American League MVP: Robinson Cano. I know, it's far fetched. But, I expect Cano's work with Long this offseason will help him a lot. There have been so many reports that Cano wasn't really "bad" in 08, he was just very unlucky. He has the potential to be a hitting champion, and can probably hit 20+ homeruns. If Robby can be a little more selective, his OBP will rise and you can bet his average will too, as he will be swinging at more hittable pitches. With the Yankees' strong lineup, if Cano can hit he will most likely be moved up in the lineup, and get some form of protection behind him from either Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, or Xavier Nady. With those guys, A-Rod, and Tex hitting in front of him, he will most likely see a nice spike in his RBI's, which some baseball writers who vote for MVP still consider an indicator of a player's ability, thus resulting in more votes for Robby. And we all know writers like to peg a players' candidacy on whether or not they play for a playoff contender, and the Yanks are most certainly going to be in the pennant race.
National League MVP: Hanley Ramirez. I think the Marlins have the best team in the NL East. With Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad, and Josh Johnson in their rotation, and Hanley, Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, and Jeremy Hermida in the lineup, I say this team wins the NL East. So there's the contender component. Next, we all know that writers always love the old school stats of batting average and home runs. Well, Hanley hit 33 homers in 08, and batted .301. In 07 he hit .332 and had 29 homers. For the writers that like newer age stats Hanley's OBP in 08 was .400 and he slugged .540. His defense improved and just being a shortstop ups his value. With the new trend of emphasis on youth and athleticism, Hanley gains more points. He swiped 35 bases in 08, and 51 in both 06 and 07. Hanley is a god in the eyes of fantasy owners, and we will see him carry that status to the national stage this year.
AL Cy Young: Francisco Liriano. We all saw Liriano absolutely dominate in 06. He spent most of 08 in the minors, after struggling in the bigs early on, but in August he had a 1.23 ERA, before a less impressive 4.66 ERA in 5 September starts. He has seen flashes of brilliance, and expect him to sustain that for his first full big league season. He is young and has already dealt with injuries, which means that like AJ Burnett claims he has done, Liriano has learned to keep himself healthy. With Joe Nathan as his closer, Liriano won't have to worry about the 'pen blowing too many of his wins.
NL Cy Young: Cole Hamels. Hamels showed his brilliance in the post-season as well as over the course of the regular season. He had 196 strikeouts in 08, with a 3.09 ERA. Hamel has proved durable and reliable, and is amiazingly talented. With Tim Lincecum's crazy delivery, it seems plausible that he might run into injury, which is why I suggest that Hamels will beat him out for the Cy. At 25 Hamels is entering his prime, and with the confidence of having shown he can conduct himself on the big stage, expect him to blow the league away in 09.
More Predictions to come....