It’s time to make some MLB award predictions for 2021.
As spring training draws to a close, we are just a week away from Opening Day. The 2021 MLB regular season is upon us.
Everybody is ramping up and preparation is all but over. The abbreviated 2020 season was a whirlwind and not only did it provide some exciting baseball, there were some very worthy award-winners, too.
MLB award predictions 2021
Returning to the 162-game season means more baseball and longer battles for the awards, as well as allowing us to project over a full season again.
So, let’s see if we can make some MLB Award Predictions for a full-length campaign in 2021.
American League MVP
2021 Prediction: Tim Anderson, White Sox SS
2020 Winner: Jose Abreu, White Sox 1B
I think the Chicago White Sox are going to be legit this year. A legitimate World Series contending team, with younger stars improving and the addition of veteran closer Liam Hendriks. In 2020, the AL MVP was Jose Abreu, the team’s first baseman. I think this year it’s very possible we see one of his teammates do the same. My pick is shortstop Tim Anderson.
I won’t ignore the plethora of AL West stars, but I think Tim Anderson is going to have a season worthy of his name being put above all others. Everybody knows that winning and making the playoffs plays a factor in the voting, but I think his production will make him the face of the young team. In the last two seasons, Anderson has been hitting .331 with a .357 OBP and across that time he has a 162 pace of 27 home runs, 73 RBIs, 21 stolen bases and 119 runs.
If Anderson continues on his fantastic work, it is completely realistic for him to post a 30-homer, 25-steal season while batting .330 and playing good defense. Obviously, I’m just slightly expanding the pace he’s already on. His upside is even higher. If he goes 35/30 and hits for average as well as he has in his short career thus far, he would be a worthy MVP.
National League MVP
2021 NL MVP Prediction: Juan Soto, Nationals OF
2020 Winner: Freddie Freeman, Braves 1B
I was very tempted to go with another repeat of the MVP-team, as I think the Braves have a pretty special outfielder. However, if you want to talk about a special outfielder, you can’t overlook my prediction for NL MVP, Juan Soto.
One of the best players in all of baseball – closing the gap with Mike Trout as we speak – at just 22 years old, Soto is absolutely unbelievable. In his three seasons [yeah, three major league seasons by age 21], the Dominican outfielder has already hit 69 home runs, driven in 217 RBIs, stolen 23 bases and been walked 259 times in 1349 plate appearances.
It isn’t just the counting stats though. In 2018 and 2019, he was very good at hitting, but last year, Soto went nuclear. He had an absolutely unbelievable slash line of .351/.490/.695, with an OPS of 1.185. He is probably the best hitter on the planet right now and he should be getting even better, in theory, as he gets older. The lineup around him is good and he will continue to be the face of the Washington franchise for years to come.
His career 162-game pace is 36 homers, 112 RBI’s, 117 runs and a career slash of .295/.415/.557. If we consider his trajectory as still being on the way up, and mix in his upside with the fact that he was basically superhuman last year, my projections are more than worthy of MVP.
I think he will flirt with 40 home runs and I think he’ll steal 20 bags (he openly said he wants to incorporate that into his game more) while driving in 125+ RBIs while scoring roughly the same amount on his own. I expect him to hit comfortably over .300, and his OBP will easily be 100 points higher due to the insane walk-rate. If he can go .330 and have an OBP of .430 with the counting stats he will accrue, I think he will win the first of many MVP awards in 2021.
Despite the fact that the NL is absolutely stacked with young superstars, Juan Soto might be the most confident I am in any of my MLB award predictions.
American League Cy Young
2021 AL Cy Young Prediction: Gerrit Cole, Yankees SP
2020 Winner: Shane Bieber, Indians SP
Last year, Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians had some of the best ratios we’ve ever seen. Yes, there was an abbreviated season, but his numbers were utterly ridiculous. He had a frankly unbelievable 41.1% strikeout rate (all-time record) as well as the best ERA we’ve seen in the modern baseball era. But even after that insane year, he is still just scratching the surface of an eliteness that one of his fellow AL pitchers has become quite used to.
That pitcher is Gerrit Cole.
The New York Yankees’ ace has been absolutely dominant for the past three years – the same span that Bieber has been in the league – except he has consistently been as good as other people are for short stretches for that entire window. He was very good before, spending the first five years in Pittsburgh with a respectable 3.50 ERA and 1.217 WHIP with his K/9 at just 8.4. When he went to Houston, though, something clicked.
From 2018 through 2020, he has been unimaginably good, and very consistent. He has an ERA of 2.71, a WHIP of 0.962 and a much-improved 12.9 K/9. He’s so damn good.
His 2019 season was the best of his career, with ratios of 2.50 and 0.895 and a historic 326 strikeouts to go with his 20 wins.
In 2021, I wouldn’t expect him to be far off of that level of dominance again. You can count on him having an ERA under 2.90 and a sub-1 WHIP – and he’ll probably throw 280+ strikeouts again, too. Those numbers sound worthy of a Cy Young to me.
Honourable mentions: Shane Bieber, Lucas Giolito, Hyun-Jin Ryu
National League Cy Young
2021 NL Cy Young Prediction: Jacob deGrom, Mets SP
2020 Winner: Trevor Bauer, Reds SP (now Dodgers)
The way I described how Bieber’s amazing year in the shortened season managed to put his recent form on the level that Cole has sustained. Now imagine that supercharged.
Trevor Bauer won the NL Cy Young last year with an ERA of 1.73 and a WHIP of 0.795. He also threw 12.3 K/9 and even had two complete game shutouts. Now I’ll be the first to say, those two complete game shutouts in 11 starts aren’t absolutely unheard of. That ERA of 1.73, and his great strikeout rate, is what led to winning the Cy Young itself.
Jacob deGrom is our MLB awards prediction here, however.
The Mets ace’s average season is basically the absolute pinnacle of most pitchers’ career. He exploded onto the scene in 2014 and won the Rookie of the Year award and his career stats are literally worthy of a Cy Young. deGrom has a career ERA of 2.61 and a career WHIP of 1.047.
He is going to be a Cy Young contender every single year, and this year he is my Cy Young prediction without any hesitation.
I’d project him to have an ERA of 2.40 or even lower, a WHIP of 0.950 and I actually expect him to break his record for strikeouts (currently 269) as he has been getting better and better, peaking at 13.8 K/9 in 2020. He has looked great in spring, throwing 102mph, and I believe he is going to have one of the best years of his career in 2021.
The Mets look great going into this year, especially since the addition of Francisco Lindor, and I expect Jacob deGrom to absolutely dominate as he has his whole career, hopefully with more wins due to the improved team around him.
This was the easiest pick for this whole article, Jacob deGrom is my Cy Young prediction this year and probably every year for the next few.
American League Rookie of the Year
2021 AL ROY Prediction: Andrew Vaughn, White Sox DH
2020 Winner: Kyle Lewis, Mariners OF
As I’ve already made clear, I think the Chicago White Sox are poised for a very positive season and future beyond that. They have a young team and their rookies have been subject of excitement and hype for multiple seasons. This year they have a couple more exciting rookies who will be with the team, including my AL Rookie of the Year prediction, Andrew Vaughn.
Vaughn is a first baseman who has a really damn good bat and who I believe will be the primary Designated Hitter for the club. I think he should be the DH from Opening Day, but even if he didn’t start the year in the lineup, I’d still back him to be in the role soon.
Vaughn was drafted 3rd overall in the 2019 draft, and he is one of the best rookies in baseball. He has a more advanced bat for a one-year minor leaguer due to his time in college – where he absolutely dominated, hitting .374 in NCAA competition – and enters the year as a top-20 prospect. He hits with fantastic power but still had a very solid average in the minors hitting .278 with a .384 OBP.
In Spring Training [this article was written on the 23rd of March before their game that day], Vaughn has been hitting .295 with a .404 OBP and has 2 homers and 5 RBI’s. He has also walked 7 times in just 52 plate appearances. He is ready for the majors and I am very excited to see him prove it in games that count.
If Vaughn can be the de facto DH for this team as I expect him to, I’d expect to see him batting .275+ with an OBP above .350 and then the counting stats will be what set him up to earn the ROTY status. Assuming he gets to start 130+ games and plays to his potential, I think he could be very productive. If he hits 30 homers on top of his good contact, he will probably pair that up with 90 or more RBI’s and he will be a serious candidate for AL ROTY.
National League Rookie of the Year
2021 NL ROY Prediction: Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates 3B
2020 Winner: Devin Williams, Brewers RP
Somebody who I think should be getting talked about more than he is, the Pirates rookie 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes had a great introduction to the majors last year.
He made his MLB debut on the 1st of September, and within his one month, he was insanely good.
He had 95 plate appearances in 24 games and he had a slash line of .376/.442/.682 with an OPS of 1.124. That is a ridiculously good month of baseball. He hit 5 homers, drove in 11 RBI’s and stole a base. He also scored 17 runs despite being in one of the weaker teams in the league.
While the hitting line might be a bit unsustainable, you can see the upside the Hayes has, if he started that hot in his first taste of the majors. He’s also hitting .441 in Spring Training [at time of writing] with a home run and 2 stolen bases in 37 at bats, if you want to put any weight on that, at all.
It’s difficult to project rookies, naturally, but seeing how Hayes has absolutely excelled against major league pitching gives me confidence in his talent. I expect him to have a really strong batting average, with .300 very possible and I think he could easily flirt with a 25-homer/10 steal season while playing solid defense at the hot corner.
Combining his obvious contact with the power and a hint of speed will probably make him one of if not the best player in that offense. Ke’Bryan Hayes looked incredible in the sample size we’ve seen, and in the ultimate year for looking at small sample sizes (due to 2020), what better time to make him my Rookie of the Year prediction for 2021.