Alright folks, the regular seasons have finally come to a close, and just like the AL Central and NL Wild Card, most of the league awards races came down to the wire and are open for debate. Of course, here at Joe & Joe Sports, we don't leave things open for debate; we take a stand and make a pick. So here we go, my picks for each of the three major awards in each league for the 2008 season (I decided not to pick a manager of the year; sue me):
AL MVP - Alex Rodriguez - I'm sure you'd all like this to be someone else, but the numbers are there. And before you go shouting about "They didn't make the playoffs!", tell me who you'd like to give the award to. Among playoff teams, you'd be looking at Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, and I just don't see it in either of them. Josh Hamilton was definitely the 1st half MVP, but the award is for the whole season. A-Rod is my pick.
AL Cy Young - Cliff Lee - This became more of a race at the end than I realized, but I'm still giving the nod to Cliff Lee. Lee led the league in ERA, wins, winning percentage, tied for the lead in shutouts, was second in complete games, and was in the top 10 in Ks. Worth mentioning, though, is Roy Halladay, who had a great season in his own right, notching 20 wins, more Ks than Lee, and placing first in complete games with 9, more than double the second place Lee (4).
AL Rookie of the Year - Evan Longoria - The only real no-brainer in the bunch. Chicago's Alexei Ramirez put together a nice season, but Longoria was perhaps the best hitter on the historic Rays team that's become everybody's darling outside of the northeast corridor.
NL MVP - Albert Pujols - Lance Berkman was the likely winner for the first 4 months of the season, but Pujols climbed steadily into the discussion (as he always does). Then, when Berkman went cold for the last two months, Pujols hit stride and brought his batting average all the way up to .357, finishing second behind Chipper Jones. Pujols led the majors in slugging percentage, and proved once again that he's one of the greatest hitters of our time.
NL Cy Young - Brandon Webb - Listen, Tim Lincecum is a great pitcher. So is Johan Santana, and so is Cole Hamels. But none of them are 20-game winners, and Webb is. In fact, Webb is a 22-game winner, tying him for the major league lead with the aforementioned Lee. Webb also had a solid K rate and a good ERA and WHIP. In terms of Ks, and ERA, and WHIP, all three of those guys were better than Webb. But nobody came close to him in wins, and when you're a starting pitcher, your job is to win games, and Webb did that better than anyone this year.
One final note. If we were naming the fantasy Cy Young, Webb would be behind Lincecum, Lee, Halladay, and C.C Sabathia. But as far as major league pitchers go, the wins are far more important than they are in fantasy. PS: Sabathia had a 1.65 ERA for the Brewers, and pitched seven complete games in 17 starts. He should get 2nd and 3rd place votes; he pitched like a champion.
NL Rookie of the Year - Geovany Soto - The Cubs boast the best record in the NL, and Soto's quick maturity to an everyday productive catcher is a large part of that success. Soto finished right up there in production with the best NL catchers, like Brian McCann and Bengie Molina. Moreover, the Cubs' pitching staff did its best work in years, and some of that credit has to go to Soto. Well done, young buck.
I'm sure BizJoe will have his own dissenting opinions, but until then, I'm the boss, applesauce.
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