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March Magic Eight Ball: 2010 MLB Award Predictions

By Chris Jacobson

Major League Baseball is still twenty six days away and people are beginning to chomp at the bit for anything baseball related. As with my playoff predictions, I feel this an optimal time to make my 2010 award picks; a pick made in March is hard to remember in September.

National League MVP
This is the easiest of all award categories. Albert Pujols, Albert Pujols, Albert Pujols. There are plenty of guys that can take a run at “The Machine”, but he now has Matt Holliday behind him for a full season and may have his best season yet. Next in line for the award could be Hanley Ramirez. Playing for the fish last year Hanley quietly had an MVP caliber season and may have enough tools to win it in 2010. Ramirez hit .342 in 2009 while hitting 24 home runs and will not fly under the radar anymore. Prince Fielder puts up fantastic numbers with 46 homers and over 140 RBIs. A dark horse for the MVP is the Rockies Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo is primed to have a breakout season and if he can produce at the same level as he did in the second half of 2010 he has to be considered a top five candidate for the MVP.
Prediction: Pujols

American League MVP
The AL won’t quite be as easy to predict in 2010. Joe Mauer ran away with the MVP in 2009 and is probably the front runner in 2010. As a catcher Mauer hit .365 last season, no typo. Alex Rodriguez can never be counted out for this category. He has won three of the last seven MVPs and looks to make it four out of eight. Teammate Mark Teixeira finished second in voting in ’09 and may feel more comfortable this year after winning the series and getting used to the New York media. There are plenty of longer shots for the AL MVP but one to look at is Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays. The 2008 Rookie of the Year may be ready to take the next step into superstardom and may only be halted if the Yankees have the division won in June.
Prediction: Rodriguez

National League Cy Young
On paper this is a two horse race, Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay. Lincecum seems the obvious choice as he has won the award for the last two years. He has been as dominant as any pitcher in baseball during that time. He boasts a career ERA under three and has won forty games in his first three seasons. Unfortunately for Lincecum, while he was winning his Cy Youngs in the NL, Halladay was in the AL. Over the last seven years Roy has finished in the top five in Cy Young voting five times winning the award in ’03 and finishing second in ’08. Halladay also has something that Lincecum doesn’t have; a dominating offense to back him up. He will get a few “cheap” wins this year simply because of the power of the team’s offense. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have a chance at the award but might split votes with each other as they did last year. Someone to watch as the season progresses is Matt Cain, San Francisco’s number two pitcher had moments in ’09 that he looked every bit as good as Lincecum.
Prediction: Halladay

American League Cy Young
There are at least seven or eight starting pitchers who have a legitimate chance at winning this award. Zack Greinke won the award in ’09 for the hapless Kansas City Royals and should be better this year, however, "better" probably wont be good enough. Cliff Lee has moved back to the American League one year removed from winning the Cy Young and 22 games in ’08 for the Cleveland Indians. He is paired with Felix Hernandez in Seattle, forming the best one-two combination in the majors. King Felix finished second in voting in ’09. CC Sabathia has won the award before and looks to earn another with the powerful Yankees’ lineup behind him. Justin Verlander, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett all look to have great seasons and round off a partial list of possible winners. This one is anyone’s guess.
Prediction: Sabathia

In addition to the major awards there are a few interesting categories that should be mentioned. Coach of the year is category that usually measures a team that far exceeds expectations and this year won’t be any different. In the AL it will be a battle of “Rons” with Texas’ Ron Washington surprising Ron Gardenhire for the award. In the NL it is Bruce Bochy’s award to lose. His Giants are on the cusp of being a contender but give Lou Piniella a chance if he can keep his Cubs in contention.

The last awards are for the Rookie of the Year. This is a particularly tough category to choose as we haven’t seen these guys and so much of their potential is speculation. Now, with the disclaimer out of the way the National League Rookie of the Year will be Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves. Get used to hearing his name. Heyward is a five tool player and can hit for average, power and can run. Second in voting will be Madison Bumgarner who is already projected as high as the third pitcher in the Giants rotation. Sensation Steve Strasburg has a shot but is probably a year away as is hard throwing Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman. The AL has two front runners for the ROY award, Wade Davis of the Rays and Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers. Both are pitchers but look for Feliz to win the award as he will have the most opportunity to play for a fairly pedestrian Rangers pitching staff. Neftali can lazily crack 100mph and look for him to be a staff ace in just a couple of years. Desmond Jennings of the Rays flies around the base paths and may have a real chance at the award if he can stick in the majors.

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