- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It’s that time of year again, when the baseball season’s just about wrapped up and everybody’s submitting their predictions for who will win the major awards in both leagues. Sort of like the Oscar picks in March, except this list doesn’t have any obscure indie films you haven’t heard of.

So here’s a list of picks for the MVP, Cy Young, rookie of the year and manager of the year awards in the NL and AL:

MVP

NL: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

AL: Joe Mauer, Twins

A pair of easy choices here - Pujols is having a better year than he did last year, when he won his second MVP trophy, leading the league in homers, on-base percentage and OPS and placing in the top three in batting average and RBI. And Mauer is having a historic season for a catcher, hitting .371 (which will get him his third batting title at the age of 26), leading the AL in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS and hitting 28 homers despite missing the first month of the season. There will be some sentiment for Derek Jeter as a kind of lifetime achievement award, but Mauer’s season is too historic to go unrewarded.

Cy Young Award

NL: Chris Carpenter, Cardinals

AL: Zack Greinke, Royals

The NL race was almost impossible to call between Carpenter and Tim Lincecum; Carpenter has two more wins, as well as slight advantages in ERA and WHIP, but Lincecum has thrown more innings, leads the NL in strikeouts and has one more complete game and one more shutout than Carpenter. In the end, Carpenter wins because he has been slightly more efficient than Lincecum - and because he has been so strong the last two months while the Cardinals were pulling away in the NL Central. Sending the other trophy to the other side of Missouri isn’t as tough - Greinke has a 2.06 ERA, leads in WHIP and is second in strikeouts. He’ll lose a few votes because of his win total (16), but like Mauer, his overall numbers are too dominant not to be rewarded.

Rookie of the Year

NL: J.A. Happ, Phillies

AL: Nolan Reimold, Orioles

In an NL race dominated by pitchers, Happ has the lowest ERA (2.79) and is tied for the highest number of wins (11). He has forged his way into a crowded Phillies rotation that has changed throughout the year with the additions of Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee, and it looks like he’ll be a fixture in Philadelphia for years to come. And the AL winner is a bit of a blow to the Nationals and their vaunted plan; they’ve yet to bring a rookie to the majors that has had anywhere close to as revelatory a year as Reimold has had in Baltimore. Aside from his solid offensive numbers (.279 average, .365 on-base percetnage, 15 homers and 45 RBI in 104 games), he has shown a strong arm in left field with seven assists.

Manager of the Year

NL: Jim Tracy, Rockies

AL: Joe Girardi, Yankees

Tracy stops the Cardinals’ postseason haul by narrowly edging Tony La Russa for this award. He took over for Clint Hurdle in May and has made all the right moves, taking the Rockies on a four-month tear that has them in position to win the NL wild card for the second time in three years. And as many acquisitions as the Yankees made over the winter, it was still incumbent upon Girardi to put the pieces together and make baseball’s most expensive team go. He was under a tremendous amount of pressure after the Yankees missed the playoffs last season, and he’s responded by leading them to baseball’s best record and making them the favorite to reach the World Series in the American League.

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