It’s the middle of May, so it’s obviously time for some predictions about who will win MLB’s biggest awards in November. In my opinion, only one defending champion is playing well enough to win again, but there are plenty of exciting new faces at the top of the league leaderboards right now. Of course, the winners aren’t decided on paper, but it’s fun to guess what would happen if the season ended today.
This post will only predict MVPs and Cy Youngs, because it’s just too early for Rookie of the Year, as the eventual winners might still be in the minor leagues.
NL MVP: Christian Yelich (Milwaukee Brewers)
Most of the focus on National League offense has been on Yelich and LA Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger, but despite Bellinger’s unsustainable .407 average as of May 12, I think that Yelich has been better. Yelich tied a record set by Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols with 14 homers before May, Yelich is also second favorite in the latest 2019 NL MVP odds. As of May 12, he has 16 and is batting .341 with 37 RBI. Fangraphs gave him a 2.3 WAR so far this season, and defensively, he hasn’t committed an error. Additionally, he has the clout of being the defending NL MVP and has four more years of MLB experience than Bellinger.
AL MVP: Michael Brantley (Houston Astros)
After 10 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Brantley signed a two year contract with the Houston Astros and has been worth every penny of his $32 million contract. As of May 12, he is batting .340 with 51 hits and 10 homeruns. Fangraphs has given him a WAR of 2.1 and he has not committed an error in 32 games in the outfield. Brantley doesn’t have the name recognition of Mike Trout or Mookie Betts, but he is a reliable veteran who is having an outstanding start to the season. And, just to make his case a little bit stronger, he is a helpful citizen who knows how to change a tire.
NL Cy Young: Chris Paddack (San Diego Padres)
In seven starts, 23 year-old Paddack is 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA. He gets ahead of batters and has 46 strikeouts in 40 innings. Sports Illustrated has taken notice of his pitching as well, writing “Paddack is for real.” He is still a relative unknown across baseball, but if he keeps this up, he won’t be a no-name much longer. The Padres have control over him until 2025, so if he keeps this up, Paddack could help them become a strong NL West contender. (He could also challenge for NL Rookie of the Year, but that prediction will have to wait.)
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander (Houston Astros)
Verlander is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. He hasn’t won the Cy Young since 2011 (the same year he also won AL MVP), but so far this season, he is pitching like he deserves it again. Coming off two seasons in which he won a World Series and then was an All-Star, Verlander is well on his way to a third straight awards-filled season. In nine starts, Verlander is 6-1 with a 2.51 ERA and 68 strikeouts. His ERA is a bit high, but if he keeps pitching the way he has been recently, it will continue to go down, and the strikeouts place him third in the AL, only behind Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer.