The 2021 MLB season begins this Thursday, April 1st, with all 30 MLB teams in action. The MLB will return to the traditional 162 game regular-season this year. Last season, the MLB had trouble getting on the field during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic due to contract reasons, and the league looked much different because of it. The league played just 60 regular-season games, and also made some rule changes. Most notably was the expanded playoffs and the universal DH. Both of these rule changes will not continue in the 2021 season.
Before we dive into the 2021 awards, we need to remember we are returning to a traditional season. My biggest factor when determining these awards is consistency. It’s a long season, 162 games, from early April to October, so consistency is key. Which players can you count on to give you solid production night in and night out?
AL MVP – Mike Trout
In terms of consistency, Trout is as consistent as it gets. The dude hovers around a .300 batting average each year and posts an on-base percentage of about .418. It’s tough to pick against this guy, he’s finished top 5 in AL MVP voting in each of the last 9 seasons, winning 3 of them. Though, despite Trout’s personal success, he and the Angels have not been to the postseason since 2014. The AL West is shaping up to be a 3-team race this season, between the Astros, Athletics, and Angels. If Trout wants to get back into the playoffs, this would be the season to do it. I think Trout will have a big year for the Angels, and their record will show for it, further solidifying his case for AL MVP.
NL MVP -Juan Soto
The NL is absolutely loaded with talent. Guys like Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich, Fernando Tatis, but I’m going with another star outfielder in Juan Soto. In just 47 games last year, Soto hit .351, knocked in 37 runs, and posted an OPS of 1.185. In 3 seasons, Soto has a career batting average of .295, 69 home runs, and 217 RBIs. In the past two seasons, Soto has finished top 10 in MVP voting. I think this is the year he takes home the hardware. Oh, and he is only 22 years old. So he’s just getting started.
AL CY Young -Gerrit Cole
Ever since Cole left Pittsburgh, he has been a man on a mission. Not knocking his numbers in Pittsburgh because they were damn good, but over the course of the last 3 years, he’s been unbelievable. He’s posted a 2.71 ERA, with 696 strikeouts, and a 42-13 record. He was also the AL ERA and strikeout leader in 2019. Cole has finished top 5 in AL Cy Young voting the last 3 seasons, and I think this the year he gets over the hump and wins the award. In a race that could be close with last year’s winner Shane Bieber, I like Cole.
NL CY Young – Jacob deGrom
deGrom has been lights out since he came into the league and won the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Award. In his 7 year career, he has averaged a 2.61 ERA and has struck out 1,359 batters. deGrom has been the NL strikeout leader in back-to-back seasons, and his ERA has only gone over 2 twice in his career. deGrom is as good as it gets, and I’m picking him to win his third NL Cy Young award.
AL Rookie of the Year- Randy Arozarena
Arozarena played a key role in the Rays 2020 playoff run. In 20 games played during the 2020 postseason, Arozarena had 29 hits, hit 10 home runs, and 14 RBIs. He was also named the ALCS MVP. With his dominant postseason performance, and Hunter Renfroe heading to Boston, Arozarena should see more playing time. I think Arozarena will make the most of his opportunity and will bring home some hardware to show for it. But as a Red Sox fan, I am not sleeping on Bobby Dalbec, who has had quite an impressive spring training. If given the opportunity, Dalbec could certainly make some noise in the AL Rookie of the Year running.
NL Rookie of the Year- Ian Anderson
Braves pitcher Ian Anderson took advantage of his opportunities in Atlanta last season. In 6 regular-season starts last season, Anderson finished with a 3-2 record, with a 1.95 ERA and 41 strikeouts in just 32 ⅓ innings pitched. His dominance continued in the postseason, finishing with a 4-0 record, with an ERA of 0.96 and 24 strikeouts. Like Arozarena, Anderson’s dominant postseason should help see him more starts this upcoming season. If last season was any indicator, Anderson is very good when given the opportunity to pitch.