The 2011 Major League Baseball season has been filled with a number of breakout performances and pleasant surprises. As we enter the final week of the season, it is finally time to hand out baseball's top awards to the most worthy of candidates.
There have been grueling debates over who deserves to win some of the games top awards in recent weeks, especially surrounding both the AL and NL MVP races. With the votes in, we can finally put it all to rest.
Instead of handing out the awards according to personal opinion, I asked my fellow MLB Featured Columnists here at Bleacher Report to go to the ballot box. With votes in from 58 different baseball minds, we are finally ready to hand out the hardware.
I can assure you there were no dimpled chads, so there will be no need for a re-count.
Without further adieu, here are B/R's 2011 Major League Baseball Award Winners.
1. Kirk Gibson (70.7 percent)
2. Ron Roenicke (15.5 percent)
3. Charlie Manuel (10.3 percent)
4. Tony LaRussa (1.7 percent)
5. Other (1.7 percent)
Not much of a surprise here, as Kirk Gibson has led a surprising young Arizona Diamondbacks squad to the NL West title during his first season as manager.
Former D-Backs manager Bob Melvin previously won the award with the team after the 2007 season.
1. Joe Maddon (46.6 percent)
2. Manny Acta (29.3 percent)
3. Joe Girardi (13.8 percent)
4. Ron Washington (6.9 percent)
5. Other (3.4 percent)
With the Rays fighting to the very end, literally, Joe Maddon has led the team to another great season amid player turnover.
This would be Maddon's second Manager of the Year Award, previously winning it in 2008 in leading the Rays all the way to the World Series.
1. Lance Berkman (64.3 percent)
2. Ryan Vogelsong (28.6 percent)
3. Carlos Beltran (5.4 percent)
4. Kyle Lohse (1.8 percent)
After a disappointing 2010 season split between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, Lance Berkman came back with a fury in 2011. He looks to end the season with 30-plus home runs and a .300-plus average for the first time since 2006.
Cardinals teammate Chris Carpenter was the recipient of the award in 2009.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury (50.9 percent)
2. Bartolo Colon (22.8 percent)
3. Josh Beckett (15.8 percent)
4. Melky Cabrera (7.0 percent)
5. Other (3.5 percent)
Jacoby Ellsbury was one of the many injured Red Sox players last season, playing in a mere 18 games before going down with an injury.
Ellsbury has come back to have the best season of his career, hitting 28 home runs with a .320 batting average while putting himself in the MVP discussion.
He will be the first Red Sox player to win the award.
1. Craig Kimbrel (68.4 percent)
2. Freddie Freeman (15.8 percent)
3. Vance Worley (10.5 percent)
4. Josh Collmenter (3.5 percent)
5. Danny Espinosa (1.8 percent)
The battle for NL Rookie of the Year came down to two members of the Atlanta Braves. Voters gave the nod to closer Craig Kimbrel, who leads the National League with 46 saves.
The 23-year-old has held batters to a 2.00 ERA and .175 BAA through over 76 innings.
Kimbrel would join a deep class of Braves' ROY winners, including Alvin Dark (1948), Sam Jethroe (1950), Earl Williams (1971), Bob Horner (1978), David Justice (1990) and Rafael Furcal (2000),
1, Mark Trumbo (31.5 percent)
2T. Michael Pineda (18.5 percent)
2T. Jeremy Hellickson (18.5 percent)
4. Eric Hosmer (16.7 percent)
5. Ivan Nova (14.8 percent)
The AL Rookie of the Year voting ended up being close across the board, with Mark Trumbo of the Los Angeles Angels proving victorious in the end.
Stepping in for the injured Kendry Morales, Trumbo has slugged 29 home runs while driving in 87 runs.
Tim Salmon is the lone Angel to bring home the ROY Award, which he did during the 1993 season.
1. Clayton Kershaw (72.4 percent)
2. Roy Halladay (13.8 percent)
3. Cliff Lee (8.6 percent)
4. Ian Kennedy (5.2 percent)
There is no question that Clayton Kershaw deserves the NL Cy Young Award, as the southpaw is currently in line for the pitching Triple Crown.
Kershaw has pitched to a 2.27 ERA with 242 strikeouts in 226 innings this season.
The Dodgers have many previous Cy Young Award winners, including Don Drysdale (1962), Sandy Koufax (1963, 65-66), Mike Marshall (1974), Fernando Valenzuela (1981), Orel Hershiser (1988) and Eric Gagne (2003).
1. Justin Verlander (98.2 percent)
2. Jered Weaver (1.8 percent)
I'm surprised Justin Verlander didn't garner 100-percent of the votes, as he's put together one of the most dominant pitching seasons in recent MLB history.
Verlander—who is 24-5 with a 2.29 ERA—has literally run away with the AL Triple Crown while leading the Tigers to the AL Central division title.
Denny McClain (1968-69) and Willie Hernandez (1984) have previously brought home the hardware for the Tigers.
1T. Ryan Braun (38.6 percent)
1T. Matt Kemp (38.6 percent)
3. Justin Upton (15.8 percent)
4. Prince Fielder (3.5 percent)
5. Other (3.5 percent)
Is this foreshadowing what's to come? Might we have the first co-MVP's since Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell shared the honors in 1979?
In many ways, this would be a fitting end to what will surely be a highly debated NL MVP race.
Kemp has put together one of the most impressive seasons in recent baseball memory, while Braun is statistically right there with him across the board. The lone difference is, Kemp's Dodgers are a far cry from being a playoff contender, while Braun has led the Brewers to their first division title since 1982.
Kemp would be the 13th NL MVP in Dodgers history, while Braun would follow only Rollie Fingers (1981) and Robin Yount (1982, 89).
1. Justin Verlander (41.4 percent)
2. Curtis Granderson (27.6 percent)
3. Jose Bautista (15.5 percent)
4. Adrian Gonzalez (6.9 percent)
5. Jacoby Ellsbury (5.2 percent)
6. Other (3.4 percent)
The voter's have spoken. Justin Verlander's quest to become the first pitcher to win the MVP Award since 1992 looks all the more possible.
As much as baseball purists may disagree with a pitcher winning the award in today's baseball, it's very hard to argue against how valuable Verlander has been to the Detroit Tigers this season.
With Verlander on the mound, the Tigers have a .758 winning percentage, while without him, that number drops to .533.
Verlander would be the 11th MVP in team history, joining Denny McLain (1968) as a winner of both the Cy Young and MVP Awards.
Jeffrey Beckmann is a MLB Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Jeffrey on his new Twitter account for all of his latest work. You can also hear him each Friday at 1 p.m. EST on B/R Baseball Roundtable.