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2021 MLB Awards Primer & Predictions

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With Awards season starting this week with the announcement of the Gold Glove Award winners on November 7th and culminating in the announcement of the All-MLB teams next week, now is the last chance to preview and make predictions about the prospective award winners in the MLB. Below is a breakdown of and prediction for every major award that will be given out over the next couple of weeks.

The dates listed in parentheses are the dates that the winners of those awards will be revealed. All stats are provided by Fangraphs.

Gold Glove Awards (November 7th)

Catcher

AL: Sean Murphy – Oakland Athletics

Murphy led qualified catchers in defensive runs saved (10) and framing runs (9.7). He also rated out as tied for the best framing catcher by Baseball Savant (+8 runs saved from framing, 82nd percentile).

Other Finalists: Martín Maldonado, Salvador Perez

NL: Jacob Stallings – Pittsburgh Pirates

Albeit an average framer, Stallings led all catchers regardless of innings with 21 defensive runs saved. He was also third in defensive fWAR (16.4) among NL catchers.

Other Finalists: Yadier Molina, J.T. Realmuto

First Base

AL: Matt Olson – Oakland Athletics (2x Gold Glover)

Olson was first in defensive runs saved (6) among AL first basemen and was in the 61st percentile in outs above average (+1), according to Statcast.

Other Finalists: Yuli Gurriel, Jared Walsh

NL: Paul Goldschmidt – St. Louis Cardinals (3x Gold Glover)

Goldschmidt paced all first basemen with ten defensive runs saved and, according to Statcast, racked up the second-most outs above average (+5, 92nd percentile) among all MLB first basemen.

Other Finalists: Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy

Second Base

AL: David Fletcher – Los Angeles Angels

Fletcher ranked first in outs above average (+9, 95th percentile) and second in defensive runs saved among AL second basemen. 

Other Finalists: Whit Merrifield, Marcus Semien

NL: Tommy Edman – St. Louis Cardinals

Edman led all second basemen with +13 outs above average (98th percentile), according to Baseball Savant. He also tied for second in defensive runs saved (6) among NL second basemen.

Other Finalists: Ozzie Albies, Kolten Wong

Third Base

AL: Matt Chapman – Oakland Athletics (2x Gold Glover)

Chapman produced ten more outs above average (+17, 99th percentile) than the next best competitor at third base in the American League. He also tied for first in defensive runs saved (10) in the AL at his position.

Other Finalists: José Ramírez, Joey Wendle

NL: Ryan McMahon – Colorado Rockies 

McMahon paced NL nominees in defensive runs saved (12) and tied for first among nominees in Statcast’s outs above average (+10, 97th percentile).

Other Finalists: Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado

Shortstop

AL: Carlos Correa – Houston Astros

His 21 defensive runs saved were seven more than the next best MLB shortstop. Correa also rated out as the third-best defensive AL shortstop by outs above average (+12, 97th percentile), according to Baseball Savant.

Other Finalists: J.P. Crawford, Andrelton Simmons

NL: Francisco Lindor – New York Mets (2x Gold Glover)

Lindor tallied the second-most outs above average (+20, 100th percentile) by any player, regardless of position. 

Other Finalists: Brandon Crawford, Kevin Newman

Left Field

AL: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays

His seven defensive runs saved were equal to his competing nominees, but Gurriel Jr. set himself apart by leading all left fielders with 12 outfield assists.

Other Finalists: Randy Arozarena, Andrew Benintendi

NL: Tyler O’Neill – St. Louis Cardinals (1x Gold Glover)

O’Neill paced all left fielders with 12 defensive runs saved after winning the Gold Glove Award for NL left fielders in 2020.

Other Finalists: David Peralta, AJ Pollock

Center Field

AL: Michael A. Taylor – Kansas City Royals

He led all center fielders in defensive runs saved (19) and Statcast’s outs above average (+15, 99th percentile), while showing off his rocket arm with 11 assists.

Other Finalists: Kevin Kiermaier, Myles Straw

NL: Harrison Bader – St. Louis Cardinals

Bader was first in defensive runs saved (15) and outs above average (+13, 99th percentile) among NL center fielders. He also tallied the second-most defensive fWAR (12.9) by a center fielder.

Other Finalists: Bryan Reynolds, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Right Field

AL: Joey Gallo – New York Yankees (1x Gold Glover)

Gallo did everything in the field in 2021, tying for the most defensive runs saved (11) by a right fielder, tying for second among right fielders in out above average (+6, 94th percentile), and throwing out 14 baserunners from the outfield.

Other Finalists: Hunter Renfroe, Kyle Tucker

NL: Mike Yastrzemski – San Francsico Giants

The grandson of seven-time Gold Glover and Hall of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski, Mike is attempting to win his first Gold Glove Award after leading NL right fielders in outs above average (+6, 94th percentile) and leading nominees in defensive runs saved (5).

Other Finalists: Mookie Betts, Adam Duvall

Pitcher

AL: Dallas Keuchel – Chicago White Sox (4x Gold Glover)

Keuchel tallied the most defensive runs saved (12) by a pitcher. The next-best AL pitchers had only five apiece.

Other Finalists: Zack Greinke, José Berríos

NL: Max Fried – Atlanta Braves (1x Gold Glover)

Fried won the Gold Glove Award for NL pitchers in 2020, and will most likely win again in 2021 after finishing with six defensive runs saved; the most by a qualified NL starter.

Other Finalists: Zach Davies, Zack Wheeler

Hank Aaron Awards (November 9th)

AL: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays

Guerrero Jr. tied for the major league lead in home runs with 48 and finished with the highest wRC+ (166) and OPS (1.002) by a player from the Junior Circuit.

Other Finalists: Cedric Mullins, José Ramírez, Salvador Perez, Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge, Matt Olson

NL: Bryce Harper – Philadelphia Phillies

The well-known right fielder paced all qualified major leaguers with his 170 wRC+ and 1.044 OPS, pairing those marks with 35 long balls.

Other Finalists: Freddie Freeman, Nick Castellanos, Fernando Tatis Jr., Brandon Crawford, Paul Goldschmidt, Juan Soto

Relievers of the Year Awards (November 10th)

AL: Liam Hendriks – Chicago White Sox

The Australian right-hander led the American League in saves (38) and paced all qualified relievers in K-BB% (39.7%).

NL: Josh Hader – Milwaukee Brewers

Hader finished with the best K-BB% (34.8%) by a qualified NL reliever on top of finishing with the third-most saves (34) in his league.

Silver Slugger Awards (November 11th)

Catcher

AL: Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals

Perez broke the major league record for home runs (48) by a catcher in a single season.

Other Finalists: Mike Zunino, Gary Sánchez

NL: Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants

His .304 AVG topped all catchers by almost 20 points.

Other Finalists: Will Smith, J.T. Realmuto, Omar Narváez

First Base

AL: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays

He tied for the major league lead with 48 home runs while batting .311.

Other Finalists: Yuli Gurriel, Matt Olson

NL: Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves

Freeman finished as the only NL first baseman to hit .300 with more than 20 homers.

Other Finalists: Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Max Muncy

Second Base

AL: Marcus Semien – Toronto Blue Jays

Semien set the MLB record for single-season home runs (45) by a second baseman.

Other Finalists: Jose Altuve, DJ LeMahieu, Jorge Polanco

NL: Justin Turner – Los Angeles Dodgers

Although he didn’t play a single game at second base, Turner had the highest wRC+ (127) among finalists.

Other Finalists: Ozzie Albies, Jonathan India, Jake Cronenworth

Third Base

AL: José Ramírez – Cleveland Guardians

He led third basemen in wRC+ (137) and stolen bases (27).

Other Finalists: Rafael Devers, Kyle Seager

NL: Austin Riley – Atlanta Braves

Riley batted over .300 with 33 home runs while leading NL third basemen in wRC+ (135).

Other Finalists: Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Patrick Wisdom

Shortstop

AL: Bo Bichette – Toronto Blue Jays

Bichette finished first among AL second basemen in home runs (29) and stolen bases (25).

Other Finalists: Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Tim Anderson

NL: Fernando Tatis Jr. – San Diego Padres

He totaled the most home runs (42) and highest wRC+ (156) by a shortstop.

Other Finalists: Brandon Crawford, Trea Turner, Willy Adames

Outfield

AL: Aaron Judge – New York Yankees

Judge tied for the most home runs (39) by an outfielder, with an AL outfielder leading 148 wRC+.

Kyle Tucker – Houston Astros

Tucker posted a .916 OPS with 30 dingers, good for the second-best wRC+ (147) by a qualified outfielder in the AL.

Cedric Mullins – Baltimore Orioles

Recorded a 30 home run, 30 stolen base season while batting .291.

Other Finalists: Teoscar Hernández, Mitch Haniger, Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

NL: Bryce Harper – Philadelphia Phillies

He had the highest wRC+ (170) and OPS (1.044) by a qualified batter.

Juan Soto – Washington Nationals

Soto had the highest OBP (.465) in the major leagues.

Nick Castellanos – Cincinnati Reds

He batted .309 with 34 deep drives to left field and 100 RBI.

Other Finalists: Bryan Reynolds, Adam Duvall, Jesse Winker, Tyler O’Neill

Designated Hitter

Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels

Ohtani had the highest wRC+ (152) by a DH and hit 46 home runs. He was also a starting pitcher.

Other Finalists: Yordan Alvarez, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo, Nelson Cruz

Pitcher

Jacob deGrom – New York Mets

Batted .364 while holding opposing hitters to a .129 AVG on the mound. Somehow deGrom had a wRC+ (112), which was above the league average (just 33 plate appearances).

Other Finalists: Germán Márquez, Max Fried, Madison Bumgarner

Rookie of the Year Awards (November 15th)

AL: Randy Arozarena – Tampa Bay Rays

Paced all rookies with more than 300 plate appearances with his 128 wRC+ while hitting 20 homers and stealing 20 bases.

NL: Jonathan India – Cincinnati Reds

India totaled 21 homers and stole 12 bases while recording the highest wRC+ (122) by an NL rookie with more than 300 plate appearances.

Manager of the Year Awards (November 16th)

AL: Tony La Russa – Chicago White Sox

Managed the Whites Sox to a division crown, despite a litany of injuries to star players.

NL: Gabe Kapler – San Francisco Giants

Platooned and managed the Giants to overperform projections and finish with the best record in the Major Leagues. He also set a franchise record for wins in a single season (107) along the way.

Cy Young Awards  (November 17th)

AL: Robbie Ray – Toronto Blue Jays

Ray led the majors with 248 strikeouts and topped qualified starters in the American League with his 2.84 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.

NL: Max Scherzer – Los Angeles Dodgers

He finished with the lowest WHIP (0.86) and BAA (.185) in the majors while finishing second in the NL in ERA (2.46) and strikeouts (236) among qualified starters.

Most Valuable Player Awards (November 18th)

AL: Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels

Ohtani had what may be dubbed the greatest season of all time with his incredible efforts on the mound and at the dish. On top of hitting 46 homers and stealing 26 bases while racking up 5.1 fWAR at the plate, Ohtani was also the ace of the Angels, pitching to a 3.18 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with a 29.3% K rate and recording 3.0 fWAR on the bump. His two-way production is the most impressive ever recorded in the major leagues and places Ohtani as the clear AL MVP frontrunner.

NL: Bryce Harper – Philadelphia Phillies

Harper was the best hitter in the National League per wRC+ and OPS and nearly led his team to a Wild Card berth. His .309/.429/.615 triple-slash line was as impressive as the 35 home runs he hit for the Phillies. 

Comeback Player of the Year Awards (November 22nd)

AL: Trey Mancini – Baltimore Orioles

Mancini fought his way back from colon cancer to not only return to the baseball field, but also to mash 21 home runs for the Orioles.

NL: Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants

He had a renaissance season with a 140 wRC+ and 18 home runs after electing not to play in 2020 due to the risks it would place on his children.

All-MLB Teams (November 23rd)

First Team

Catcher: Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals

First Base: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays

Second Base: Marcus Semien – Toronto Blue Jays

Third Base: José Ramírez – Cleveland Guardians

Shortstop: Fernando Tatis Jr. – San Diego Padres

Outfielders: Bryce Harper – Philadelphia Phillies

Juan Soto – Washington Nationals

Aaron Judge – New York Yankees

Designated Hitter: Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels

Starting Pitchers: Max Scherzer – Los Angeles Dodgers

Corbin Burnes – Milwaukee Brewers

Walker Buehler – Los Angeles Dodgers

Robbie Ray – Toronto Blue Jays

Zack Wheeler – Philadelphia Phillies

Relief Pitchers: Liam Hendriks – Chicago White Sox

Josh Hader – Milwaukee Brewers

Second Team

Catcher: Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants

First Base: Matt Olson – Oakland Athletics

Second Base: Jose Altuve – Houston Astros

Third Base: Rafael Devers – Boston Red Sox

Shortstop: Trea Turner – Los Angeles Dodgers

Outfielders: Kyle Tucker – Houston Astros

Cedric Mullins – Baltimore Orioles

Tyler O’Neill – St. Louis Cardinals

Designated Hitter: Yordan Alvarez – Houston Astros

Starting Pitchers: Brandon Woodruff – Milwaukee Brewers

Kevin Gausman – San Francisco Giants

Julio Urias – Los Angeles Dodgers

Freddy Peralta – Milwaukee Brewers

Sandy Alcantara – Miami Marlins

Relief Pitchers: Raisel Iglesias – Los Angeles Angels

Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers

Jake Crumpler

UCSC Literature graduate with an encyclopedic knowledge of the MLB. Bay Area sports fan.

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