Okay, y’all have seen my division by division previews/predictions. Now is the time for me to take wild guesses at the awards, postseason and a couple other odds/ends. To be sure, I think awards predictions are a fool’s errand and always recommend picking “the field” if actually putting money down on awards.
I also tend to remember the few correct prognostations I make over the many wrong ones…but don’t mind at all when someone calls me out for the wrong ones. This is all just in fun anyway, and you’ve been warned if you use my words to dabble in gambling. Among what I got right last year: Dodgers winning the NL and WS. The season happening and starting in July. Kevin Cash winning AL Manager of the Year if the Rays won the AL East. No All Star Game happening.
So, let’s start with awards:
AL MVP: Mike Trout. I’ve seen several articles about various players maybe taking over as best player in the game. He was already working harder on his defense after not being quite as good as normal last year. Those articles just seem like poking the bear to me.
NL MVP: Juan Soto. Everyone seems to think he’s about to have a monster year. If he starts hot and the Nats win their division, he’ll have narrative as well as numbers, so I’ll jump on the bandwagon.
Rookie of the Year: I often chicken out of picking this one because I generally haven’t seen much of the candidates previously. This year is a little different. Several of the top ranked prospects haven’t gotten above AA yet and likely won’t get to the bigs at least early in the season. A lot of the rookies who saw time in the majors last year, although they got a full year of service time, are still eligible for RoY this year. There was no minor league season last year. I, therefore, predict the winners will be players who made their debuts last year: Randy Arozarena of the Rays for the AL and Sixto Sanchez of the Marlins for the NL.
AL Cy Young: Shane Bieber. The unanimous winner from last year has added another pitch to his arsenal. That’s just not fair.
NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom. Last year I was correct saying he would not win three in a row although he came really close. Well, make it three times in four years instead. His fastball is now over 100 MPH, with no decrement in any of his other pitches. Speaking of not fair. Oh, he should also see some actual run support this year, so the voters that still love pitcher wins are going to be happy too.
AL Manager of the Year. MoY is almost totally narrative driven. If an unexpected team gets a playoff spot, or even better wins the division, that’s your guy. Both Kevin Cash and Don Mattingly fit that criteria. An expected division winner must totally dominate. Third choice is good guy does good things with his team. My choice is in that third category as I don’t think the others will apply: Dusty Baker.
NL Manager of the Year: I’m going to pick Dave Martinez. If the Nationals do win their division as I predicted, the voters will eat up the first to worst to first narrative. Caveat: If the Padres overtake the Dodgers as NL West champion, it’s Jayce Tingler getting the award.
To review, my predictions for division winners (as outlined in the division preview posts) are: AL East—New York Yankees. NL East—Washington Nationals. AL Central—Minnesota Twins. NL Central—St Louis Cardinals. AL West—Houston Astros. NL West—Los Angeles Dodgers.
My wild card picks, standard playoff format: AL—Rays over the White Sox, NL—Padres over the Braves.
However…I also predict that at some point during the season, MLB will wave enough dollars in front of the players to get the playoffs expanded again. Thus the first rounds will be: AL—Yankees with the bye, Twins v A’s, Astros v Blue Jays, Rays v White Sox. NL—Dodgers with the bye, Cardinals v Mets, Nationals v Cubs, Padres v Braves.
Last year I predicted the Twins to win the pennant. Instead they extended their postseason losing streak to 18 games dating back to 2004. I predict that streak finally ends.
My AL pennant winner is the Yankees. I’ve waffled a lot on this one between them, the Twins, and the Rays.
NL Pennant winner: I pick the Padres for no other reason (besides their being good) than repeating is hard. If the Dodgers starting pitchers are all healthy in October still, watch out.
World Series winner: Padres. Next weekend my daughter’s boyfriend is proposing…at a concert…in Ft Worth…he’s arranged to have the band call them up on stage. My girl will be super excited and said boyfriend will become my future son-in-law. He’s a really good guy, and he’s a Yankee fan; but I will not grant them a 28th title until they actually earn it. I just can’t.
Miguel Cabrera will get both the 13 homers he needs to reach 500 and the 134 hits to reach 3000. That will make him the first player in baseball history to reach both milestones in the same season.
MLB will complete the 162 game schedule. There may be a few COVID postponements but not many. Games/teams will not be shut down like last year. Instead players will be brought up to backfill.
By the end of the season at least some fans will be allowed at every venue.
Canada will not lift its travel ban/mandatory quarantine until late July. The Blue Jays will stay in Dunedin until August as a result of that and finding it not feasible to play in Buffalo again with the AAA team also playing.
There will be no in-season work stoppage due to labor disputes.
The owners will, however, lock out the players on Dec 1. After that, it will get ugly.
Wild guess: There will be three no hitters. One each by Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom and one by a career journeyman.