Hot Stove League 2011 - II

Hot Stove League 2011 - II
It’s Awards Week for Major League Baseball this week as tomorrow we get the Jackie Robinson AL and NL Rookies of the Year, Tuesday the AL Cy Young Award winner is announced, Wednesday we get the Managers of the Year in the AL and NL, and Thursday we get the NL Cy Young Award winner. We’ve already had the Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers awarded, and very deserving Comeback Players of the Year, Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox and Lance Berkman of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Being named Rookie of the Year is not a guarantee of a long and productive career, but it’s a pretty good indication. Many awardees have gone on to greater glory as Cy Young and Most Valuable Players (only Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers ever won all three). Nobody thinks the NL contest will be close, as Craig Kimbrel, the Atlanta Braves’ stellar young closer, is expected to lap the field. In the American League, it’s more wide-open with young power hitters Mark Trumbo of the Los Angeles Angels and Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals expected to vie with starting pitchers Ivan Nova of the New York Yankees and Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays. I’ll say that Hellickson is going to claim the prize.

In the AL Cy Young Award race, it is no contest as Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers is the prohibitive favorite. In the NL, expect Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers to be crowned. Verlander’s body of work is totally compelling; Kershaw put on a great drive in September to get past other worthies such as Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies, the 2010 NL Cy Young Award winner.

Managers of the Year, in the NL it should be a close race between Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ron Roenicke of the Milwaukee Brewers, and yes, Tony LaRussa of the World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals who got his team into the post-season on the last day of the season. Remember, the votes were in prior to the post-season. I’ll say that Gibson is going to get the nod as his D-backs dethroned the reigning NL West and 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants.

In the AL, it’s going to be a tougher call as none of the division winners were surprises, so likely that leaves Joe Maddon of the wildcard Tampa Bay Rays. If anyone pulls off an upset here it might be Manny Acta of the Cleveland Indians, who kept the Tribe in the hunt for most of the season, bringing the fans back to Progressive Field.

Don’t forget Friday, when teams have to submit their lists of protected players for their major and minor league rosters, the first step that will culminate in the Rule 5 Draft on December 8.

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