Yesterday I listed my American League mid-season award winners. Now here’s the National League along with my preseason picks from my book.
1. Andrew McCutchen, CF—Pittsburgh Pirates
It’s a pleasure to watch a player who I knew would be a star the first time I saw him run out a triple begin achieve that vision; that he’s doing so for a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 1992 and suddenly finds itself in first place in the NL Central and is a legitimate playoff contender makes it all the more gratifying,
McCutchen is leading the Majors in batting at .362; he has a .414 OBP and .625 slugging with 18 homers and 14 stolen bases. It was almost as if he was sending a message on Sunday to let the world know that he’s not playing around; that this is the real McCutchen as he went 3 for 5 with 2 homers.
I’ve seen some random, inaccurate comparisons to Barry Bonds but in reality McCutchen is more like an Eric Davis-squared and is fulfilling what Davis was supposed to be but just barely missed becoming—an MVP.
2. Joey Votto, 1B—Cincinnati Reds
The Reds’ leader on and off the field is celebrating his new, long-term contract by replicating his MVP season of 2010. Votto is leading the Majors is OBP and OPS, has 35 doubles, 14 homers and is leading the NL in walks.
3. David Wright, 3B—New York Mets
It’s amazing what happens when a star player is healthy and playing in a home ballpark that no longer makes it necessary to change one’s swing to have a hope of hitting a few home runs.
Wright’s having his best season since 2007-2008 when he was an All-Star, MVP candidate, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner.
4. Ryan Braun, LF—Milwaukee Brewers
Those hoping he’d fall flat on his face after getting out of a PED suspension on a technicality are being horribly disappointed.
5. R.A. Dickey, RHP—New York Mets
Sylvester Stallone couldn’t conjure a story this ridiculous.
In my book I picked Troy Tulowitzki. He’s been injured.
Cy Young Award
1. R.A. Dickey, RHP—New York Mets
It’s not simply that he’s dominating and doing it with a knuckleball, but he’s throwing a knuckleball at 80+ mph and is able to control it. Hitters have looked helpless and he’s been the Mets’ stopper when they’ve appeared to waver in their greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts play.
2. Matt Cain, RHP—San Francisco Giants
The ace of the Giants’ staff is not named Tim Lincecum anymore.
3. Johnny Cueto, RHP—Cincinnati Reds
Cueto’s ill-conceived comments about Tony LaRussa aside, he’s had a great year.
4. James McDonald, RHP—Pittsburgh Pirates
Another Pirates’ player whose talent I lusted after is fulfilling his potential. This is how fiction-style stories of teams rising from the depths are written.
5. Cole Hamels, LHP—Philadelphia Phillies
His rumored trade availability, pending free agency and “look how tough I am” antics are obscuring how well he’s pitched as the Phillies’ empire crumbles around him.
My preseason pick was Lincecum. I think we can forget that now.
Rookie of the Year
1. Bryce Harper, OF—Washington Nationals
Considering his arrogant statements and behavior in the minors, I was dubious about his maturity. He’s proven me wrong and been an absolute professional handling the scrutiny like a 10-year veteran.
On the field, he’s the real deal.
2. Wade Miley, LHP—Arizona Diamondbacks
Miley has picked up for the inconsistent Ian Kennedy and the injured Joe Saunders and Daniel Hudson; the Diamondbacks would be buried in the NL West without him.
3. Todd Frazier, INF—Cincinnati Reds
He’s had more than a few big hits in picking up for the injured Scott Rolen.
4. Norichika Aoki, OF—Milwaukee Brewers
He’s 30 and a rookie in name only, but he’s batting .300 and has played well for the Brewers.
5. Wilin Rosario, C—Colorado Rockies
He’s struggled defensively and is a hacker, but he does have 14 homers.
My preseason pick was Yonder Alonso.
Manager of the Year
1. Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
2. Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals
Johnson was always a bridesmaid in the Manager of the Year voting. He still is. He’s dealt with the new age game that clearly grates on him with the pitch counts and the relentless “experts” from the outside questioning him; he’s also dealt with the Harper/Stephen Strasburg sideshows far better than other veteran managers dropped into the middle of it would.
3. Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers
They Dodgers have slumped lately, but Mattingly has proven he can handle pretty much anything.
4. Terry Collins, New York Mets
What he’s done with this team amid all the off-field distractions and non-existent expectations is Amazin’.
5. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants
Lincecum’s been horrific and he lost his closer but still has the Giants hovering around first place in the NL West.
My preseason pick was Johnson.