The 2021 Major League Baseball season isn’t quite over yet – the individual award winners in the American and National League will be announced next week. Here’s a quick look at each and likely winners for your MLB bets.
MLB 2021: Finalists For Major Player Awards Announced
American League MVP
Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero and Marcus Semien and the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani were the finalists and Ohtani is going to win. He had 46 home runs, 26 steals, 100 RBIs, 103 runs, 96 walks and a .965 OPS (158 OPS+) in 155 games as a hitter — and went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA (141 ERA+) and 156 strikeouts over 130 1/3 innings in 23 starts as a pitcher. In 2021, seven players had at least a 150 OPS+ over 400-plus plate appearances, while 17 pitchers had an ERA+ of 140 or better over 100-plus innings. Ohtani did both. He became the first player in AL or NL history with at least 45 homers, 25 stolen bases and five triples in a season.
Ohtani is looking to join his teammate as an AL MVP, as Trout won the award in 2014, ’16 and ’19. The only other Angels players to win an MVP Award are Vladimir Guerrero (2004) and Don Baylor (1979). Guerrero would have won this award in most other years. Semien picked a good time to have a career season as he’s a free agent, although the Jays are hoping to bring him back.
National League MVP
This race will be much closer than the AL with outfielders Bryce Harper of the Phillies and Juan Soto of the Nationals joining Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis as finalists. Harper should win it for the second time in his career.
He hit .309 this season with 42 doubles, one triple, 35 home runs, 84 RBIs, a 1.044 OPS and a 179 OPS+. Harper led MLB in doubles, slugging percentage (.615), OPS and OPS+. He ranked second in the NL in fWAR (6.6), on-base percentage (.429) and walks (100); third in batting average and outfield assists (10); sixth in home runs and runs (101) and ninth in bWAR (5.9). Harper became just the fourth outfielder in AL/NL history to have at least 100 runs, 100 walks, 40 doubles and 35 home runs in a season. Babe Ruth, Stan Musial and Barry Bonds are the others.
AL Cy Young
This should be a close race between the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole, Blue Jays’ Robbie Ray and White Sox’s Lance Lynn, with Ray, also a pending free agent, likely to win. Toronto is hoping to re-sign him too. Ray posted a 2.84 ERA over 193 1/3 innings for the Blue Jays while striking out an MLB-high 248 batters. Ray led the league in ERA, starts, innings, WHIP and strikeouts, holding a slight edge over Cole in several pitching categories.
The 31-year-old Cole posted a 3.23 ERA in 181 1/3 innings and had 243 strikeouts, third in the Majors. He probably will finish second just as he did while in 2019 with Houston. Lynn went 11-6 with a 2.69 ERA but struggled a bit down the stretch.
NL Cy Young
The Dodgers’ Max Scherzer, Brewers’ Corbin Burnes and Phillies’ Zack Wheeler are the finalists with wither Scherzer winning it for a fourth time or Burnes the first.
Scherzer was having a solid year with the Washington Nationals posting an 8-4 record with a 2.76 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 111 innings of work. However, he really cemented his consideration for the award during his dominant run with the Dodgers after being acquired at the trade deadline. In 11 starts for Los Angeles, Scherzer went undefeated with a 7-0 record, posted a 1.98 ERA, and struck out 89 batters through 68 1/3 innings. He’s a pending free agent.
Burnes led the NL among qualified starters in fWAR (7.5), ERA (2.43), FIP (1.63), walks allowed (34), home runs allowed (7), and strikeout rate (12.61 K/9), and his total strikeouts (234) rank fifth. The only main knock against Burnes is his innings pitched. He only pitched 167 innings, compared to 213.1 by Wheeler (leads NL), and 179.1 for Scherzer.
AL Rookie of the Year
Either Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena or Wander Franco will win this. Arozarena really shouldn’t be considered a rookie considering he was a 2020 playoff star for Tampa Bay but he didn’t play in enough regular-season games to lose rookie status for 2021. Franco reached base in 43 consecutive games to tie Frank Robinson’s AL/NL record from 1956 for a player 20 years old or younger.
NL Rookie of the Year
The Cardinals’ Dylan Carlson, Reds’ Jonathan India and Marlins pitcher Trevor Rogers are the finalists, with either Carlson or India expected to win. In his first 162-game slate at just 22 years old, Carlson proved why he is the club’s former top prospect. He slashed .266/.343/.437 with 18 homers, missing just a handful of games due to a right wrist sprain. India batted .269/.376/.459 (113 OPS+) with 34 doubles, 21 homers and 12 steals in 150 games. He finished fifth among NL qualifiers in on-base percentage.