It’s that time of the year again. The 2012 MLB regular season was incredibly exciting from start to finish. From no hitters to perfect games to walk-off home-runs, this past season is one that fans will surely remember for awhile.
Every season a select few individuals step up their game and shine above the others. The tremendous efforts of several players and even managers are recognized each year with the announcement of various awards and honors. The following is a projection of which individuals will ultimately come out on top in several key races.
Manager of the Year
American League: Two managers in particular stand out from the rest here – Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles and Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics. Both teams made unexpected postseason appearances this year due in large part to their outstanding respective mangers. Buck led his squad to a 93-69 regular season record, which was good enough to earn one of the two Wild Card spots, marking the teams first playoff appearance in 15 years. Bob Melvin of the A’s led his troops to a 94-68 record, which was capped off by a thrilling victory over their rival the Texas Rangers on the final day of the season to win the AL West. Although both managers have done excellent jobs this season, my vote has to go to Showalter. The fact that Bob Melvin is under Billy Beane, the king of sabermetrics and one of the finest general managers in the game today, will likely hurt his candidacy. The Orioles, however, have not even been relevant in the past decade whatsoever, which goes to show the job Showalter has done with his club.
National League: This race should not be as close as the one over in the AL. Despite great performances by Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds and Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the award should clearly go to Davey Johnson of the Washington Nationals. Many people remember him for leading those Amazin’ Mets to a title in 1986, but his job with the Nationals has been vastly different. Johnson led these young, upstart Nationals to a major league best 98-64 record. This record was far and away the team’s best mark since it moved to D.C. from Montreal in 2005, and it was the franchise’s first winning record in nine years.
Rookie of the Year
American League: No race, no competition. This award will unanimously go to outfielder Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Trout had one of the greatest rookie season in MLB history and is in the running for the MVP as well.
National League: The race in the NL is much closer than it is in the NL, with two players leading the pack – pitcher Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks and outfielder Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. Both rookies made their league’s All-Star squad and both played vital roles on their respective teams but the award will likely go to the bold 20-year old of the Nationals. Although Miley was an extremely solid and highly effective pitcher all year long with a cool 16 wins, Bryce Harper’s mere presence and hustle were critical for the success of Washington. Harper’s outstanding glove work and red-hot finish to the season will likely give him most writer’s votes. Not to mention the fact that there was a 17 win discrepancy between their respective teams.
American League: Certainly one of the most wide open races this year, many pitchers in the league had outstanding campaigns. It seems like it’ll come down to three men – Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, closer Fernando Rodney of the Tampa Bay Rays, and teammate David Price. Verlander, the reigning Cy Young and MVP, registered outstanding numbers this year with a 2.64 ERA and 239 K’s. However, the fact that Verlander was even more stellar in 2011 will likely take away from his efforts for this year. Fernando Rodney, his team’s closer, was absolutely dominant with his MLB record 0.60 ERA, but the award will likely go to starting pitcher David Price. The ace led all starting pitchers with 20 wins and 2.56 and was probably the most consistent pitcher in the game all year long. This award is rarely given to closers, with Eric Gagne being the last recipient, and the fact that Price’s numbers were so balanced will likely be the reason he gets the nod.
National League: The New York Mets had one bright spot in their highly disappointing season – R.A. Dickey. The knuckleballer was likely the only reason fans would tune in to Met games the second half of the year. It’s incredible how Dickey revitalized his career with the mastery of one pitch – the knuckleball. It kept dancing all year long and hitters just had no way of picking it up. Dickey finished the year either first or second in the main three pitching categories with 20 wins, a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts. His sheer dominance and incredible story should garner enough votes to get the Mets their first Cy Young winner in 28 years. Gio Gonzalez, acquired by the Nationals from the A’s in the off-season, had a stellar season in his first year in the National League and should be in contention as well.
Most Valuable Player
American League: This has to be the most widely-discussed and argued race this season as two men were clearly the most valuable players in the AL –- Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers and Mike Trout of the Angels. In any given year the rookie phenom would likely be the recipient of this recognition. Trout registered outstanding all around numbers with his .326 batting average, 30 home runs, 83 RBIs, 49 stolen bases, and 129 runs scored. Many who support highly intricate sabermetrics will argue that his 10.7 WAR (wins above replacement) displays the fact that he should win the award but his competitor Miguel Cabrera did something that no man has done since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 –- win a Triple Crown. Cabrera’s statistics are simply remarkable as he led the AL with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs, and 139 RBIs. This race is so close that it could even ultimately go down to the overall performance of their respective teams, in which case Cabrera would get the nod once again, as his Tigers won the AL Central while the Angels missed the playoffs.
National League: Not nearly as close a race here. Catcher Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants will likely add his first MVP award to his already packed award collection. The 2010 Rookie of the Year and World Series Champion, this young star has made his mark as the best catcher in the game today. This season, after Posey’s teammate and All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for high levels of testosterone, many thought the Giant’s season was over; but Posey truly put the team on his back. Leading his club to a 94-68 record and an NL West division championship, Posey finished the year with an impressive 24 homeruns and 103 RBIs, to go along with his batting title winning .336 average.