AL Award Predictions: MLB Season Preview Part 1


American League Awards


AL MVP: Mike Trout


Is Mike Trout ever the wrong choice for AL MVP? Every year, he seems to put up numbers at the top of the league, with a career wRC+ of 172 (72% above average hitter). There are absolutely no signs of stopping, and Steamer projects him to put up another season at the top of the Major League stat sheets, to no surprise. The greatness of Mike Trout over the past 5 years has been beyond impressive, as he has been able to put up eye-popping numbers in a weak Angels lineup year in and year out. Whenever Trout is at the plate, the at-bat just feels different, and I have almost come to expect Trout to either make solid contact or have a productive at-bat every time at the plate. In addition, the number of walks Trout is a testament to his development as a hitter. When pitchers stopped throwing him in the zone, he simply did not chase out of the zone, which has allowed him to continue to be a threat even when he’s not hitting the baseball. However, Trout’s defense will surely be something to watch this year. Last season, he was a below-average fielder according to DRS and UZR, and if this trend continues, it would be concerning for baseball’s best player. But even if Trout remains a below-average fielder, his massive offensive output will make up for it and more, likely landing him in the MVP talk for years to come.


AL Cy Young: Shane Bieber


As a Cleveland fan, it is only fitting to pick Shane Bieber to win two straight Cy Young awards. In 2018, Bieber broke out, posting a 2.6 fWAR in only 114.2 innings pitched. He would then continue this trend in 2019 and 2020, posting a 5.6 WAR in 2019 and a whopping 3.6 WAR in the shortened 2020 season. These years haven’t been flukes either, as Bieber’s FIP, or fielding independent pitching, have been 3.32 and 2.07 over the last two years, and his xFIP, or expected FIP, has been even lower than these all three years largely due to the small size of Cleveland’s ballpark. The stuff he has demonstrated has been exceptional, but his control has especially set him apart on the major league mound. In 2021, there is no reason to believe Bieber’s performance will diminish, and if he continues at the rate he was at in 2020, he will win Cy Young in the AL once again. However, it is sad to see as a Cleveland fan the lack of a supporting cast built around Bieber and star hitter Jose Ramirez. While they continue to put up numbers at the top of the league, there is simply so little around them that the Indians fail to make a deep run year after year, and their window seems to be closing. If the front office continues to dump salary, it will be hard to appreciate these stars due to the desolate team around them, which is honestly saddening as an Indians fan. 


AL Rookie of the Year: Jarred Kelenic


Kelenic hasn’t even made the majors yet, but after the 2021 Spring Training, he sure looks poised to make a breakthrough in 2021. Acquired by the Mariners from the Mets as the deal’s centerpiece prospect in the infamous Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano trade. Much to the dismay of Mets fans, Kelenic has only raked since being brought to the Mariners, with an astonishing OPS of 1.244. Through this Spring Training, nothing seems to be stopping him, and with the Mariners being an up-and-coming young team, they may bring him up a month or two into the season for the sake of continuing the growth of their exciting core, which includes Kyle Lewis, Evan White, and Justin Dunn. Although he belongs on the team now, the front office would like to maintain control over him for an extra year, and therefore they will perform service time manipulation by holding him back in the minors for an extra month. Once he is up though, his pure left-handed swing and his ability to do damage with the bat will, in my eyes, propel him into Rookie of the Year for 2021.