This is going to be an interesting awards season for MLB. Except for one award, there really is no clear-cut winner in any of these races. You can make legitimate cases for several candidates. Here’s my take:
Gonzalez Pujols Votto
At different points during the summer, it looked like either of these three were going to win the Triple Crown. In the end, none did. Albert Pujols led in home runs and RBIs with 42/118 and tied for fifth in batting at .312. Carlos Gonzalez led in batting at .336. He was also fourth in homers and second in RBIs with 34/117. Joey Votto was second in batting at .324, third in both homers and RBIs with 37/113. Their numbers are all pretty much even, and they are all worthy. Because of that, the player on the winning team will probably get the edge, and that would be Votto of the NL Central champion Reds. I would have a hard time voting for Votto because he didn’t lead any of the major categories. I think Gonzalez should win, based on leading the league in batting. Pujols of course has the better power numbers, but he was outhit by Gonzalez by 24 points. But Votto will likely win, and that won’t be a horrible thing.
Bautista Cabrera Hamilton
Jose Bautista obviously has the better power numbers, leading the league in homers with 54. He was also third in RBIs with 124. But he hit .260 — that’s too low for an MVP, especially one from a losing team. Miguel Cabrera had an all-around solid season, leading the league in RBIs with126, finishing second in batting at .328, and third in homers with 38. Josh Hamilton led the league in batting at .359, tied for fifth in homers with 32 and had 100 RBIs. But he missed the last month of the season with injury. That could cost him some votes. There is precedent for missing a month and winning the award — Joe Mauer did it last season with very similar numbers. But he was out in April, not September. Regardless, I think Hamilton gets it because the Rangers won the division. But I would vote for Cabrera.
NL Cy Young
Halladay Jimenez Wainwright
Could two players have more identical numbers? Here’s Roy Halladay’s line: 21-10, 2.44 era, 219 strikeouts. Adam Wainwright was 20-11, 2.42 era, 213 strikeouts. Halladay has more innings and fewer walks in the same numbers of games (33), and that will likely give him the edge. It’s too bad because Wainwright probably deserved to win last season, and was worthy again this time around. Ubaldo Jimenez was the early favorite, He faded a bit, but he still had a great season.
AL Cy Young
Lester Price Sabathia
This one should go to CC Sabathia. He was 21-7, tied for sixth in ERA with 3.18 and sixth in strikeouts with197. David Price was 19-6, 2.72 ERA and 188 strikeouts. Jon Lester was 19-9, 3.25 era, and third in strikeouts with 225. To me, Sabathia is the easy choice, but a lot of people are making noise about Felix Hernandez. Hernandez was a very underwhelming 13-12, but he led the league with a 2.27 ERA and was second with 232 strikeouts. The sabermetrics crowd loves his other stats — WHIP, WIN, VORP or whatever other crap. But there is no way a pitcher with 13 wins should get the Cy Young (which is why I refused to put his picture up there). If that happens, the sabermetricians win, and I’m done.
NL Rookie of the Year
Davis Garcia Heyward Posey Sanchez
I tried to limit these to three candidates, but I just couldn’t do it for this award. There were so many good rookies in the National League this year it’s a shame only one award will be given out. Jason Heyward will likely win it with his strong start that included an All Star berth, and strong finish that helped the Braves get into the playoffs. Gaby Sanchez actually had slightly better stats, but he toiled in virtual anonymity in Florida. Buster Posey is the most deserving in my opinion, sparking the Giants to the NL West title. He didn’t come up to the majors until May 29th, so that hurts his candidacy. And of course there’s the Mets’ Ike Davis, who was very solid. If the hitters split the vote, Jaime Garcia could slip in. He’s certainly worthy– 13-8 with a 2.70 era, which was fourth in the league. And I’m leaving out Starlin Castro, Mike Stanton, Tyler Colvin, and John Axford, who all had excellent rookie years.
AL Rookie of the Year
Boesch Feliz Jackson
This is the easy one — Neftali Feliz set an all-time rookie record with 40 saves. He should win unanimously. It was believed Brennan Boesch had this all wrapped-up by the All Star break when he was hitting .342. But a steady decline over the second half left him with a .256 average. Austin Jackson had a solid season, hitting .293 with 27 stolen bases.