MLB Award Predictions

Jim Rosen

The 2009 Major League Baseball regular season ends this Sunday and the playoff teams are all but certain. The Yankees, Phillies, Angels, Red Sox, Dodgers and Cardinals all have their post-season berths locked up. The Tigers have all but secured the American League Central spot and the Rockies will probably win the National League Wild Card.

Without fail however, debate rages among fans and media at the end of every season because of the individual awards handed out by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Every year, Yankee fans complain about how their favorite player didn’t win the Cy Young and “compassionate” journalists complain that the worthy selection for the MVP only lost because he was on the worst team in the league. The bottom line: the selections will be made, and people won’t be happy. That being said, here are my picks (and no, I don’t expect you to be happy with them):

AL MVP: With the exception of the NL MVP, this is the most clear-cut decision possible. Mid-summer, Joe Mauer was destroying the rest of the AL in terms of hitting. Many people, however, thought that the Twins would not be competitive and Mauer’s spectacular season would be spoiled. They started throwing out names like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera and Kevin Youkilis. Now, though, with less than a week left in the season, and the Twins battling for the AL Central, Mauer seems to be the clear-cut choice for the award.

NL MVP: Albert Pujols. His team has already locked up the NL Central. He leads the league with 47 home runs. He is second in batting average and third in RBIs. The guy is, quite simply, the best hitter in the league, the most valuable player on an outstanding team, and is no slouch in the field either. There’s no way Pujols doesn’t win this race.

AL Cy Young: Now we get to the interesting races. There are many possibilities for the winner of the Cy Young. C.C. Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and Josh Beckett have all had great years, and there’s never a Cy Young race without Roy Halladay. Even closers, such as Joe Nathan, Brian Fuentes and Mariano Rivera, could be thrown into the mix. This is the year, however, where the writers look past the division leaders and pick the rightful winner. Zach Greinke, despite being on one of the worst teams in the league, has racked up sixteen wins, posted a league-leading 2.06 ERA, and will win this year’s Cy Young.

NL Cy Young: This might be the closest race for an individual award this season. It comes down to Chris Carpenter, Tim Lincecum and Adam Wainwright. Lincecum, as has been the norm throughout his young career, has been lights out. He’s posted a 2.47 ERA, struck out an astounding 254 batters, and managed to win fourteen games on a slightly above average Giants team. Although the writers will manage to overlook fewer wins in the AL, the NL Cy Young will come from the Cardinals. Carpenter and Wainwright have both dominated for the NL Central winners this year. Carpenter has produced sixteen wins and a 2.30 ERA and Wainwright has won nineteen games with a 2.58 ERA. While Carpenter has fewer wins, he has also started six fewer games than Wainwright. Due to his low ERA and production when he has been healthy, the writers will take Carpenter’s early-season DL stint into account when selecting him as the NL Cy Young winner.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeff Niemann has been outstanding for the Rays this season. As a rookie, he leads the team with twelve wins and has posted a 3.95 ERA. Brad Bergesen and Nolan Reimold have both been big for the Orioles this season. On one of the worst teams in the league, Bergesen has won seven games with a 3.43 ERA. Reimold has been a solid left-fielder, batting .279 with fifteen homeruns and 45 RBIs. The AL Rookie of the Year, however, has to be Andrew Bailey of the Oakland A’s. As their closer, he is 6-3 with 26 saves. He has put up a 1.88 ERA with a 0.90 WHIP. While other rookies have contributed well this season, Bailey takes the cake.

NL Rookie of the Year: Rookie position players have been outstanding this year in the NL. Chris Coghlan, Marlins centerfielder, has batted .318 with nine homeruns and 44 RBIs. Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee has hit 15 homeruns with 65 RBIs and a .303 batting average. Pirates right-fielder Garrett Jones has 21 homeruns, 44 RBIs and a .303 batting average. This year’s Rookie of the Year, however, will come from the starting pitchers. Randy Wells (Cubs), Tommy Hanson (Braves) and J.A. Happ (Phillies) have all won eleven games for their teams. The difference here will come from their ERAs. Wells has posted a 3.18 while Hanson has put up a 2.98. Happ wins the award, however, with a 2.79 ERA and only one less win than Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer.