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Smalstig: MLB regular season award predictions

| Friday, August 27, 2021

With the regular season winding down and postseason hype building, I figure there’s never been a better time to manifest a healthy finish for many of baseball’s biggest stars and offer up my picks for all of the most important awards in America’s pastime.

AL MVP

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels 

This needs no explanation, but I can’t help but geek out for a bit. He leads the league with 41 home runs, 20 of which have been hit at 110+ mph exit velocity, and his splitter might just be the most devastating pitch in baseball, with an infinitesimal .074 batting average against. He’s doing what Babe Ruth did at different points in his career, at the same time.

NL MVP

Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres 

Despite missing significant time over the course of this year, Tatis has been able to captivate the younger audience while somehow keeping up in the counting stats that matter to many of the older voters. It’s fun to think that this race is wide open, but narrative matters and Tatis is captivating.

AL Cy Young

Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox 

This race is one that could be drastically affected by the last few starts of the year, but I like Lynn to hammer it home down the stretch. After not making an All-Star team since 2012 and posting a less than satisfactory 4.77 ERA just three years ago, the ace for the South Side Sox has resurrected his career and is a joy to watch on the mound. The strikeout struts and trash talking bring joy to my heart, while the 2.20 ERA and 1.05 WHIP should be more than enough to win over pitching purists.

NL Cy Young

Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers 

Buehler was great over the first half of the season and has only seemed to get better as the year has progressed. He has a great chance to end the season with a sub 2 ERA, but perhaps more impressive is the fact that he’s managed to have the best winning-percentage in the league with Dave Roberts directing the bullpen behind him. All jokes aside, his case for this award seems very hard to argue with at this point.

AL Rookie of the Year

Adolis Garcia, Texas Rangers

While this could easily go to Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays, I refuse to believe that he is a rookie after he played significant time in both the 2019 and 2020 seasons. So, naturally, this award should land in the hands of breakout Rangers’ star Adolis Garcia. While his first-half power surge is by far the most memorable part of this season for any AL rookie, it’s easy to overlook how good Garcia has been in the field. There are quite a few rookies with similar hitting stats, but none that have also offered up elite speed on the basepaths and Gold Glove level defense.

NL Rookie of the Year

Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds

Trevor Rodgers of the Marlins has a very compelling case, but I love the value that India has added at the leadoff spot for the Reds, who are looking to secure a Wild Card berth for a second consecutive year. India gets on base with the best of them, to the tune of a .388 OBP, while adding some pop with 17 home runs and 22 doubles. He’s all you want in a leadoff hitter, and to do so in his first crack at the majors makes it all the more impressive.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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