The Envelope, Please: The Baseball Awards
Without further ado, my baseball awards: Go ahead -- tell me why I'm wrong. You know you want to.
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
When the best player in the game sets career highs in walks and stolen bases (!), and comes close in homers and RBI -- and has nearly a 100-point edge in OPS (1.101) over anyone else in the league - you simply bow before his greatness and hand over the hardware.
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, Giants
In what amounts to a three-way tie between Lincecum, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, we're going with the guy with the most shutouts, complete games and strikeouts per nine innings (10.42) - plus the lowest opponents' OPS (.561). That's dominance.
NL Rookie of the Year: J.A. Happ, Phillies
It wasn't just the .750 winning percentage (from a 12-4 record) or the 2.85 ERA (both second overall in the league). It was the fact he did it in the crucible of a pennant race, amid a rotation that seemed to be in constant flux.
NL Manager of the Year: Jim Tracy, Rockies
When Tracy took over for the fired Clint Hurdle on May 29, the Rockies were 18-28 and in last place. Since then, they have the best record in the NL and won the wild card. If he's not the Manager of the Year, we don't understand this award.
AL MVP: Joe Mauer, Twins
You can try to fabricate reasons why it should be someone else - Mark Teixeira's impact on the Yankees? Derek Jeter's lifetime achievement? - but don't overthink things: Mauer is the league's best hitter by a wide margin, plays a premium position, and plays it exceptionally well. Ballgame.
AL Cy Young: Zack Greinke, Royals
By every measure except wins, Greinke's has been an historic season. Felix Hernandez's late push for the Mariners made things interesting, but Greinke (2.16) finished with the lowest ERA by an AL starter since Pedro Martinez in 2000 (1.74).
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Bailey, Athletics
The A's closer wasn't just the most unhittable rookie in the league -- he was the most unhittable pitcher, period. Opponents batted just .167 with a .476 OPS against him. That's not good--that's sick.
AL Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire, Twins
We have nothing but admiration for what the Angels' Mike Scioscia has done in the face of tragedy and injury misfortune, but no one has gotten more mileage out of less horse than Gardy, for our money the best skipper in the game.
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