American League MVP:
Jason: Miguel Cabrera-If Prince’s protection helped Braun, he won’t exactly hurt Cabrera. Even if there’s no such thing as lineup protection.
Brien: Albert Pujols- Going out on a limb, I know. I don’t expect Albert to be anything but Albert as he switches to the American League, and he’ll be the most obvious difference maker on all of the American League’s primary playoff contenders.
William Tasker: Miguel Cabrera- Cabrera has strung together several impressive seasons with last season being his best yet. If he plays a somewhat adequate third base with similar negative fielding stats as he was at first, writers will give that to his credit. A somewhat higher positional adjustment boosts his WAR total and puts him over the top of Pujols.
Hippeaux: Miguel Cabrera
Gabe Lezra: Albert Pujols- This Albert guy is pretty good, in case you all were wondering.
Az Nekoukar: Albert Pujols- Pitchers aren’t going to know what hit them.
Will Moller: Albert Pujols- Prince Albert has one or two beastly seasons left in him. The AL West won’t know what’s hit them.
American League Cy Young:
Jason: David Price-Something tells me he’s making The Leap this year.
Brien: C.C. Sabathia- I’m pretty sure that the big guy will win a Cy at some point in his Yankee tenure, so I might as well keep picking him until he does, especially considering how open the field of contenders is. I have a gut feeling that Jason might be right about Price, though.
William Tasker: Felix Hernandez- King Felix had a good season after his 2010 Cy Young Award. He is the best pitcher in the American League. Verlander and Sabathia will contend as always with Brandon Morrow as a dark horse candidate.
Hippeaux: David Price
Gabe Lezra: C.C. Sabathia- Verlander will not repeat his 2011, and I think that CC could be primed for a big season. I know this looks like a homer pick, and I guess it is. But still.
Az Nekoukar: C.C. Sabathia- Homer pick alert.
American League Rookie of the Year:
Brien: Matt Moore- It’s basically a toss up for me between Moore and Darvish, but I think Moore will have less trouble adjusting to his first MLB season, and will probably get an extra boost in the mind of voters because he plays for the Rays if it’s a close race at the end of the season.
William Tasker: Yu Darvish- This award almost surely goes to Yu Darvish by default. All Darvish has to do is win 14 or 15 games and be better than league average to win the award.
Hippeaux: Jesus Montero
Gabe Lezra: Yu Darvish- He’s really, really good.
Az Nekoukar: Yu Darvish- Yeah, I’m buying into the hype.
Will Moller: Yu Darvish- Beating out Jesus.
American League Manager of the Year:
Jason: Mike Scoiscia-Adding Pujols and Wilson will do wonders for a manager’s resume.
Brien: Mike Scoiscia- I’m expecting this to be a banner year in the annals of the “Manager of the Year” award going to guys who do more to hurt their team than help it.
William Tasker: John Farrell- All the usual candidates are expected to do well. If the Blue Jays have a very good season, he could very well land the job. Jim Leyland would be my other candidate.
Hippeaux: John Farrell
Gabe Lezra: Joe Maddon- He has some sort of inexplicable power over people. And no, I don¡t want to expand on that.
Will Moller:Mike Scoiscia- Not that he’ll actually deserve it.
National League MVP:
Jason: Hanley Ramirez- I think he bounces back with a vengeance.
Brien: Joey Votto- He’s the best hitter in the National League with Albert gone, and his team should be in the thick of the playoff race all year. Sounds like an eventual MVP to me.
William Tasker: Joey Votto- Votto is the best player in the National League. His numbers are off the charts for the past two seasons and there is no reason for that not to continue. His one problem is the positional adjustment for first base. The Reds will have to contend for him to be a factor in the MVP race. My dark horse candidate would be Hanley Ramirez.
Hippeaux: Carlos Gonzalez
Gabe Lezra: Justin Upton- I feel like it’s his year. This is a purely gut call though.
Az Nekoukar: Matt Kemp- Too good, five-toolsy.
Will Moller: Matt Kemp- I’m kind of punting, but I think Kemp will be motivated after last season.
National League Cy Young:
Jason: Cliff Lee- Because he’s really, really good.
Brien: Cole Hamels- My initial reaction is to pick Roy Halladay, but I think he might have reached the point where voting for him feels like a cop out to the voters unless he does something truly unbelievable or there are simply no other viable choices. I think Hamels will be this year’s Clayton Kershaw, combining a legitimate break out (of sorts) of his own with the impulse to find someone other than Halladay to vote for to win the award.
William Tasker: Clayton Kershaw- Kershaw has become the best pitcher in the National League and barring injury, he pitches in a pitcher’s park which only helps him further. He is extremely efficient for such a young age. Zack Greinke has looked great all spring and pitched better than his ERA by a long shot last season. He will be Kershaw’s main competition.
Hippeaux: Madison Bumgarner
Gabe Lezra: Zack Greinke- Oh yeah. He was really, really good last year, but all the conventional numbers didn’t show it. He’s going to have a huge season.
Az Nekoukar: Roy Halladay- Duh.
National League Rookie of the Year:
Brien: Devin Mesoraco- He’s a very good hitter who should be the Reds’ primary catcher from Opening Day on. That should be good enough to take the award in a Bryce Harper-less field.
Gabe Lezra: Devin Mesoraco- Bryce Harper won’t come up early enough to qualify.
Az Nekoukar: Yonder Alonso- Every day player, will put up numbers.
Will Moller: Trevor Bauer
Hippeaux: Starling Marte- Winning Rookie of the Year is usually more about opportunity than talent. A prospect Baseball America ranked in its preseason top 5 has not won the award since Evan Longoria (#2) got it in 2008. Prior to Longoria, you’ve got to go all the way back to Kerry Wood (#4) in 1998. So, the safe money would probably forego Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. Only five rookies qualified for the batting title in 2011. Only two got as many as 600 plate appearances. Only three rookie pitchers qualified for the ERA title and among them, the eventual AL ROY winner, Jeremy Hellickson, threw by far the most innings. The rookies who enter the season with strangleholds on regular playing time would appear to be Yu Darvish, Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Moore, Jesus Montero, Zack Cozart, Drew Pomeranz, and Yonder Alonso. That doesn’t mean they are the only candidates, but it gives them a considerable advantage.
National League Manager of the Year:
Jason: Ozzie Guillen- There might not be a more perfect storm a’brewin’ than what’s going on in Miami and I think that team is playoff bound. Yep, I’m drinkin’ the Kool Aid.
Brien: Fredi Gonzalez- This is the easiest pick in the whole lot for me. I like the Braves to remain strong relative to the rest of that division so, given the circumstances of their late 2010 collapse, no manager in baseball is better positioned with respect to the narrative on which this award is based. The fact that he’s one of the very worst managers in the game won’t make the slightest bit of difference. For what it’s worth, I think Dusty Baker will be the runner up.
William Tasker: Either the Nationals or the Marlins will give the Phillies a run for their money. Whichever one does will capture the Manager of the Year. So, either Davey Johnson or Ozzie Guillen.
Hippeaux: Davey Johnson
Gabe Lezra: Ron Roenicke- I’m all in on the Brew Crew.
Az Nekoukar: Ozzie Guillen- New team, and if they can win the division in a year the Phillies are down, the attention is going to be intense and he’ll be rewarded for it.
Will Moller: Davey Johnson- After the Nats push to win a wild card spot. Call me crazy.