straight.
7 AL MVP: Jose Altuve
This was a two-horse race between the 6-foot-7 giant Aaron Judge from the New York Yankees, to 5-foot-6 Jose Altuve from the Houston Astros. This is a tough race as both athletes put together spectacular campaigns.
Although Judge had more home runs and RBI than Altuve. the Astros' second-baseman led the league with an outstanding .346 batting average with an OBP of .410. Altuve also struck out way less than Judge, only getting rung up 84 times while also showing success in the power category with 24 home runs and 81 RBI. It's a tough one, but I think Altuve will take this one.
8 NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt
This is tough due to so many candidates being deserving of this award, but let me give you a rundown of the athletes I've considered for this award: Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Votto, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Justin Turner, and Anthony Rendon.
Alas, there can only be one winner, so narrowing it down, there are three who have a slight edge over the rest in Goldschmidt, Stanton, and Blackmon.
Giancarlo Stanton put together an incredible season in the power category, slashing 59 home runs. Blackmon broke the record for most RBI by a leadoff hitter at 104.
However, Paul Goldschmidt did it all, he presents formidable power numbers with 36 home runs and 120 RBI, great contact skills with a .297 batting average, and surprising speed with 18 stolen bases. The Arizona first baseman was also far more consistent throughout 2017, showing he is truly the 2017 NL MVP.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?