With Albert Pujols pressing and failing early on, the zillion-dollar Angels were going nowhere. Then they called up Mike Trout and -- WOW! His hitting and running and energy almost carried the Angels into the playoffs.
The fact that he's a superb fielder at a difficult positon (CF) also should count for something in the AL MVP voting. His only real competition, Miguel Cabrera, is pretty much a hack at 3B for the Tigers.
Cabrera won the freakin' Triple Crown, something that only 14 other players in the history of baseball have done. He led his league in batting and home runs and RBIs while striking out fewer than 100 times, which in today's baseball is almost miraculous. He hit all those HRs despite playing in one of the majors' most pitcher-friendly ballparks; Prince Fielder, as powerful as he is, managed only 18 HRs at Comerica Park. Think about that.
Oh, and unlike Trout's Angels, Cabrera's Tigers won their division, rallying from a 3-game deficit with two weeks to go.
So while some of the sabermetricians might be rattling their sabres on Trout's behalf, bringing up statistics both great and silly, I don't know how any voter can choose any guy who didn't become the first Triple Crown winner in nearly half a century.
Meanwhile, in the NL ...
There seem to be more guys who could make a legitimate MVP claim.
Ryan Braun, the controversial winner over L.A.'s Matt Kemp last year, actually had better stats for the Brewers this season. And you know what? He won't (and shouldn't) be MVP for the same reason Kemp wasn't (and shouldn't have been) last year. Even with their late-season rally, the Brewers were never really serious contenders, just as Kemp's Dodgers didn't contend in 2011. That means something.
Andrew McCutchen had a breakout season for the Pirates, but he wasn't great in September as Pittsburgh limped home to a 20th straight losing campaign.
For me, it comes down to one of two catchers, San Fran's Buster Posey or St. Louie's Yadier Molina.
Should Posey get the award, good for him, he's very worthy. He hit for power, drove in 100+ runs and carried the Giants offensively to the NL West title after Melky Cabrera got suspended for juicing.
Having said that, I'd vote for Molina. The best defensive catcher since Pudge Rodriguez's heyday -- and nobody else is really even in the picture, folks -- how many runs does he save over the course of a season? I'd guess dozens. He also guided an injury-filled pitching staff to a season that led to a playoff berth. And now he can really hit, as his .315 - 22 - 76 line demonstrates.
Yes, Posey has better offensive numbers across the board. As I said, he'd be a great choice. I fully admit my vote would be kind of a Career Achievement Award.
AL Cy Young: David Price, Rays. The whole package.
NL Cy Young: R.A. Dickey, Mets. Back to back 1-hitters part of an amazing, knuckleballing story.
AL Rookie: Mike Trout, Angels. Duh!
NL Rookie: Todd Frazier, Reds. More RBIs, higher OPS than Bryce Harper.
AL Manager: Bob Melvin, A's. With all due respect to Buck Showalter, at least I could have named three Baltimore players before the season began.
NL Manager: Davey Johnson, Nationals. Young team arrived at least a year earlier than most expected.
Special Award For Handling Young Pitcher Coming Off Tommy John Surgery: Atlanta Braves. Because they let Kris Medlen spend the first half of the season in the bullpen, the Braves are going to have their young ace (10-1, 1.57 ERA) available for the playoffs. The Nationals, meanwhile, burned out Stephen Strasburg, and go into the postseason without their stud.
Special Commissioner's Award For Keeping Lots Of Baseball Towns Excited All Season: Bud Selig. Yes, the commissioner's award goes to the Commish himself for the excitement that the second wild-card team brought. It also made winning a division title hugely important. I admit I was skeptical at first, but if I'm going to bash him when he does something silly, gotta give him credit for a great idea.
AL Wild Card
Rangers over Orioles. Purely a choice of Yu Darvish over Joe Saunders. Joe Saunders? Really, Buck?
NL Wild Card
Braves over Cardinals. Going with Medlen in great matchup vs. Kyle Lohse. Call it payback for the way last year's regular season ended.
Yankees over Rangers. Should be a slugfest, with the Yankees having the final slug thanks to homefield advantage.
Tigers over A's. Not saying I don't believe in the A's, but I don't believe in Justin Verlander letting the Tigers lose to the A's.
Reds over Giants. I at first wrote Giants over Reds. That's how close I think this series will be. Reds have edge in offense and bullpen, and I think that will be enough.
Braves over Nationals. Sure would be nice to have one more arm, Nats. Chipper isn't ready for career to end.
Yankees over Tigers. Because Verlander can't pitch 3 times and the Yankees have a much more balanced lineup.
Reds over Braves. One more crack at the title for Dusty Baker.
Yankees over Reds. It's not 1976 anymore, and the Reds don't have Johnny Bench. But Yankee fans shouldn't get too excited because I can't remember the last time I got the World Series winner right!