The Atlanta Braves are still basking in their World Series glory, but soon the spotlight will shine on the top individual performers in MLB across the 2021 season.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced the finalists for the game’s top honors, with the final reveal to be spread out across next week.
American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year
- Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays
- Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
- Luis Garcia, Houston Astros
National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year
- Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals
- Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds
- Trevor Rogers, Miami Marlins
American League Manager of the Year
- Scott Servais, Seattle Mariners
- Dusty Baker, Houston Astros
- Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays
National League Manager of the Year
- Mike Shildt, St. Louis Cardinals
- Gabe Kapler, San Francisco Giants
- Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers
American League Cy Young
- Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
- Robbie Ray, Toronto Blue Jays
- Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox
National League Cy Young
- Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies
- Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers
- Max Scherzer, Los Angeles Dodgers
American League MVP
- Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
- Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
National League MVP
- Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
- Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
- Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
By the nature of the award’s description, Most Valuable Player tends to land with stars on teams that make the postseason. On Nov. 18, MLB could be looking at two MVPs who missed out on the playoffs.
Shohei Ohtani put together a season for the record books. He hit 46 home runs and slugged .592 while going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 appearances. Fans may never see a player performing this well simultaneously as a pitcher and hitter again.
Even though the Los Angeles Angels lost 85 games and finished fourth in the AL West, Ohtani is arguably the strongest candidate in the field.
The same can be said of Bryce Harper, who did his best to lift the 82-win Philadelphia Phillies into October. The 2015 MVP had 35 homers, 84 RBI and a .309/.429/.615 slash line.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers were likely to have at least one representative among the Cy Young finalists, some were surprised to see Max Scherzer as the only Dodgers pitcher on the list.
Walker Buehler (5.5) narrowly eclipsed Scherzer (5.4) in WAR on FanGraphs, albeit while throwing nearly 30 more innings. Buehler’s 2.47 ERA, 3.15 FIP and 9.19 strikeouts per nine innings weren’t enough for him to make the cut, which carried financial implications.
Eric Stephen @ericstephen
Walker Buehler not being in the top three in NL Cy Young Award locks in his 2022 salary at $6.25 million<br><br>He had bonuses that would have added to next year had he finished 1st, 2nd, or 3rd this year
In the American League, the absence of Nathan Eovaldi was notable. The Boston Red Sox right-hander led all AL pitchers in WAR (5.6), per FanGraphs. He had a 2.79 FIP over 32 appearances and averaged 9.63 strikeouts and 1.73 walks per nine innings.
This could be the year Gerrit Cole finally has the hardware to show for his status as one of MLB’s preeminent aces.
Cole allowed a .207 expected batting average and .363 expected slugging percentage, per Baseball Savant, while striking out 243 batters over 181.1 innings. He earned every penny of his $36 million salary from the New York Yankees.
New York Yankees @Yankees
Congratulations <a href=”https://twitter.com/GerritCole45?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@GerritCole45</a> on being named a 2021 AL Cy Young Finalist 🔥 <a href=”https://t.co/h1R0t97Aok”>pic.twitter.com/h1R0t97Aok</a>
Player development has always been a strength of the Tampa Bay Rays, so it’s somewhat surprising they only have three Rookie of the Year winners in franchise history.
The odds of the Rays getting a fourth are looking pretty good considering they have two of the three ROY finalists.
Tampa Bay Rays @RaysBaseball
2 out of the 3 finalists for AL Rookie of the Year<br><br>Are we surprised? We are not. <a href=”https://t.co/1i0XsRdIW3″>pic.twitter.com/1i0XsRdIW3</a>
Kevin Cash might be looking at his second straight Manager of the Year nod as well after having guided Tampa Bay to 100 wins and another AL East title.
Depending on the outcome of the voting, the St. Louis Cardinals might have to celebrate the work of a manager they unexpectedly fired in October. Mike Shildt helped engineer a 17-game winning streak, but that wasn’t enough to overcome the “philosophical difference” he had with the front office.