Predicting AL Award Winners

Posted: 04/05/2013 by levcohen in Baseball

Time to predict the AL Award Winners.

Frontrunners: Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano

Jacoby Ellsbury: Ellsbury’s career has followed an interesting every other year trend. In 2007, he came up to the Major leagues, had more than 100 at bats, and posted an OPS above .900 with nine stolen bases. In ’08, he had his most disappointing full season, hitting .280 with nine homers and 50 steals in more than 550 at bats. In ’09, he had more than 600 at bats, hit over .300, and stole 70 bases. In 2010, he got hurt early, had just 78 at bats and a .484 OPS. In 2011, he homered 32 times and stole 39 bases, hitting .321 in 660 at bats. Then last season he got hurt again, had just 303 at bats, and had an OPS under .700. This year, Ellsbury will hit leadoff on a much improved team. I believe that he will stay healthy this year, continuing the every other year trend. If he gets 600 at bats, I think he is an easy top five candidate for MVP. I don’t know if the power will come back, as he has just 24 home runs outside of that 2011 season. But if he can hit even 15 to 20 home runs, I think he’ll have a shot. Oh, and he is also in a contract year. Do not discount that.

2013 projections: .308, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 103 runs, 44 SB, .837 OPS

Yoenis Cespedes: This guy has crazy skills. Most players coming from Cuba have a tough time adapting to the new culture, and have started out slowly. Not Cespedes. He had a somewhat injury marred rookie year, but still hit 23 HR and stole 16 bases. He drove in 82 runs in 487 at bats, numbers that could easily have been over 100 in a full season. His rookie season OPS was .862. I think he will continue to mature at the plate and post shockingly good stats in his sophomore year, as he is hitting in the middle of the pretty good A’s lineup.

2013 projections: .294, 33 HR, 94 RBI, 87 runs, 22 SB, .874 OPS

Matt Wieters: Catchers are rarely MVP’s. They just don’t get enough at bats. An MVP candidate from another position will probably get at least 100 at bats more than a catcher, if not more. So a few things need to happen for Wieters to become MVP:
1. The Orioles need to make the playoffs again
2. He needs to be the best defensive catcher in the MLB
3. He needs to have at least 560 plate appearances (he had 586 last year)
4. His offensive game needs to continue to develop

As a minor league player, Wieters was perhaps the best prospect in baseball. His skills haven’t yet been translated into production, but I think this is the year it all comes together.

2013 projections: .273, 28 HR, 87 RBI, 83 runs, .813 OPS

Overall MVP projections:
1. Yoenis Cespedes (yes, I’m going there)
2. Albert Pujols
3. Miguel Cabrera
4. Jacoby Ellsbury
5. Matt Wieters
6. Mike Trout
7. Robinson Cano

AL CY Young:

Frontrunners: Justin Verlander, David Price, Felix Hernandez, Jered Weaver, Yu Darvish (moved from Dark Horse)

Jon Lester: I think Jon Lester is going to have a huge bounce back year. At age 29, he is in his physical prime, and has just five full seasons under his belt. In four of those five seasons he ended with an ERA under 3.50. The fifth was last year, on a disastrous and dysfunctional Red Sox team. Lester, a cancer survivor, had played each of his first four seasons under the guide of Terry Francona. Last year, he played under the brash Bobby Valentine. Valentine is gone, and in comes John Farrell, the Sox old pitching coach during the Francona years. I think Lester will feel comfortable under Farrell, and will blossom into someone even better than the guy he was in 2010 and 2011. Plus, he should get a boost in wins as this Sox team is markedly better.

Projected 2013 stats: 18-8, 3.17 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 191 K

Chris Sale: I’m not the biggest fan of Chris Sale. I tend to take some stock in what experts, baseball lifers who watch hours of baseball every night, say, and a large part of the elite community of baseball experts say that Sale’s motion will probably lead to injury. I’m not disputing that. I just don’t think it will happen this year. Sale is just 24 years old, and last year, his first starting, he won 17 games and had an ERA just above 3 with 192 strike outs. As he’s still young, it’s fair to say that he will progress further, and even any progression for Sale will vault him into the Cy Young discussion, especially if he throws 200 innings this year.

Projected 2013 stats: 16-9, 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 207 K

Overall AL Cy Young projections:
1. Justin Verlander
2. Yu Darvish
3. David Price
4. Chris Sale
5. Felix Hernandez
6. Jon Lester
7. Jered Weaver

AL Rookie of the year:

Top three candidates:

Wil Myers, Rays: Myers absolutely raked last year in AAA. He is a top three prospect. That gives him two checks. The reason he is not the odds-on favorite is that he is starting the year in the minor leagues. I think he’ll be in the MLB by May or June at the latest. He is going to be a great hitter, and I think he’ll start doing it this year.

Projected stats: .263, 23 HR, 68 RBI, 56 runs, 5 SB, .768 OPS

Jurickson Profar, Rangers: Profar is the top prospect in baseball. He is going to play in the middle infield, he will be a good defensive player, and he will be a good hitter. And all of that could happen as soon as May 1. I just have a feeling that Profar is too good to be held in the minor leagues for too long. And if he comes up early, he should be the front runner.

Projected stats: .276, 11 HR, 53 RBI, 62 runs, 14 SB, .723 OPS

Dylan Bundy, Orioles: Bundy was perhaps the most developed pitcher to be drafted out of high school, and he proved that by zooming through the minor leagues. Now, he is the top pitching prospect in baseball. The Orioles do have a fairly deep rotation, but if Bundy can prove that he can pitch well in AAA, they’ll find a spot for him.

Projected stats: 6-6, 3.83 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 83 K

Other candidates:
Dan Straily, Athletics
Trevor Bauer, Indians
Nick Castellanos, Tigers

AL Rookie of the Year Projections:
1. Jurickson Profar
2. Wil Myers
3. Trevor Bauer
4. Nick Castellanos
5. Dylan Bundy
6. Dan Straily



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