Dan Schlossberg's Final Weekend Notebook: Awards Picks Are Easy This Year • Latino Sports

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Dan Schlossberg’s Final Weekend Notebook: Awards Picks Are Easy This Year

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Picking the winners of baseball awards is usually a task frought with tough choices.

But not this year.

While the tendency of most writers is to give Most Valuable Player awards to hitters, Clayton Kershaw’s season was too historic to ignore. He’s the choice for National League MVP over Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who thrived despite playing in a big ballpark in a season dominated by pitchers. But the decisive factor in the Kershaw vote was that his team will continue playing after the regular season ends. Without him, it wouldn’t.

Mike Trout should win his first MVP this year

Mike Trout should win his first MVP this year

The American League MVP race is also a given. Mike Trout, the Jersey boy who made good on the West Coast, already has the All-Star Game MVP trophy and deserves more hardware for carrying the Los Angeles Angels to a runaway title in the competitive AL West. Trout already may be the best player in the game and will only get better.

As for the Cy Young awards, Kershaw stands head-and-shoulders above Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto, the NL’s other big winners this year. If he doesn’t win this one unanimously, MLB should order its umpires to investigate the voting.

The American League is a bit tougher, especially since King Felix suffered several September meltdowns while Cleveland’s unsung Corey Kluber emerged as a strikeout sensation — with consecutive 14K games this month. With his September surge, Kluber deserves the nod over midseason favorite Max Scherzer, who stepped up big-time when erstwhile ace Justin Verlander faltered.

Jacob deGrom was the top rookie in the National League

Jacob deGrom was the top rookie in the National League

Yet another pitcher, Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, should be National League Rookie of the Year, thanks to a late run of excellence that toppled midseason favorite Billy Hamilton of the Reds. Like Willie McCovey in 1959, deGrom came up late but performed brilliantly once he arrived. Hamilton, despite his speed, simply didn’t reach base enough to make Cincinnati forget Shin Soo Choo, who traveled to Texas via free agency last winter.

The American League pick is Chicago White Sox prodigy Jose Abreu, a Cuban first baseman who led all big-league rookies in hits, runs, RBI, total bases, home runs, and slugging. Only Minnesota’s Danny Santana had a better batting average among freshmen. Masahiro Tanaka, the early favorite, faltered when his elbow started barking in midseason.

Comeback of the Year honors are a no-brainer in the National League, where Francisco Rodriguez became K-Rod again after the Milwaukee Brewers plucked him off the scrap heap. Edinson Volquez, whose revival in Pittsburgh pushed the Pirates into the playoffs again, should also receive strong consideration.

In the American League, Phil Hughes showed the Minnesota Twins pulled off a major coup in picking him up after the Yankees left him for dead. After slipping to 4-14 and a 5.19 earned run average last year, Hughes returned to the world of the living with a 16-win campaign. He should have lots of life left in his 28-year-old arm.

Albert Pujols made a great comeback this year (Image Credit: Lisa Luevanos)

Albert Pujols made a great comeback this year (Image Credit: Lisa Luevanos)

Managers of the Year have to be Buck Showalter, whose Baltimore Orioles left the rest of the AL East in the dust, and Matt Williams, whose Washington Nationals responded to the rookie pilot by burying the opposite division in the Senior Circuit.

The “official” hardware won’t be announced until the World Series ends but most of the names mentioned above seem like locks. Even Las Vegas oddsmakers would probably agree.

Elsewhere around the majors:

After finishing with the worst record in the majors, the Arizona Diamondbacks didn’t wait til season’s end to start rebuilding. New director of baseball operations Tony La Russa hired former player and player agent Dave Stewart as his general manager and then canned manager Kirk Gibson, along with bench coach Alan Trammell (although Trammell got to manage the final weekend after his ouster). La Russa said he wants to “start fresh” for 2015 . . .

Will the Braves be next to start fresh? Atlanta 52-43 at the All-Star break but 27-40 since, even though Braves pitchers led the majors with 110 quality starts . . .

Freddie Freeman (Braves) and Hunter Pence (Giants) are the only National Leaguers who played the full 162-game schedule . . .

Craig Kimbrel led the NL in saves again

Craig Kimbrel led the NL in saves again

Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel, whose 47 saves again led the NL,  has the highest strikeout percentage of any pitcher with at least 150 saves . . .

Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, the biggest little man in baseball, has ended Miguel Cabrera’s string of three consecutive batting titles . . .

Although Minnesota’s Joe Mauer is now a first baseman, he remains the only catcher ever to win three batting crowns . . .

Billy Hamilton (Reds) lost valuable time to make a last impression in the NL rookie race when he suffered a minor concussion when smashing into an outfield wall to rob Ryan Braun (Brewers) of a home run September 24 . . .

How did Justin Upton (Braves) produce his first 100-RBI season with no table-setters in front of him? . . .

Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty got a multi-year extension even though the injury-riddled Reds were never really a factor in the National League Central . . .

Bobby Abreu, going in the opposite direction from Jose, finally got smart and hung up his spikes . . .

With Cole Hamels (Phillies) starting against erstwhile reliever James Russell (Braves) on Sunday, who could have guessed that the Atlanta journeyman would out-pitch the star southpaw? . . .

After breaking off talks with Anaheim about a new ballpark, the Angels are exploring other options, including koving elsewhere in Southern California . . .

Hard to believe Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt turned 65 Sunday . . .

Inserted as a late-game defensive replacement, leftfielder Steven Souza, Jr. made the game-saving catch that preserved Jordan Zimmermann’s Sunday no-hitter, the first in the history of the Washington Nationals . . .

Cleveland’s Michael Brantley has to be the unsung hero of the American League this year . . .

Jose Altuve, who led the majors in hits and average, is the first batting champion in Houston history . . .

Jose Altuve led the AL in hits and batting

Jose Altuve led the AL in hits and batting

Michael Jordan loves to remind Derek Jeter that he owns six world championship rings, one more than the now-retired Yankee captain . . .

Speaking of ex-Yankees, pitcher Phil Hughes lost $500,000 because it rained. He pitched eight innings Wednesday and needed only one out in the ninth to reach 210 innings pitched and trigger the bonus clause. But it rained, causing a 66-minute delay, and Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire thought he shouldn’t come back . . .

Under Peter Angelos, who bought the Baltimore Orioles in 1993, the O’s have had nine general managers — one before Hall of Famer Pat Gillick and six more between Gillick and current chief baseball executive Dan Duquette . . .

According to the Society for American Baseball Research, the best defensive players of 2014 were Josh Donaldson (A’s) and Kyle Seager (Mariners) in the AL and Jason Heyward in the NL . . .

Atlanta mystery: how B.J. Upton wound up with more home runs than Heyward . . .

Houston players like interim manager Tom Lawless so much that he’s become a strong contender for the regular job, though former slugger Phil Nevin, Arizona’s Triple-A manager, will also be interviewed . . .

Did the Yankees spend wisely on Brian McCann? Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Did the Yankees spend wisely on Brian McCann?
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Now that the Yankees have finished their second season without making the playoffs, maybe GM Brian Cashman wasn’t so smart to spend $438 million on free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Tanaka . He’s spent $2.139 billion (with a B) on Yankee payrolls over the last 10 seasons but has only one world championship to show for that investment.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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