Want to debate? How about we debate some of the most competitive categories at this year's ESPY Awards?
I've picked the three categories that are particularly stacked and offered some of my own analysis for who I think will win (and in some cases, who I think should win but probably won't). But this isn't a one-way conversation, so make sure you join the debate in the comments.
To the awards!
Best Male Athlete
Nominees: LeBron James, Miami Heat; Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers; Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings; Michael Phelps, Olympian
Analysis: This one is brutal.
James won another MVP, led the Miami Heat to a second consecutive NBA title and won a gold medal in last summer's Olympics.
Cabrera became the first American League player to win the Triple Crown since 1967, and led the Tigers to the World Series.
Peterson recovered from offseason surgery on a torn ACL to rush for 2,097 yards (second-most in NFL history) and 13 touchdowns, while leading the Vikings to the playoffs. Oh, and he was once again one of the most fun players to watch in the NFL.
And then there is Michael Phelps, who won four golds and two silvers at last summer's London Olympics, putting a cherry on the top of the most decorated career in Olympic history.
This is a stacked category, and both Cabrera, Peterson and Phelps were historically good. But when in doubt, go with the most popular player.
And in this case, arguably the most dominant athlete in sports today.
Prediction: LeBron James
Best Breakthrough Athlete
Nominees: Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers; Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers; Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Analysis: I'll argue two things right off the bat. First, Puig doesn't deserve to be on this list after one freaking month of play, not when everyone else on this list played an entire season (or in the case of Kaepernick, the better portion of a season).
And secondly, Trout deserves to win. He wasn't just good last year, he had arguably the greatest rookie season in baseball history.
He was the first player ever to hit 30 home runs, steal 45 bases and score 125 runs in a season. He led the American League in runs scored (129) and stolen bases (49). His WAR (10.9) last season was the 21st-best WAR in baseball history. And in any season where there wasn't a Triple Crown player, he would have been the MVP.
Don't get me wrong, Kaepernick, Manziel and Wilson were all amazing and would normally be worthy winners. Manziel probably won't win given all of the off-field business this year, but Kaepernick and Wilson have a shot.
Ultimately, I think Kaepernick will win given both his exciting style of play and the fact that he took the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
But it should be Trout. And it shouldn't be close.
Prediction: Colin Kaepernick
Nominees: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos; Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings; Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants; Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Analysis: You may think this will only be between Peterson and Manning, but think again.
Posey came back last season to win the NL MVP and a World Series ring. He hit .336 with 24 home runs and 103 RBI, and did so at catcher, a traditionally light-hitting position. His performance in 2012 was pretty special.
Rivera returned from a torn ACL and has 30 saves this year, but c'mon—he's a closer. And a closer isn't going to hang with Manning or Peterson.
I've already listed Peterson's stats, but his freakishly fast recovery from offseason surgery on his ACL was one of the more remarkable athletic feats I can remember in some time. He truly is a specimen.
And then there is Manning, whose career was on the line after having multiple surgeries on his neck. But after missing an entire season, he threw for 4,659 pass yards and 37 touchdowns last season, leading the Broncos to the best regular-season record (tied with the Atlanta Falcons) and a berth in the playoffs.
I just can't imagine Peterson not winning this award. As amazing as the other three guys were, Peterson's season last year was just so darn epic.
Prediction: Adrian Peterson
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