AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Buck Showalter, Texas. This team sucked last year. And they had A-Rod, Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez. Yet, a year later….without those guys….not only are they not in last place but are in the playoff hunt with a bunch of no-names and never-weres. Great job, Buck!!
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Bobby Cox, Atlanta. I hate this guy….but I respect what he’s done this year….and it also made me respect what he’s done over the past decade. Although, there is some nice talent on this team….they aren’t as dominant as they used to be. They lost Sheffield, Lopez and Maddux…and are using a 46-year old to help win games for them. Chipper Jones has had injury problems and Andruw Jones hasn’t been that great offensively. I gotta give this award to ya, Bobby.
AL CY YOUNG: Johan Santana, Minnesota. He may not win this award with Curt Schilling and Mark Mulder out there…but Santana is having a better year. He leads the AL in strikeouts…his ERA is around 3.00 and he‘s on a [most likely] division champion.. Not only that…but he’s getting better as the season rolls along.
NL CY YOUNG: Jason Schmidt, San Francisco. He should have started in the All Star Game in Houston…but everyone needed Clemons to get rocked on his home turf. Schmidt is 15-5 with an ERA under 2.80. Clemons is still a horse in this race…and Carl Pavano is having an excellent season…but as long as Schmidt keeps winning and people are interested in the Giants…he has a great shot!
AL MVP: Manny Ramirez, Boston. He up there in all of the triple crown stats…and is playing for a media darling. He should get the nod. If he slides…Gary Sheffield is right there…and they way he’s been playing of late could bring him some votes in.
NL MVP: Barry Bonds, San Francisco. I know, I’m tired of him winning these awards, too. But, who in the majors is more valuable to his team?? Bonds is sniffing the 700 home run mark after passing Willie Mays earlier this season. Add onto that his walks, on base percentage, batting average and slugging percentage. Think about it…he probably gets only 2 real pitches to hit a night….and both of those could leave the yard. Amazing. Pujols and Rolen will inevitably steal votes from each other and Beltre just doesn’t get anyone’s juices flowing.
BIGGEST AL SURPRISE: Cleveland. They have some great talent and have always had a solid farm system. Well, they all came together a little bit and are still in the wildcard hunt. Detroit has had a nice improvement from last year, too.
BIGGEST AL DISAPPOINTMENT: Seattle. It was close with Kansas City in there….but Seattle has more talent and less excuses. I mean, this team had Garcia, Boone, Olerud and Ichiro. I understand that their division is tough…but they are 23 games behind the THIRD place team. Ugh.
BIGGEST NL SURPRISE: San Diego Padres. New park, new faces….but this team is right in the thick of it with LA for the NL West title and the Giants, Marlins, Astros and Cubs for the wildcard. Their role guys have really stepped up. I’d also throw the Cincinnati Reds in the mix. Yeah, they’re under .500, but for a team that really had major holes in it and some major injuries occur….they’ve been quite formidable.
BIGGEST NL DISAPPOINTMENT: Houston. There are a lot of them. Arizona, Colorado and New York come to mind. But, I’ll stick with the Astros. They had Bagwell, Biggio, Berkman and Kent…and dealt for Beltran mid-season. They also got Roger Clemons and Andy Pettite to anchor their pitching staff. To get off this list….they BETTER make the playoffs.
BEST MOMENT OF 2004: It hasn’t happened yet….but Barry Bonds’ 700th home run. How monumental will that be?? Not only the 700 mark…but then just 15 behind Babe for the all-time left handed hitter record.