With the 2016 MLB season just getting underway, there are countless candidates for the major individual awards. Last year's winner put up particularly impressive statistics.
The National League winners were especially impressive in 2015. NL MVP winner Bryce Harper posted the second-highest OPS of any active player, while Jake Arrieta captured the NL Cy Young over Zack Greinke, who had recorded the best ERA by a starting pitcher in 20 years. Josh Donaldson and Dallas Keuchel put up big numbers to win the major awards in the American League, though they are not the favorites to do so again this year.
Below are predictions for 2016 MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year.
AL MVP: Carlos Correa
As a 20-year-old in his first year in the big leagues, Correa had an all-time rookie season for a player that young. The Houston Astros’ shortstop hit 22 home runs in just 99 games, hitting .279 while stealing 14 bases. With a season under his belt, he will be even better in 2016. He has a good chance to hit over 30 home runs and steal more than 20 bases with an OPS north of .900. That could be good enough to win Correa the MVP award, especially if Houston wins the AL West.
Mike Trout is still the most talented player in the AL, and he’s finished in the top two in MVP voting in all four of his full seasons in MLB. Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado and Miguel Cabrera will also be in contention for the award.
NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton owns the largest contract in baseball history, but he still hasn’t realized his full potential. That should change in 2016 if he’s able to stay healthy. Before his 2015 season ended prematurely, the Miami Marlins’ outfielder was potentially headed for 50 home runs and 120 RBI. Stanton is the best power hitter in the sport when he’s on the field, and his OPS could surpass 1.000.
It wouldn’t shock anyone if Harper won a second straight MVP award. His 2015 season was one of the best of the last decade, but it will be difficult for him to replicate those same numbers. Paul Goldschmidt has been as consistent as anyone in the NL since 2013, and Andrew McCutchen is always one of the most productive players in the league. The Chicago Cubs could have a few MVP candidates in Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
The Chicago White Sox starter has been on the cusp on winning the award in each of the last four years, finishing between third and sixth in the voting every season since 2012. Sale made history in 2015, striking out at least 10 batters in eight straight games. He hasn’t been injured much, averaging a 2.94 ERA and 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings. With his control seemingly getting even better the last two years, Sale might put up the best numbers of his career in 2016.
David Price is the favorite to win the award in his first season with the Boston Red Sox. Both Price and Felix Hernandez have been the AL’s most consistent starters since 2010, and they will probably be Sale’s biggest competition. Keuchel and Chris Archer have some of the best AL Cy Young odds, as well.
NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom
Matt Harvey gets most of the headlines with the New York Mets, but deGrom is the best starter in MLB’s best rotation. He followed up his 2014 Rookie of the Year campaign with an even better 2015 season, and he should continue to improve in his third year. With the way his numbers have gone from year No.1 to year No.2, deGrom could be up to 10 strikeouts per nine innings in 2016 with an ERA below 2.50 and WHIP close to 0.9. Playing for one of the best teams in baseball, those numbers could get deGrom the award.
Clayton Kershaw is the easy pick to make. He finished third in last year’s voting after winning the award in three out of four years. But there’s a chance Kershaw could run into some bad luck in 2016, after basically missing just one month to injury in the last seven years. Arrieta and Greinke will have something to say about the award after posting sub-2.00 ERA’s last season.
AL Rookie of the Year: Byron Buxton
Buxton struggled in his limited time in the big leagues last year, but he should be much more prepared this time around. The Minnesota Twins’ outfielder hit just .209 in 129 at-bats, but he’s the No.1 centerfield prospect for a reason. His numbers in September were improved from what he did earlier in the season, posting a .432 slugging percentage in the final month of the year. Buxton had an average spring (.268 batting average and three RBI in 56 at-bats), but the tools are there to succeed.
However, this award could be up for grabs for much of the year and Buxton might have competition from his own teammate. First baseman Byung-Ho Park, who the Twins signed from South Korea, has looked promising in the spring and will likely bring power to the lineup.
The New York Yankees’ right-hander Luis Severino might be a dark horse candidate.
NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager
He only played one month last season, but Seager didn’t take long to show why he’s been so highly regarded by scouts. In 27 games, he posted a .986 OPS with a .337 batting average and four home runs. It’s hard to imagine the Dodgers’ shortstop matching those numbers over a full season, but he still should be the favorite to win the award. Baseball America listed Seager, the brother of the Seattle Mariners' Kyle Seager, as the No. 1 prospect of 2016.
Mets’ starting pitcher Steven Matz could put up big numbers in his first full MLB season. There are also high expectations for the Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story, who hit .340 in spring training after hitting 10 home runs in 61 Triple-A games last year.