Cooper: MVP, Cy Young, Batting Title predictions
Cooper predicts the winners of the Cooper predicts the winners of the MVP, Cy Young, and Batting Title awards in the American and National leagues.
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Trout finished towards the top of pretty much every power-hitting category in 2020. Though he had a down year in batting average, Trout is still an incredibly well-rounded player who should take advantage of the weak competition in his division. I believe he will return to batting over .300 and hit around 35 dingers this season.
AL Cy Young: Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians
This is probably the least controversial of my takes. Bieber was the runaway leader in ERA, FIP, and strikeouts in 2020 as well as second in WHIP and hits per 9 innings. Bieber, or “not Justin” as the fans call him, is by far the best pitcher in the American League.
AL Batting Title: Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox
I very nearly gave this award to the incumbent DJ LeMahieu, who batted .042 better than Anderson in 2020. However, I am not giving LeMahieu the award for two reasons. First, last season was a much smaller sample size, so when two players are hitting so well it is hard to say who will be better over a longer period of time. Second, LeMahieu will have to face much more difficult pitchers than Anderson by way of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kirby Yates, Steven Matz, Chris Sale, and Tyler Glasnow. This isn’t a huge deal, but it will knock a few good-hitting nights off of the board for LeMahieu. On top of that, Lemahieu has the pressure of playing for the Yankees amongst other superstars. It will be close, but I’m giving Anderson the edge here.
NL MVP: Marcell Ozuna, Atlanta Braves
This may seem like an outlandish claim since he has gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but Marcell Ozuna finished the 2020 season first in home runs and third in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging for the National League. I see no reason why this trend wouldn’t continue in 2021 as Ozuna has a strong supporting cast in Atlanta.
NL Cy Young: Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres
The NL has many worthy candidates that could be named their best pitcher, like Jacob deGrom, Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, and Max Scherzer. But one player that I think will stand out in 2021 is Yu Darvish. His move to San Diego pairs him with stars Dinelson Lamet and Blake Snell, who I believe will work together to greatly improve the Padres, whereas I find it hard to believe that the same kind of camaraderie will develop in LA for Kershaw and Bauer. deGrom and Scherzer will both have great seasons, but will have to face good hitters all year as they both play in the NL East. Darvish’s ERA has been steadily going down – he had the most wins in the NL last year, and he is top five in almost every pitching category. While deGrom is probably the most talented pitcher in the National League, the current circumstances are conducive to a stronger showing from Darvish.
NL Batting Title: Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
This 22-year-old has one of the prettiest swings in the game, and he batted .351 last year. He will probably do something similar in 2021. His batting average increased by .070 last season, so who knows what he will accomplish with a bit of hard work.