2021 MLB Awards Guide

By Fantasy Baseball Analysts Matthew Rosser and Curtis Bailey

After a year or two of predicting fantasy top 100 players and whatnot, we realized that while we have no idea what’s going to happen in any given game out of 162, we can use our fantasy skill to help predict postseason awards and end of year standings. We first put this to task in 2017, and decided that there was a world Stanton led a still mourning Marlins team to the playoffs and won on that narrative. Instead, he just hit 60 home runs. Our logic was wrong… yes…but we nailed that. Since then, we have hit at least one MVP every year we’ve predicted it, and managed to not lose all of those earnings on other regular season wagers. This year, we decided to document it and fall on our faces for the world to see. With all of that being said, let’s take a look at some guys who we think have a chance of taking home some hardware at the end of the 2021 season.

AL Rookie of the year

Favorite: Randy Arozarena +350

Names to Consider: Jarred Kelenic +650, Ryan Mountcastle +1200, Andrew Vaughn +1250

Longshot: Alex Kiriloff +2000, Logan Gilbert +5000

Our Bets: Kelenic, Mountcastle, Vaughn, and Kiriloff

ROY is always a toss up because so much of it comes down to playing time and that can be very hard to predict with teams playing the service time game. You must always be cognizant of how much these guys are going to play. It’s not a requirement that the player who wins the award plays the most games, but ties always go to the guy who played more. Randy is the favorite because he was absolutely electric last year during the postseason and will be playing every day near the top of the Rays lineup. So when deciding on this award, you start by asking yourself if you are predicting against Randy or not. Ignore Randy…Gilbert is a fun guy that could win you a lot of money but we don’t know enough about when he is going to play to make this bold prediction. 

NL Rookie of the Year

Favorite: Ke’Bryan Hayes +350

Names to Consider: Sixto Sanchez +500, Dylan Carlson +700, Ian Anderson +750

Longshot: Spencer Howard +1800

Our Bets: Sixto, Carlson, and Anderson

In stark contrast to the AL version of the award, we have just Ke’bryan Hayes fighting off Dylan Carlson and a trio of young stud pithers. Hayes was incredible last year for the Pirates but unfortunately, he is on the Pirates and thus will not be playing any games of consequence this year. So for him you are banking entirely on his playing time which as we covered above is a good play, but unfortunately for him he is going against Sixto Sanchez and Ian Anderson. Both of these guys looked like aces last year and appear to be primed to do so once again 2021. The only rub with Sixto and Ian is that they will be on an innings limit this year so there is a chance that they get shut down towards the end of the season and allow someone like Carlson to swoop in and steal the award. Carlson brings a lot of what Kelenic brings to the table with a very flashy power/speed combo which award voters love. On top of that Carlson also plays for the Cardinals who should be a playoff team. If he is a big part of why they make the playoffs he will get votes. Then we have Spencer Howard. Howard has the potential to be a Sixto or an Anderson but he hasn’t done it yet. He got the chance last year and got hurt almost immediately. 

AL Cy Young

Favorite: Gerrit Cole +350

Names to Consider: Shane Bieber +400, Lucas Giolito +450

Longshot: Kenta Maeda +2000

Rosser: Bieber, Giolito, Maeda 

Curtis: Cole, Maeda

We must state at the beginning of this that while we do hit on MVPs and ROYs, Cy Young’s are much harder to predict. Gerrit Cole is the eternal favorite in the AL. Cole is the most talented pitcher in the AL and plays for the Yankees, aka the most visible team in the league..Cole doesn’t even have to be the best pitcher to win the award. He will win games because the lineup around him is so good and as previously stated he is a Yankee. Cole probably is the best pitcher though. So if you aren’t predicting him who else could you predict? Shane Bieber won the award last year and plays in one of the easier divisions in the league. Lucas Giolito is arguably more talented than Bieber and plays on the best team in that same terrible division. Then we have Maeda who is also found in the same division as Bieber and Giolito. Maeda was last year’s runner up and there is no logical reason for his odds to be that low, but that’s just extra juice for you. 

NL Cy Young

Favorite: Jacob DeGrom +425

Names to Consider: Trevor Bauer +700, Yu Darvish +1200

Longshot: Brandon Woodruff +2200, Kyle Hendricks +6600

Our Picks: DeGrom, Darvish

This is our least favorite and least successful category over the past three or four years.  It is arguably the most one sided award, being DeGrom’s to lose every year, and he really hasn’t done that until last year. Woodruff is in the Damien Lillard zone of being the least lauded of the best arms, and would need a big season to not be overlooked; Hendricks, quietly the most consistent pitcher not named DeGrom, has probably the largest disparity between on-field performance and odds, and could very easily just be the last man standing with elite ratios after everyone else gets pinched for innings. This is one we’re just going to pick value and fandom and make up the difference elsewhere.

AL MVP

Favorite: Mike Trout +225

Names to Consider: Aaron Judge +1200, Shohei Ohtani +2200, Vlad Guerro +2500

Longshot: DJ Lemahieu +3300 

Rosser: Judge, Lemahieu

Curtis: Judge, Vlad

We used to just take Mookie here and call it a day, but now it is slim pickin’s. Trout is the heavy favorite, but it is basically a bet on health. Judge is also a health bet, but much more hit or miss. Ohtani has so many ways he can collect WAR and feels destined to be anointed one day (One of my favorite random baseball moments of the past few years was when Ohtani became the first player since Babe Ruth to have ten wins and ten home runs in one season. Such mediocre milestones for someone who just hits or pitches, but simply doing both at a replacement level got him in the same breath as the Bambino.), but I’m not sure this is his year.  Vlad also feels predetermined, but let’s see him break out a bit more.  Lemahieu sort of got robbed last year and should not be this much of an underdog.  There’s no reason he can’t hit .320 with 25 bombs and >200 Runs+RBIs.

NL MVP

Favorite: Mookie Betts, Juan Soto +750

Names to Consider: Ronald Acuna Jr. +800, Fernando Tatis Jr. +850, Fransico Lindor +1200, Corey Seager +1500

Longshot: Manny Machado +2200, Trea Turner +6000

Rosser: Acuna Jr., Soto, Lindor

Curtis: Soto, Acuna, Tatis, Machado

Yikes. On it’s face this thing is wide open. We usually like to look for narratives, and the narrative for Soto, Acuna Jr., and Tatis Jr. are all the same: The star of tomorrow has arrived, give him his crown.  Mookie’s is the chance to be one of the few to win both league’s MVP, and Lindor could win for breathing new life into a dejected organization. Machado has the toughest narrative road, but if Tatis Jr goes down again and he turns it on he could become the focal point of a team poised for a deep run. Think of him and Turner as insurance if you think Tatis Jr. or Soto will win.

Home Run King

Favorite: Ronald Acuna Jr., Pete Alonso, Mike Trout, all +1100

Names to Consider: Aaron Judge +1500, Eugenio Suarez +2000, Nelson Cruz +2500, Trevor Story +3000, Luke Voit +3300

Longshot: Vlad Guerrero +4400, Teoscar Hernandez +5000, Franmil Reyes +5000

Rosser: Trout, Judge, Suarez , Cruz, Story, Voit, Reyes

Curtis: Alonso, Judge, Story, Hernandez, Reyes

This right here is where it all began. Back in 2018 Rosser predicted Khris Davis, or “kHRis”, as he now autocorrects to in his phone, since he had been the only person to hit 40 bombs in the previous three seasons. He scooped him up at +4000. Long story short, he’s still dining out on that return and chases that dragon every year. The field is wide open this year, so if you want to have some fun, throw some shots around (responsibly) on a handful of beefy boys and watch your own personal 1999 unfold before your eyes. Suarez is cut from the same mold as Davis in that he is the leader in homers over the past three seasons. Voit has an insanely elevated home run rate, but his park encourages that and he has absolute man strength, Story is a 40 home run superstar in the best hitting climate in baseball. Cruz is a safety line pick because you will never forget either cashing a ticket on a 40 year old or losing all your tickets because of some damn 40 year old. Just be on the right side there. As for Trout, well, he is the career leader in projected home run titles, and you will never get him as such an underdog (until maybe next year). Further down the board, The Franimal (Teoscar the Grouch) is one of few players who can hit 30 home runs in a down season, and now that he has a full-time job (bat without holes in it), he may just hack his way to forty five bombs. Re-read that last sentence, but substitute the italicized words with the words in the parenthesis. Shazam, you have a Teoscar Hernandez breakdown.

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