|Rookies of the Year. Craig Kimbrel (L), Jeremy Hellickson (R)|
Yesterday Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel won the 2011 Rookie of the Year award for the American and National Leagues respectively. Kimbrel won the award unanimously for a season which included setting a Major League record for saves by a rookie with 46 and was an easy choice for voters. Hellickson was also deserving of this award beating out Anaheim's Mark Trumbo for the honor.
Today I believe the AL Cy Young Award winner will be announced. I'm going to list my predictions for the rest of the awards with a quick little explanation for each. Let's see how I do.
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
This one is obvious and nobody even comes close to matching the performance from the big righty from Detroit. The man went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, pitched a no-hitter during the season, and led the Tigers to another AL Central crown. This should be a unanimous decision.
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw led the NL in Wins (21), ERA (2.28), K's (248). Leading the league in those categories means that Kershaw won the pitching triple crown in the senior circuit. Case Closed.
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays
After losing Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Peña, and Joaquin Benoit, Joe Maddon still managed to lead his team to the playoffs. Maddon certainly had to work much harder to keep his team in games and had to deal with injuries to their best player, Evan Longoria. It took a collapse from the Boston Red Sox but Maddon kept his team playing hard through September and the season's last game to win the AL Wild Card. Job well done Joe!
NL Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, Arizona Diamondbacks
Leading a team to 94 wins and a NL West title after coming off of back to back 90-loss seasons is just remarkable. This was a team nobody expected to do well at the beginning of the season and most would have been content with a 3rd place finish let alone finishing 1st. Gibson was the right choice as manager for this young ballclub and deserves this award.
AL Most Valuable Player: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
This one gets controversial with Verlander being a pitcher. I may be biased as a pitcher myself but this guy just had one special season which should not be overlooked. The baseball purists won't vote for a pitcher out of general principle so this award will more likely be dished out to a hitter. The problem with this is that there are too many choices and the votes are going to be spread out so widely that a true MVP won't be decided on, turning this more into a popularity contest with Verlander sitting in the corner. Cases can be made for Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez and Ellsbury are going to split votes between baseball writers in the Boston market. If you go purely by stats then Jose Bautista should be the clear cut choice. This one will be interesting to see.
NL Most Valuable Player: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
Two men prevented Matt Kemp from winning the NL Triple Crown. Jose Reyes and Ryan Braun had batting averages higher than Kemp's .324 and other than that Kemp led the NL in HR (39) and RBI (126). Kemp was pretty much the only offense the Dodgers had which can explain how the team could have both the MVP and CY Young award winners on one team and still be a terrible team. Baseball is funny that way and just goes to show how a collective team effort is more important than individual performances.