Welcome to MLB Awards Week.
As we look ahead to 2024 and await some of the offseason’s biggest free agent signings (where will you go, Shohei Ohtani?), we celebrate the best players in the game during the 2023 regular season.
The awards schedule is as follows (all awards announced starting at 6 p.m. ET):
Today: Jackie Robinson Rookies of the Year
Tuesday: Managers of the Year
Wednesday: Cy Young Awards
Thursday: MVP Awards
Below, we list the three finalists in each category, along with what you need to know before the results are announced and our picks to take home the hardware. We’ll update each section with news and analysis as the awards are handed out.
Jump to … :
Rookie of the Year: AL | NL
Manager of the Year: AL | NL
Cy Young: AL | NL
MVP: AL | NL
American League MVP
• Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
• Corey Seager, Texas Rangers
• Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers
Experts’ pick: Ohtani (13 votes) (unanimous choice)
What to know: We have written similar things about Ohtani for years now, but we’ve never seen anyone do what he did in 2023. At the plate, he led the AL with 44 homers, a .412 on-base percentage and a .654 slugging percentage. On the mound, he went 10-5 with 167 strikeouts and a 3.14 ERA. He earned 10.0 WAR at Baseball-Reference.com, 2.6 more than any other player in the AL, and 9.0 at Fangraphs, 2.7 more than anyone else. There is just no good argument for another player.
Still, even as Ohtani is a shoo-in for his second MVP trophy, the early end to his season and the Angels’ disappointing 73-89 record make this possibly anticlimactic to some voters. He threw his last pitch on Aug. 23 and made his last trip to the plate on Sept. 3. Not only did this quash Othani’s quest to post the best season in history, but it might have actually swayed some voters to turn to Seager, who missed a chunk of regular-season time as well. That might be especially true if the playoffs were considered, as Seager once again transmogrified into Playoff Seager when the games mattered most. — Bradford Doolittle
Shohei Ohtani Tracker: Where will MLB’s top free agent land?
Is Corey Seager the new Mr. October?
National League MVP
• Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves
• Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
• Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers
Experts’ picks: Acuna (12 votes), Betts (1)
What to know: The results from our experts’ picks suggest this will be a runaway victory for Acuna — and it probably will be — but that belies how close of a race this was between Acuna and Betts. In fWAR, they ended up tied at 8.3. In bWAR, Betts holds the smallest of edges at 8.3 to 8.2. In most seasons, that would lead to a hotly contested MVP debate, but Acuna had the flashier numbers: 41 home runs and 73 steals, becoming not just the fifth member of the 40/40 club, but blowing past that group to create the 40/70 club.
Besides leading the majors in stolen bases, Acuna led the NL in runs, hits, OBP, OPS and total bases. Despite those gaudy numbers and despite Acuna being the favorite for most of the season, Betts had arguably pulled ahead entering the final month, after hitting .455 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs in August. Indeed, via FanGraphs, Betts led in WAR, 7.7 to 6.7, at the end of August. Betts, however, struggled in September, hitting .244 with one home run, while Acuna finished with a burst, hitting .340 with 11 home runs. He should join Freeman (2020), Chipper Jones (1999) and Dale Murphy (1982-83) as Braves players to win MVP honors since the franchise moved to Atlanta. — David Schoenfield
Inside Ronald Acuna Jr.’s return to MVP form
How Mookie Betts became a Dodgers … infielder
American League Cy Young
• Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
• Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays
• Sonny Gray, Minnesota Twins
Experts’ picks: Cole (13 votes) (unanimous choice)
What to know: Cole is one of the best pitchers to never win a Cy Young Award. Among pitchers who have never won, he ranks second in career Cy Young award shares at 1.90, just behind Adam Wainwright’s 1.98. What’s an award share? If you are the unanimous winner, that’s one award share. If you get half the possible maximum points, that’s a half share. Cole has received Cy Young votes in six different seasons, including runner-up finishes with the Astros in 2019 (to Justin Verlander) and in 2021 with the Yankees (to Robbie Ray).
He’ll be getting the trophy this year, and the only question is whether it will be a unanimous selection. It should be, as there isn’t really a strong argument for anyone else. Cole went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA, leading the AL in ERA, innings pitched, batting average allowed, OBP allowed and OPS while ranking second to Gausman in strikeouts. He was the runaway leader in bWAR, 7.4 to 5.3 for Gray. It was a tight race until mid-August, and maybe Ohtani would have given Cole a run if hadn’t been injured, but Cole had a terrific stretch drive, going 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA over his final seven starts, lowering his ERA from 3.03 to 2.63. The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but it certainly wasn’t Cole’s fault. — Schoenfield
National League Cy Young
• Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks
• Blake Snell, San Diego Padres
• Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants
Experts’ picks: Snell (12 votes), Webb (1)
What to know: There is precious little to separate the three nominees, nor would there be if you added the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler, the Cubs’ Justin Steele and the Braves’ Spencer Strider to the mix. When we see how the voters landed among the nominees, we will find out how much they weighed Snell’s dominance (MLB-best 2.25 ERA), Webb’s durability (MLB-best 216 innings) and Gallen’s balance of results (210 innings, 3.47 ERA, 17 wins).
Advanced value metrics are supposed to help us sort these things out, but they don’t agree on who did what in the National League. In terms of bWAR, Snell outpaced Webb for the league lead (6.0 to 5.5). Meanwhile, in fWAR, Wheeler (5.9) and Strider (5.5) outperformed all three nominees. Sorting it all out, Snell feels like the favorite, but you could pick any of the six pitchers mentioned here and make a credible argument for why they should win. — Doolittle
American League Rookie of the Year
• Tanner Bibee, Cleveland Guardians
• Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox
• Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore Orioles
Experts’ picks: Henderson (13 votes) (unanimous choice)
What to know: What to know: It’s never a given that the preseason prospect rankings will line up with the postseason Rookie of the Year balloting, but this year they did. After a lackluster start, Henderson found his stride in May, and by the end of the season, he had established himself as perhaps the best player on the breakout Orioles, even among their plethora of young stars. Henderson not only slugged 28 homers and scored 100 runs, but he was so good in the field he had embedded himself as Baltimore’s starting shortstop by the middle of the summer. Henderson looks like a no-brainer for this award.
Casas had a great half-season, going from a .225/.330/.398 first half to a .317/.417/.617 second half, though his season ended on Sept. 14 because of a shoulder problem. Bibee was the standout among the latest wave of arms produced by the Cleveland pitching factory, going 10-4 with a 2.98 ERA over 25 starts. This awards category has a whiff of “what might have been” because Texas’ Josh Jung, who starred for the Rangers during their championship run, was on track to challenge Henderson for the award until he went down for six weeks late in the season after fracturing his thumb. — Doolittle
Rookie the Year must-reads:
How young Orioles rode their talent to the AL’s best record
National League Rookie of the Year
• Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks
• James Outman, Los Angeles Dodgers
• Kodai Senga, New York Mets
Experts’ picks: Carroll (13 votes) (unanimous choice)
What to know: Carroll was the heavy preseason favorite for the award, entering the season as Kiley McDaniel’s No. 2 overall prospect. Carroll not only lived up to expectations but even exceeded them, emerging as one of the most exciting players in the game and helping the Diamondbacks to their first playoff appearance since 2017 (and then a trip to the World Series, although voting is conducted prior to the postseason). With 25 home runs and 54 stolen bases, Carroll not only became the first rookie to reach 25 and 50 but just the ninth player to do that (four have done it twice). With his blazing speed and high success rate on stolen bases (he was caught just five times), he had one of the 20 best baserunning seasons of all time, according to Baseball-Reference.com, generating 12 runs with his feet.
While Carroll emerged as one of the game’s top stars at just 22, don’t overlook what Senga did for the Mets — though as a veteran star from Japan he hardly qualifies as a traditional rookie. Relying on his nearly unhittable “ghost” forkball, Senga went 12-7 with a 2.98 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 166⅓ innings, holding batters to a .208 average. Batters hit just .110 against the forkball. Senga was even better in the second half, with a 2.44 ERA over his final 14 starts. If he can cut down on the walk rate (4.2 per nine innings), he’s a potential Cy Young candidate. — Schoenfield
Rookie of the Year must-reads:
Why Corbin Carroll is a star
American League Manager of the Year
• Bruce Bochy, Texas Rangers
• Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays
• Brandon Hyde, Baltimore Orioles
Experts’ picks: Hyde (9 votes), Bochy (4)
What to know: Now, if voting were done at the conclusion of the World Series, we know who the winner would be, but only the regular season is factored in here, making this an interesting three-way discussion — although it looks like Cash is a distant third based on our experts’ picks. Rangers GM Chris Young pulled Bochy out of a three-year retirement to give the Rangers his quiet, experienced leadership at the helm. The Rangers roared out of the gate with a 35-20 record at the end of May. They entered the final series of the season with a 2½-game lead in the AL West but lost three of four to Seattle, costing them the division title. That blip might also cost Bochy the award (which he has won once before, with the Padres in 1996).
Hyde is the favorite after the Orioles exceeded expectations for a second straight season, following up 2022’s surprising 83-win season with 101 wins, the first time the Orioles cracked the century mark since 1980. Many expected the Orioles to regress from 2022; instead, they improved by 18 wins, including an impressive 30-16 record in one-run games. In his fifth season with the Orioles, Hyde has guided the rebuild from 108 losses in 2019 and 110 in 2021 to an AL East championship. — Schoenfield
Manager of the Year must-reads:
Why Bruce Bochy might be the greatest manager ever
National League Manager of the Year
• Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers
• Skip Schumaker, Miami Marlins
• Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves
Experts’ picks: Counsell (7 votes), Schumaker (6)
What to know: There were plenty of standout managerial performances in the National League. Snitker, the 2018 winner, has finished fourth or better in the balloting for six straight years. He led the Braves to 104 wins, the franchise’s highest total in 25 years. Deploying a more consistent starting lineup than any manager in baseball, Snitker oversaw an offense that clubbed 307 homers. Still, given Atlanta’s preseason-favorite status, he feels like a long shot to add a second MOY trophy to his display case. Schumaker, a first-time manager, is more of a classic Manager of the Year candidate. The Marlins outperformed their preseason over/under consensus by 8.5 wins and their run profile by an MLB-high 9.1 wins.
Counsell, like Cash, is a fixture in the conversation about the game’s top skippers. However, while Cash is a two-time Manager of the Year winner, Counsell has never won, finishing second in the voting in 2018, 2019 and 2021. His standout statistic this season is Milwaukee’s 29-18 record in one-run contests, continuing Counsell’s annual dominance in a category many analysts see as a baseline 50-50 proposition. It’s this consistent excellence that made Counsell such a sought-after figure in a crowded managerial market, and he was ultimately poached by the Cubs to become the game’s highest-paid skipper. Conspicuous by his absence among the finalists: Cincinnati’s David Bell, whose Reds beat their preseason over/under consensus by 16.5 wins. — Doolittle
Manager of the Year must-reads:
Why Cubs stole Craig Counsell from Brewers
How Craig Counsell reset the managerial salary landscape — maybe forever