The First Annual Baseball Haven “I’m Always Right Before the Media Figures It Out” Awards are officially ready, just one day after the season. These guys may not win the awards below, but they certainly SHOULD.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
.344/.448/.586, 111 R, 48 2B, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 89/108 K/BB
Cabrera may not win because his votes may be split with Justin Verlander, but he is the reason why the Tigers won the other 71 games that Verlander didn’t win. His production has been elite for a number of years and he is still just 28 and in his prime. Jose Bautista could win this based on production, but his team fell so short of the playoffs and they weren’t ARod in 2003-level, but Cabrera should be the choice.
NL MVP: Ryan Braun, LF, Brewers
.332/.397/.597, 109 R, 38 2B, 6 3B, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 33 SB, 93/58 K/BB
Braun and the Brewers powered their way to a 56-24 home record on their way to a 96-66 overall record. Along with Prince Fielder, Braun destroyed the opposition, flashing power, speed and an amazing all-around game, including gold glove calibur defense. While some will want to toss this award to Matt Kemp, who, like Jose Bautista, posted amazing numbers on a bad team, Braun’s overall dominance in 2011 can’t go unnoticed.
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, RHP, Tigers
24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 251 IP, 250/57 K/BB, .192 BAA
Like it would be anyone else? Verlander won the AL Triple Crown for pitching, he led his team to the AL Central title, and he will garner MVP votes. Lock it down. This guy is going to be doing this for the next six years or so, get used to it.
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers
21-5, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 233 1/3 IP, 248/54 K/BB, .207 BAA
Kershaw won the NL Triple Crown, even while tying for the NL lead in wins with Ian Kennedy. He took major strides this season in becoming a year in and year out Cy Young candidate. The fact that he is just 23 years-old is absolutely nuts. If the Dodgers get a clue in ownership, they have their staff anchor for a building block.
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Rays
91-71, AL Wild Card winner
The Boston collapse helped but getting a team who lost, quite possibly, the greatest player in franchise history and still compete and make the playoffs while spending less than $50 million on payroll is worth something. Maddon and his sweet glasses have worked miracles in Tampa. Too bad he can’t do anything about the fanbase and stadium.
NL Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks
94-68, NL West Division winner
Gibson’s first full season as manager couldn’t have gone much better. He has put together a staff of former players, including: Don Baylor, Alan Trammell, Charles Nagy, Matt Williams, and Eric Young. This group has a young core of talent in the rotation and on the diamond. In a division where teams continue to fall off after winning, it’ll be interesting to see if the Diamondbacks hold steady atop the division next year. Justin Upton and Paul Goldschmidt will help quite a bit.
AL Rookie of the Year: Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
.293/.334/.465, 27 2B, 3 3B, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 11 SB, 82/34 K/BB
Just 21-years-old, Hosmer established himself as a potential superstar in his first go-round in the bigs. He will lose votes to a strong AL class, which includes Jeremy Hellickson and Michael Pineda, but Hosmer showed Ryan Braun-like production at a young age. His ceiling rivals a cathedral right now.
NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Braves
4-3, 2.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 77 IP, 127/32 K/BB, 46 saves
Take a 23-year-old, put him in the closers role, your team wins 89 games and falls just one win short of the playoffs due to a huge collapse…it doesn’t make the numbers that Kimbrel put up any less dominant. His 15.4 K/9 IP over his first 100 appearances is absolutely sick. He and Neftali Feliz, if he stays a closer, could be the next 600 save closers. They have amazing stuff and, if they stay healthy, are dominant enough to reach that level.
MLB Comeback Player of the Year: Lance Berkman, 1B/OF, Cardinals
2010: .248/.368/.413, 23 2B, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 85/77 K/BB
2011: .301/.412/.547, 23 2B, 31 HR, 91 RBI, 93/92 K/BB
The Astros were pissed off about Berkman’s conditioning and he showed up this season in shape. They may want some of their money back $14.5 million salary back after he showed up as the old Berkman this season. Having Pujols behind you is nice, but don’t we all have a Pujols behind us? Berkman took advantage of it to the tune of a $12 million salary for 2012. A nice revival for someone who looked dead at times in 2010. Nice job “Big Puma.”