American League Manager of the Year: Paul Molitor, Minnesota TwinsEmbed from Getty Images
As far as this award goes, I feel that this is somewhat of a no-brainer. After dropping 103 games in 2016, the Twins resilient effort proved powerful in 2017. They are the first team in the history of baseball to lose 100+ games and then clinch a postseason spot in consecutive seasons. The turnaround from this team was incredible, as they were practically written off this past winter as trade rumors swirled around their cornerstone second-baseman, Brian Dozier. There were question marks at each and every position this past offseason, with many rookie and sophomore players filling the 40-man roster. Molitor has been a large part of the turnaround this franchise has accomplished in recent years, establishing an exciting team identity that will surely provide intrigue as time marches onward.
National League Manager of the Year: Torey Lovullo, Arizona DiamondbacksEmbed from Getty Images
The first season of the Lovullo dynasty in Arizona was quite successful and impressive, as the Diamondbacks capped their season off with 93 wins and a remarkable Wild Card game victory. Like the Twins, the Diamondbacks also had their struggles in 2016, only winning 69 games and placing fourth in the division. The reason for the turnaround has been overall morale, along with star players that performed to their potential. Zack Greinke had a fantastic season, finishing with 17 wins (2nd in NL) and a 3.20 ERA (6th in NL). The addition of J.D. Martinez at the deadline provided Arizona with a scary one-two punch in the heart of their lineup that will be feared for years to come if Martinez decides to re-sign with the club. Lovulla pushed all of the right buttons with his team in 2017, and I feel that he is an excellent candidate for NL Manager of the Year.
American League Rookie of the Year: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
The American League Rookie of the Year decision might be unanimous, as it will be presented to Aaron Judge. Throughout the entirety of the season, Judge carried the Yankees’ offense, mashing 52 HR, collecting 114 RBI, and walking an American League-leading 127 times. With each and every blast accompanied by the patented “All rise, it’s judgment day!” call from John Sterling, Judge’s legend continued to grow as he burst onto the scene. Yankee Stadium even contributed, creating “The Judge’s Chamber” in the right-field bleachers (If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you Google it. It is quite a sight.) Judge also had the top-selling MLB jersey of 2017 and will be the cover athlete of MLB: The Show 18. Talk about an impressive year!
Expect to hear many more home run calls from Sterling, because Judge will continue to get better and better each year. He, along with Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino, very well could become the next great Yankee nucleus that wins a slew of championships in the Bronx.
National League Rookie of the Year: Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
Cody Bellinger will undoubtedly be given the National League Rookie of the Year award due to his fantastic season. He clubbed 39 HR and drove in 97 RBI’s, providing LA with the spark it needed that lead his team to its first 100-win season since 1974. No one saw this type of production coming from the 22-year-old rookie. Bellinger admitted during an interview that he believed he was going to be nothing but a September call-up, and when the opportunity presented itself, he pounced on it and never looked back.
Now, Bellinger had solidified himself as a force to be reckoned with, and the entire league and fan-base have taken notice. I will be interested to see how much Bellinger progresses in these next few seasons. He absolutely has a very bright future ahead of him and could be the next “five-tool” superstar, as I believe that he has limitless potential.
American League Cy Young: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
With a league-leading 2.25 ERA and 18 wins, Corey Kluber deserves the AL Cy Young award without deliberation. He was simply dominant the entire regular season, and in the month of September, he was unhittable. He solidified his award-winning prowess, pitching in six games while winning five of them. He notched 50 strikeouts while only relinquishing a total of four earned runs. His sinker/slider combination bewildered batters of each club standing in his path, posting the highest swinging-strike rate in the entire league (15.6%).
These are video game numbers for “Klu-bot”, and it will be extremely difficult to hand the AL Cy Young award to anyone else other than Cleveland’s ace.
National League Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
It seems that every single year, Clayton Kershaw’s name is among the NL Cy Young award finalists. This year is no different. His ERA (2.31) was the best amidst the NL, even while throwing in games in which he wasn’t 100 percent healthy. With a devastating hook, along with the ability to spot his fastball and slider in perfect zones where the batter has to just simply tip his cap, Kershaw dominated the competition once again. Even though he missed three or four starts due to a nagging back injury, he was still masterful for the better part of the regular season, sitting down 202 batters faced.
It’s been the same old song and dance for Mr. Kershaw, as I believe he will and should walk away with his fourth Cy Young award in his already storied professional career.
American League Most Valuable Player: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Even with the late push from Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve should still walk away with the 2017 AL MVP. He batted an incredible .346, cracked 24 HR, and led his team to their first World Series victory in franchise history. This was also the fourth consecutive season in which Altuve has collected over 200 hits. This past season, he led the AL in hits (204) and average in, arguably, the best season of his seven-year career. Defensively, “Tuve” has been just as stellar. In 149 games played in, he posted a fielding percentage of .982 while only committing a total of 10 errors. It seemed as if everytime a ball was hit in the general vicinity of Altuve, he was going to make the play, either from his knees or contorting his body to get the throw off.
Words cannot describe what Jose Altuve has meant to the city of Houston on the field and also off of the field, and his production has definitely proven that he is worthy of the MVP award this season.
National League Most Valuable Player: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
It is a pure travesty that Charlie Blackmon is not among the finalists for the NL MVP award. In fact, I believe it is pure stupidity. Blackmon hit an astounding .331, cranked 37 HR, and drove in 104 RBI’s. Let me remind you that Blackmon is a leadoff hitter and doesn’t receive the same opportunities to drive in runs as the rest of the lineup. With numbers like these, you’d think this was season-mode on MLB: The Show 17 and that Blackmon was playing with the game sliders almost to their maximums. He led the entire NL in hits (213), runs (137), triples (14), and average. Contributing to his unfathomable numbers, he only committed a total of four errors in 339 chances. This puts his fielding percentage at a phenomenal .988.
This was unquestionably Blackmon’s best campaign as a professional, and his production continues to increase every season. Sadly, he will not be awarded the NL MVP despite his efforts, but continue to watch out for Charlie “Chuck Nazty” Blackmon. He has arrived, ladies and gentlemen, and this is only the beginning.