MLB offseason is now in full swing as transactions and contract decisions have been getting announced across the league, including for the Brewers. But that is not all the offseason action that fans have to look forward to over the coming days.
Next week, MLB will announce finalists for some of the league’s major awards, as well as winners for some others. And just like in recent seasons, the Milwaukee Brewers will have some members in contention for some of this hardware.
We already know that the Crew has a couple Gold Glove finalists, as was announced last week. But this coming week, fans should also find out that the team has finalists for NL Manager of the Year as well as NL Cy Young.
Five Milwaukee Brewers in particular have a good to great chance at pulling a win on some of the major upcoming awards. But whose chances at winning is realistic and whose is more of a pipe dream?
Here is a ranking of the likelihood of five different Brewers to win 2021 MLB awards.
1. Josh Hader – NL Reliever of the Year
At what point does MLB just rename this the Josh Hader NL Reliever of the Year award? No disrespect to the legendary Trevor Hoffman, whose name currently adorns the trophy, but it feels like constantly winning award means it gets to be renamed in your honor, no?
Hader previously won the award in 2018 and 2019 before stepping aside for a Devin Williams win last year. And after leading all qualified NL relievers in fWAR (2.7), K/9 (15.65), and finishing second in ERA (1.23), it looks extremely likely that he will win the award for the third time in his five seasons in the league, a pretty amazing achievement.
Chances of winning: very strong
2. Corbin Burnes – NL Cy Young
Ask just about any Brewers fan and they will tell you that there should be no doubt that Corbin Burnes will bring home just the team’s third Cy Young ever. And if you look at the numbers – 7.5 fWAR (1st in NL), 2.43 ERA (1st), 12.61 K/9 (1st), 0.38 HR/9 (1st) – it should be hard to disagree.
And yet, a Burnes win isn’t exactly a sure thing. The Dodgers’ Max Scherzer, who is likely the main competition, was named NL Outstanding Pitcher by the MLBPA in their players’ choice awards. Zack Wheeler, who looked fantastic this year for the Phillies, will also garner some votes. Still, if the BBWAA goes by the numbers, this should be Burnes’ award to lose.
Chances of winning: above average
3. Kolten Wong – NL Gold Glove, second base
When the Brewers recommitted to defense last offseason, one of the moves the team made was to bring in a two-time Gold Glove winner at second base in Kolten Wong. The move worked exactly as expected, with the former Cardinal providing 116 games of stellar defense at the position in 2021.
That strong defense has Wong in line for a third consecutive Gold Glove win next week. His strongest competition will come from the Cardinals’ Tommy Edman, who had some impressive defensive metrics in his own right. But like Hader and Burnes, Wong should be the frontrunner.
Chances of winning: above average
4. Craig Counsell – NL Manager of the Year
How on earth does Brewers skipper Craig Counsell not have an NL Manager of the Year win to his name yet? Since taking over the job about a month into the 2015 season, all he has done is lead Milwaukee to the postseason in four of his six full seasons as manager, including an ongoing franchise record streak of four straight appearances as of the 2021 season.
Yet, Counsell keeps coming up empty. And though the Brewers outplayed most expectations with a 95-win season, Gabe Kapler leading the Giants to a 107-win season seemingly out of nowhere could mean yet another runner-up for Counsell for the award this season.
Chances of winning: average
5. Jackie Bradley Jr – NL Gold Glove, center field
Brought in partially to cover expected missed games by outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain in 2021, Jackie Bradley Jr garnered plenty of playing time, playing in 117 games for the Brewers and starting 99. That, combined with his stellar defensive play, earned him status as a Gold Glove finalist for Milwaukee last year.
While it would be nice to see him add a second Gold Glove to his mantle, the Cardinals’ Harrison Bader likely has the edge when you look at the defensive metrics. However, with Bradley Jr exercising his 2022 contract option to stay in Milwaukee, perhaps Brewers fans will see him get nominated for the award once again next season.
Chances of winning: below average
The first winner of the above awards to be announced next week will be Reliever of the Year on Wednesday with the rest to follow. We’ll see which deserving Brewers get added to the franchise history books as MLB award winners.