2018 MVP Predictions

( Brad Mills | Google Images | via USA TODAY Sports )

The MLB MVP is one of the most prestigious awards in sports, and for good reason. These are my predictions for this season’s MVP awards, along with some dark horses to tickle the imagination.

National League Honorable Mentions:

Nolan Arenado — Rockies 3B

Why he will win –

Nolan Arenado is an elite 3B, but the field is so crowded, that he is often disrespected. Last season, he slashed .309/.373/.586, with 37 HRs and a wRC+ of 129. He is the best defensive 3B in the game today, and the best defender in the infield not named Andrelton Simmons. He has AVERAGED 20.8 DRS at the hot corner since he entered the MLB 5 years ago in 2013. He will do his thing and will most likely be looked over because he plays a mile above sea level.

Why won’t he win –

Coors Field. That’s really all that needs to be said. Over the last 3 seasons combined, he slashed .297/.353/.577, averaged 40 HRs and 131 RBIs, and has never finished higher than 4th in the voting. It would take a ridiculous season like the Rockies’ Larry Walker in his 1997 MVP season for Arenado to actually win the award.

Joey Votto — Reds 1B

Why he will win –

Joey Votto is the most consistent, pure hitter in baseball, an on-base machine, and had a resurgent season in the field. Last season, he slashed .320/.454/.578, with 36 HRs, and a league leading 134 walks. He padded those stats with a 165 wRC+ and had 11 DRS at first base last season. He finished 2nd in the MVP voting last season, and will likely have another MVP caliber season again this year.

Why he won’t win –

The Reds don’t figure to be very good this year, and that hurts his chances when going for the MVP. They lack talent needed to win games in one of the most competitive divisions in baseball. If his team was half decent, he would probably be the favorite to win.

National League Darkhorse:

Marcell Ozuna — Cardinals LF

Why he will win –

Ozuna had a breakout year last season, slashing .312/.376/.548 with 37 HRs and 124 RBIs. He won a gold glove in LF with 11 DRS to add to his well-rounded game. Let’s go over what additional positive things happened to him this offseason:

  • He was traded to a contending team, which means he will have meaningful at bats all season.
  • His home park, Busch Stadium, is now slightly more hitter friendly than the previous Marlins Park.
  • He will now be hitting behind Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham, and Matt Carpenter who have OBPs of .363, .411, and .384, respectively. This will give him more high leverage at bats.
  • He is not hitting behind reigning MVP and run producer, Giancarlo Stanton, anymore.

Ozuna has all of the factors in his favor this year. If he produces like he did last year, then he could be higher in the running than the 15th he finished for MVP previously.

Why he won’t win –

Ozuna had the definition of a breakout season, and it could be one that is hard replicate. If he falls back to his average form at the plate, he won’t even be close. He needs to be able to produce again to continue his pursuit of his first MVP award.

National League Pick:

Kris Bryant — Cubs 3B

Why he will win –

Bryant is a player that can never be counted out of the MVP race. He slashed .295/.409/.537 last season. Although his power did drop with only 29 HRs and a lower Slugging % than his MVP season, he still garnered a 146 wRC+ and a 6.1 WAR. He plays multiple positions in the field, although at a league average level. He plays on an elite team so look for Bryant to be his usual self again this year.

Why he won’t win –

If his run producing numbers don’t improve, he will struggle to win the MVP again. His 2016 numbers of 39 HRs and 102 RBIs should be closer to what his 2018 season will look like. He is still valuable in other aspects of the game, which helped make up for his lower power numbers last season.

American League Honorable Mentions:

Aaron Judge / Giancarlo Stanton — Yankees OF

Why they will win –

Now joining forces, the reigning NL MVP and AL MVP runner-up will create the most powerful duo in the MLB. After combining for 111 homers last season, they will both carry that power surge into this season. They are both very underrated fielders in the corners. They are without a doubt 2 of the most talented players in the MLB, and very similar players in their own right. I see them both dropping off slightly from last year, but still both having big seasons.

Why they won’t win –

Similar to Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon last season, they will most likely steal votes away from each other, making it hard for one of them to get enough 1st place votes to win it. Along with that, one of them may be regulated to DH duties with Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks also vying for innings in the OF this season, thus taking away their fielding value.

Jose Altuve — Astros 2B

Why he will win –

Probably the best pound for pound player in the MLB, Altuve brings it all to the table. He’s won 3 of the last 4 batting titles, combined for 48 HRs and a slugging % of .539 over the last 2 seasons, and stole 62 bases in that same time frame. He even had 3 DRS at 2nd base last season. He truly is a complete player and one that needs to be respected every time he steps up to the plate. Altuve will do the same thing the 5’ 6” beast does every year.

Why he won’t win –

Altuve lucked out last season with Trout landing on the DL for a good portion of the season. He just has the bad luck of playing in the same league as the best player of his generation in his prime, otherwise he would be the front runner this season. Altuve is a complete player and doesn’t have a knock on his game other than his competition for the award.

American League Darkhorse:

Byron Buxton — Twins CF

Why he will win –

This may be a hard sell to some of you but stick with me. Buxton had 24 DRS last season, tops in the MLB among CF, one of the most important defensive positions on the diamond. He stole 29 bases last year, only getting caught 1 time all season, and that actually came on an over slide after he beat the throw. That lead to a BsR of 11.7 (Baserunning Rating), also tops in the MLB. He slashed .253/.314/.413 with 16 HRs and 51 RBIs. If he can up that to somewhere in the ballpark of .270/.330/.475 along with 25 HRs, that would firmly put him as a solid hitter. So you have the best fielding outfielder in all of baseball, the best base runner in all of baseball, and a very solid hitter at the plate with some pop, and you’ve got yourself a potential MVP candidate. He has all of the talent, he’s been predicted to break out for a few years now, he just needs to put it all together.

Why he won’t win –

There are a lot of “if” at the plate this season. His plate vision really held him back from being a serious threat at the plate. If he can get that straight, he’s a real force at the plate, especially with pitchers being forced to attack him to avoid the risk of walking him and putting him on base. Injuries limited him to only 462 ABs last year so he will need to stay healthy, something that has plagued him throughout his career, if he wants a real shot at the award.

American League Pick:

Mike Trout — Angels CF

Why he will win –

Not much really needs to be said here. Trout is the best player of his generation and the most complete player in baseball. Everyone knows what he’s capable of and there is no questioning his talent or ability. He missed part of last year and STILL finished 4th in the MVP voting. I truly think Trout has the best season of his career this year. A slashline of .315/.450/.650 with 45 HRs and 120 RBIs is not out of the question and would be the peak season of Trout’s career, and he still may have better seasons ahead of him.

Why he won’t win –

He simply just needs to stay on the field. If he can stay on the field, there should be nothing holding him back. The Angels are finally decent for once in his career so that will only motivate him even more by taking meaningful at bats.

Reed Zahradnik

University of Iowa '22. St. Louis Cardinals, 50 feet of crap, everyone else. Follow me on Twitter: @reed_zahradnik5

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