Kalemkerian: 2020 MLB MVP and Cy Young Picks
John Kalemkerian | Wednesday, September 30, 2020
This MLB season has been a wild ride, but we’ve finally made it to the playoffs. Although 60 games is a comparatively small sample size, the MLB is (rightfully) still giving out its usual regular-season awards. With no All-Stars this season, the awards are pretty much the only honor that players will have. Disappointing, yes, but that means that the award recipients will be even more thrilled to be recognized. As the playoffs kick off, it’s a good time to look at the players who had standout regular seasons that should go home with MVP or Cy Young trophies after the voting concludes.
MVP: José Abreu, Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are heading to the postseason for the first time in over a decade, due in large part to the strong play of Abreu. He played all 60 games and led the MLB in hits, RBI and slugging percentage. The veteran third baseman has competition, but his strong campaign should be enough to edge out DJ LeMahieu, who missed 10 games, and Shane Bieber, who is legitimately in the MVP discussion despite being a pitcher.
Runners Up: DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees; Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians
Cy Young: Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians
After coming in fourth in Cy Young voting last year, Bieber is a shoe-in this season as the clear-cut best pitcher in the AL. He claimed the pitching triple crown (leading the MLB in wins, ERA and strikeouts) and was arguably the most dominant player in the league this year. Bieber seemingly came out of nowhere, accelerating himself from the second tier of pitchers last season to become the ace of a strong rotation this season. Even though he probably won’t be the first pitcher since Justin Verlander in 2011 to take home MVP honors, the Cy Young is all but on his shelf.
Runners-Up: Kenta Maeda, Minnesota Twins; Liam Hendricks, Oakland Athletics
MVP: Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
After being the centerpiece of the biggest trade of the offseason, Mookie didn’t disappoint in his first season in Los Angeles. He led the league in WAR and was the heart of the most consistent offense in the league this season. Betts and the Dodgers are on the fast track to a World Series title if he keeps up his MVP-level play. Betts will have strong competition from Fernando Tatis Jr., who deservedly received heaps of media coverage for bringing the Padres out of baseball purgatory and into the heart of the playoff picture. Tatis Jr. tailed off however, slashing under .200 over the last three weeks of the season, while Betts remained strong. Expect the right fielder to collect his second MVP.
Runners-Up: Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres; Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Cy Young: Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs
Perhaps the most contested of these four awards, the NL Cy Young race came down to the wire, and the season finished with no clear cut favorite. Darvish posted a blistering 2.01 ERA in his third season with the Cubs while striking out 93 batters over 76 innings. A strong rebound campaign, Darvish is very deserving of the Cy Young. Mets stalwart Jacob deGrom was amazing as usual, and could end up walking away with the award for the third straight year (the first time this feat would be completed since Randy Johnson won four in a row in the early 2000s). The Reds’ Trevor Bauer also has a good case, finishing with an even 100 strikeouts and a 1.73 ERA. A 5-4 record is a blemish on his clean season though, and I have Darvish slightly edging out his fellow hurlers.
Runners-Up: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets; Trevor Bauer, Cincinnati Reds
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.