Now that the World Series is over, and with no game 7 to watch tonight (maybe next year), soon the awards for regular-season achievement will start to be announced. I have my picks ready.
Most Valuable Player
NL: Albert Pujols
AL: Alex Rodriguez
I don’t see there being much room for argument here, though there will be arguments, especially in the AL, where some will say David Ortiz. But Rodriguez had a better all around year, offensively. Plus he plays a tough defensive position, and plays it well, whereas Ortiz is a DH. I am not opposed to DHs winning the MVP, but the bar should be set higher, because they by definition have no defensive value.
NL: Chris Carpenter
AL: Johan Santana
I would have gone with Clemens, had he held up a bit better down the stretch. (Postseason does not enter into these awards, or he would really be out.) It is hard to ignore that 1.89 ERA, but his innings total was relatively low (211.1) and the ERA went up late in the season from its ridiculously low level at midseason (1.48 before the All Star break, 2.42 after). Carpenter is deserving, with a 2.83 ERA in over 240 innings and a K:BB ratio around 4:1. Dontrelle Wills is deserving, too, but he pitches in a more favorable ballpark. In the AL, it will probably go to Bartolo Colon, but I watched him closely all year, and other than a couple of stretches, he was never dominant. His ERA (3.48) shows it, and is too high for Cy. Sanata is the best of the remaining candidates (2.87, 238 Ks, 45 BBs).
Rookie of the Year
AL: Gustavo Chacin
NL: Ryan Howard
I am pretty sure neither of these guys will win the real award. I assume the AL award will go to Robinson Cano of the Yankees, and he would not be a bad choice. But for me it comes down to two starting pitchers, Chacin of Toronto or Joe Blanton of Oakland. They are very close, and I could have gone either way. Chacin pitched in a tougher environment (Skydome) and had very marginally better stats (much better in W-L, but I hardly consider that at all, because the pitcher has so much less control over it). In the NL, I do not see how Howard’s performance (.356 OBP, .567 SLG, 22 homers) can be ignored, despite playing just over half a season (313 ABs).
Managers of the Year
The awards really ought to go to Joe Torre and Bobby Cox. They had to piece together teams that could have fallen apart at any time, given injuries and all the rookies (especially in Atlanta) that had to be called up. With Leo Mazzone no longer rocking at Cox’s side, I guess we will finally get an idea how much of the Braves’ success has been Mazzone and how much Cox.