MLB 2021 Awards Races: These Stars Lead Cy Young, MVP & Rookie Races
Two months into the season should be way too early to start talking about MVP races or Cy Young conversations, but that has never stopped baseball fans before.
So let’s take a look.
These are the players who we believe would win the award if the season ended yesterday, not those who we believe will win the award at the end of the season.
NL Cy Young
Jacob deGrom, Mets: Even by Grom’s standards – as high as it gets – Cy Young’s two-time winner 2021 numbers are jaw-dropping. He’s made eight starts and his ERA stands at 0.71. His FIP (fielding Independent pitching) is 1.08. In 51 innings, he allowed just 22 hits and seven walks, while striking out 82 batters. His 11.7K / BB ratio is a career best, as is his 14.5K / 9 ratio. He’s yet to allow more than one point – or even five base runners – to any start in 2021. It’s the easy choice, but it’s a ridiculous thing to say as many pitchers experience stellar seasons. nowadays.
Others: It’s crazy to think that Kevin Gausman and Brandon Woodruff have each made 11 starts, with 1.40 and 1.27 ERA and 3.5 and 3.9 bWAR respectively, but neither are the favorites. One of Woodruff’s rotation mates in Milwaukee, Corbin Burnes, has an FIP of 1.15, to go with an ERA ratio of 2.24 and 11.6 K / BB, and another, Freddy Peralta, has a ERA of 2.38 with a ratio of 13.1 K / 9. Neither is at the top. And we haven’t even mentioned Miami’s Trevor Rogers (1.87 ERA, 2.46 FIP), Los Angeles’ Trevor Bauer (2.24 ERA, 96 best strikeouts), Washington’s Max Scherzer (2, 34 ERA, 95 strikeouts) or Yu Darvish of San Diego (2.16 ERA). Oh, and the Mets ‘Taijuan Walker and the Cardinals’ John Gant both still have ERAs below 2.00 (1.84 and 1.60, respectively) and they’re really not even in the conversation.
Fernando Tatis Jr.: The young Padres superstar is not ahead of the NL position players in WAR, neither by FanGraphs calculation (it’s Nick Castellanos of the Reds) nor by Baseball-Reference formula (it’s Max Muncy of the Dodgers) , but he’s having an incredible season, despite playing just 39 of the Padres’ 56 games so far. He’s one of the MLB’s leaders with 16 home runs and tied for the National League lead with 12 goals stolen. He also leads the NL with a 0.693 slugging percentage and has a stellar 199 OPS-plus.
Others: Muncy and Castellanos were exceptional, and either would be a valid choice. Kris Bryant is having a great comeback season (.317 / .398 / .598 and 12 homers) that has essentially put the Cubs in contention in the NL Central. Ronald Acuña Jr. is having an incredible season for Atlanta (he’s essentially alone on this Georgia island), and Jesse Winker is hitting .341 with 13 homers and a .621 slugging percentage for the Reds. And what about Buster Posey, the ageless one, going over .300 with double-digit homers to lead the Giants’ story of the year?
Rookie of the year in the Netherlands
Trevor Rogers, Marlins: The 13th overall pick in the 2017 Draft reached the majors in 2020, but his first season was (let’s be nice) not a good one. In seven starts, the southpaw posted a 6.11 ERA. In his 23-year-old season, Rogers seems to have gotten it right. Thanks to 11 starts, he has a 1.87 ERA, with just three homers allowed and 76 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings.
Others: Ian Anderson (3.27 ERA in 10 starts) picks up where he left off in the playoffs for Atlanta, and Adbert Alzolay (3.66 ERA in 10 starts) is having a strong season for the Cubs. Dylan Carlson is having a great season for the Cardinals, beating No. 2 ahead of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
AL Cy Young
Gerrit Cole, Yankees: No he doesn’t have a hit, but we’re still going with Cole and his 1.78 and 12.4K / 9 ERA for the two months of the season Cy Young nods in the AL. He was, once again, everything the Yankees could have hoped for in what has been a roller coaster season for the franchise so far. The most notable thing? He got incredibly stingy while giving out rides. Cole has always had good control – his “worst” BB / 9 was 2.9 – but in 11 starts this year, he’s only walked nine while taking out 97. In a particular five-start streak, he had 49 K and 0 BB. He has four Cy Young in the top five in his career, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him end up with his top spot in 2021.
Others: Carlos Rodon of the White Sox and John Means of the Orioles both have no-no’s and ERAs around 2.00 – 1.98 for Rodon, 2.05 for Means – and that puts them at the top of the list. Lance Lynn missed a few starts for the White Sox, but this 1.37 ERA in nine outings deserves attention. In a season where everyone is knocking out everyone, Shane Bieber runs away with the strikeout title in Cleveland.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays: With all due respect to the incredible Shohei Ohtani, I must salute this young Jays superstar. Here is a partial list of the categories he leads (or is tied for the lead) in the AL: home runs (17), hits (64), average (.337), percentage on base (.447), slugging (. 663), OPS-plus (203) and total bases (126). In his first taste of big league action in 2019, he hit 91 times and walked 46 times; so far in 2021, he has 32 walks and 32 strikeouts. It’s crazy to remember that he just turned 22 in March, because you feel like you’ve been hearing about him forever. Well, you’ve heard of him forever because it’s been known for a long time that he has the potential to do exactly what he’s doing right now.
Others: Shohei Ohtani is so much fun to watch. You know what ? Just look at this. Xander Bogaerts is having an exceptional season and this is one of the main reasons the Red Sox have exceeded expectations. Guerrero’s teammate Marcus Semien finished third in the 2019 AL MVP race and he is heading for a similar finish in 2021.
AL Rookie of the Year
Adolis Garcia, Rangers: It’s not just 16 home runs and 41 RBIs – both numbers are in the AL’s top five – but Garcia’s knack for pulling through the biggest situations. He already has three – THREE – extra-round homers this season. Two gave the Rangers the lead early in the 10th inning, and one was an out (with the Rangers trailing by a point) in the bottom half of the 10th inning.
Others: Yermin Mercedes’ story has been pretty amazing, but he’s been struggling lately. His ChiSox teammate, pitcher Michael Kopech, has 45 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings in a hybrid role. Randy Arozarena wasn’t quite “Randy in the playoffs,” but it’s still pretty good, with seven homers, 36 runs scored and eight goals stolen. In Cleveland, Emmanuel Clase has nine saves and a 1.14 ERA.