MLB Awards Watch: An early look at the battle of the Angels for AL MVP and a tight NL Cy Young race

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While we may be only a month into the 2022 MLB regular season, certain stars have already jumped ahead in the races for baseball's biggest individual awards.

Manny Machado is making his case for why he should be the Most Valuable Player in the National League, though don't count out Nolan Arenado, back to his Colorado form in his second season in St. Louis. In the American League, Mike Trout is battling reigning MVP -- and Angels teammate -- Shohei Ohtani for the honor. There are some exciting new faces among the familiar ones in both Cy Young races, without a clear-cut front-runner yet.

There's plenty of baseball left to play -- but it's never too early for awards predictions. So for the first time this season, ESPN MLB experts Bradford Doolittle and David Schoenfield are checking in on these races in this month's Awards Watch.

A statistical glimpse of the races is provided using Doolittle's AXE ratings. The ratings are prorated for 162 games using season-to-date results, plus a rest-of-season forecast based on anticipated playing time and 2022 performance. Playing time estimates are based on depth chart data from Fangraphs.com.