The 2010 Major League Baseball season wraps up this weekend, and as of this writing, only two playoff spots are left to be decided. For the lucky fans of eight playoff bound teams, that means kicking back and enjoying the playoffs.
The rest of the baseball fans out there are left clinging to the last piece of the season they can hold on to. In our case, it means speculation as to who will take home the non-championship hardware, namely the season-ending awards. Fans love to speculate and debate over who deserves to take home the MVP, Cy Young Award, and Rookie Of The Year trophies and I’m no different.
Here are my picks for the year-end hardware:
American League Most Valuable Player – Miguel Cabrera
A year after Cabrera achieved notoriety on the eve of elimination against the Twins, the Tigers’ first baseman put it all behind him and had one heck of a season. Not having much protection in the line-up didn’t do much to deter Cabrera from challenging for the Triple Crown, compiling a .328 batting average to go along with 38 home runs and a major league best 126 RBI.
Runner-Up: Adrian Beltre – Boston Red Sox
National League Most Valuable Player – Carlos Gonzalez
In 2010, Gonzalez made the Oakland A’s regret packaging him in the half-season rental of Matt Holliday. The Rockies center-fielder also challenged for the Triple Crown while leading a resurgent Rockies team in the second half. CarGo managed a healthy .341 batting average to lead the National League, while chipping in 34 home runs, 117 RBI, and 25 stolen bases. All this was done while also providing gold glove defense at Coors Field.
Runner-Up: Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
American League Cy Young – Felix Hernandez
It may be a bit of a reach to give King Felix the Cy Young, but the voters proved last year that they were willing to overlook win totals in favor of dominance on the mound. While Hernandez only compiled 13 wins on the season, he also leads the major leagues in both ERA (2.27) and strike-outs (232). That was enough to win the award for Zack Grienke last season and should net the trophy for Hernandez in 2010.
Runner-Up: Jon Lester – Boston Red Sox
National League Cy Young – Roy Halladay
Early in the season, this award was pretty much in the bag for Ubaldo Jimenez, but a second half that prevented him from getting 20 wins on the season and the shear consistency of Halladay throughout the season gives the award to the big right-hander in Philadelphia. Halladay has thrown an amazing 250.1 innings thus far, with 9 complete games, 4 shut-outs, and a perfect game. All of that lead to 21 wins, a 2.44 ERA, and 219 strike-outs.
Runner-Up: Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
American League Rookie Of The Year – Neftali Feliz
The Texas Rangers are back in the postseason and it is on the back of a big change in their pitching staff. The starters are getting a lot of credit, but the work of Feliz at the end of games has been the biggest change. The 22-year-old closer has compiled 38 saves in 41 chances, while averaging more than a strike-out an inning and posting an ERA under 3.00. With no clear offensive rookie to take the title, Feliz will easily win over voters.
Runner-Up: Austin Jackson – Detroit Tigers
National League Rookie Of The Year – Buster Posey
The San Francisco Giants were a horrible offensive ballclub before Posey got the call up from the minors. In the 103 games since, the stud catcher hit .313 with 16 home runs and 64 RBI while leading a resurgent Giants club into the division lead with under a week to play. He has drawn comparisons to Joe Mauer of the Twins for both his bat and his ability to handle pitchers. In a truly exceptional rookie class, Posey stands out as the top dog.
Runner-Up: Jaime Garcia – St. Louis Cardinals and Jason Heyward – Atlanta Braves
American League Manager Of The Year – Terry Francona
Terry Francona hasn’t gotten much credit in the past for his work with the Boston Red Sox, namely because of the money the team pours into the roster. However, 2010 has been a challenge to Boston’s manager, dealing with endless injuries, an ineffective staff of starting pitchers, and a parade of rookies coming up from the minors. Despite those obstacles, Francona still managed to get the Red Sox to win 87-90 games on the season and staving off elimination until the final week of the season.
Runner-Up: Ron Gardenhire – Minnesota Twins
National League Manager Of The Year – Bobby Cox
For much of 2010, the Atlanta Braves led the National League East before eventually giving way to the two-time defending division champ Phillies. They didn’t do this with the most talented roster in baseball, but they did it more so on the heart and determination to send Bobby Cox out into retirement as a winner. This is a team that has rallied around its manager to try to win just one more for the most decorated manager in team history. They still have a chance to hold on to the Wild Card lead and keep the dream alive, but this has been one heck of an exciting season for Cox and the Braves.
Runner-Up: Dusty Baker – Cincinnati Reds
– Miguel Cabrera, MLB.com
– Carlos Gonzalez, MLB.com
– Felix Hernandez, MLB.com
– Roy Halladay, MLB.com
– Neftali Feliz, MLB.com
– Buster Posey, ESPN.com