MLB's player awards won't be announced for several weeks, but the MLB odds have been released for the Cy Young in the AL along with NL MVP and Rookie of the Year, so we have prepared our props picks.
AL Cy Young
No player has repeated as the American League Cy Young winner since Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999-2000 and we will place our MLB pick on that streak continuing in 2014. Reigning Cy Young Max Scherzer of the Tigers had a fine season at 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA, and he's probably going to get a contract approaching $200 million this offseason as a free agent. However, he's not going to win the award again.
By most accounts it's a two-man race between Seattle's Felix Hernandez, who is the -150 MLB odds favorite at Bovada, and Cleveland's Corey Kluber. King Felix (15-6, 2.14) had the worst start of his career in his penultimate outing of the regular season against Toronto in allowing eight runs in just 4.2 innings. However, he bounced back Sunday with 5.1 innings of one-hit ball against the Angels. A scoring change from that Blue Jays start announced Saturday changed four runs that Hernandez allowed to unearned, dropping his ERA from 2.34 to 2.18. That gave him a chance to pass Chicago's Chris Sale for the AL ERA title on Sunday. As soon as his ERA inched under Sale's 2.17, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon pulled Hernandez from the game. Hernandez won the award in 2010 when he was 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA.
Kluber (+110) was one of the breakout stars in baseball this year, finishing 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA. He was second in the majors with 269 strikeouts, two behind David Price of the Rays/Tigers. Kluber closed the year striking out 11, 14 and 14 in his final three starts. Quite a jump for a guy who had 13 career wins entering 2014.
MLB free pick: Hernandez will win this
No pitcher has won the National League MVP since Bob Gibson's ridiculous 1968 season in which he was 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA . Gibson obviously was the Cy Young winner that year as well. It appears that the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw will end that drought for pitchers for NL MVP as he is the -400 favorite on Bovada's MLB odds. What more can you say about Kershaw? He may have had the finest season ever for a lefty, going 21-3 with an absurd 1.77 ERA while striking out 239. The wins tied a career high, while his losses and ERA were career lows. Oh and he missed a month. Kershaw won the major-league ERA title a fourth straight season, which is a first. His 1.77 mark was the best in the major since Greg Maddux's 1.63 for the Braves in 1995.
The other two candidates are the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (+500) and Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (also +500). McCutchen's numbers were a bit down from his 2013 MVP season, although he played 11 fewer games this year after missing a few weeks in August due to injury. He hit .314 with 25 homers, 83 RBIs and 18 steals. Stanton led the NL with a career-high 37 homers and almost surely would have gotten to 40, but he was hit in the face with a pitch Sept. 11 and missed the rest of the season. Stanton also had a career-best 105 RBIs.
MLB free pick: In my opinion pitchers shouldn't win MVP, but Kershaw is going to.
NL Rookie of the Year
For a large chunk of the year this award was presumably going to Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton, but now he's the +250 underdog on MLB odds to Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom (-400). Hamilton hit only .250 with six homers and 48 RBIs, but he was a game-changer when he did get on base with 56 stolen bases. He might be the fastest player in baseball.
DeGrom (9-6, 2.69) didn't get called up until May 15. He was a bit shaky at times in his first handful of starts but got better and better. DeGrom allowed more than three earned runs just once in his final 15 starts. He was 6-1 with a 2.16 ERA after the All-Star Break and had a 1.67 ERA in four September starts. If he's the real deal the Mets could be scary next year with the return of Matt Harvey in the rotation. They are loaded with young pitching.
MLB free pick: DeGrom becomes first Mets ROY since Dwight Gooden in 1984 from Bovada