Before getting into the meat of this post, you should be informed that I enjoy making bold predictions. So don’t be shocked when I predict Alfonso Soriano to win the MVP Award.
But in all seriousness, it’s pretty tough to predict who will win the MVP and Cy Young Awards this early in the season. You could go with one of two routes: the defending champ route, or as previously mentioned, the bolder route.
In other words, I could throw names at you like Pujols, Verlander, Halladay, and Reyes, or I could take more of a shot in the dark with my selections.
Tigers' ace Justin Verlander won both the AL MVP and Cy Young Award in 2011. Photo courtesy "Mrkoww" via Wikimedia
I’ll give you a bit of both, with my predictions and my players to watch out for; the guys I want to pick but don’t want to sound too ridiculous in saying.
So without further ado, here you go.
National League Award Predictions
For the MVP, I’ve been able to boil it down to two names.
First is Matt Kemp. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s pretty easy to choose someone that looks like they’re on pace for a triple crown. But to be honest, I did make most of these choices before the season started, and while I’m not expecting a historic season from the 2011 NL MVP runner-up, I do think he will get the award that he deserved last year.
With Pujols departing for the American League, I would confidently label Kemp as the best hitter in the NL. His Dodgers will be a much better ball club than they were last year, and I think that is the main reason wasn’t able to win it last year.
The other name here I’ve got for you is Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
I see a huge year for the young Pittsburgh star if he can just keep his average at a pretty respectable number. We all know that it’s hard to win the award when you’re on a lackluster team, but I have already gone out on a limb and predicted the Pirates to win one of the NL Wild Card spots, so I obviously think they will be plenty good enough to have an MVP on their squad.
While those names came to me rather quickly, it took me a bit longer to select my predictions for the Cy Young.
I was very tempted to choose Roy Halladay because he is obviously as consistent as they come, but there just wouldn’t be enough fun in that, especially after predicting Kemp for MVP.
So my prediction for the National League Cy Young of 2012 is Josh Johnson of the Miami Marlins.
I think he has the biggest upside in all of baseball. When healthy throughout his career, he has been nothing short of dominant. The only problem is, he has been injured and on the disabled list much more than he’s been healthy recently.
With the Marlins being my National League Champion prediction, I’m going to predict that Johnson stays healthy and has an ERA in the low 2.00s.
I see a lot falling into place for the fish in their new stadium behind manager Ozzie Guillen, and if the staff does a good job at protecting their ace, I don’t think he will feel too much pressure and can finally fulfill his potential that is sky high.
Outside of Johnson and Halladay, I do have one more name for you: Adam Wainwright.
To this point in the season, the Cardinals star has looked pretty bad. But like the majority of these picks, I settled upon it before the season started, so I’m not going to back away from it while we’re still in April.
I think he will turn it around and be the ace that they need him to be with Chris Carpenter starting out the season on the DL.
Wainwright has a 3.08 career ERA with 66 wins to just 38 losses. Photo courtesy Dave Herholz via Wikimedia
So while Matt Kemp and Josh Johnson are my main guys here, an unlikely hero could always catch us off guard.
American League Award Predictions
This latter half of the post is where my bold predictions will really shine through. In the words of Hawk Harrelson, it’s time to “strap it down,” because these names will really catch you off guard.
For the MVP Award, I’m going with the long-time captain of the Texas Rangers, Michael Young.
He’s hitting over .400 so far, and I think the great protection he has in the lineup from the likes of Hamilton, Cruz, and Beltre will help him have a year in which he wins this heralded award along with being in the running for the batting title.
I see him being the most consistent stud in the Rangers’ order from start to finish. The fact that he can stay fresh by doing a lot of DH’ing helps his case, too.
A couple other names to keep tabs on are Rays franchise player Evan Longoria and recent re-acquisition Carlos Pena. I think they are both poised for huge years in St. Petersburg, as they’re off to great starts.
The Rangers have impressed me more than anyone to this point in the season, so I’m staying in Arlington for my Cy Young prediction.
Yep, that’s right, I’m going with rookie Japanese import Yu Darvish.
Texas needs someone to step up and be the ace because Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson have departed in the last couple years, and I think Darvish is the guy to take the reigns.
I think he has the stuff to do it, yet doesn’t rely on crazy pitches and poor mechanics like Daisuke Matsuzaka does, whom Darvish is compared to regularly.
Yu is off to a 2-0 start with a 3.57 ERA in his MLB career. Photo courtesy UCinternational via Wikimedia
Some more bold predictions I’ve got here are the White Sox Chris Sale (yeah, I’m biased, deal with it) and Blue Jay Ricky Romero. Both are obviously huge long shots, but both have been very good in their short careers. Look out for great campaigns from those two south paws.
I hope you all are satisfied. I could take a lot of flack for some of these predictions I’ve made. I’d ask you guys if the names I’ve listed have been bold enough, but they better be!
However if somehow they’re not, good luck finding a Barry Zito enthusiast.
Follow all of Zach’s musings on the White Sox at GrabSomeBench.com and follow him on Twitter at @Grab_Some_Bench.