Mark Clark: Finalists announced for 2018 MLB awards

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The Baseball Writers Association of America named the finalist for its annual awards this past Monday. Yes, it is finally time for the awards to be doled out. Beginning next Monday, Nov. 12, and ending on Thursday, Nov. 15, the awards for Rookies of the Year, Managers of the Year, Cy Young winners and the Most Valuable Players will all be named.

Two players I thought would win the Rookie of the Year awards back in March are among the finalist for those awards. I hope I get both right, but I have my doubts about the one in the American League. I think the player I picked for the National League should be a shoe-in, like a well-worn pair of moccasins.

Back in March, I picked Los Angeles Angels rookie Shohei Ohtani and Atlanta Braves rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. to walk away with the awards. Ohtani appeared to be a lock for the award early. But, then an injury sidelined the rookie. He had Tommy John surgery. Still, Ohtani impressed on the mound and at the plate. On the mound, Ohtani had 10 starts, 63 strikeouts, a 3.31 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. At the plate, he batted .285 with 22 home runs and 61 RBI. There has not been a player in a very long time to put together numbers like that while pitching and hitting.

Behind Ohtani for the American League award are a pair of New York Yankee rookies – 3B Miguel Andujar and 2B Gleyber Torres. Andujar had 27 homers with 92 RBI and Torres had 24 home runs with 77 RBI. Andujar may now be the frontrunner for the award, but I still think Ohtani has done enough to merit winning the honor.

Over on the National League side, Acuna had 26 home runs with 64 RBI. He is just ahead of Los Angeles Dodgers SP Walker Buehler (8-5, 2.62 ERA with a 0.96 WHIP and 151 strikeouts) and Washington Nationals OF Juan Soto (.292, 22 homers and 70 RBI). I will stick with my original pick – Acuna.

The American League Manager of the Year finalists are Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays, Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox and Bob Melvin of the Oakland A’s. Cora deserves the award. His Red Sox won the World Series in five games.

The National League Managers of the Year finalists are Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies, Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers and Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves. I would give the award to Snitker. He did a job I did not believe was possible in getting the Braves in the playoffs. Heck, I think I picked the Braves to come in last in their division.

The Cy Young award winners this season will be deserving no matter which player is selected.

In the American League, the finalists are Tampa Bay Rays SP Blake Snell, Houston Astros SP Justin Verlander and Cleveland Indians SP Corey Kluber. Snell (21-5, 1,89 ERA and 221 strikeouts) is the leader among the three to me, but Verlander (2.52 ERA and 290 strikeouts) and Kluber (2.89 with 222 strikeouts) are not slouches and are just as deserving of the award.

In the National League, the Cy Young finalists are New York Mets SP Jacob de Grom (1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts), Washington Nationals SP Max Scherzer (2.53 ERA, 220.2 IP and 300 strikeouts) and Philadelphia Phillies SP Aaron Nola (2.37 ERA and 224 strikeouts). My pick is Scherzer.

Now, the biggest award of them all – the Most Valuable Player award.

The American League finalists are OF Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox, 3B Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians and OF Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Betts batted .346, had 129 runs, 32 home runs, 80 RBI, stole 30 bases and won a Gold Glove. Rameriz hit 39 home runs, scored 110 runs and collected 105 RBI. Trout batted .312, hit 39 home runs, scored 101 runs, stole 24 bases and collected 79 RBI. Trout also narrowly beat Betts’ OPS 1.088 to 1.078. I will go with Betts here.

The National League MVP finalists are Milwaukee Brewers OF Christian Yelich, Chicago Cubs 2B Javier Baez and Colorado Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado. Yelich led the league with a .326 batting average, hit 36 home runs, collected 110 RBI, scored 118 runs and stole 22 bases. Baez hit .290 with 34 homers, 111 RBI, scored 101 runs and stole 21 bases. Arenado led the league with 38 home runs, had 110 RBI and won a Gold Glove. My guess is that Yelich will win the award.

When the awards are presented next week, the off-season arguments will begin about which team will be the one to unseat the Boston Red Sox as World Champions. I suggest we wait just a little while to see which players swap teams. Then we can start the arguing.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for The Citizen of East Alabama.