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2019 Awards Preview: MVP Edition

Last year, for the first time in a long time, I’m tempted to say that the major awards voters got everything right. Betts and Yelich were MVPs, deGrom and Snell won the Cy Youngs, Ohtani and Acuna were Rookies of the Year. If you’re like me, you hate waiting after the World Series for the awards to be announced. Two weeks after the season ends? Really? Take a hint from the NFL (for once) and announce them right before the big game (or games). If you don’t feel like waiting this year, don’t worry! In this article I’m about to tell you exactly who will win every major award for the season. Rest assured, I’ve come up with a fool proof formula that applies to every prediction I’ve made this year. I call it, the coin flip. Without further ado, here are your 2019 MLB MVP winners.

AL MVP

The Field

Alex Bregman will look to join the ranks of the best players in baseball
Alex Bregman will look to build off his impressive 2018 | photo via Wikimedia Commons

Alex Bregman

2018 stats: .286/.394/.532, 31 HR, 103 RBI, 105 R, 10 SB, 156 OPS+, 6.9 bWAR

The former LSU star took a huge step forward in offensive production last year, raising his doubles and homers count by 12 each and seeing a 40 and 60 point raise to his on base percentage and slugging percentage, respectively. You would be hard pressed to find a clutch moment in which Bregman wasn’t coming through for the Astros. One of the most competitive players in the league, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t push himself to be better this year, and we may see Bregman ascend into the top 10 players in the league, if he isn’t there already.

The reigning AL MVP will look to repeat this year
The reigning AL MVP will look to repeat this year | photo via Keith Allison

Mookie Betts

2018 stats: .346/.438/.640, 32 HR, 80 RBI, 129 R, 30 SB, 186 OPS+, 10.9 bWAR

Yeah this is a boring pick I know. You didn’t read this to read about cold takes you already had, but I would be blasted if I left off the reigning MVP. Mookie plays in a right handed hitters paradise, frequenting the Green Monster with line drives either off or over the wall. Betts, along with Jose Ramirez, had the first 30/30 season since 2012, and there’s reason to believe that he could repeat that kind of production in 2019. With news that he will now be batting second instead of his customary leadoff role, his counting stats may improve this year as well. We all know how much voters love counting stats.

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The best player in baseball will try to add another MVP to his resume | photo via Keith Allison

Mike Trout

2018 stats: .312/.460/.628, 39 HR, 79 RBI, 101 R, 24 SB, 199 OPS+, 10.2 bWAR

Yeah, I don’t have Trout winning this year, so what? Is it because I think he’s going to be bad this year? I’m not dumb, so no. Trout is consistently the best player in the league, year after year after year. Since 2013 he has hardly been challenged, and has taken the role of consensus #1 player in the league with no signs of relinquishing that title any time soon. Even so, with 7 full big league seasons under his belt, Trout only has 2 MVP awards. In fact, Trout has more seasons of 10+ WAR (3) than he does with an MVP, and only one of those came in a 10 WAR season. The fact that the Angels have consistently missed the playoffs has been ammo for voters to use against him almost every year of his career, and unless the Angels take the league by storm, that second place spot with Trout’s name on it may see him return once again. 

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Gary will look to bounce back in a big way | photo via Arturo Pardavila III

Dark Horse: Gary Sanchez

2018 stats: .186/.291/.406, 18 HR, 53 RBI, 51 R, 1 SB, 86 OPS+, 1.2 bWAR

Gary was bad last year. Gary was very bad last year. However, he was hurt a considerable portion of the year, and it’s reasonable to believe that even the 89 games he played were still injury plagued. A near 100 point drop in BA, a 150 point drop in SLG, and an inability to stay on the field last season spelled disaster for “The Kraken” in 2018, although the only thing people talked about more than his sub .200 batting average was his defensive woes. The thing is, as glaring as some of his defensive mistakes were (he’s led the league in passed balls two years in a row), his DRS count actually went up to 6 from 1 last season. I have no idea how DRS is calculated for catchers, but there’s no way that going higher into the positive is a bad thing (I think). He’s only one season removed from hitting 33 home runs and having an OPS of .876 as a catcher, and he could easily reach those numbers again. Given how much the league loves catchers who are actually competent with the bat (see: J.T. Realmuto), if Gary has a Gary type season the voters could be all over him.

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Jose Ramirez could become the 5th member of the 40/40 club | photo via Keith Allison

2019 AL MVP Winner: Jose Ramirez

2018 stats: .270/.387/.552, 39 HR, 105 RBI, 110 R, 34 SB, 150 OPS+, 7.9 bWAR

The switch hitting star from the Indians added on to his breakout 2017 campaign in a big way, doubling his stolen base count and adding 10 to his home runs. He made a serious run for the 5th member of the 40/40 club before suffering a brutal September hitting only .174 with 2 home runs for the month, settling instead for being one of the first 30/30 members since 2012. However, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t be able to have sustained success for a whole season next year. His walk rate of 15.7% in September was right in line with the rest of his season, and his strikeout rate did not rise either. His BABIP of .184 indicates an extreme case of bad luck, and nothing in his batted ball metrics suggest a regression. His hard hit % did dip a little bit into September, but so did his soft contact %. Jose Ramirez is one of the closest things we have to a 40/40 player, and I believe he will make that mark this year.

NL MVP

The Field

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The reigning MVP exploded onto the scene in the second half | photo via Ian D’Andrea

Christian Yelich

2018 stats: .326/.402/.598, 36 HR, 110 RBI, 118 R, 22 SB, 164 OPS+, 7.6 bWAR

Once again, I would be remiss not to mention the reigning MVP. In 2018, Christian Yelich came out of nowhere and turned himself from an above average, very solid outfielder into one of the most feared hitters in the league. His .598 SLG% and 1.000 OPS both led the league, and also marked the first time those two numbers had even been above .500 or .900, respectively. Although, going into the All Star Break, his 2018 season hardly looked MVP worthy. Slashing a very respectable .292/.364/.459 with 11 homers and 43 RBI, it looked like another prototypical Yelich season. Then, Yelich had a full season in just the second half. In only 65 games after the break, Yelich hit 25 homers and drove in 67 runs, slashing to the tune of .367/.449/.770. There’s almost no reason to believe that Yelich will repeat the kind of production he enjoyed during the second half. His second half was Barry Bonds circa 2004 type good. But he has clearly found something and will remain a force this season.

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The former Diamondbacks star will look to produce with his new team | photo via Nathan Rupert

Paul Goldschmidt

2018 stats: .290/.389/.533, 33 HR, 83 RBI, 95 R, 7 SB, 139 OPS+, 5.4 bWAR

While not as extreme as Yelich, Paul Goldschmidt benefitted from an in season adjustment that sent his numbers back to very Paul Goldschmidt like numbers. After struggling mightily in May with a .144 batting average and only 3 home runs, Goldy exploded into June. He batted .364 with a 1.199 OPS for the month with 10 home runs, including these 4 blasts in a series against the Rockies (one of the games which I happened to be in attendance for). Goldschmidt is one of the most consistent players in baseball, almost a lock for 30 home runs and a .400 OBP. Hitting at the heart of a very potent Cardinals offense, Goldy will try to carry his new team to a division title.

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What will the rookie have in store for year 2? | photo via Wikimedia Commons

Ronald Acuna Jr.

2018 stats: .293/.366/.552, 26 HR, 64 RBI, 78 R, 16 SB, 144 OPS+, 4.1 bWAR

Coming into the season, Ronald Acuna Jr. was the consensus pick for NL Rookie of the Year, and he lived up to the the lofty expectations. Although not making his debut until April 25 and missing considerable time with an ankle injury, Acuna still put up incredible numbers across the board and left people excited for what was to come in a full season. His rookie campaign was highlighted by an amazing stretch of 8 home runs in 8 games, and a full season atop the dynamic Braves lineup should allow him to cement his status as one of the best players in all of baseball.

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Trevor Story had an outstanding 2018 season for the Rockies | photo via Jennifer Linnea Photography

Dark Horse: Trevor Story

2018 stats: .291/.348/.567, 37 HR, 108 RBI, 88 R, 27 SB, 127 OPS+, 5.6 bWAR

Does a shortstop who almost went 30/30 last season qualify as a dark horse candidate? Probably not, but I’m guessing Story isn’t even the first guy from his own team that you thought of for MVP candidacy (more on that in a bit). There are two things that have followed Story in his brief career that may shy some people away from aiming high on Story this season: strikeouts and inconsistency. In 3 years, Story’s strikeout numbers have gone 130 (in 97 games), 191, and 168. His batting average has gone from .272, to .239, to .291. While the power has always been very prominent, especially for his position, it’s just been a matter of being able to put all the pieces together. There’s a lot to like going into 2019. Story cut his strikeout rate by 9% and kept his walk rate relatively the same. His home run total was a career high by 10, and his stolen base tally of 27 represented his first double digit total of his career. I believe he’s going to improve even further this year, and 45 home runs is not entirely out of the question.

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Arenado warms up with teammate Trevor Story | photo via Jennifer Linnea Photography

NL MVP Winner: Nolan Arenado

2018 stats: .297/.374/.561, 38 HR, 110 RBI, 104 R, 2 SB, 133 OPS+, 5.6 bWAR

Take Arenado’s statline from 2018 and you have a standard season from one of the best players to ever man the hot corner. Over the past 4 seasons, Arenado has averaged 40 home runs, 126 RBI, and a .931 OPS per season. Those are otherworldly numbers, but as everybody knows, he plays half of his games in Coors Field. This catches him a lot of flak among voters who believe his offense is somewhat illegitimate, but it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore. He provides clutch hitting, the best defense since Brooks Robinson at third base, and eye popping numbers year in and year out. It’s only a matter of time before Nolan gets his due.

Like I said, I’m obviously always right: I’ve never been wrong about a written preseason prediction before (a solid 0/0). But, if you have a different opinion than mine, I’d love to hear it. Find me on Twitter @brian_slosh and let me know what you think. Stay tuned for the Cy Young edition!

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Brian Schlosser

Rockies, Angels, and general baseball fan. I love talking about baseball more than I love writing about it, and I'm always open for discussion on Twitter @brian_slosh.

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