By David and Ross Newhan
Well, we made it: 162 games in the book and a breath away from needing 163 and 164 to decide the total post-season field. The playoffs begin Wednesday and we will soon find ourselves amid the drama that is October (and thanks to our good friends at TBS and FOX) November baseball.
So, who are the winners and other candidates for all the major awards?
For the most part, father and son find themselves in unusual agreement, which may be news in itself.
We'll call these the Newy Awards, and here are our selections:.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP
David: 1. Joey Votto, Reds; 2. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; 3. Albert Pujols, Cardinals. It's always an issue as to whether the MVP goes to the best player in the league or the player who has been his team's most valuable player or pitcher. I feel like the Silver Slugger Award represents the best season at each position while the MVP represents the player most involved in helping his team get to the playoffs, consistently the most valuable. Votto, CarGo and Pujols are the top tier for me. All three dominate the offensive leader boards in virtually every category. Votto gets the edge by leading the league in both on base and slugging percentage Furthermore, his team made the playoffs and he consistently delivered the big hits. I also belieive that San Diego closer Heath Bell should be somewhere in the mix because the Padres are not even close to winning the division without him. Usually, I am against a pitcher being considered for this but I think his 47 saves (34 in a row) with a 6-1 record and 1.93 earned-run average put him somewhere in the top five.
Ross: 1. Votto; 2. Gonzalez; 3. Pujols. Father and son are on the same page for the same reasons. I also agree that Heath Bell has to receive consideration, and I would add that the top three are pretty much the best players in the league, besides being the most valuable. This year, it's hard to separate the criteria, as it already is with Pujols and will be in the future with the Colorado outfielder known as CarGo. This kid is just getting started.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MVP
David: 1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers; 2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers; 3. Robinson Cano, Yankees. Hamilton edges out Cabrera based on his supporting cast helping him get to the playoffs, as well as his 30 point advantage in average. The other defining factor goes to his contributions on the defensive side of the field in which Hamilton clearly brings more to the table. Cano is a victim of his peers. Too many good players around him in the Yankee lineup to say that he is the MVP. Great season though by a player on the vege of greatness. I would love to have given the award to Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria if his numbers were only slightly better. Who doesn’t remember him jumping teammate Upton’s rear earlier this year for loafing it, the kind of thing an MVP does.
Ross: 1. Hamilton; 2. Cabrera; 3. Cano. Again, we agree. Cabrera had a great statistical year, but so did Hamilton, who might have won the Triple Crown if he hadn't missed most of September with broken ribs. His absence during a period when the Rangers weren't the same team without him underscored his value. In the meantime, where does Jose Bautista with his 54 home runs and 124 runs batted in fit in? Was he the best player in the league based on those numbers or do they raise too many questions regarding his sudden power and productivity? Is he simply the victim of an era still fresh in our minds?
NL CY YOUNG
David: 1. Roy Halladay, Phillies; 2. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals; 3. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies. Did anyone think that a pitcher not named Jimenez could win this award after the month of May? Halladay and Wainwright, however, had the better overall years when it was all done, and Halladay edges Wainwright, in my thinking, by one win, 15 more innings, six more strikeous, and four more complete games with virtually identical ERAs. Both pitchers are true number ones, aces of not only their respective staffs but consistently among the best in baseball. Side note on comeback player of the year: Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs goes 8-0 with a 1.41 ERA in 11 starts after a return from anger management courses and how about the Phillies' Roy Oswalt, the former Astro who made the most of his change in venue.
Ross: 1. Halladay; 2. Wainwright; 3. Jimenez. Again we agree. I just wonder if Jimenez wouldn't have been able to maintain his first half form in the second half if Colorado manager Jim Tracy hadn't asked him to throw 120 pitches so often so early.
AL CY YOUNG
David: 1. David Price, Rays; 2. Felix Hernandez, Mariners; 3. C.C. Sabathia, Yankees. Price takes the Cy because of the ineptitude of the Mariner offense to perform. King Felix dominated every statistical category except wins and losses. He led the league in quality starts, ERA,, innings and was within one strike out of that crown. That being said, he was 13-12. I find it hard to give the award to someone with that record. I don’t know, maybe one game above .500 is pretty awesome considering his team was 40 games below .500 with the league's worst offense. Price wins by going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA, making many of his starts in MLB’s toughest division, leading his low price team to a second division title in the last three years, edging Sabathia in my mind.
Ross: 1. Hernandez; 2. Price; 3. Sabathia. I have the same top three, but I give the award to Hernandez for the same reasons my son opted not to....he led the league in virtually every statistical category despite a 13-12 record with the worst offensive team in the league.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
David: 1, Buster Posey, Giants; 2. Jason Heyward, Braves; 3. Gaby Sanchez, Marlins. In a packed and talented NL rookie crop, Posey gets the nod over Heyward even though Posey was a late call up. Posey solidified the Giants lineup, hitting fourth, terrorizing pitching staffs in August and ending the year with a .305 average, 18 homers and 67 RBI despite his late start.
Ross: 1. Posey; 2. Heyward; 3. Sanchez. The Giants made several important acquisitions before and after the start of the season but none more important than the call up of Posey, who fit into the middle of the lineup like a glove, no pun intended.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
David: 1. Neftali Feliz, Rangers; 2. Austin Jackson, Tigers; 3. John Jaso, Rays. Both Feliz and Jackson are deserving. Jackson played solidly on offense and defense. He scored over 100 runs, stole over 20 bases and hit close to .300. Feliz is my choice on the basis of his 40 saves for a division winner, a rookie closer helping lead the Rangers to their first playoff berth in 11 years.
Ross: 1. Feliz; 2. Jackson. It comes down to a choice between Feliz and Jackson in my mind as well, and while I would normally lean toward the every day player, I think a rookie closer who saves 40 games for a division winner deserves the nod.
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
David: 1. Bud Black, Padres; 2. Dusty Baker, Reds; 3. Bobby Cox, Braves; 4. Charlie Manuel, Phillies. OK, I know it’s a little bit of a cop out but I do think it is a toss up, with either Black or Baker deservedly winning. I live in San Diego county so I listed Black first, but if you live in Ohio, Baker is probably your choice. I do know that no one picked the Padres while many saw the talent that the Reds had and expected them to be in a Central dogfight with St. Louis, although maybe not supplanting the Cardinals. Bobby Cox is back in the playoffs for one last dance and will always be known for his 14 straight division titles and being a player's manager. I think Manuel did a great job keeping the Phils on track despite a multitude of injuries and has that team favored to get back to the World Series.
Ross: 1. Black; 2. Baker; 3. tie between Cox and Bruce Bochy, Giants.. The fact that the Padres failed to reach the playoffs should not diminish the job Black did in leading a team with the league's next to lowest payroll and worst offense to the 162nd and final game of the season before being eliminated.
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
David: 1. Ron Gardenhire, Twins; 2. Ron Washington, Rangers; 3. Joe Maddon, Rays. Gardenhire kept the Twins rolling to the Central title. Despite financial restraints and a changing cast they win year in and year out and it is largely due to his leadership. Washington is a close second, directing the Rangers to their first title in 11 years after winning the respect of his players in the spring by publicly admitting he had used cocaine. Maddon led the Rays to baseball's toughest divisional title. Players love the atmosphere he creates, and the financially restricted Rays are now a yearly contender under his watch. It may get overlooked but another big job was done by Buck Showalter after his mid-season hire by the Orioles, who finished 10 games over .500 in his short tenure.
Ross: 1. Washington; 2. Gardenhire; 3. Maddon. I just feel that Washington had a little bit more to overcome than Gardenhire, although it's a toss up. The Twins know how to win. Washington had to convince the Rangers that they could amid injuries and a lengthy court fight over a change in ownership. Year in and year out, however, the Twins set a standard for small market clubs in the art of contending and often winning, and they could be a playoff sleeper with the support of capacity crowds in their new ballpark.
And so go the Newy Awards.