Sunday marks the end of the 2008 Major League Baseball regular season. Four teams still remain in the hunt for two playoff spots, with the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers battling for the NL wild card, while the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins fight for the AL Central crown.
While these races have fans charged up for their October aspirations, the individual award races may be just as intense.
Here is a list of my choices for the winners of the 2008 MLB regular season awards.
NL Most Valuable Player - Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies, 1B
Howard has made the most of his first four seasons in the big leagues and is looking to add some more hardware to his trophy case this season. After a slow start to the season, Howard has come along in September, hitting .345 with 11 homers and 32 RBI this month. He leads the league in HRs and RBIs and led the Phillies to the NL East championship.
NL Cy Young Award - CC Sabathia, Milwaukee Brewers
No other pitcher has meant more to a team than CC this season. After joining the Brew Crew in July, Sabathia has gone 10-2 with a microscopic 1.78 ERA. He has struck out 121 batters in 121.2 innings with Milwaukee. Hitters are batting .227 against him.
NL Rookie of the Year - Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs, C
Soto has earned MLB experience in each of the last three seasons, but 2008 saw him become the Cubs' full-time backstop. He responded by hitting .285 with 23 HRs and 86 RBIs.
NL Manager of the Year - Lou Piniella, Chicago Cubs
Piniella has managed the Cubs to another NL Central division title. The 97 wins by Chicago is the second-most for a Piniella-managed team, falling short of the 2001 Seattle Mariners' 116 victories.
AL Most Valuable Player - Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins, 1B
Another MVP, another previous winner and another first baseman. His stats speak for themselves: .303, 23 HRs, 129 RBIs. And it doesn't hurt that Morneau's a stud in the field, making only 4 errors in 1389 total chances.
AL Cy Young Award - Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians
22-3. 2.54 ERA. 170 K's to only 34 walks. 'Nuff said.
AL Rookie of the Year - Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays, 3B
The AL East-champion Rays (it's still tough to get used to saying) have a bright future ahead of them with Longoria at the hot corner. At .274 with 27 HRs and 85 RBIs, Longoria could bring Tampa its first ROTY in franchise history.
AL Manager of the Year - Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays
Perennial cellar-dwellers no more. Maddon has built new-look Rays into a postseason player with a 96-win season in the major league's most talented division.
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