Hey guys, Drew back here. This is it; the grand finale to my 2015 Season Preview! I've had an absolute blast reviewing each team and making my predictions for the playoffs and World Series, and I hope you've enjoyed reading them. I know I'm not Buster Olney or any of the high profile sports writers, but I'm going to college to improve at sports writing and it really is great practice and extra experience that may help put me over the top one day. The final piece to this puzzle is my choices for each of the 5 major awards in both leagues: MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and Manager of the Year. Some of these awards give you a good chance to correctly predict, but there are certainly some choices that may be way off track. We'll begin with the American League, but first, if you haven't seen any of the rest of my Season Preview, be sure to give it a look:
MVP - Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
It's a truly comforting feeling to know that Derek Jeter left baseball last year with a few excellent young role models that may be able to one day be revered in the same way. Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Clayton Kershaw, and Giancarlo Stanton appear to have the potential to be future ambassadors for the game much like guys like Jeter, Ripken Jr., and Gwynn have in the past. Let's not forget that they are arguably the four best players in the game as well. It's amazing that the widely accepted "Best Player in Baseball" is overrated; he won his first MVP Award in his worst of 3 big league seasons. He will be working on improving on lowering his strikeout rate in 2015, which should result in somewhat of a bounce back year.
Other Predicted Finalists: Jose Abreu (Chicago - AL), Miguel Cabrera (Detroit)
Cabrera still can not be counted out, although I did predict a regression for his Tigers in 2015. I kept both Cabrera, Abreu, and the National League's Carlos Gomez in my fantasy league I play with my friends, and I have a lot of confidence in them. Abreu may not hit for as much power as he did last year, but he seems to be a natural talent with fantastic overall upside.
Dark Horse: Josh Donaldson (Toronto)
I mentioned in my AL East preview that I could have chosen any of the three Blue Jays sluggers (Bautista, Encarnacion, or Donaldson) for this position. However, I can't wait to see Donaldson's first year in Toronto, as he has become one of my favorite all around third basemen in the game, on and off the field. It can be argued that Bautista and Encarnacion have hit their peak already, but Donaldson still may have room to improve. Watch out.
Cy Young - Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
Sale has gotten off to a rocky start in 2015, fracturing his right foot a month ago. He is going to be ready to pitch the 5th game of the Sox season, although he would've been the undisputed Opening Day starter after his past contributions to the team. Health is a primary factor for the unorthodox lefty, but I think he will pitch enough to take this award rather easily.
Other Predicted Finalists: Felix Hernandez (Seattle), David Price (Detroit)
King Felix is starting to get to that age where we have seen some of baseball's top starters decline. Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum, and C.C. Sabathia have not aged gracefully, and some may question how much longer he will be at the top of his game given the massive workload he's compiled thus far. I predicted the Mariners to go to the World Series though, so clearly I don't believe those talks one bit. Price is a good bet also for the Cy in a contract season, but his value could be hurt if he's traded.
Dark Horse: Masahiro Tanaka (New York - AL)
Rookie of the Year - Rusney Castillo, Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox will have to clear up their outfield mess in order for this prediction to come true, but I believe Rusney's performance may have the ability to do that on its own. Mookie Betts is no longer eligible for this award, or else he would be the favorite, but I think Castillo will be vital to their 2015 success.
Other Predicted Finalists: Aaron Sanchez (Toronto), Andrew Heaney (Los Angeles - AL)
Sanchez was my original pick for the award, but the injury of Marcus Stroman threw that up in the air. He could be a breakout pitcher, without question, however, his role could be as a starter, reliever, or both. Until his place in the Jays pitching staff is secure, I have to give his one to Castillo.
Dark Horse: Alex Meyer (Minnesota)
Minnesota got their hands on one of the best young hurlers around in Meyer, and if he makes his long awaited debut he could provide some added competition to the rest of the rookie pack. He is also possibly the coolest substitute teacher in the country.
Comeback Player of the Year - Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
"Crush" Davis did about anything but live up to his nickname in 2014. Sure, he still managed to hit 26 balls out of the ballpark, but that's really all he was able to produce after his insane MVP caliber 2013. This year, his suspension for non prescribed Adderall use is up, and he now has a prescription for something similar to use this upcoming year. He's looking sharp in Spring Training, and while I don't see him hit 53 home runs again (or else he would have been my dark horse MVP choice), he should bat much better than .196.
Other Predicted Finalists: Shin-Soo Choo (Texas), Prince Fielder (Texas)
I initially went with Prince for this award, but resorted to Davis as a last second decision. We are yet to see how his neck will play out over the course of a full season, and even despite the injury his performance was beginning to decline as it was. Fielder should have a nice comeback season, and I wouldn't be shocked to see him take this award home in the end, but Davis will be better.
Dark Horse: Alex Rodriguez (New York - AL)
I wanted to get a few extra page views on this one, I guess. Who knows though; A-Rod has looked solid in his work so far. He won't be an everyday player until Teixeira and Beltran go down with injuries as expected, but he will most likely be the Yankees DH every day. I can't stand the drama involved with his name, but he does still have one of the nicest swings in the game, and it could be of some help this year.
Manager of the Year - Lloyd McClendon, Seattle Mariners
Going along with my World Series pick, I have their manager taking the prize here. McClendon helped manage the Mariners to a 16 win improvement in his first year, and he seems to have learned a considerable amount since his initial tenure with the Pirates.
Other Predicted Finalists: John Farrell (Boston), Robin Ventura (Chicago - AL)
Buck Showalter is the best manager in the league, but I still have a hard time seeing Baltimore succeed. Instead, I went with two managers with teams bound to improve in 2015.
Dark Horse: AJ Hinch (Houston)
Hinch wasn't very helpful to the Diamondbacks in his first career stint as manager between 2009 and 2010, but that was half a decade ago. This young Astros team has a lot of potential, and if he moves the pieces well enough he could be in the running for some hardware when the season concludes.
MVP - Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Hit in the face? No problem. I believe there is a lot more to this kid's game than we have seen, and as established as he is, let us not forget he is still just 25 years old. He hasn't won this one yet, but this could be the first of many.
Other Predicted Finalists: Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh), Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado)
Tulo will have a hard time winning MVP with his team's underwhelming potential, but he's one of those types of players who can turn his entire franchise around. It all comes down to him staying on the field, and having missed 222 games over the past three years, there isn't a strong likelihood of this. But maybe this year he won't face those same problems, and we will see one of the better seasons ever played by a shortstop. By the way, Mr. McCutchen, I love the new hair.
Dark Horse: Bryce Harper (Washington)
May I please have the attention of all of those who have written off this player? Bryce Harper is 22 years old, and has not come close to his "prime" seasons yet. This offseason, he has appeared to have gained at least 20 lbs. of muscle, and looks ripped and ready to go. His downfall is that he plays the game at well over a hundred miles per hour, and while it's exciting to watch, it's dangerous for him in the long run. One of these years, he's going to explode, and it very well may be as early as this year.
Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
There isn't a whole lot else to say about Kershaw, so I'll leave it at that. Until someone gets the nerve to beat him out for this award, he's got the best chance of anyone in this post to add to his trophy room next year.
Other Predicted Finalists: Max Scherzer (Washington), Matt Harvey (New York - NL)
That isn't to say that there aren't any good candidates that could also win. Max Scherzer has looked impressive in Spring Training, and moving to the NL could pay enormous dividends for him. After all, the Nationals are my World Series pick!
Dark Horse: Jordan Zimmermann (Washington)
Speaking of Nationals, Zimmermann is going into a contract year, and although he hasn't quite hit his peak yet, you can tell he's an absolute gamer. He's the type of guy who never wants to be counted out, so it would be more than a fair chance to see him contend for this award as well for the league's best rotation.
It really is a crime that this kid may not break the club because of contract issues. But it won't be long before he makes his anticipated MLB debut, and I'd be willing to put money on him hitting at least 25 home runs with a chance at much more. Spring Training statistics aren't something to get in the habit of believing in, but his 9 home runs are something all baseball fans have to take note of. I consider him a lock for this award, but there are some other players that may give him a run for his money.
Other Predicted Finalists: Joc Pederson (Los Angeles - NL), Jorge Soler (Chicago - NL)
Joc Pederson is going to face some pressure filling the shoes of long time franchise player turned rival Matt Kemp, but the ascent of Bryant may help alleviate some of that. He will be playing in the shadow of a prospect people have been hyping up for years, and I wouldn't be surprised if he did just as well in his first year. The Dodgers clearly believe in him, and he's been their best hitter this Spring as well.
Dark Horse: Noah Syndergaard (New York - NL)
If the Mets want to have a 5th pitcher in their franchise history to take home Rookie of the Year honors, they may wish to wait until next year to call up highly coveted righty Noah Syndergaard. "Thor" is scary good, and even he could surpass Bryant and Pederson by year's end if he pitches enough. I would not be surprised to see him in the big leagues for a portion of 2015, but I don't think he will pitch quite the amount necessary to beat out the every day studs. If he does, then he could run the table here as well.
Comeback Player of the Year - Matt Harvey, New York Mets
Well, if it isn't "The Dark Knight". What Kris Bryant is bringing to Spring with his bat, Matt Harvey has brought with his repaired arm. He's allowed 2 earned runs in 14.1 innings, striking out 12 in the process. It was a shame to go without him in baseball last year after he had to have Tommy John Surgery, but he appears to take the world back by storm. People have already been comparing him to Clayton Kershaw, and if anyone is to steal some of the Dodgers lefty's shine, it's him. If you haven't read Harvey's piece on "The Player's Tribune" about his year off recovering from surgery, I highly suggest you do so.
Other Predicted Finalists: Joey Votto (Cincinnati), Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado)
Both of these players have been dangerous in two different ways their entire careers. CarGo and Votto are two of the best all around players in the game when they're on the field, but being on the field has proven to be very difficult in recent years. If either of them can rebound from down 2014 seasons, Matt Harvey may have to watch his back.
Dark Horse: Matt Cain (San Francisco)
I would really like to see Cain produce something close to his past statistics next year. The Giants could use a reliable starter to back Madison Bumgarner, especially since so many of their pitchers threw more innings than usual in their championship season. If Cain can come back strong, the Giants may be able to sneak back into the playoffs.
Manager of the Year - Clint Hurdle (Pittsburgh)
Hurdle has won this one before in 2013, and has been a large part of the party occurring in Pittsburgh the past two years. However, they haven't been able to top off the year with a World Series berth, and this could be an intriguing season for them to make a case. He really knows how to identify with this team, and I would love to see him bring the Pirates farther than they've been since before I was born.
Other Predicted Finalists: Joe Maddon (Chicago - NL), Mike Matheny (St. Louis)
Joe Maddon may be slightly overrated in my book, but that doesn't make him a bad manager. I love the enthusiasm and personality he brings to the table; it really feels like he knows how to make his team rally around him. I didn't pick the Cubs to make the playoffs in 2015, but I do expect them to significantly improve, which could give Maddon a shot at this one as well.
Dark Horse: Mike Redmond (Miami)
The Miami Marlins may be the surprise team of 2015 out of the National League, and Mike Redmond will be a huge difference maker of that statement coming true. Even with the expected success of the Nationals, it wouldn't surprise me to see the fish take a stab at a pennant win if all goes as planned.
That will do it for my 2015 MLB Predictions! Thank you to every last one of you readers out there for interacting and checking out what I have to say. As always, please feel free to share your opinions in the comments below; that's what these types of posts are all about! Don't be afraid to disagree, because I certainly may not have all the right answers.