We asked 27 of our experts to give us their predictions for who will win baseball’s four majors awards — Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young and MVP. Manager of the Year will be announced Tuesday night. There were clear favorites in both leagues, but all of the finalist received some support.
Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
2017 record: 102-60
Overall managerial record: 1483-1269 (17 seasons)
Cleveland’s 102 wins in 2017 was it’s most in a season since 1954 and included an American League-record 22-game winning streak. Francona has won AL Manager of the Year twice in Cleveland, in 2013 and 2016. In five seasons with the Indians, Francona’s record is 454-354 (.562 winning percentage). Overall as a manager — Philly (1997-200), Boston (2004-2011), Cleveland (2013-2017) — Francona is 1483-1269 in the regular season.
A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros
2017 record: 101-51
Overall managerial record: 360-338 (parts of five seasons)
In his third season in Houston, Hinch led the Astros to the second-highest win total in franchise history (102 in 1998 is the highest). It doesn’t count toward Manager of the Year voting, but Hinch and the Astros capped off their 101-win season with the first World Series title in franchise history. The Astros have had a winning record in all three seasons that Hinch has been the manager.
Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins
2017 record: 85-77
Overall managerial record: 227-259 (three seasons)
In three seasons in Minnesota, Molitor has finished with a winning record twice (2015 and 2017) and the worst record in baseball once (2016). The Twins improved their win total from 2016 (59) by 26 games in 2017, making the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Expert picks: Molitor — 16; Hinch — 9; Francona — 2
Bud Black, Colorado Rockies
2017 record: 87-75
Overall managerial record: 736-788 (nine-plus seasons)
Black managed the Rockies to the playoffs in his first season in Colorado, helping the Rockies to their first winning season since 2010 and first playoff appearance since 2009. Black managed the Padres for eight-plus seasons before being fired in the middle of 2015.
Torey Lovullo, Arizona Diamondbacks
2017 record: 93-69
Overall managerial record: 93-69
The Diamondbacks raised their win total by 24 — from 69 to 93 — in Lovullo’s first season in the desert and made the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Prior to heading to Arizona, Lovullo spent four seasons as bench coach with the Red Sox.
Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers
2017 record: 104-58
Overall managerial record: 195-129 (two seasons)
Roberts won the National League Manager of the Year award after his first season at the helm of the Dodgers. In his second season, the Dodgers set the franchise record since moving to Los Angeles for wins in a season.
Expert picks: Lovullo — 22; Roberts — 3; Black — 2
Who should win the award in the American League, and who will win?
It’s hard to ignore what Paul Molitor did with the Twins, as they went from worst record in the majors to winning 85 games and earning a wild card. He deserves credit for handling Byron Buxton after Buxton hit .201 through May. By the end of the season, he looked like a star. Molitor somehow massaged a pitching staff that had only two good starters into a playoff team. I think Molitor probably does win, as the Indians (Terry Francona) and Astros (A.J. Hinch) were both expected to win their divisions — although if either of Francona or Hinch win, they’ll deserve it as well. — David Schoenfield
Paul Molitor should win. Not only did he pilot the Twins from 103 losses in 2016 to 85 wins and an AL wild-card berth, saving his job in the process, but he kept disgruntled players believing after management behaved like a seller at the trade deadline. As managerial performances go, it doesn’t get much better. But Terry Francona will win, not that he’s a poor choice. Bear in mind that votes were due at the end of the regular season, and after their record winning streak, the Cleveland Indians were the toast of the American League in September. — Scott Lauber
So much depends on who this year’s voters are. While A.J. Hinch should win and is the guy I expect will win if we don’t get a broken-up ballot, I could see Molitor getting it out of simple respect for steering his team to the AL wild-card game. — Christina Kahrl
Who should win the award in the National League, and who will win?
Everyone expected the Diamondbacks to be better in Torey Lovullo’s first season, but not 24 wins better. He got great work from Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley, but his most impressive work was with the bullpen, which improved from a 4.94 ERA to 3.78. Dave Roberts has a great case as well after winning 104 games, but he won last year, so the voters probably will lean to Lovullo. — Schoenfield
Lovullo will win because this award has turned into a simple math equation: X – Y = Z, where X is current year’s win total, Y is previous year’s win total, and MOY goes to the skipper of the club with the highest Z. But the only reason AZ has crazy Z is because they underachieved last year. Black should win for convincing the Rockies that they weren’t toast after their midseason swoon, and for successfully navigating the NL West minefield with a roster that paled in comparison to that of its rivals. — Matz
Bud Black should win, hands down. Could anyone else simultaneously get so much value out of a rotation stocked with rookie replacements — in Coors Field — after almost all of their initially projected starting five were wiped out by injury and illness during the opening months? But I expect that Dave Roberts will be the man with the trophy, again, to become the first repeat winner in consecutive seasons since Bobby Cox with the Braves in 2004-05. — Kahrl
What manager that wasn’t a finalist (in either league) deserved to be?
I’d have gone with the same three finalists in each league. Joe Girardi did a nice job with the Yankees, especially as they went 20-9 the final month to secure a playoff spot, but he seems to rank fourth in the AL. Dusty Baker and Joe Maddon guided their teams to the playoffs, but the Nationals did what they should have done in a bad division and the Cubs struggled for half a season before turning it on. Craig Counsell did a nice job with the Brewers and arguably deserved to be a finalist over Bud Black, but Black deserves credit working with a rotation that at one point had four rookie starters. — Schoenfield
Craig Counsell. The Brewers? Really? Everyone thought they would fade, and they never really did. Not even when they lost their two best starters (Chase Anderson and Jimmy Nelson) from a rotation that couldn’t afford to lose its two best starters. — Matz
Craig Counsell of the Brewers deserved to be in the mix, because while preseason expectations for Milwaukee were low, Counsell is recognized as a guy with a great future in the dugout. But then he helped get that team into the wild-card picture down the stretch while showing a lot of flexibility with his lineups and milking what he could out of his pitching. Several young players had big breakthroughs to boot, which speaks well for his future integrating young talent into an improving team. I don’t envy this year’s NL voters, because there were at least four good choices, but Counsell is the one I would have struggled the most to pick Black over. — Kahrl
Who do you think will have the most success of all the new managers?
The Red Sox are still loaded with young talent. If Alex Cora can withstand the cauldron that is managing in Boston, he could be the guy to get the most out of those young players and get the Red Sox back to the World Series. — Schoenfield
Without knowing who it will be, the New York Yankees’ next manager is going to really have to screw things up to not be successful. Think about it: Whoever gets the job will inherit a turnkey lineup that is centered around Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Masahiro Tanaka has already committed to coming back; the bullpen is deep and potentially dominant; there’s good chemistry in the clubhouse. Oh, and top prospect Gleyber Torres is on the way. — Lauber
Counsell, as a function of his relative youth (at 47 years old) and demonstrated adaptability. He has already helped GM David Stearns bring the Brewers further faster than anybody expected, and we should have every reason to expect he’ll have a great run in Milwaukee. I’d put him in that Jim Leyland or Terry Francona category — he’ll be as successful as possible with the Brewers as they were with the Pirates and Phillies (their first jobs), later becoming a great candidate for other gigs (as Leyland was with the Marlins and Tigers or Francona with the Red Sox and Indians). — Kahrl