I know the postseason just started and there is a lot more to talk about than end-of-season awards, but the topic is always on our mind and sometimes the postseason does more to highlight the discussion than to hide it. Over at ESPN, Buster Olney reveals his selections to take home some hardware for their 2011 efforts.
AL - Justin verlander
NL - Ryan Braun
I don't think you can go wrong with Ryan Braun. As good as Matt Kemp's year was, Braun was right there with him statistically and led a playoff team. Maybe if Kemp could have launched one more HR he would have the MVP signed and sealed with a 40/40 season. As far as Justin Verlander, I don't really like giving pitchers the MVP unless they were absolutely electric - which Verlander was. I still think there are too many offensive players worthy of winning the MVP - Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Jose Bautista - to warrant giving Verlander the MVP AND the Cy Young. There are a lot of implicit expectations associated with the MVP award and I am interested to see which ones are met during this year's MVP voting.
AL - Justin Verlander
NL - Clayton Kershaw
Justin Verlander might win the MVP so he damn well better win the Cy Young, right? If the Los Angeles Dodgers made the playoffs, Clayton Kershaw might be garnering MVP attention as well. As it is, he'll just have to take his pitching Triple Crown season and be happy with the Cy Young Award.
Rookie of the Year
AL - Jeremy Hellickson
NL - Craig Kimbrel
Jeremy Hellickson is as worthy as anybody, but I think Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Eric Hosmer will make it a close race. Craig Kimbrel delivered one of the most dominant closer seasons over the past decade so I can't disagree with Olney on that pick.
Manager of the Year
AL - Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays
NL - Kirk Gibson, Arizona Diamondbacks
Joe Maddon gets a lot of love around MLB. Some of it is just because he's kind of quirky, but he obviously does a great job of putting his team in a position to win. After the rough start that the Rays had, they could have folded, but he was able to lead them back into the race and into the postseason. Kirk Gibson led the Diamondbacks from worst to first. That's enough for me.