It’s that time of year again. With the regular season coming to a close UmpBumpers Coley, Paul, and Nick bring you our picks for the postseason hardware. As usual, these are not predictions of who we think *will* win, but picks for who we think *should* win, if the sportswriters had any brains at all!
NL Rookie of the Year
Coley: Buster Posey. It was hard to choose between Posey and Jason Heyward. They both had great seasons and both look like they’ll be fixtures at all-star games for years to come. And while Posey played fewer games, he excelled while playing a harder position. So he gets the edge.
Nick: Buster Posey. As Coley points out, the tremendous value that Posey provided at the catcher position outweighs the superior counting stats put up by Heyward. Posey was the MVP of the Giants from the day he was first called up. I actually have Heyward third in line, with my second place vote going to Cardinals hurler Jaime Garcia, who posted a 2.70 ERA in 28 starts.
Paul: Jason Heyward. Had Buster Posey been on the roster just a few weeks earlier, he probably would have gotten my vote. But Heyward had a great rookie year, showing both great plate discipline and power for someone so young. And because he was on the roster for the full year, he was the rookie who made the biggest impact.
AL Rookie of the Year
Coley: Austin Jackson. Above average CF with plus speed who hits for average.
Nick: Neftali Feliz. In a weak year for AL Rookies, Feliz stood head and shoulders above the crowd with his 2.73 ERA, 40 saves, and 71 strikeouts in 69.1 innings of work.
Paul: Austin Jackson. Danny Valencia is essentially the Buster Posey-lite of the AL. But again, because of playing time, Jackson gets the nod. But that K-rate has got to go down is he’s going to have a lengthy and productive career.
NL Manager of the Year
Coley: Bud Black. There’s no team this year that dramatically outperformed its Pythagorean record, so this is tough. But I’m going with Black because nobody thought the Padres would be in playoff contention and they were, right up until the last game of the regular season.
Nick: Dusty Baker. I know that Baker is a favorite whipping boy for a lot of stats-oriented bloggers, but he did a good job in managing a team few thought had any chance to its first playoff appearance in 15 years. He didn’t noticeably abuse his young pitchers, and he seems to have improved his management of the bullpen, showing that old dogs can sometimes learn new tricks.
Paul: Bud Black. $38M payroll. Rotation that only 5% of the baseball viewing public can name. Adrian Gonzalez and 7 other guys in the lineup who may as well be bunting every time they walk to the plate. Somehow managed to coax 90 wins out of the group and got incredible results out of his bullpen.
AL Manager of the Year
Coley: Ron Gardenhire. You could pretty much give it to this guy every year, right? Played much of the first half without Joe Mauer, the entire second half without Justin Morneau, and the entire year without Joe Nathan. He managed to coax an all-star quality year out of Carl Pavano!
Nick: Ron Gardenhire. This guy overachieves every year, and is possibly the best manager in the game today. Nobody would argue that the Twins have anywhere near as much talent as the Yankees, and they had some big injuries this year, yet they won only one game fewer than the Bombers.
Paul: Ron Gardenhire. Loses his best players to injuries and does not give a rat’s ass. Also, did not stop Carl Pavano from growing a mustache.
NL Cy Young
Coley: Roy Halladay. Who else? He is a big, bad man.
Nick: Roy Halladay. Easiest pick of them all.
Paul: Roy Halladay. Yes, Jimenez pitches in Coors Field. But pitching in Philly (in front of the ugliest freaking people on the planet) is not exactly easy either. Halladay dominated from beginning to end, amassing 250 innings of great pitching.
AL Cy Young
Coley: Felix Hernandez. I really wanted to vote for Cliff Lee, based mostly on his awesome K/BB ratio. But Hernandez was too good down the stretch and it’s hard to ignore that he lead the league in innings and ERA and strikeouts was second in strikeouts.
Nick: Felix Hernandez. In my mind King Felix was unquestionably the best pitcher in the American League this year, providing the best performance over the largest number of innings. Outside of wins and losses, his numbers are all downright sick. Indeed, it was amazing that he got to even 13 wins playing in front of one of the worst offenses in baseball history.
Paul: Felix Hernandez (Coley, you copycat). It was a near perfect season for Hernandez. The only thing you can really hold against him is that he signed with the Mariners.
Coley: Albert Pujols. This one is just a toss up between Pujols and Joey Votto, in my opinion. Pujols had more homers. Votto had a better OBP. Fangraphs says the two were nearly equal in WAR, but Baseball Reference says Pujols was a full win better. So I’ll go with Pujols. But you can’t go wrong choosing either guy.
Nick: Joey Votto. Votto had a monster season, exceeding all reasonable expectations, carrying his club for weeks at a time, and reviving in the process what had been a moribund franchise. No player in baseball was more valuable to their team this year.
Paul: Joey Votto. Mostly because I’m tired of talking about how awesome Albert Pujols is. But Votto’s pretty damned awesome himself. Also, Reds made the playoffs, which I think is a good tie-breaker.
Coley: Josh Hamilton. Despite missing the last month of the season, Fangraphs says Hamilton had a WAR of 8.1 — more than one win better than the next guy on the list. He was first in AVG and SLG, second in OBP. He was the man.
Nick: Josh Hamilton. He had a good team around him, played in a soft division, and missed significant time to injury, but when he did get on the diamond there was no better baseball player on the planet.
Paul: Josh Hamilton. Because God told me we’d all be banished to Saskatoon if we didn’t vote for his favorite son. That’s right. You’ve been ousted, Jesus.