2018 Major League Baseball awards: The best of the best

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Though the season has come to a close, it’s now time to reflect on closers, batters and pitchers alike — the finalists for the coveted Cy Young and MLB MVP awards have been announced.

Up for the MVP award in the American League are Mookie Betts, José Ramirez and Mike Trout, players who have swung their way through this season and don’t seem intent on stopping anytime soon. It’s not hard to see how the Red Sox’s Betts earned his candidacy; 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, 129 runs scored, a .346 batting average, the highest slugging percentage in the league (.640) and a World Series trophy should earn you some recognition. Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians also went 30-30 this season — only three other third baseman in history have achieved this. Trout also had an unbelievable 39 home runs this season, though at first glance the Los Angeles Angels’ 80-82 season record wouldn’t indicate that Trout even played for them at all — still, 24 doubles and 24 steals made for a successful season for the ace Angel.

Finalists in the National League for MVP are Christian Yelich, Javier Báez and Nolan Arenado. Arenado of the Rockies led the NL in home runs this season (38) for the third time in four years and also won a Gold Glove award for his remarkable defensive abilities. Báez, also known for his flexibility and capacity to work just about any position, had an incredible season — his 111 RBIs, 40 doubles, 34 homers and 21 stolen bases, paired with his prodigious defensive skills, set records for the Cubs franchise. Even this was not enough, however, to stop the blindsiding Brewers, who, led by Yelich and his 36 home runs, took the National League by storm in the postseason.

Rookie of the year nominees for the American League include Shohei Ohtani, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andújar. Ohtani had an incredibly impressive first season with the Angels, ending with both a .285 batting average and a 3.31 ERA (yeah, you read that right). Andujar and Torres of the Yankees likewise left their mark on the league, with 27 and 24 homers, respectively. Ohanti is predicted to walk away with ROY because, well, have you ever seen anyone hit and pitch like that, especially with an injury? Not since Babe Ruth, you haven’t.

In the National League, the competitors for rookie of the year are Ronald Acuña Jr., Walker Buehler and Juan Soto. Acuña, who may have single-battedly led the Braves to their postseason pennant race, had 26 home runs, 64 RBIs and 16 stolen bases, not to mention the third-highest OPS in the league. Buehler embodied the spirit of the postseason Dodgers with his incredible pitching all throughout October and a 3.86 ERA to show for it. Soto also caught the nation’s eye for his 22 homers and the highest OBP (.406) and OPS (.932) in the league — and did I mention he was only 19 years old?

Cy Young nominees in the American League are Corey Kluber, Blake Snell and Justin Verlander; in the National League, the finalists are Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola, and Max Scherzer. Snell is favored to win the AL award, which seems natural, given that his literally unhittable curveballs helped him achieve a 1.89 ERA, the best among league qualifiers. On the NL side, deGrom is also expected to win despite his puzzling win-loss record — his ERA of 1.70 far supersedes those of Nola and Scherzer, giving him the edge for the award.

Cy Young winners will be announced Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. EST, and MVP awards will be distributed the next day at the same time. Each of the finalists is well deserving of the nomination, but, as is true for just about everything in baseball, you never really know who’s going to win until it’s over.

Emily Ohman writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact her at [email protected].