The Baseball Writers’ Association of America revealed the finalists for its major awards Monday, and Cubs infielder Javier Baez is one of three players in the running for the National League MVP award. The Brewers’ Christian Yelich and the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado also are finalists.
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. Baez, meanwhile, led the league with 111 RBIs, one of several career highs he set along with batting average (.290), home runs (34) and doubles (40). He also led the Cubs in doubles, home runs and triples (nine).
The winners will be announced next week.
The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani is a finalist for the AL Rookie of the Year award along with two Yankees infielders.
Ohtani figures to be in a tight race with Yankees infielders Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres after a historic first season. 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 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.
The Angels’ Mike Trout and the Indians’ Jose Ramirez are also finalists for AL MVP. Trout has finished in the top two in AL MVP voting in five of the last six seasons after finishing fourth in 2017. Ramirez was third in the voting last year, when the Astros’ Jose Altuve beat out Yankees slugger Aaron Judge.
The Mets’ Jacob deGrom, the Nationals’ Max Scherzer and the Phillies’ Aaron Nola are the top three for the NL Cy Young Award, with deGrom favored 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 last two NL awards.
Corey Kluber has a shot at a second straight AL Cy Young Award and third overall. The Indians right-hander is up against the Rays’ Blake Snell and the Astros’ Justin Verlander, who won the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards in 2011.
Cora is up against the Rays’ Kevin Cash and the Athletics’ 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 the A’s as they charged back into the AL playoff picture and earned a spot in the wild-card game.