In this final part of my season preview, I will predict the awards for the season for both the Dodgers and the rest of the MLB. So let’s wrap up these predictions and see how many I get right after the season, or more accurately, just how many I can get wrong.
Los Angeles Dodgers Awards
Sandy Koufax Award (Starter of the Year) – Walker Buehler
There’s only one place to look here, and it should be my most likely to come off. Walker Buehler has spent the last two years as one of the top 5 pitchers in the National league and somehow finds a way to get better and better. If fitness prevails for him and the blisters stay off his fingertips, Buehler will be the best starting pitcher on this team and wins my Sandy Koufax Award.
Éric Gagné Award (Reliever of the Year) – Alex Vesia
While this award will be known as the Kenley Jansen award the second he retires, as he plays for our NLCS rivals, Éric Gagné has the honours for now. On this staff, about six arms could win the award, but my pick this year is Alex Vesia. I love a pitcher oozing with passion and exhilarating stuff. I think Vesia will stand out as the best left-handed option from the pen when October rolls around.
Jackie Robinson Trophy (MVP) – Trea Turner
This might be one of the hardest to pick due to the abundance of players that have top ten MVP potential. Will Smith is looking to assert himself as the best bat behind the dish, Freddie Freeman is debuting for the Dodgers, Mookie Betts plays baseball, and we know what he can do. However, my pick for the Jackie Robinson Trophy is Trea Turner. Playing in his contract year, I predict another top three in the batting title and a contract to rival Corey Seager‘s while he can show us what he can do playing shortstop.
Leading the National League at the All-Star break, the Dodgers trade for another starter which propels the team to a 103-win season. The Dodgers will secure the top spot in the National League and will play the winner of the wild card in the NLDS. If the front office can secure another pitcher, then I really think this team can win the World Series. Without one, however, I think the team loses in the NLCS.
Cy Young Awards
National League – Logan Webb
My National League, Cy Young pick is Logan Webb. This one does hurt a bit giving the award to a Giants pitcher, but I really think the stars could align for Logan Webb this year. Absolutely superb in the final stretch of the miraculous 107-win season and their best pitcher in the NLDS against the Dodgers. With Kevin Gausman with a new home in Toronto, Logan Webb is heading up this rotation, and if the Giants aim to replicate any of their successes from last year, Webb is going to need to have a monster year.
American League – Lucas Giolito
Lucas Giolito is my AL Cy Young pick. With Lance Lynn starting the season on the IL and Carlos Rodon in San Francisco’s rotation, I think this is the year Lucas Giolito distances himself as the best pitcher in the American League. Ridiculous pitching from a towering 6-foot-6 physique in a team that projected to beat up on their competition in the AL Central. The question lingering over the White Sox is can they do it in October, and while we’ll have to wait to answer that one, let’s just sit back and watch some Lucas Giolito starts and marvel at what we see.
Most Valuable Player
National League – Juan Soto
Juan Soto was always going to win MVP; the question is how many and when would be the first? One of the most talented players we’ve had the pleasure of watching from the young age of 19 years old and a world series champion at just age 20. Unfortunately, Soto has absolutely nothing to play for this season.
The Nationals aren’t going to trade him, and they’re also not going to win many baseball games. There’s really nothing left for Soto to do apart from chase personal awards this season, and I, for one, am nervous for the pitchers in MLB.
One of the few batters where a .300/.400/.500 season is a near certainty rather than a season goal; Soto ended last year with a .999 OPS. I think the baseball public will feel sympathy for Soto this year, and if he puts up another of these seasons, then the award is his.
American League – Byron Buxton
Have the Minnesota Twins become everyone’s one to watch this year? The way they flipped and dealt their way through the offseason was that of a 2009 era Harry Redknapp, enthralling stuff. Carlos Correa signed on the probable one-year deal, Isiah Kiner-Falefa was traded for and then immediately flipped for the Yankees. Lots of fun and interesting moves, but the best of the lot was locking down Byron Buxton.
One of the most fun, talented players in all of baseball, injuries have taken a wretched toll on Buxton’s game time. Picking Byron is more of a hope and a prayer than an expectation. I would give a lot to watch this man have 600 plate appearances because I know he has that MVP talent right there.
Rookie of the Year
National League – Seiya Suziki
The Cubs didn’t have too much to smile about last season, a first-half slump that condemned the disbandment of the world series team. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javy Baez were all traded alongside Joc Pederson, Craig Kimbrel and Jake Marisnick.
This season, however, the cause for optimism is building. My personal favourite, Marcus Stroman, was signed as well as top Japanese prospect Seiya Suzuki. An agile power bat comfortable in the outfield, Suzuki is coming to the Majors at age 27 and has the advantage of already knowing the limits of his body. While some prospects need time to really adapt to their own strengths and weaknesses, this won’t be an issue for Suzuki.
American League – Julio Rodríguez
While pickings are slimmer in the National League at this moment, in the American League, you could take your pick from any number of stars. My pick is Julio Rodríguez from the Seattle Mariners. One of the most exhilarating watches this spring, the way J-Rod plays baseball is simply infectious. Celebrating, joking, smiling and hitting absolute bombs, this 20-year-old is the third-ranked prospect in MLB but is my pick for the ROY title.
For about a six-day period when a four-way tie for the AL wild card looked possible, the Mariners became everyone’s second team. If any of that interest boils over into this year, then it will be Rodríguez catching the eye this season.
NLCS: Milwaukee Brewers vs Los Angeles Dodgers
The real question for me was will the NLCS run back a Braves Dodgers series for the third time? While it’s very possible, I just think repeating in baseball is too hard, so with respect to the champions; I think they lose in the NLDS. I think the Brewers beat them in five brutal games, and the Dodgers dispatch the Wild Card team in four.
ALCS: Chicago White Sox vs Toronto Blue Jays
I want to preface this by saying that I think the American League will be a bloodbath all year. I do expect the Rays to finally fall off their continual, confusing dominance, and I think the Blue Jays are the team in the East most likely to pick up the mantle. I think the Astros and Blue Jays fight it out for five in the ALDS, and the White Sox take care of whichever bruised up team makes it out of the AL East wild card dogfight.
World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago White Sox
I’m a big believer in battle testing your playoff teams. After being embarrassed in the ALDS last year by the Astros, I think the White Sox, with a largely similar team, will be able to put that to use as motivation and beat the Jays. The playoffs are tough, and after reaching the summit of the AL East, I doubt the Jays have what it takes with their extremely young team to cross the line.
While the Brewers have amazing pitching, I do think unless some more work is done to the lineup, they will have no comparison to the Dodgers. The Dodgers have been to the playoffs for the past nine years and have made the NLCS in four of the last five years, making it to three World Series.
I have said that the Dodgers need one more starter to really sell me as a world series winner, and if that reveals itself to be the case, then I have faith that a new pitcher will be delivered. That would be all my questions answered, and unfortunately leaves me no choice but to say that I think the Dodgers will win the World Series in six games.
Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers (4) – Chicago White Sox (2)
I think after proclaiming the Dodgers champions-elect, my work here in previewing and projecting for the upcoming season is done. Thank you to anyone who read any of these pieces. A lot of time has gone into them, so I really appreciate it. Stick around for the season where these projections, unfortunately, have to turn into reality, and we will roll with the punches and see where we land.
Featured image by Photo by Victor Decolongon / Getty Images
Freddie Law-Keen is one of the growing team of writers at Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @FLK_Sports