To quote Rick Perry, “Oops!” Crystal is returning the Academy Awards and there is no MLB Awards Show.
Major League Baseball will continue to announce its awards each day without hoopla or fanfare unless you regard the PR machines of MLB.com and MLB-TV as a thrilling event. You would like to think that MLB, with one of their broadcasting partners (hopefully ESPN), could put together a gala with stars from the sport, entertainment, politics, pop culture, and beyond and make a special night of it.
On a night like this, not only would individual awards be given, but I say they would create some more buzz with nominees for Web Gems, Game of the Year, a salute to the World Series champs, Roberto Clemente Award winners and other players who make a difference in their community, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers, Bronze Medals (hey, don’t the teams that finish third deserve some recognition?), radio/tv call of the year, Billy-Ball.com column of the year, Fan of the Year, the Commissioner’s Award, highlights of the season, record breaking moments, remembrances of those players who passed on during the previous year, Ford Frick Award winners, milestones, anniversaries, and so much more.
You can’t tell me that ESPN would not be able to find sponsors, and baseball fans would not tune in, to an evening filled with entertainment, suspense, and seeing ballplayers dressed up. But alas it is not be, we are stuck with another mundane MLB awards trickle.
Today, November 14
AL Rookie of the Year
When in doubt go with the Rays in this category. I think that Angels’ first baseman Mark Trumbo had a really good year, but I lean towards Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson. If there is a surprise winner here it would be the Yankees’ Ivan Nova. It would be surprising because he didn’t start the season with the same buzz but he wn 16 games (with good run support). By the way, occasionally I liked Phil Humber, daily I loved Oakland’s Jemile Weeks.
NL Rookie of the Year
To me this race comes down to the Phillies starter Vance Worley who impressed every time he pitched and my pick Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel. He had 46 saves and while he ran out of steam, that wasn’t his fault. I bet Freddie Freeman gets some votes as well.
Tuesday, November 15
AL Cy Young Award
This year it should be called the “No-Brainer Award” as Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers is by far the most deserving winner of any award. Verlander was the Triple Crown winner with 24 wins, 2.40 ERA, and 250 strikeouts. He threw one no-hitter, and came close to others. This should be unanimous.
Wednesday, November 16
AL Manager of the Year
Don’t underestimate the good work that Joe Girardi did and kudos to Jim Leyland, but the best manager in baseball this past season was Tampa Bay’s Joe Maddon. While the Red Sox were collapsing, Maddon still had to keep the Rays together in September and he did it then and all season long.
NL Manager of the Year
Two first full season managers are my top choices in the NL Arizona’s Kirk Gibson, Milwaukee’s Ron Roenicke. It would have been three if Atlanta’s Fredi Gonzalez didn’t experience the great collapse. Great respect goes to St. Louis’ Tony La Russa who did what Joe Maddon did in the AL, but I think Maddon did it better and Maddon didn’t have the competition in this race that La Russa has. Who would ever thought that Kirk Gibson could get the Diamondbacks into the postseason? I know I didn’t and that’s why he’s my pick.
Thursday, November 17
NL Cy Young
This one won’t unanimous with a number of worthy contenders including Ian Kennedy, Doc Halladay and Cliff Lee, but my vote goes to the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw edged Halladay in ERA 2.28 to 2.35, edged Lee in strikeouts 248 to 238, and tied with Ian Kennedy with the most win with 21. Put this together and Kershaw was a Triple Crown winner (kinda) too.
Monday, November 21
What a great race this is:
- Jose Bautista had another great season but the rest of the Blue Jays didn’t.
- Robinson Cano had a terrific season, but I’m not even sure he’s the better of the two second basemen in the field as Dustin Pedroia was brilliant at the plate and in the field.
- For five months, Adrian Gonzalez was the hands-down MVP. As the rest of the Red Sox learned the season is six months long and Gonzo was zero when he was needed.
That leaves us with:
- Justin Verlander, who won 24 games for the Tigers, but I think you can make the argument that a number of the everyday players won more for their team by playing on a daily basis.
- Michael Young of the Rangers had a terrific season, but did not make the impact that some of the players did and that is in part how I define “valuable.”
- Offensively, Curtis Granderson had a terrific season, however a .262 batting average lessens his candidacy.
- Jacoby Ellsbury is just the fourth major leaguer to compile 200 hits, 100 RBI, 30 homers and 35 stolen bases in the same season.
- Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera, led the AL in hitting and had an OPS of 1.033 second only to Bautista’s 1.056. Like Ellsbury he had 105 RBI. They both trailed Granderson, Cano, Gonzalez, and Young. And, while he trailed in homers to Bautista (43), Granderson (41), and Ellsbury (32), Miggy still had 30. But in this season of individual excellence, not only did Cabrera lead his Tigers to the postseason, but the reason why he gets my MVP vote is that with runners in scoring position he hit .388 and RISP w/2 outs he hit .382. What’s more valuable than that?
Tuesday, November 22
There were a lot of good players with exceptional seasons in the NL but this race comes down to two players: Matt Kemp, who led the league in homers (39) and RBIs (126) and finished third in the NL batting race at .324 and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun. Braun finished just behind Jose Reyes in the batting race hitting .332. He finished fourth in the league with 111 RBI. He had 33 steals (Kemp had 40). He edged Kemp in extra-base hits 77-76 to lead the league and led in slugging with .597. Braun also helped lead his team to the postseason, while Kemp led his team to the .500 mark. Braun gets my valuable vote.
That’s our show ladies and gentlemen, thanks for watching.
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