Although Prince Fielder had a great year (second in homers and RBIs with 38 and 120 and batting .299) , this will come down to a two-man race between Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun. Based on statistics alone, Kemp should win — he led the league in home runs (39), RBIs (126) and runs (115), was second in hits (195), tied for second in stolen bases (40) and third in batting average (.324). He had a chance for the Triple Crown up until the last few days of the season. But his team did not make the playoffs, as Braun’s Brewers did. Braun was no slouch either — second in batting at .332 with 33 homers, 111 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. The conventional wisdom is that Braun will win because his team made the playoffs. I’ve never subscribed to the theory that an MVP has to come from a winning team, so I think Kemp should win and will win. Besides, the Dodgers weren’t a last place team — they finished three games above .500.
There are just too many candidates in the AL to limit it to three. Adrian Gonzalez was the favorite for most of the season, but then he lost his leads in batting and RBIs, finishing second at .338 and third with 117 RBIs. Jacoby Ellsbury (.321, 32 homers, 105 RBIs) came on strong at the end, but the Red Sox collapse will hurt both of them. Jose Bautista led the league in homers with 43, had 103 RBIs and batted .302, but the Blue Jays didn’t win. Curtis Granderson led the league with 119 RBIs to go along with 41 homers, but he hit .262. He may not have even been the MVP of the Yankees — Robinson Cano was second in RBIs with 118, hit 28 home runs and batted .302. Miguel Cabrera finished strong to win the batting title at .344, with 30 homers and 105 RBIs. He’s definitely worthy, but there doesn’t seem to be much buzz about him. He might get my vote, however. Which brings us to Justin Verlander. He won 24 games and I think he will defy those who say a pitcher should not win the MVP and take the award. I thought Ellsbury had a chance to steal it from him, but not after the Sox lost. If anyone else slides in to win it, it’ll be Cano.
NL Cy Young
Clayton Kershaw won the pitching Triple Crown — 21-5, 2.28 ERA, 248 strikeouts. This should be unanimous, but Roy Halladay will likely get some support with his 19-6, 2.35 ERA and 220 Ks. Ian Kennedy tied Kershaw for the league lead in wins. But this is all Kershaw.
AL Cy Young
Hey, Felix Hernandez was 14-14 – -why don’t we give it to him again (yes, a year later I’m still bitter about it!)? Anyway, Verlander also won the Triple Crown — 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 strikeouts. This will be unanimous. Jered Weaver and CC Sabathia (who should have won it last season) deserve a brief mention for their solid years.
This will also likely be unanimous. Craig Kimbrel set a rookie record with 46 saves, had a 2.10 ERA and a stunning 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. Sure he failed to close out game 162, but he had a tremendous year. Teammate Freddie Freeman was also very good (.282, 21 homers, 76 RBIs). Vance Worley was 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA. Dillon Gee led all NL rookies with 13 wins and I tried to get his picture up there, but his 4.43 ERA dropped him behind Worley. Sorry.
This might be the closest race of all. Mark Trumbo led all rookies in homers (29) and RBIs (87). But he hit .254. Eric Hosmer led rookies in batting at .293 to go along with 19 home runs and 78 RBIs. Ivan Nova was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA and was a key member of the Yankees rotation despite spending time in the minors. Trumbo was also a key member of the Angel’s lineup. I think Trumbo will win, although I would vote for Nova.
Photos courtesy ESPN.com