2018 MLB Awards: CBS Sports staff picks for MVP, Cy Young Rookie of the Year and more

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With only four days remaining in the 2018 regular season, several postseason positions remain up for grabs, and some awards races are still undecided. As a reminder, voting for the major awards takes place after the end of the regular season but before the start of the postseason. These are regular season awards only.

In an effort to gauge the various awards races, our five CBS Sports MLB scribes (R.J. Anderson, Katherine Acquavella, Mike Axisa, Dayn Perry, Matt Snyder) each cast a hypothetical ballot for each award. Our rules:

  • Our individual ballots for each award were only three players deep. In reality, the MVP ballot is 10 players deep and the Cy Young ballot is five players deep. Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year each include three slots.
  • The scoring system: Three points for a first place vote, two points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote. Most points wins. Nice and easy.
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Below are our voting results as well as a short blurb on the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year races. Away we go …

It’s a usual suspects kind of race for the most part. Mookie Betts is likely the front-runner, and he’s finished in the top six of the balloting in each of last two seasons. Mike Trout is of course a two-time winner who in a full season has never finished worse than fourth. Then there’s Jose Ramirez, who finished third in the vote in 2017 and has been even better this year. Dark horse? It’s probably Alex Bregman. J.D. Martinez will also finish in the top five on account of the raw volume of his offensive outputs, and Francisco Lindor’s offense-defense combo makes him a viable candidate. Right now, Betts seems to have the momentum behind his candidacy.   


What a wonderful mess this one is. There’s no standout position player candidate in the NL, but that’s not the same as saying there are no good candidates in the NL. Right now, you can plausible cases for Christian Yelich, Javier BaezPaul GoldschmidtMatt CarpenterFreddie FreemanNolan ArenadoTrevor Story, and Lorenzo Cain, among position players. Given that none of those many names is an obvious choice, Jacob deGrom and his historic 1.70 ERA prominently enter the discussion. deGrom’s had a legendary season (provided you wisely look past his win-loss record), and in terms of overall value he’s at worst on par with the names above. The question is whether the “MVP is for position players” mindset, which is certainly justifiable to a degree, is enough to push deGrom down the ballot. The final vote tallies on this race will probably be the most interesting of awards season.  


AL Cy Young candidates 1st 2nd 3rd Points

Blake Snell, Rays

2

3

12

Chris Sale, Red Sox

2

2

1

11

Justin Verlander, Astros

1

2

4

Trevor Bauer, Indians

1

1

Corey Kluber, Indians

1

1

This is an interesting one, because the three contenders here with the best run prevention all have workload issues. Chris Sale has a 2.11 ERA in 158 innings (not even qualified for the ERA title!), Blake Snell has a 1.90 ERA in 175 2/3 innings and Trevor Bauer has a 2.26 ERA in 171 1/3 innings. The best candidate with a big workload is Justin Verlander, who sits at a 2.60 ERA. After that, we’d be looking at Gerrit Cole (2.92 ERA in 194 1/3 innings) and Corey Kluber (2.83 ERA in 210 innings). Obviously, there is much more to the award than simply looking at ERA, but we’re simply pointing out how tough a task the voters have in weighing what matters the most here. Innings pitched is a very underrated stat, but keeping runs off the board is the top job of a pitcher. It’s a conundrum.  


With a tip of the cap to the underrated Kyle Freeland, who should definitely be getting more credit and should also finish fourth, this was a three-horse race almost all season. About a month ago, it looked like the three were all pretty equal, but Nola then had four starts with an ERA of 5.01 and Scherzer has a 4.24 ERA in September. deGrom, meantime, sits with a 1.70 ERA on the season. He’s separated himself and should win here, individual W-L total (why penalize the best pitcher in an award for the best pitcher because he’s been bamboozled by his teammates?). 


Even with an elbow injury that will require Tommy John surgery, Ohtani has more than lived up to the hype this season. He’s hitting .283/.362/.568 with 20 doubles and 22 homers in 355 plate appearances, and, on the rate basis, he’s been a top 10 hitter in baseball. On top of that, he’s also thrown 51 2/3 innings with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts. Playing time will be the biggest obstacle for Ohtani in the official Rookie of the Year voting. Both Andujar (.295/.331/.524) and Torres (.275/.343/.482) have roughly 200 more plate appearances, but they also haven’t pitched. Andujar has been the Yankees‘ best and most consistent hitter all season, though he also rates as one of the worst defensive third basemen in the game, dragging down his overall value.  


Man, what a race for NL Rookie of the Year. Buehler has thrown 130 2/3 innings with a 2.98 ERA and 143 strikeouts and it seems his best case scenario is a third place finish in the voting. Acuna and Soto have been that good. Acuna, 20, owns a .289/.364/.555 batting line with 26 home runs and has been a top-five hitter in the NL on a rate basis. Soto is having a historic season for a 19-year-old. He’s hitting .295/.406/.515 with 21 homers and is among the MLB leaders in on-base percentage. Among teenagers, Soto has the highest single-season walk total (76) and the third highest home run total in baseball history. A truly remarkable season.


AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Athletics

AL Manager of the Year candidates 1st 2nd 3rd Points

Bob Melvin, Athletics

3

2

13

Kevin Cash, Rays

2

2

1

11

Alex Cora, Red Sox

1

4

6


NL Manager of the Year: Brian Snitker, Braves

NL Manager of the Year candidates 1st 2nd 3rd Points

Brian Snitker, Braves

3

1

11

Craig Counsell, Brewers

1

3

9

Dave Roberts, Dodgers

3

3

Mike Shildt, Cardinals

1

1

Note: Matt Snyder abstained from our NL Manager of the Year vote because he has a NL Manager of the Year vote this season.


AL Comeback Player of the Year: Matt Duffy, Rays and David Price, Red Sox

AL Comeback Player of the Year candidates 1st 2nd 3rd Points

Matt Duffy, Rays

2

2

1

11

David Price, Red Sox

2

2

1

11

Michael Brantley, Indians

1

1

1

6

Tyler Skaggs, Angels

2

2


NL Comeback Player of the Year: Zack Wheeler, Mets

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