With less than two weeks to go before the end of the MLB season, nine teams are battling to join Atlanta, St. Louis and San Diego in the playoffs. The five that do make it will join the three who have locked up their divisions in a quest for October glory.
While it takes a team of 25 to win the World Series, there are several personal awards that are given at the end of the season. I will outline who I believe should win each league’s MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year. (Note: The stats in this article are taken from the end of play on Tuesday, Sept. 20.)
American League Rookie of the Year: Tadahito Iguchi, Chicago White Sox.
Although Iguchi played in Japan for several years before being signed by the White Sox, his prior experience as a part of the Japanese league does not disqualify him from consideration for the American League Rookie of the Year award.
Iguchi is hitting .278 with a .344 on-base percentage and an OPS of .783. He has 14 HR, 67 RBI and 14 stolen bases. That’s good enough for the best OBP, OPS and stolen bases among rookies, and he’s second in batting average, HR and RBI. His offensive stats are the best among AL rookies, thus making him the choice.
Honorable Mention: Nick Swisher, Oakland. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees.
National League: Garrett Atkins, Colorado
Clint Barmes would have run away with this award had he not gotten injured early. Atkins leads all NL rookies who have at least 350 plate appearances with a .353 OBP, .433 SLG and .784 OPS.
His 81 RBI are 31 more than any other NL rookie and he also has 13 HR, good for second among NL rookies. He narrowly edges out Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard, mainly because he played in the majors the whole season.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta.
AL Cy Young: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
None of the AL starters have been all that impressive this year. The ERA, Ks and wins leaders don’t have stellar stats in other fields. Had Roy Halladay not gotten hurt, this would be his award.
Years with no blow-away starter usually lead to a reliever winning the Cy Young. Mo Rivera has 40 saves in 44 chances. His ERA is 1.34, he averages a strikeout an inning and he also has seven wins. Basically, Mo has pitched lights out all year, which is more than any AL starter can really say.
Honorable Mention: Johan Santana, Min. Bartolo Colon, LAA.
NL Cy Young: Chris Carpenter, St. Louis
Carpenter wins this one in a very close decision. He’s tops in the NL in wins with 21 and has 203 Ks, which is just behind the league lead. He has an ERA of 2.42 and leads the league in innings pitched per start. He’s lasted through the sixth in 29 of his 31 starts. These stats are all very hard to ignore.
Roger Clemens is a very close second, with an ERA still south of 2.00 and a BAA of less than .200. The Astros’ lack of offense in his starts really hurts him as he only has 12 wins and eight losses. Also, Rocket has had a couple of rough starts recently and that sticks in the minds of those who decide the awards.
Honorable Mention: Roger Clemens, Houston. Dontrelle Willis, Florida.
AL MVP: David Ortiz, Boston
This is another very tight race and will be decided in the next two weeks. Alex Rodriguez could very easily and deservingly win this award if the Yankees win the division and the Sox fail to make the playoffs.
However, Papi is simply crushing the ball. He leads the league in HR and runs scored, and has 20 more RBI than A-Rod. His contract is also $20 million less than A-Rod’s, which pays for all the Sox rotation not named Schilling.
Ortiz’s critics have said that a DH shouldn’t win the MVP since DHs don’t play every day. I, however, felt that if a pitcher can win the MVP playing every fifth day, a DH can win it too.
Honorable Mention: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees. Mark Teixeira, Texas.
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, St Louis
Pujols has been the best player not named Barry Bonds over the past few seasons and this year is no exception. Bonds missing most of the season may have helped Pujols, but he also carried a team ravaged with injuries to a division title sometime in mid-June.
Albert is just a few points back of the batting title and has the best OBP and SLG of all players on teams with a winning record. He also leads the NL in runs scored, a statistic that seems too often taken for granted or overlooked.
Honorable Mention: Andrew Jones, Atlanta. Derek Lee, Chicago Cubs.