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MLB predictions: AL, NL and Cy Young award winners

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This past Tuesday, the finalists were announced for the Baseball Writers' Association of America's annual awards.

Amongst them, the Most Valuable Player finalists, the Cy Young finalists, and the Rookie of the Year finalists.

This past season was one of the strongest pitching seasons in recent memory and the Cy Young races this year are nothing but tight. All six candidates are equally deserving in their own ways.

Let's take a look at who could come out on top...

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American League

American League Finalists: David Price, Dallas Keuchel, and Sonny Gray
Predicted AL Cy Young Winner: Dallas Keuchel
Runner-up: David Price

There is no denying that all three of these finalists had amazing seasons. When it comes to setting the three apart it comes to looking at the situation of the finalists during the season.

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Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics

While Sonny Gray had an excellent season, the Athletics did not. Gray was their bright spot in an otherwise sad season. He began the season on a high note, pitching a few dominant games and then faltering slightly.

By no means did he fall off the radar, but he wasn't performing how he had been and wasn't as consistent as the other two finalists. Dallas Keuchel for example, while Gray was selected for the All-Star game, Keuchel was selected to start the game. 

Cutting it to two finalists

Just a few years ago, the Houston Astros were the joke of the National League. They sat in the cellar of the NL Central for years on end, with dismal season after dismal season.

After their move to the American League, they've fared better, but few could have predicted that they would have made the postseason in 2015. A big factor behind their success was their ace, Dallas Keuchel.

To understand why Keuchel deserves the Cy Young, you need to look at where he was playing.

He entered the Houston organization in 2009 and since then has risen to where he is now, their ace. He took home three AL Pitcher of the Month awards, in what was a special season for both him and the Astros.

What makes his season more impressive is that he had it for a team that was expected to do little this year. Not only that but when things started looking up for the Astros, Keuchel matched it.

Forget the pressure of being an ace, he now had the pressure of continuing and matching the success of the team.

When it came time to pitch the AL Wild Card game he shut down the Yankees in enemy territory and he did not let his first postseason shake him during the ALDS, staying the same dominant pitcher he had been the entire season for the Astros.

This is what sets Keuchel apart from David Price.

David Price began the season in Detroit and then was brought to Toronto to help them seal the AL East. Price pitched much better than his counterparts in Detroit and didn't slow down in Toronto, but the Blue Jays weren't a team touted to struggle, like the Astros were.

Coming to a new team, there is always pressure and there is always added incentive to do well and Price did anything, but disappoint. Yet, whereas Keuchel was a consistent constant for the Astros, Price had his few shaky moments in the season and the postseason.

Winner

When it boils down to it, Keuchel had a better performance considering where he was pitching and the situation and pressure he was under.

He not only helped turn the Astros into a postseason team but helped get them there in the first place. Price was placed in a winning environment to help continue the winning and didn't necessarily do much to "lead" the Jays to the postseason.

National League

National League Finalists: Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw
Predicted NL Cy Young Winner: Jake Arrieta

While almost all of the awards this year have tight races, there seems to be none closer than the NL Cy Young award.

All three of this year's finalists have had seasons for the record books and it's a throw up for who will win.

All three finalists come from postseason teams and all three can be considered aces, even though two come from the same team. But similarly to the American League, the situation has to be looked at when deciding a winner for this year's Cy Young award.

Just to get an idea of how close this race really is, the statistics can be looked at.

The three finalists led baseball in ERA, WHIP, and hits/9 IP. This trio took their games to entirely new levels, ones that will make the decision harder and harder for the BBWAA.

What sets Jake Arrieta apart as the winner is similar to what sets Dallas Keuchel apart - the situation he was in as a player.

Arrieta pitches for the Cubs, a team that is constantly touted to finish in the bottom half of the NL Central. Arrieta helped lead them to the NLCS this season with little help from the other pitchers on the team.

While the Cubs thrived on young, offensive talent this season their pitching struggled, yet when someone mentions the 2015 Cubs, many people think straight to Jake Arrieta.

While the Cubs offense was undoubtedly surprising and powerful this season, their pitching struggled and Arrieta still prevailed to help bring the Cubs to the postseason.

He was this constant for the team. When they needed a win he delivered. He had the pressure of being the pitcher the Cubs fell back on when things weren't going well and he repeatedly delivered, no matter the team they were facing.

Arrieta rose to the occasion time and time again for a team that was surprising everyone in baseball. While the entire team was enjoying success, he had to be the bright spot for the otherwise average pitching staff. This is makes him so special and so deserving of the award.

Forget the near second no-hitter he threw and his numbers that made batters scared, Arrieta stood up when the odds were against him and quieted any doubters.

There is no denying that Greinke and Kershaw had Cy Young caliber seasons, but they were in an environment that was completely different.

For starters, they had each other and the weight on each of their shoulders was slightly less than what Arrieta was carrying around.

Throw in the well-roundedness of the Dodgers and the fact that they truly had a championship team within themselves, you realize how astounding Arrieta really was.

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Topics:
MLB National League
MLB American League
MLB

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