A warning: There will be a lot of baseball on the blog this week and throughout the playoffs. Not that other sports – specifically football – will be ignored. There will be a lot of discussion of the Kansas State-Nebraska game here. I’ll break down that game Wednesday.
But the baseball postseason is special, although I’m mourning the end of the St. Louis Cardinals season today. I get pretty wrapped up in the Cardinals and probably watch 100-120 of their games. My lovely bride-to-be, Debbie, watches, too. It’s one of the biggest reasons why this marriage is destined to work. That, and she’s a really good kisser.
Anyway, back to baseball. Today, I’m going to make my choices for the postseason awards. Tomorrow, I’ll go in depth with a look at all of the playoff series.
American League MVP
I’m not crazy about him missing 29 games because of injuries. But you can’t ignore a league-leading .359 average, 32 Hamiltonhomers and 100 RBIs. Or the fact that Hamilton was the center of the Texas Rangers’ lineup and led Texas to the AL West championship. I think Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera will get some run here, thanks to his .328 average, 28 homers and major-league high 126 RBI. But Hamilton is an easy choice.
National League MVP
The homer in me wants to go with Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, who had another magnificent season. They’re becoming ho-hum for him; 10 years into his career and he’s had nothing but magnificent seasons. Young Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will appear on some ballots, but my choice is Joey Votto, firstVottobaseman for the Cincinnati Reds. He led the young and dangerous Reds into the playoffs for the first time in 15 years and his numbers – .324, 37, 113 – are MVP worthy. Sorry, Albert.
American League Cy Young
When I first heard people backing Seattle right-hander Felix Hernandez for this award, I thought they were crazy. It has to go to the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia or the Rays’ David Price, I thought. Hernandez couldn’t win with a 13-12 record. Well, I’m starting to change my tune. Those who say Hernandez didn’t pitch in big games are wrong. He made 15 starts against playoff teams and the Boston Red Sox, a playoff team that isn’t a playoff team. In those 15 games, Hernandez was 9-5 with a 2.38 ERA. Price, against playoff teams and the Red Sox,Hernandezwas 4-3 with a 3.19 ERA. He made only 11 starts against playoff teams. In the end, I think this is a race between Hernandez and Price, although Sabathia, Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano, Texas’ Cliff Lee and a couple of others could get some mention. Hernandez, clearly, had the best year. He should win this award, even at 13-12 compared to Price’s overall record of 19-6.
National League Cy Young
The homer in me wants to give this award to the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, who should have won it in 2009. But Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay is just too good. Halladay, pitching in one of the best hitting Halladayvenues in the majors, is 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA. He’s been everything the Phillies hoped he would be and is the best pitcher in baseball, bar none.
American League Rookie of the Year
Baltimore pitcher Brian Matusz wins by default. And because, in August, September and October for the resurgent O’s, he was 7-1 with a 2.18 ERA.
National League Rookie of the Year
Tough one that boils down to two high-quality candidates: Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward and San Francisco catcher Buster Posey. The difference: Heyward was in Atlanta all season and had a big part of the team’s offensive load fall on him when Chipper Jones was lost with an injury. Heyward held up and batted .277 with 18 homers and 67 RBIs. HeywardPosey was unbelievable after being promoted from Triple-A in June, batting .305 with 18 homers and 67 RBIs. The Giants traded a quality catcher, Benjie Molina, to make room for Posey. They wouldn’t be in the playoffs if they hadn’t made that move. But because Heyward was in Atlanta from Opening Day on, he’s my choice.
It’s been a really good baseball season and I’m really looking forward to the playoffs. I think the Minnesota Twins have a real shot against the Yankees, especially with the home-field advantage. Then again, you’d be surprised how little the home field means in the playoffs. I thought Minnesota had a nice chance against New York last season, too, but it didn’t work out.
In the National League, I’m intrigued by the Giants and am curious to see whether Cincinnati can mount any kind of a challenge against the powerful Philadelphia Phillies and their 1-2-3 pitching punch of Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. I like Cincinnati’s offense and their mix of veterans and young players. I’m just not sure Cincy can go toe to toe with the Phillies’ starting pitching.
Thanks for reading. See you back here Tuesday.