John Royal’s MLB Awards: Why Wait for the World Series?

With the regular season over, it’s soon going to be time to start handing out various postseason awards. Most won’t come until after the World Series has ended.

But why wait?

The National League Manager of the Year is Bob Melvin of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The media will focus on Charlie Manuel with the Phillies and how the Phillies recovered from an awful start and won a division with a crappy pitching staff. But the real manager of the year is down in the desert. The stars of Melvin’s team have been injured and missing in action for most of the season. His team had the lowest team batting average in the National League, and he’s been starting four rookies. Yet the D-Backs with finished the league’s best record. Richard Justice might like Charlie Manuel (it makes Ed Wade look good, after all), but the real answer has got to be Bob Melvin.

The National League MVP is Matt Holliday, the left fielder of the Colorado Rockies. He won the league batting title and he led the league in RBI. Sure, he plays in Coors Field, but he still hit over .300 on the road. He’s also a good defensive player, and he hit 11 homers in September, when it counted.

The NL Cy Young award winner should be San Diego’s Jake Peavy who led the NL in wins and ERA and strike outs. But it would be nice if the voters also threw some votes to Aaron Harang of the Cincinnati Reds. Playing in a bandbox that hitters love, Harang was still able to go 16-5 and get 205 strike outs in 223.2 innings. Those are fantastic numbers for a team as bad as the Reds.

The NL Comeback Player is Dmitri Young of the Washington Nationals. Young was virtually drummed out of baseball last season. He was dropped by the Detroit Tigers. He was arrested for domestic abuse. But he got his act together and the Nationals were willing to take a chance.

The NL Rookie of the Year. I argued earlier in the year for Hunter Pence. But he was injured and missed too much time. And Ryan Braun put up great numbers for the Brewers, but his defense was lacking. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hit .291 with a .479 slugging percentage. He had 177 hits, 33 doubles, 24 homers, and 99 RBI. And he played a Gold Glove caliber short.

And now for the American League:

The American League Manager of the Year should be John McLaren of the Seattle Mariners. He only managed for half a season. And the Mariners finished the season in a slump. But the Mariners finished with the fifth best record in the AL, and McLaren had to come aboard and guide the team after manager Mike Hargrove resigned without warning.

The American League MVP is Alex Rodriguez. His numbers are incredible. His defense is impeccable. And when nobody, nobody on the Yankees was performing, A-Rod was. He carried this team on his back in April and May. If not for his early season work, the Yankees miss the playoffs.

The American League Cy Young award winner should be John Lackey of the Angels. He was second in the AL with wins and led the league in ERA. He was also the one pitcher Mike Scioscia could rely on throughout the season. But I’d like to make an argument for Baltimore’s Erik Bedard. The Cy Young is supposed to be the award for best pitcher, and this guy pitched for one of the worst team in the majors yet was able to win 13 games and keep a very good ERA.

The AL Comeback Player of the Year is Carlos Pena with Tampa Bay. He didn’t have problems like Dmitri Young. He just never really lived up to his promise and teams kept dropping him. Tampa Bay took a chance on him and he ended up hitting .282 with 48 HRs.

The AL Rookie of the Year is Tampa Bay’s Delmon Young. He had a lot of hype with which to meet. And while he didn’t quite live up to it, he did put up decent numbers.

As for the Astros. The pitcher of the year is none other than Roy Oswalt. The rookie of the year is Hunter Pence. And my player of the year is Mike Lamb. All that Lamb did was produce whenever he was needed to produce while playing sporadically and at multiple positions. – John Royal