- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MVP

NL: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

AL: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

In a pair of wide-open races, these two players get the nod for living up to the award in its truest sense — by being the players that were most valuable to their team. The Cardinals were predicted to be one of the worst teams in the National League but stayed in the wild card hunt until September because of Pujols’ usual brilliance. Through Sunday, he was hitting .349 with 34 homers and 106 RBI, along with a .453 on-base percentage — the highest of his career, which owes something to the 32 times he has been intentionally walked. Pedroia, meanwhile, helped the Red Sox cruise along despite an injury to David Ortiz and the wavering focus of Manny Ramirez. His breakout season included a .324 batting average, .375 on-base percentage, 17 homers, 80 RBI and 19 stolen bases through Sunday. Throw in his impressive defense and Pedroia is a worthy, if unorthodox MVP candidate.

Cy Young

NL: Tim Lincecum, Giants

AL: Cliff Lee, Indians

He doesn’t have the most wins, and he pitches for a dreadful team that plays after most of the country has gone to bed, so there’s a good chance Lincecum won’t win the actual award. But Lincecum has managed to tie for second in the National League in wins, has an ERA nearly two-tenths of a point lower than runner-up Johan Santana and leads the majors with 243 strikeouts. That’s why Lincecum gets the nod over a field of deserving candidates, including Santana, Brandon Webb and CC Sabathia, who has been dominant enough for the Brewers to get consideration despite his short time there. Things aren’t nearly as tough in the American League, where Lee has won 22 times. His 2.41 ERA far outpaces that of Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.80), and he has the fewest walks per nine innings in the AL.

Rookie of the Year

NL: Geovany Soto, Cubs

AL: Evan Longoria, Rays

Both Chicago and Tampa Bay are headed to the playoffs, and it’s in large part because of these two revelatory rookies. Longoria was hitting .278 with 25 homers and 82 RBI through Sunday, an impressive feat considering he spent the team’s first 10 games in the minor leagues and had played only 114 times through Sunday. Soto’s path to the major leagues wasn’t nearly as quick — he has spent parts of seven seasons in the minor leagues — but his production is similar to Longoria’s. Through Sunday, he had posted a .286 average, hit 23 homers and driven in 86 runs.

Manager of the Year

NL: Jerry Manuel, Mets

AL: Joe Maddon, Rays

Neither one of these selections was terribly difficult — Manuel resurrected a Mets team that appeared dead when an early season tailspin led to Willie Randolph’s firing in May. Maddon did nothing less than take the team with the majors’ worst record in 2007 to the playoffs, leading the Rays past the Red Sox and Yankees in the process and providing inspiration for beleaguered franchises everywhere (including right here in the District, home of the National League’s worst team).

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