The Baseball Buzz: Quick Hits Around MLB

Oct 05, 2012 2 Comments

American League Award Predictions
Last week, I made some bold and some not-so-bold predictions on who would win the National League MVP, Cy Young, Manager of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year Awards. In the event you missed the column, you can read it here.

Today I turn to my predictions for the American League Awards, which begins with my selection for the MVP award…a winner that will be discussed for years to come. .

So, without further delay, let’s dive in. As always, please let me know in the comments section below if you agree or disagree with any of the picks.

Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera is baseball’s first Triple Crown winner since 1967. Photo By; Keith Allison

MVP
In recent days, there has been a lively debate about who should win the AL MVP Award – Miguel Cabrera or rookie sensation Mike Trout? Without question, Trout had an unbelievable season hitting .326 with 30 HRs and 83 RBIs. He also scored 129 runs and stole 49 bases, earning him the unique distinction as the most complete baseball player seen in baseball since Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. So yeah – he’s been that good.

However, I believe voters will reward Cabrera for becoming the first player since Carl Yastrzenski in 1967 to hit for the Triple Crown (.330, 44 HR, 139 RBIs), which is undeniably baseball’s most crowning achievement.

Think about this for a minute – Cabrera became the first player in 45 years to finish first in batting average, first in homeruns and first in runs batted in. He also put the Tigers on his back down the stretch to overtake the White Sox to win the AL Central, while Trout’s Angels missed the playoffs. At 21, Trout will have plenty of opportunities to be a league MVP. This year, the award should go to Cabrera.

Cy Young
This year’s AL Cy Young race comes down to three deserving players, including the Angels Jered Weaver (20-5, 2.81 ERA, 1.02 WHIP), the Rays David Price (20-5, 2.56 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) and last year’s winner, Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) from the Tigers.

While both Weaver and Price have a slight lead over Verlander, I believe that Price will ultimately win for a couple of reasons. First, Price struck out 63 more batters and secondly, he pitched 23 more innings than Weaver, which is equivalent to throwing about three more games. True, Weaver has a slightly lower WHIP, but we’re taking a few tenths of a point. Certainly not enough to deny Price his first Cy Young in my opinion.

Manager of the Year
It wasn’t that long ago that the Manager of the Year Award appeared to be a lock for Orioles Manager Buck Showalter who led his team to a 93-69 record (24 game improvement over 2011) and pushed the Yankees for the AL East Division title up until the last game of the season. Make no mistake about it – the Orioles were one of the best stories in baseball this year and Showalter was a big reason for it.

But just when you thought Showalter couldn’t be topped, along came Bob Melvin and his Oakland Athletics who shocked the entire baseball world by becoming the first team in MLB history to win a division title (94-68) after trailing by five games with less than 10 to play, and only the third team in MLB history to win a division title after only holding the division lead for a single day, which ironically enough, came on the final day of the season.

What the Athletics did after the All-Star break was nothing short of amazing, and you have to give a lot of the credit to Melvin who found a way to connect with a young team and get them to perform at such a high level.  Melvin receives my nod for Manager of the Year.

Alex Rios

Rios nearly doubled his offensive production from 2011. Photo By: Keith Allison

Comeback Player of the Year
I really believe the conversation for AL Comeback Player of the Year starts and ends with White Sox’s centerfielder Alex Rios. Yes, his teammate Adam Dunn could be considered as well, but his .210 batting average just doesn’t do it for me despite his resurgence in HRs and RBIs.

Rios, who in 2011 hit .227, with 13 HRs and 44 RBIs, came back in 2012 as a different player – hitting .301, with 24 HRs and 87 RBIs and was arguably the White Sox most consistent hitter throughout the season.

Rookie of the Year
No drama here – Mike Trout will easily win the Rookie of the Year Award (see MVP conversation above). There is really not a lot more to add, other than to say this: I can’t remember watching a player in my lifetime play the game so effortlessly.  He puts up video game like numbers, he plays the field well, steals bases, score runs and unquestionably made his team better this year.

It will be fun to watch Trout progress next year and the years to follow. The sky is the limit for what this kid can do. Let’s see if he can live up to the early comparisons to Mantle and Mays.

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2 Responses to “The Baseball Buzz: Quick Hits Around MLB”

  1. chappy81 says:

    Nice! Finally someone picks Melvin!!

    • William Hodges says:

      Thanks for reading Chappy. I think Melvin is very deserving. I would be bummed if he didn’t get it.

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