I'm still formulating my opinion of both American and National League Cy Young award winners so for now I'll post my predictions for American and National League MVP. Let me start with the senior circuit first.
As with National League Manager of the year, I think this one is a no-brainer. Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals will win his 3rd MVP award (2005, 2008). Pujols once again showed how dominating he can be by batting .327 with 47hrs and 135rbi. He also scored 124 runs, hit 45 doubles, 1 triple and working 159 walks (44 intentional) while only striking out 64 times, which to me is astonishing that a power hitter of Pujols caliber only strikes out approximately 60 times a year. Pujols also stole 16 bases while only being caught 4 times. Pujols also lead the league with an OPS of 1.101 (.658 SLG% and .443 OBP%). Pujols won his 5th National League Silver Slugger and second consecutive award for a 1st baseman. Defensively he was rock solid at 1st base, though his error total of 13 was an increase from last years total of 6 errors.
A distant second place will be Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins. Ramirez led the league with a .342 batting average while hitting 24hrs and 104rbi. He scored 101 runs, hit 42 doubles, 1 triple, stole 27 bases and walked 75 times (14 intentional). Ramirez struck out 101 times. Ramirez won the NL Silver Slugger for a Shortstop for the 2nd consecutive year. Defensively, Ramirez was solid at short making only 10 errors.
Though the Marlins had a surprising year finishing 87-75 (.537) for 2nd place in the NL East, 6 games behind the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies, the St. Louis Cardinals do not make the playoffs without Pujols. Pujols carried the team offensively until the Cardinals acquired Matt Holliday in a mid-season trade with the Oakland A's. On to the American League.
The race for American League MVP is tighter since there are more candidates for the award. Out of the top four candidates of Joe Mauer, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Kendry Morales, I believe the winner will be Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.
Mauer led the league with a .365 batting average while hitting career highs of 28hrs and 96rbi. Mauer scored 94 runs, hit 30 doubles, 1 triple, walking 90 times (14 intentional) while striking out 63 times earning the American League Silver Slugger for a Catcher for the 2nd consecutive year. Mauer led the American League with an OPS of 1.031 (.587 SLG% and .444 OBP%) and was only second to Albert Pujols in the entire league. Defensively, Mauer threw out 26% of potential base stealers (19 of 54) while committing only 3 errors and 9 passed balls winning the American League Gold Glove for catchers for the 2nd consecutive year.
Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees batted .334 with 18hrs and 66rbi. Jeter scored 107 runs, hit 27 doubles, 1 triple, stealing 30 bases and walking 76 times (4 intentional) while striking out 90 times. Jeter earned his 4th consecutive American League Silver Slugger award for a shortstop. Defensively, Jeter had a career year at short committing only 8 errors (down from 12 in 2008 and 18 in 2007) in 150 games earning his 4th American League Gold Glove award (2004, 2005, 2006).
Mark Teixeira also of the New York Yankees batted .292 with a league leading 39hrs (tied with Carlos Peña of the Tampa Bay Rays) and 122rbi. Teixeira scored 103 runs, hit 43 doubles, 3 triples and walking 90 times (9 intentional) while striking out 114 times earning his 3rd American League Silver Slugger (2004, 2005). Defensively, committed 4 errors in 150 games at 1st base for the Yankees earning his 3rd American League Gold Glove award (2004, 2005). Teixeira's defensive prowess added stability to a position that was lacking in the last number of years for the Yankees.
The dark horse in the American League race for MVP is Kendry Morales of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Morales was initially seen as a unknown replacement for Mark Teixeira (who signed with the Yankees in the offseason). What the Angels recieved was a future superstar who more than filled Texiera's shoes. In his first full time season in the league, Morales batted career highs of .306, 34hrs and 108rbi. Morales scored 86 runs, hit 43 doubles, 2 triples and walking 56 times (10 intentional) while striking out 117 times. Defensively, Morales committed 8 errors 152 games at 1st base. Morales more than adequately replaced Teixeira in both the lineup and field for the Angels.
Mauer was able to amass career highs while missing the first 5 weeks of the season playing the most demanding position in baseball while playing for a team that year in and year out is mostly devoid of superstar talent (compared to the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels) and adeptly manages a young pitching staff which with a different catcher may not succeed. Mauer also filled the void in the lineup left by the injury to Justin Morneau with three weeks remaining in the season leading the Twins to a 17-4 record to end the season. Even more amazing was that the Twins were coming back from three games down with four to play to force a division tie a dramatic 1 game playoff against the Detroit Tigers to win the AL Central title. Though Jeter and Teixeira were pivotal parts of the World Champion Yankees, Jeter is hindered by having tremendous talent on both the offensive and defensive side of the field. Teixeira on the other hand, had a very slow start adapting to a new enviornment playing in New York and not having the offensive back-up in the lineup until Alex Rodriguez returned from hip surgery in May. With Rodriguez's return, Teixeira saw better pitches and started to produce. Morales shows that he is a superstar in the making and will only get better in a lineup where he will become more prominent with the impeding free agency departure of Vladimir Guerrero. In the end, though Jeter is the sentimental favorite to win his 1st MVP, Mauer will win the award. We'll see who wins after Tuesday the 24th of November.
For more information on these awards and others, please check out the following link: 2009 MLB Awards on MLB.com Any suggestions and comments are always welcome. So feel free to add to this and any other blog posts.