NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay
NL MVP: Joey Votto
NL Rookie of the Year: Paul Goldschmidt
There are plenty of great pitchers in the National League. Clayton Kershaw won the Cy Young last year. In the same division, you find former Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and his teammate who is a popular pick this season, Matt Cain. The NL Central features former Cy Young winners Chris Carpenter, Zack Greinke and the talented Adam Wainwright. And Philadelphia has three aces in Cole Hamels, and former Cy Young winners Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. But I think the number one pitcher in that talented Philly rotation has to be considered the favorite for the Cy Young this year, and that is Roy Halladay. Halladay is the only active pitcher in the majors who has won the award in both leagues. He routinely overpowers hitters each season, with a miniscule ERA and a ton of Ks. Guys swing and miss a ton with him, and he’s also able to pitch to contact and induce outs when he needs them. He throws a lot of hard sinking pitches and is a workhorse on the mound, leading the majors in Complete Games in 2007-2010 and leading the NL in Complete Games last season. Of all the preseason award predictions, this may be the toughest, as there are so many talented pitchers in the NL. But Halladay has to be considered the favorite with his ability to overpower hitters in numerous ways and his tendency to stay in games longer, striking out more guys and turning no decisions into wins. While I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else is able to win this award (I actually considered last year’s Rookie of the Year Craig Kimbrel who was fantastic at the back of games last year and should be in a position to Save a lot of games for a light hitting Braves squad), I’m going with Halladay and feeling good about it.
The NL MVP is also wide open, especially now that two front-runners for the award have bolted for the AL (Pujols and Fielder). Former MVP Ryan Howard is going to miss the beginning of the season with injury. Justin Upton is a star and this could be the year he wins the MVP. Ryan Braun is last year’s winner and Matt Kemp had an MVP caliber season last year as well. But I think another former MVP will get his second award this season. Joey Votto is the de facto number 1 first baseman in the NL this season. And he not only drives in runs and hits homers, he can hit for a high average as well. He hits third in the middle of a stacked lineup in a tremendous hitters park. His divisional foes don’t have the greatest pitchers to throw against him (Cards and Brew Crew aside). He can contribute in all aspects of the game and is looking to lead his team into the playoffs this season after a disappointing 2011 campaign saw them sitting at home in October. His team has the necessary fire to aspire for greatness, and he’s got the talent to deliver. There are plenty of talented guys who could take this award home in 2012, but I like Votto’s chances.
And now we look at the Rookie of the Year race. Popular opinion would make Bryce Harper the winner. There is talent in Chicago and San Diego at first base in the forms of Mike Rizzo and Yonder Alonso. And the Braves have some young arms that could make it to the big leagues in the forms of Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran. But I like a first baseman we didn’t talk about out west….Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks. While Alonso and Rizzo are good, they are arguably the best hitters on their respective teams. On the other end of things, Bryce Harper will likely be hitting near the bottom of the lineup in a stacked Washington Nationals’ offense. And I don’t think either of the Braves pitchers will log enough time in the big leagues to be in the running. Goldschmidt played in 48 games last season hitting 250 with 8 HR and 26 RBI in only 82 ABs. He hit 438 in the 2011 Playoffs with 2 monster home runs. He may not be the most complete hitter out there. But he’s got great power, and has already showed that he can swing a big bat at the major league level. More experience should only improve his power stroke, and possibly his AVG too. The other thing he has working for him is the team he’ll be playing for. The Diamondbacks are legitimate playoff contenders and have the fire in their bellies to contend. In addition, he will hit in the bottom middle of this lineup at 6th or 7th in the batting order. He won’t be counted on to carry the team, but they are expecting enough out of him that he will be in positions to deliver. I think a 25 home run effort isn’t out of the question with possibly 75 RBI. He could even threaten to move up into the heart of this order in the 5th spot if injury moves him there. He has a lot going for him, and has shown his talent in his short audition last year. Goldschmidt will be a major league power threat for years to come. And that begins in 2012.