In today's post I wanted to state my predictions for the end of the year awards in MLB.
The consensus seems to believe that the award will go to Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. I believe that even though he had an amazing season helping the Rangers win their first AL West title since the 1999 season, I don't think that he's the MVP of the league. My choice for MVP is Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.
Similar to last year's vote where Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira were held to a standard where they split votes from each other since they were part of a highly offensive team the same should apply to the Texas Rangers. Hamilton batted a league high .359 with 28 HRs and 100 RBI in a lineup that included a rejuvenated Vladimir Guerrero who hit .300 with 29 HRs and 115 RBI and Nelson Cruz who hit .318 with 22 Hrs and 78 RBI. That's not even taking into account the accomplishments of Ian Kinsler and Michael Young.
On the other hand, Miguel Cabrera hit .328 with 38 HRs and 126 RBI in a lineup whose only bright spot was AL Rookie of the Year candidate Austin Jackson. It can be said that Cabrera was the main reason the Detroit Tigers finised a disappointing 81-81. Texas lost Hamilton's services for the whole month of September and went 14-10 in September. As impressive as Hamilton's season was I think Texas still ends up in a favorable position in both this year's weak AL West and in the standings (as a whole) without Hamilton than Detroit would have without Cabrera.
- NL MVP
This race is a bit more complicated to predict since there was a serious NL Triple Crown race heading into September. The trio of reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals at .312 with 48 HRs and 118 RBI, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds at .324 37 HRs and 113 RBI and the NL Batting Champion Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies at .336 with 34 HRs and 117 RBI are the main candidates for the award. Gonzalez thrived as a starter in his third season in the league though his production tailed off somewhat at the end of the season. Pujols continues to cement himself as the best player of this generation with his production at the plate. But I think that Votto will be the winner of the award since his continued rise as one of the National League's premier players was one of the main reasons that the Reds have reached the playoffs for the first time since 1995.
- AL Cy Young
This race will be the breakout race where Sabermetricians will assert their growing influence in the game. I've already discussed the position of the Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the CY Young Race. I don't want to beat a dead horse here since it was covered by me in my post Felix Hernandez for AL Cy Young? but I still can't see a pitcher who went 13-12 for a team who lost 101 games and did not pitch in one game that mattered winning the award. Both C.C. Sabathia and David Price pitched in pressure games whose teams depended on their victories on the mound. Both Sabathia at 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA and 237.2 IP with 2 complete games and 197 K's in 34 games started and Price at 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA and 208.2 IP pitched with 2 complete games and 188 K's in 32 games started in playoff type games day in and day out for their respective teams and the teams aces they pitched against. To be fair to Hernandez, he finished the season at 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA in 249.2 IP with 6 complete games and 232 K's in 34 games started.
Though I believe that C.C. Sabathia should win the award, I believe that the voters who are ardent Sabermetricians will vote Hernandez as A.L. Cy Young. In doing so, the voters will be setting a precedent by saying that wins for a starter and games pitches and won in pressure situations do not matter any longer. We'll see how this one plays out.
- NL Cy Young
This award will be awarded along more traditional lines. Both Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies and Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals with their 20-win seasons will garner the majority of the votes. Halladay actually finished at 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA and an astounding 250.0 IP with 9 complete games and 219 K's in 33 games started. Wainwright finished at 20-11 with a slightly lower 2.42 ERA in 230.1 IP with 5 complete games and 213 K's in 33 games started. Ubaldo Jimenez at 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA with 221.2 IP with 4 complete games and 214 K's in 33 games started will get some consideration but his first half record of 15-1 outshines his second half record of 4-7. Though the race looks close on paper, I think Roy Halladay joins the ranks of pitchers who have won the Cy Young in both leagues (Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens are the others who have accomplished the feat).
- AL Rookie of the Year
Though Austin Jackson of the Detroit Tigers became one of four players (Shoeless Joe Jackson, Juan Samuel and Hanley Ramirez are the other three) in the history of MLB to have 180 hits, 20 doubles, 10 triples, 25 stolen bases and 100 runs in his first season to accompany his .293 average, I believe that Texas closer Neftali Feliz will win the award. Feliz was handed the ball game in and game out and produced with a 4-3 record with a 2.73 ERA converting 40 of 43 save opportunities striking out 71 while only walking 18 helping the Rangers reach the postseason. Aside from Cliff Lee, Neftali Perez is probably the only other pitcher on the Rangers rotation that people know instantly.
- NL Rookie of the Year
This award has been much discussed at my job between Justin and myself. As of a few weeks ago, I said that Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves would win the award. Heyward hit .277 with 18 HRs and 72 RBI with 128 K's and 91 walks in 520 At-bats. But after reflecting on the numbers of San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey I think he wins the award. Posey finished the season at .305 with 18 HRs and 67 RBI with 55 K's and 30 walks in 406 at-bats (114 less that Heyward). Both players are similar in OPS with Heyward at .849 and Posey at .862 but I think Posey playing the most demanding position in baseball for a team that many people (including myself) predicted would not even make the playoffs let alone win the NL West has stood out more as the NL Rookie of the Year.
-AL Manager of the Year
I've already gave my two cents on this race with my past post The Minnesota Twins Clinch the AL Central...Again!. I think that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire deserves to win the award by piloting the Minnesota Twins to a 94-68 record and the AL Central division title. Gardenhire is a model of consistency that has led to 5 second place finishes in the AL Manager of the Year voting. If what I am reading correctly in some of the articles as of late, he might end up with a sixth second place finish.
An argument is being made for Terry Francona of the Boston Red Sox winning the award. It is amazing how the team was able to finish the season at 89-73 in a demanding AL East with the injuries that decimated the team throughout the year. But I think that the voters will elect Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington as AL Manager of the Year. Washington led the Rangers to a 90-72 record to win the AL West with a team that no one thought would win 90 games let alone the division. I feel bad for Gardenhire who as I said before deserves to finally win the award. But alas he will be the proverbial bridesmaid to Washington as the bride.
- NL Manager of the Year
This one is a bit tougher to predict since Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds at 91-71, Bruce Bochy and the San Francisco Giants at 92-70 and Bud Black of the San Diego Padres at 90-72 over-exceeded all expectations with how their teams played this season. I think Baker wins the award. The Reds rotation does not stack up to the vaunted pitching staff of Bochy's Giants headed by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Johnathan Sanchez and Barry Zito. I place Baker in a similar category as Bud Black since both teams were not expected to do much but rebuild during the 2010 season. Black will garner serious votes and consideration with how the Padres played this season but I think he falls short with how his team seemed to run out of energy at the end by losing both the NL West and the NL Wild Card to the Giants and Braves respectively.
Well, there you have it folks. In my next post, I'll look back on my pre-season predictions and see how accurate I was in my choices for who would win the divisions and wild cards.