Baseball writers had to vote for the major awards by yesterday and send in their ballots. None of the regular season awards can be influenced by postseason results. So who should win? The Monk knows:
AL MVP: This one should be easy -- Derek Jeter. He finished 2nd in batting, hitting with runners in scoring position and runs scored, 4th in OBP, nearly had a second 100-RBI season, ranked 7th in steals and again played top-notch defense. Jeter improved on his recent seasons despite lack of cover in the batting order after the Yanks lost Sheffield and Matsui in May. Number-dorks will point to Justin Morneau's power and RBI numbers for the Twins, Joe Mauer's batting title, David Ortiz's 50-odd HR, etc. But with the Yankees injured and struggling, it was Jeter all season long who produced as the Yanks turned a deficit into a rout and won the AL East in a walk. The Monk pumped Ichiro for this award in 2001 despite Giambi's ridiculous numbers, and Jeter should win for the same reason: best player, best team, excellent season, led by example. Anti-Yankee bias (see: 1996 Cy Young, 2003 Rookie of the Year, 2005 Cy Young) will play a role in this vote as morons from the Midwest look only to HR or RBI numbers, just as two dingdongs kept Rivera off their Cy Young ballots last year, and just as the other voters primarily looked to the underwhelming numbers of Bartolo Colon to pick a starter over a reliever like MVP voters will look to pick a bopper over a hitter.
AL Cy Young Award: Johan Santana. This is no contest because he has no competition. Santana led the league in IP, wins, K, ERA.
AL Rookie of the Year: Justin Verlander, Tigers. This is no contest -- the main competitors dropped out (Liriano, Papelbon).
AL Manager of the Year: Jim Leyland, Tigers. In 2003, the team won 43; in 2006, it won 95. The end-of-season honk to the Royals is irrelevant for this.
AL Reliever of the Year: Frankie K-Rod Rodriguez. He's the second-best closer in the league and had the best season.
For the NL, some votes are more complex.
NL MVP: This is tricky. Ryan Howard was nearly Ruthian; Pujols had better numbers in key categories (RISP, close and late situations), Carlos Beltran had 41 HR, 116 RBI, 127 runs for the best team in the league. The guess here is Pujols, the pick would be too.
NL Cy Young Award: UGH. With no dominant starter, and a "dominant" reliever who famously gave up homers on consecutive pitches to honk a save in the most famous game of the season, this should be up for grabs. The Monk would consider Roy Oswalt because he pitched well down the stretch as the Astros made their run and won the ERA crown. The winner will be Chris Carpenter or Trevor Hoffman.
NL Rookie of the Year: This is a REAL contest -- Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman. Uggla tailed off in September, Zimmerman's power numbers are nice (20 HR, 110 RBI) but Ramirez beat him in OPS, batting average and is the next power/speed superstar of baseball.
NL Manager: Joe Girardi. No contest.
NL Reliever: Hoffman over Wagner.