It’s time to hand out the top awards in baseball.
Roll out the red carpet. Put on your best threads.
It’s time for baseball’s top awards, at least in the opinion of one man. Sorry, no after-party here. No trophies. We’re operating on a tight budget.
Joe Mauer, Twins
About to win his third batting title in four years while also leading the AL in slugging and on-base percentage. Has set career highs in home runs and RBIs despite missing all of April. Did we mention he’s a Gold Glove catcher?
AL CY Young
Zack Greinke, Royals
Some really good candidates here, but for heaven’s sake, Greinke almost has a sub-2.00 ERA. He was the best pitcher in baseball in April and steamrolled through September. He carried a 16-8 record with a league-best 2.06 ERA and 1.07 WHIP (walks and hits per nine innings) into his start Saturday. His 237 Ks were second the AL.
AL Rookie of the Year
Rick Porcello, Tigers
The Tigers handed the 20-year-old Porcello a rotation spot coming out of spring training, and he responded with a 14-9 record and 4.04 ERA heading into his last regular-season start Saturday.
AL Manager of the Year
Mike Scioscia, Angels
Scioscia guided his team through the Nick Adenhart tragedy and a ton of injuries to key contributors. Despite surprising seasons by the Mariners and Rangers, the Angels prevailed in the AL West.
Albert Pujols, Cardinals
The undeniable best player in the game went into Friday batting .328 with 47 home runs and 134 RBIs, threatening the NL’s Triple Crown. There’s no arguing. Just hand him his third MVP.
NL Cy Young
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
Wainwright barely edges his teammate and 2005 NL Cy Young winner, Chris Carpenter. Only Carpenter was within two wins of the 6-foot-7 righty in the National League as of Friday. Wainwright has gone at least five innings in all his starts and lasted at least seven innings in 21 of 33 starts entering Friday. At 19-8, he was second in the NL in innings pitched (227), third in ERA (2.58) and tied for fourth in strikeouts (204).
NL Rookie of the Year
JA Happ, Phillies
With Cole Hamels having an uneven season, another young lefty stepped up big. Happ is 12-4 with a 2.85 ERA, fifth best in all of baseball entering the weekend.
NL Manager of the Year
Jim Tracy, Rockies
The Rockies were 18-28 on May 28 when Tracy took over for the fired Clint Hurdle. Entering the weekend, Colorado was 73-40 under Tracy and had earned a playoff spot. Enough said.
The main reason the Indians shipped away stars such as CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez during the last two years was money. Stars cost a lot, and the Indians don’t have a lot. Another reason was the organization needed an influx of young talent because their minor league system was running dry.
General Manager Mark Shapiro defended his player development staff this week as the team announced the firing of Manager Eric Wedge.
“They were the staff that developed the last group of guys that went to the playoffs and won 96 games (in 2007),” Shapiro said. “Time will tell, but I think the start with the position players of this group, and some of the pitchers as well, has been very good in developing a foundation for the guys in place now.”
The Indians haven’t had a first-round pick of note since Sabathia in 1998. Before that, you have to go back to Jaret Wright (1994), Paul Shuey (1992) and Manny Ramirez (1991) for significant first-rounders.
CALL FOR HIS HEAD?
Indians President Paul Dolan was asked Wednesday if Wedge’s firing was basically done to appease disgruntled fans who have endured a series of unpopular moves by the organization.
“Our willingness to make unpopular moves indicates we’re going to do what we feel is best for the franchise,” said Dolan, the son of owner Larry Dolan. “Because in the end, we feel that what matters most to the fans is winning. We think this decision ... will help us in returning to winning form.”
MAN OF CHARACTER
Wedge was beyond classy during the press conference announcing his removal. He complimented the organization, fans and city of Cleveland while never offering a hint of sour grapes or playing the blame game.
He talked about coming so close to the playoffs in 2005 and narrowly missing the World Series in 2007. He said he never harped on those gut-wrenching moments but always looked forward to the chance to get back to and surpass, those hurdles.
“I hope for all Tribe fans and the next guy that sits in this chair (that they) have an opportunity to do that,” Wedge said.