Pedroia, Lee Headline 2008 American League Award Winners

J JohnContributor ISeptember 30, 2008

    The season is over and October starts tomorrow.  That can only mean two things: playoff baseball and postseason awards.  This year's playoff teams are: the Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Chicago White Sox, and Boston Red Sox.  There were some good races for both the playoffs and for the postseason awards.  Here are my original awards picks, as well as my new picks.

MVP:   Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (New Pick)

          Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (Original Pick)

    Pedroia had arguably one of the best seasons in the American League, contending for both the batting title and a gold glove.  It also helps Pedroia's case that he plays for a team that will still be playing in October, something that can't be said for Rodriguez.  Last year's Rookie of the Year hit, .326 with 17 home runs 83 R.B.I.'s and 20 stolen bases.  He also led the American League in hits, doubles, and runs, and finished second in the batting race.  These stats and Pedroia's Gold GLove potential at second base should net him the MVP award.  Without Pedroia, the Red Sox, who dealt with several major injuries, would not be in the playoffs.

Cy Young:   Cliff Lee, Indians (New Pick)

                 Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees (Old Pick)

    Nobody saw this one coming.  Cliff Lee, who had a 6.29 E.R.A and was sent down to Triple A last year, had one of the most remarkable turnarounds in history.  Lee posted a 22-3 record with a 2.54 E.R.A. and 170 strikeouts in 223 1/3 innings.  Lee managed to lead the league in wins, E.R.A., walks per 9 innings, shutouts, and finished second in complete games and innings pitched.  Lee also gave Cleveland an ace after they shipped off C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona struggled with injuries this season.

Reliever of the Year:  Francisco Rodriguez, Angels (New Pick)

                              Francisco Rodriguez, Angels (Old Pick)

    I finally got one right.  This award, like the Cy Young, should be a no brainer.  Rodriguez posted a Major League record 62 saves with a 2.24 E.R.A. in 68 1/3 innings.  K-Rod also lived up to his nickname with 77 strikeouts this year.  The major league record holder in saves has a pretty solid lock on this award.

Rookie of the Year:  Evan Longoria, Rays (New Pick)

                            Evan Longoria, Rays (Old Pick)

    Longoria lived up to his hype of being an impact rookie.  He came up early this season and gave the Rays a season-long boost.  He managed to hit nearly 30 home runs and had almost 100 R.B.I.'s despite missing some time due to a wrist injury.  He posted a .272 batting average on the season, which suffered a bit after he tried to get back on track after his wrist injury.  Being a major contributor to one of the best teams in the league also helps Longoria.  He wins the award in what will probably be a close race between him and Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox, who also deserves consideration for the award.

Manager of the Year:  Joe Maddon, Rays (New Pick)

                              Ron Gardenhire, Twins (Old Pick)

    Joe Maddon presided over one of the most impressive turn-arounds in the majors.  Tampa Bay went from one of the worst teams in the majors to being a division winner with one of the best records in baseball.  Maddon was able to keep a young team in contention, while dealing with injuries that sidelined stars Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria for much of the last two months of the season.  Maddon deserves as much credit as anyone for the impressive turn-around of the Rays.  In any other year, Ron Gardenhire would have won the award for his job with the most underrated teams in the majors.  But, the bottom line is that Maddon, not Gardenhire, will still be managing in October.

Surprise of the Year:  Cliff Lee, Indians (New Pick)

                              Josh Hamilton, Rangers (Old Pick)

    Hamilton emerged into one of the top offensive threats in the American League.  However, his improvement from last year to this year wasn't enough to make him this year's surprise.  Lee went from a struggling major league pitcher last year to this year's probable Cy Young Award winner.  Lee won a starting spot in spring training and didn't look back from there, becoming an ace in Cleveland.  Nobody saw this coming from Cliff Lee, so he was easily the biggest surprise of 2008.

Disappointment of the Year:   Dontrelle Willis, Tigers (New Pick)

                                         Erik Bedard, Mariners (Old Pick)

    Both the Mariners and Tigers could have won this award as a team but, I want to limit this to individual performances.  Bedard was a disappointment with injuries but, he managed to pitch relatively well while he was healthy.  Dontrelle Willis started seven games for the Tigers and didn't manage to win any of them.  He posted a 9.38 E.R.A. for the Tigers after being acquired in one of the most high-profile moves of the off-season.  Willis' struggles with a team that were supposed to contend for the World Series is the main reason he wins this award.