The Baseball Writers’ Association of America revealed the finalists for its major awards Monday night. The winners will be announced next week.
Ohtani figures to be in a tight race with Yankees infielders Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres after a historic first season with the Los Angeles Angels. The two-way Japanese sensation was 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA as a starting pitcher before an elbow injury forced him off the mound. He finished out the season exclusively as a designated hitter, hitting .285 with 22 home runs and 61 RBIs.
Ohtani is the first player ever to hit 15 home runs and strike out 50 batters in a season, and he joined Babe Ruth as the only players ever to hit 15 homers and pitch 50 innings. He had Tommy John surgery after the season and is not expected to pitch in 2019.
Andujar hit 47 doubles, tied for the second-most by a rookie in major league history, while Torres had 24 homers and 77 RBIs as a 21-year-old. They are the first teammates to finish top three in Rookie of the Year voting since Wil Myers and Chris Archer with Tampa Bay in 2013.
The World Series champion Boston Red Sox might be in line for more hardware. Mookie Betts is a finalist for AL MVP, and Alex Cora is in the final three for AL Manager of the Year in his first season. Betts led the majors with a .346 average and .640 slugging percentage while setting career highs with 32 homers and a 1.078 OPS.
Los Angeles’ Mike Trout and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez are also finalists for AL MVP. Trout has finished in the top two in AL MVP voting in five of the past six seasons after finishing fourth in 2017. Ramirez was third in the voting last year, when Houston’s Jose Altuve beat out Yankees slugger Aaron Judge.
Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich is the favourite for NL MVP, and Colorado’s Nolan Arenado and Chicago’s Javier Baez also were revealed as top vote-getters. Yelich emerged from a crowded field by hitting .370 with 10 homers and a 1.313 OPS in September while the Brewers topped the Cubs for the NL Central title.
The Mets’ Jacob deGrom, Washington’s Max Scherzer and Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola are the top three for the NL Cy Young Award, with deGrom favoured to win for the first time despite a 10-9 record. Felix Hernandez had 13 victories when he won the 2010 AL Cy Young, the fewest wins ever by a starting pitcher to win the award. Scherzer is a three-time winner, including the past two NL awards.
Corey Kluber has a shot at a second straight AL Cy Young Award and third overall. The Cleveland right-hander is up against Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell and Houston’s Justin Verlander, who won the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards in 2011.
Cora is up against Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash and Oakland’s Bob Melvin. Cash oversaw the Rays’ successful experiment with using relief pitchers as “openers” to begin games, a trend that others — including Melvin — adopted later in the season. Melvin led Oakland as it charged back into the AL playoff picture and earned a spot in the wild-card game.
Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell, Colorado’s Bud Black and Atlanta’s Brian Snitker were named NL Manager of the Year candidates, while Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr., Washington’s Juan Soto and Los Angeles’ Walker Buehler are the top three for NL Rookie of the Year.