Some Obvious, Some Oblivious: 2008 N.L. Award Predictions
National League Cy Young
Perhaps you're good with faces, or jerseys, or you've watched baseball in the past year. The guy above is Brandon Webb, and he will win the National League Cy Young by virtue of his 21-7 record and 3.26 ERA.
He's also only allowed 13 home runs all season. 170 strikeouts is a modest total, but as a groundball pitcher, he's as effective as they come. Much debate shouldn't hang over this award, but you may just have a case to vote for San Francisco's Tim Lincecum (17-3, 2.43 ERA).
Keep in mind that both pitchers would have much better records if not for their respective teams' lack of offense. But if it boils down to it (and that's what the awards represent), I'd take Webb's sinker over Lincecum's blazing four-seamer anyday.
National League Rookie of the Year
I don't know if you can even mention any other rookies in the same breath as the Chicago Cubs' Geovany Soto this season. To put it in perspective: If a player's first full season consists of a .286 batting average, 22 home runs, 34 doubles, 83 RBI, .996 fielding percentage, and a .865 OPS in only 135 games, he may be the best rookie in the league.
Soto lacks certain identifiable first-year mistakes from past ROYs, like an astounding number of strikeouts, a terrible batting average compared to a high number of HRs/RBI, complete ineptitude with regard to fielding.
If I had to pick a silver medalist for the ROY, it would be Jay Bruce of the Reds. His hot start had the limelight shoved his way, and a decent season was the result. In 99 games thus far, he has 99 hits, 19 round-trippers, and 49 RBI. Too bad he couldn't live up to hype that his first two weeks produced (a .552 BA, 16 hits, 12 runs, 3 home runs, and .667 OBP through eight games).
National League Manager of the Year
Many arguments could be made for any and all of the playoff-bound Senior Circuit teams' managers. The trials and tribulations Charlie Manuel has gone through, from having to manage a potential four-man rotation to slumping All-Stars, has polished his resume and given the team the necessary oomph needed to push for the postseason.
Jerry Manuel has taken over the Mets and brought them out of mediocrity to a late-season lead in the NL East. Joe Torre has brought first place in the N.L. West back to Los Angeles. Lou Piniella has taken a group of solid players and transformed them into the cream of the National League crop.
While I feel these managers all deserve kudos, Jerry Manuel is the man to whom the award should be given in 2008. Upon filling in after Willie Randolph's firing, Manuel has guided the Mets to an incredible .621 (46-28) winning clip.
Extrapolated over an entire 162-game season, that's an amazing 101 wins! He'll hopefully be given a hefty extension in addition to this year's MOY hardware.
National League Most Valuable Player
The logic here is often that the best statistics have yielded the most valuable players. Thus, Alex Rodriguez winning MVP on the doormat Texas Rangers' teams of yore. By this method, the St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols is the league's most valuable. He's second in the NL with a .354 average, to go with 101 RBI and 33 homers. Pujols has struck out a scant 51 times this season and has easily kept the title as the most feared player in the league.
If the Cards could win a bit more, he'd be a surefire lock for MVP. Others included in the talks are the Phillies' Ryan Howard, who leads the majors with 45 fourbaggers and 137 RBI, and Chase Utley, who has amassed 31 homers, 103 runs, 95 RBI, and a .290 batting average.
My bid, however, goes to the Mets' Carlos Delgado. While the team was squandering its hopes for the 2008 postseason, Delgado kept them in the race single-handedly, and that's what MVPs do. His numbers aren't going to blow you away, but the timeliness with which he exercised these stats is certainly the most valuable in the league.
If New York doesn't have Carlos, with his 36 HRs, 86 runs, 106 RBI and .861 OPS, they would be fighting for fourth place in the East.
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