National League—Mid-Season Award Winners

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Yesterday I listed my American League mid-season award winners. Now here’s the National League along with my preseason picks from my book.

MVP

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

He…doesn’t…take…crap.

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.

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Manager Of The Year Cannibalism

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The Manager of the Year voting is the most imprecise of all the MLB awards. There are no stats for managers so it’s a complete judgment call. The majority of the time, it goes to the manager whose team overachieves and not the manager who does the best job.

Naturally it’s subjective, but the end result winds up being cannibalistic. This is a convenient comparison to make since most of the mainstream writers appear to be the evil and unwanted offspring of the C.H.U.D. (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers).

Joe Maddon deserved to win the Manager of the Year award in the American League, but had his Rays not had that searing hot streak over the last month of the season to overtake the Red Sox for the Wild Card, my pick would’ve been Joe Girardi of the Yankees.

You can see my award winners here.

Girardi did an underappreciated and fantastic job with the Yankees this season, but came in fifth.

His pitching staff was short in the starting rotation and he and pitching coach Larry Rothschild got cheap, above-and-beyond production out of veterans Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia; they nursed along a rookie, Ivan Nova; and endured A.J. Burnett without strangling him. In the bullpen, Rafael Soriano was an injured and terribly performing nuisance; and Pedro Feliciano never threw a pitch for the team.

Giradi also navigated the difficulties of a declining megastar—Alex Rodriguez; a pair of aging and record-setting stars—Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter; and a near implosive collision with an irascible borderline Hall of Fame catcher with whom Girardi always had and presumably always will have a contentious relationship, Jorge Posada.

He handled it all and brought the Yankees home at 97 wins and an unexpected division title.

Because the Yankees have a $200 million payroll, there’s little attention given to the job the manager does; he gets the blame when things go wrong and nearly no credit when things go right.

This is where the cannibalism comes in.

Because the Rays lost their entire bullpen from a year ago; Matt Garza was traded; Carlos Pena departed as a free agent; and Manny Ramirez retired early in the season, Maddon had a lot on his desk to sift through and maintain respectability. He did.

The media at large tends to judge a manager on how the team was expected to perform…in the view of the media.

So if a voting writer picks the Yankees to win the division and they do, then Girardi isn’t going to get the credit for how it was achieved.

It’s a self-appraisal that has nothing to do with the manager’s work.

And it’s not the way to vote.

But what can you expect from a C.H.U.D.?

I suggest you be happy that they don’t drool on you and hope for the best.

Below is the C.H.U.D. trailer. The movie looks pretty bad, but then, so are most mainstream writers.

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