Hello baseball fans, and welcome to the third annual College Sports Town MLB preview. It’s been quite some time since I last posted, but I’m excited to begin this new season! Let’s jump right into the preview with my preseason predictions for which players will take home the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year awards for the American League in 2015. Last year, I correctly selected Mike Trout for AL MVP but missed on my picks for AL Cy Young (I picked Felix Hernandez, the runner-up, instead of Corey Kluber) and ROY (which was won by Jose Abreu, not my pick Xander Bogaerts). Let’s see if I can improve this year.
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Listen, I know it’s a bit of a cop out, but it would be foolish to predict anyone else to outperform Trout and to win this award. He’s been arguably the best position player in baseball for the past three years, and he shows no signs of wanting to relinquish that title. The 23 year old finally got past Miguel Cabrera in his quest for MVP last year, winning his first after finishing second in 2013 and 2012. Trout’s slash line in 2014 was .287/.377/.561, outstanding despite being down from his 2013 numbers, and he led the AL in both runs and RBI. He even managed to lead the Angels to the best record in the MLB before the team faltered against the Royals in the divisional round of the playoffs. Barring injury, I see no reason why Trout would not be able to replicate his performance of the past few years, and that would be more than enough to bring him his second consecutive AL MVP.
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
Sale is the most dominant lefty in the MLB today not named Clayton Kershaw. In 2014, he led the league in ERA+ and K/9 while finishing third in the AL Cy Young race to Corey Kluber and Felix Hernandez. The soon-to-be 26 year old figures to once again be one of the most entertaining pitchers in baseball, as soon as he returns from a fractured right foot, and the revamped White Sox lineup and rotation will only make his life easier. Sale and new addition Jeff Samardzija form one of the most dangerous 1-2 punches in baseball, and a lineup consisting of Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, and Adam Laroche will help him lock down a few more W’s. If Sale can come back and produce similar numbers to those of the past few years, he could certainly come away from 2015 with the Cy Young.
AL ROY- Rusney Castillo, Boston Red Sox
In 2014, Castillo joined the list of young Cuban players with massive contracts after receiving a $72 million deal from Boston. However, it is yet to be seen whether Castillo can prove the investment wise as compatriots such as Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jose Abreu have done in recent years. He looked good in his 10 game stint with the Red Sox at the end of 2014 but has suffered through an injury-stricken spring and may lose the competition for starting CF to another youngster, Mookie Betts. Even if he does not start the year in the majors, Castillo’s intriguing blend of power and speed will be on display in Fenway sooner rather than later, and I expect him to impress enough to take home Cuba’s second straight Rookie of the Year award.