By Kenny Van Doren and Payton Havermann
With the MLB season half way through, let’s look at some preseason awards for a 30-game stretch. Awards will be hard this season with it only being 60 games and because of the fact that, if you miss a week due to injury, your chances will plummet. Co-hosts of “The Unwritten Rule” will give you their predictions for the 2020 season, with Kenny Van Doren doing the AL and Payton Havermann doing the NL.
MVP and Cy Young:
The MVP and Cy Young should both go to Cleveland’s ace, Shane Bieber. Bieber had a breakout second year in the league last season, where he racked in the All-Star Game MVP and was fourth in Cy Young voting. This season, he leads the league in wins, ERA, games started, innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA+, FIP, hits per 9, and strikeouts per 9. He deserves both awards and, in the games where he had a no decision, he did not give up a run in a team loss to Kansas City and did not get any run support in an extra inning matchup with the White Sox. While leading the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts, Bieber has a great chance to bring home the Triple Crown. It will be an inflated season due to a smaller amount of games, but it will come down the wire. The last pitcher to do this was Jake Peavy in 2007.
Rookie of the Year:
The Rookie of the Year is a no brainer for the AL and NL this season. With there being no time to bring up prospects, the hope of a ¾ season rookie standout won’t be happening. We saw this last season with Yordan Alvarez and the Houston Astros. Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners played in only 18 games last season, and he was raking. He did the same this season. He likes to start off looking like Mark McGuire, then he will come down to earth. In 36 games this season, Lewis has 43 hits, a .328 BA, and an .945 ops; all of these are above the league average. Hitting isn’t his only strong suit; Lewis has a .977 fielding percentage this season in the outfield. Depending on how he finishes the season, Kyle Lewis would be a lock, and he will be fighting for the award with Luis Robert.
Manager of the Year:
The Manager of the Year can always be a tricky one, especially with two teams that are coming from losing season to fighting for the division. The Blue Jays are currently tied with the Yankees for second in the AL east, and a lot of credit should be given to Charlie Montoyo. The 2019 Blue Jays finished 67-95 and placed fourth in the division. The team took this year to develop their young talent of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio and has been hot in their last ten with a 7-3 record. Some saw this coming, but who would’ve known they would be fighting for first this year after scrapping? It will be another close finish as we look at Rick Renteria, the manager of the Chicago White Sox. He brought a losing record team to possibly a division champion. Only thing is, the talent has been there. They’ve had All-Stars, but have not come out with anything. They’ve made big signings this off season, while the Blue Jays really haven’t. Montoyo really brought this team back to life, and they will be fighting for that second spot in the AL east.
The NL MVP candidacy is realistically a two-horse race at this point between Fernando Tatis Jr., the young phenom shortstop who has been probably the most exciting player in baseball this year, and Juan Soto, who may just be the most complete hitter in baseball. For now however, the nod should go to Tatis. Tatis has been the face of the resurgent Padres, who are in the midst of breaking out of their long rebuild and are now very likely to play postseason baseball for the first time since 2006. Tatis at the time of writing this is currently slashing a remarkable .304/.392/.636 with an insane 1.028 OPS and an NL leading 13 homeruns just for good measure. Tatis’ MVP case is bolstered by his team success which more likely than not will matter to voters. Soto, on the other hand, is hindered by his team. Soto is maybe the only hitter more impressive than Tatis as of right now, but due to the fact that it’s not by an insane margin and the fact that Tatis has been the focal point of the season and the Padres are currently accomplishing much more, the MVP nod should go to him.
This pick should be a lot more simple than most think. Yu Darvish has been the most dominant pitcher in the NL this year, and it really hasn’t been all that close. Darvish, after having a phenomenal second half of 2019, has somehow improved on virtually all fronts. At the time of writing this, Darvish currently leads all starters in the NL with an ERA of just 1.47. He currently is walking people at a career low rate with a BB9 of just 1.7. He’s done this while retaining his high strikeout rates, currently sporting a SO9 of 10.9, which would lead to a SO/W ratio of 6.50, which would be a career best by a wide margin. One of Darvish’s issues last year, even during his dominant second half, was the longball. However, he’s even improved on that with an impressive HR/9 of 0.4. The other name that people mention a lot is Max Fried of the Atlanta Braves. He’s a very worthy second place candidate, but the only meaningful stats he beats Darvish in is HR/9 and H/9. The choice shouldn’t be that difficult for voters. Yu Darvish should be picking up his first Cy Young award this season.
Rookie of the Year:
The NL rookie crop has been pretty underwhelming to say the least. The trendy pick coming into the year was Gavin Lux, who hasn’t even had enough playing time to even garner SOME interest. Carter Kieboom, another popular pick coming into the year, has suffered from a similar effect, leading to a grossly unsaturated rookie field. Jake Cronenworth has taken advantage of this however and has become the runaway favorite for the award. A name not many had heard of going into the year, Cronenworth is hitting a fantastic .346/.403/.598, good for an OPS of 1.001. The only other NL rookie that’s really been a valuable contributor is Devin Williams, who is a relief pitcher. Still, Cronenworth has been an integral part of the Padres resurgence and should walk away with the award.
Manager of the Year:
Oh look, another Padre taking home an award, it’s a wonder that the team is so good. In all seriousness, Jayce Tingler has been the perfect man to lead the Padres into contention this year. He’s overseen one of the best offenses in baseball and has helped the Padres gain a firm grip on a playoff spot. He’s gotten big resurgences out of Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer, two guys who were seen as massive disappointments the past couple of years, and the team just seems to be energized under his watch. Tingler, in his first season as manager, is about to lead the Padres to their first postseason in over 14 years. That seems like more than enough to take the award home.
Edited by Emma Moloney