Now that the regular season is over and the play-offs beckon, it seems like a good time to review the best individual performances from the 2009 season.
And the season's awards go to...
Now that the regular season is over and the play-offs beckon, it seems like a good time to review the best individual performances from the 2009 season. A look, then, at one man's choices for the four major awards - Cy Young award (for best pitcher), Most Valuable Player (MVP), Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year - in both leagues. American League (AL) MVP: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins: What more does one player have to do? Mauer won his third batting title - no modern-era catcher has ever won more than one - and he may be the game's best catcher. He helped direct a young pitching staff right down to the final weekend, battling the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central title Mauer enjoyed a positively historic year at the plate - especially for his position. He led the league in the on-base percentage and slugging percentage and set career bests for homers and RBIs - despite missing the first month with an injury.
AL Cy Young: Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals: Argue if you must that Greinke pitched in a mediocre division and that he never felt the pressure of starters from contending clubs. Argue that his win total (16) is modest for a Cy Young award winner. But there is no overlooking the fact that Greinke pitched almost 230 innings for a last-place club and had a 2.16 ERA while also finishing among the leaders in complete games, shutouts and strike-outs.
AL Manager of the Year: Ron Washington, Texas Rangers: His team faltered down the stretch when injuries to key veterans caught up with them, but before that, the Rangers gave the first-placed Los Angeles - to say nothing of the wild-card Red Sox - all they could handle. Jon Daniels, the general manager, made some shrewd deals and president Nolan Ryan has instilled grit and determination in the pitchers, but do not under-estimate Washington's role in reviving a team which lost 12 of 14 games in April 2008.
AL Rookie of the Year: Rick Porcello, Detroit Tigers: This was not a banner year for first-year players, but what Porcello accomplished at the age of 20 should not be overlooked. Pitching in the pressure of a pennant race, he won 14 games while fashioning a respectable 4.04 ERA. National League MVP: Albert Pujols, St Louis: Baseball's best player just keeps getting better. Pujols came within a handful of RBI and hits of becoming the sport's first Triple Crown winner in more than 40 years, helping his team to a division title. He also is a terrific defender at first base and an efficient base-runner, too.
NL Cy Young: Chris Carpenter, St Louis Cardinals: Carpenter bounced back from a spate of arm injuries to win 17 games and lead the NL in ERA at 2.24. He did not do it with power, but still held opposing hitters to a .226 batting average and was the best starter in the league's best rotation. NL Manager of the Year: Jim Tracy, Colorado Rockies: When the Rockies fired Clint Hargrove after 46 games, they were 10 games under .500 and seemingly out of contention. But after Tracy took over, the Rockies went 74-40 into the final weekend and earn a most improbable play-off spot.
NL Rookie of the Year: Garrett Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates: Jones led all the NL rookies in homers despite playing exactly half the year. He also led the rookies in slugging percentage and was among the leaders in doubles and RBI. The 27-year-old was, in fact, one of the best stories of the season. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org