It’s never too early to predict MLB’s top awards. As we enter the 2021 MLB season, these players have a great shot to win the game’s most sought-after personal awards.
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NL MVP: Juan Soto, OF, Nationals
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Soto had a monster 2020 season, leading the NL in batting average, on-base, and slugging percentage, but finished fifth in the MVP vote after playing only 47 games. He’s hoping to prove that elite production wasn’t a fluke.
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Trout is seemingly the AL favorite every year, winning three AL MVPs since 2014. He last won the award in 2019 but is coming off another strong campaign, posting a .993 OPS last season.
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Scherzer is a surefire Hall of Famer with three Cy Young Awards to his name, though he’s coming off a somewhat disappointing 2020 season in which he posted a 3.74 ERA. At age 36, Scherzer is hoping to bounce back at the head of the Nat starting rotation.
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Cole had a strong first campaign in New York, going 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 73 innings. He finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting and has yet to win the award despite finishing top five in the voting four times. 2021 could be the year he finally brings home the hardware.
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Sanchez had an outstanding MLB debut last season with a 3.46 ERA in seven starts. He combines a high-90s sinker with excellent control and has a chance to emerge as Miami’s No. 1 starter in 2021.
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Arozarena maintains rookie eligibility despite hitting 17 home runs between the regular season and playoffs last year. He’s the clear favorite after his hot stretch and is being counted on after Tampa Bay’s notable losses in the starting rotation.
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Bell enters his pivotal third season as the Reds manager after his team disappointed in his first two years. Cincinnati lost Trevor Bauer and Raisel Iglesias in the offseason, but the starting pitching duo of Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray might be unmatched in the wide-open NL Central. Bell should get consideration for NL Manager of the Year if he can get Cincy back to the playoffs.
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AL Manager of the Year: Kevin Cash, Rays
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Cash is a past Manager of the Year and led his team to the AL pennant last season, but they face a huge challenge in 2021 after losing Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. Tampa Bay still isn’t lacking pitching options, and Cash has shown the creativity to get his team over any hurdle. He should automatically win the award if he can lead the Rays back to the playoffs.
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Executive of the Year: Rick Hahn, White Sox
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No front office was more active than the White Sox in the offseason, adding manager Tony La Russa, Lance Lynn, and Liam Hendriks. They add to a stacked, young team that Hahn helped architect, and are neck-and-neck with Minnesota as the favorites of the AL Central. Hahn deserves accolades if the team can finish the job.
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Strasburg made only two starts last season due to carpal tunnel in his pitching hand, but he’s back healthy this spring. Of course, the ace was coming off arguably his best season in 2019 with 18 wins, 209 innings, and a 3.32 ERA. Getting anywhere close to that level this season should earn him hardware.
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Mancini is already the best story of 2021, returning to spring training this year after being diagnosed with colon cancer last spring. He’s set to be a regular in Baltimore’s lineup once again.
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Pomeranz already showed why the Padres gave him a four-year deal last season, posting a 1.45 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 18.2 innings. This season he has a chance to become San Diego’s full-time closer on a team that looks potentially elite.
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AL Reliever of the Year: Liam Hendriks, White Sox
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Hendriks has been nearly untouchable over his last two seasons in Oakland, earning him a giant contract with the White Sox. The Aussie should be one of the favorites to win Reliever of the Year again after posting an incredible 12.33 K/BB ratio last season.
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Arenado has already won four Platinum Gloves and eight Gold Gloves in his career. In his new digs with St. Louis, it would almost be an upset if he didn’t win his fifth Platinum Glove.
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Chapman could have trouble winning his third Platinum Glove as he recovers from hip surgery, but he’ll certainly give it a great effort. He’s emerged as the AL version of Nolan Arenado.
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The AL has plenty of great DH options, but Reyes is ready to establish himself as the best. He’s hit .258-19-69 over 110 games in Cleveland since the team acquired him in 2019, and is being counted on after the Indians traded Francisco Lindor in the offseason.
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For all Betts’ playoff success in Boston and LA, he’s never won a personal award in the playoffs. He did hit two home runs during last year’s World Series and is certainly capable of putting his team on his back.
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Injuries continue to be an issue for Judge every year, but he’s undeniably an elite hitter when he’s healthy. The outfielder really struggled in last year’s playoffs, resulting in an early ouster, but a Judge hot streak could almost singlehandedly push the Yanks through a playoff series.
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Torres disappointed in 2020 but was able to hit 38 home runs in 2019 at age 22. He’s also been an unsung playoff performer in three seasons with a career 1.037 OPS over 88 plate appearances and could be a key player if the Yankees are to win their record 28th World Series.