Pickard’s 2020 MLB Awards Predictions

Pickard’s 2020 MLB Awards Predictions

by July 23, 2020 0 comments

It’s finally here. 119 days after its originally-scheduled date, MLB’s Opening Day has arrived.

While the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc (and continues to hit communities around the country), baseball is set to re-open with safety protocols in place to limit the spread of the virus.

But enough about safety protocols. While important, those have been discussed thoroughly for the last two months. Let’s switch things up and focus on which players could win the top awards in a quirky 2020 season.

National League Most Valuable Player | Walker Buehler, Dodgers

This award could go in a lot of directions. In fact, with 2020 being so reliant on pitching performances, it seems quite possible (and perhaps even likely) that a pitcher wins MVP. Buehler emerged in 2019 after promising campaigns in 2017 and 2018. Last year, he was named to the All-Star team and finished ninth in Cy Young voting, finishing 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA, allowing 77 runs on 153 hits in 182.1 innings.

He had a 3.37 xFIP and 42.7 ground ball percentage.

Another aspect in which Buehler becomes a top candidate here is postseason contention. In 2020, the MVP likely comes from their league’s best team. With the Dodgers expected to make a deep push, focus on Buehler. Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts, and Cody Bellinger could receive some MVP attention, but Buehler will dominate this year and prove his worth in just his third full season.

Honorable mentions: Mookie Betts, Jack Flaherty, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuña Jr.

American League Most Valuable Player | Luis Arraez, Twins

Sticking with the idea that the award winner will come from one of the best teams—if not the best—the Twins are sure to garner some attention. While they don’t have any standout pitchers, second baseman Luis Arraez will steal the show at the plate.

Arraez had an incredibly underrated 2019 season as he appeared in 92 games. His 28 RBI tally was somewhat disappointing, as was his pop (four home runs), but every other aspect of his game was promising. He slashed .334/.399/.439 with a .360 weighted on-base average (wOBA). He added 2.1 fWAR while walking at a 9.8 percent clip and only striking out in 7.9 percent of at-bats. If Arraez can go on a tear, he could finish with the best on-base percentage and the league and run away with the MVP honors while leading his team deep into the postseason.

Honorable mentions: Mike Trout, Gerrit Cole, Marcus Semien, Rafael Devers, Francisco Lindor

National League Cy Young | Walker Buehler, Dodgers

Speak of the devil. If a pitcher wins MVP, you know that he is going to win the Cy Young award, too. Buehler was in the running for this award in 2019 but ultimately finished ninth. He should see success in 2020 with a fairly easy schedule of opponents.

Honorable mentions: Josh Hader, Max Scherzer, Jack Flaherty, Mike Soroka, Clayton Kershaw

American League Cy Young | Tyler Glasnow, Rays

2020 is the year for Tampa Bay Rays’ pitching staff to explode, and flamethrower Tyler Glasnow will be at the forefront of that display. Glasnow came on incredibly strong in his first full season with the Rays last year. The biggest concern going forward is his small sample size from an injury-stricken 2019 season. Nevertheless, big things are in store for Glasnow.

Last year, the Tampa Bay starter went 6-1 with an impressive 1.78 ERA and 2.94 xFIP. Despite appearing in just 12 games, he accumulated 2.3 fWAR. His 11.27 K/9 is exciting while his 2.08 BB/9 is also promising. He allowed ground balls at a 50.4 percent clip while surrounding home runs once every 15.2 innings. The Rays are sleeper World Series picks in a 2020 season where pitching is king, and Glasnow is one of many arms expected to impress this year.

Honorable mentions: Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber, Jose Berrios

National League Rookie of the Year | Dylan Carlson, Cardinals

A true rookie who has yet to appear in a game at the MLB level, Carlson is an exciting outfielder with proven talent in the Cardinals’ farm system. While he has no MLB experience, he is the immediate favorite for this award after the Dodgers optioned Gavin Lux off their roster, ultimately declaring him not a member of their Opening Day roster.

Carlson spent most of 2019 (108 games) in Double-A, slashing .281/.364/.518 with 21 home runs and 59 RBI. He also added a .387 wOBA and 142 wRC+. He played even better baseball once he reached Triple-A, although it’s worth noting that he only spent 18 games at the level. In this small sample size, he slashed .361/.418/.681 with nine RBI and five home runs. He also recorded a .429 BABIP, .448 wOBA, and 161 wRC+. The final stat worth referencing are his walk rate (10.8 percent in Double-A and 7.6 percent in Triple-A) and strikeout rate (20.3 percent in Double-A and 22.8 percent in Triple-A). These numbers show that he may take some time to get acclimated to MLB pitching because he saw his walk rate go down and strikeout rate go up once he arrived in Triple-A.

Honorable mentions: Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Alec Bohm

American League Rookie of the Year | Luis Robert, White Sox

Luis Robert has some incredible tools and has drawn lots of hype throughout the summer. He won’t go on a crazy tear and win the award by a landslide but he will have enough hype ahead of time to solidify his name atop the leaderboard.

Robert slashed .297/.341/.634 in Triple-A last year with 16 home runs, a 4.7 walk percentage, and a 24.7 walk rate. He had a .327 BABIP, .396 wOBA, and 136 WRC+. FanGraphs’ Steamer projections rate Robert most favorably while their ZiPS projections are the harshest. Combine, these projections expect him to slash roughly .267/.310/.467 with a .322 wOBA, .330 BABIP, and 101 WRC+.

Honorable mentions: Nate Pearson, Jesus Luzardo, Jo Adell

National League Manager of the Year | David Bell, Reds

The Reds are expected to impress in 2020 and should emerge as a playoff team. They have a great roster in place with a solid coaching staff, and they should see great success this year. It’s too early to dub them World Series contenders, but don’t be surprised if the Reds are the best team out of the NL Central.

2019 Reds went 75-87 in their skipper’s first year at the helm but are bound to bounce back and make a deep playoff push, making Bell an easy choice for Manager of the Year.

American League Manager of the Year | Kevin Cash, Rays

This is a tough one to predict but the early (and safe) choice is Kevin Cash. The Tampa Bay skipper has wowed spectators with his key decisions, such as implementing an opener, which is an idea that could be even more critical in 2020.

The Rays don’t have the greatest roster on paper but their pitching staff should lead them deep into the playoffs. Expect Cash to receive some hardware as recognition for a big 2020 season.

Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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