Awards voting is supposed to be completed prior to the start of the post-season so here is one man’s unofficial ballot for the major ones:
AL MVP. Ichiro Suzuki. My vote is based on the definition of most valuable player to his team not the league. Accordingly, no one was more valuable to his club than Ichiro. Without him the Mariners would have finished last in the Arizona Fall League not just the American League West. Using any definition, my vote would be the same. Suzuki broke one of the oldest records in baseball by amassing 262 hits in a single season and along the way provided plenty of excitement for the fans and opposing players, who admire him greatly.
NL MVP. Here comes the controversy. Barry Bonds is the overwhelming favorite and I acknowledge he is in a league of his own, but I would vote for Albert Pujols based on the definition cited above. There is absolutely no book on how to get Pujols out; just throw the ball and hope he hits it at someone. He is the most feared hitter in the game other than Bonds and is the engine that drives the Cardinals’ high-powered offense. He picks up everyone around him including Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds, both of whom were very good players prior to arriving in St. Louis but who now are superb players with Pujols in the lineup. Put just an average hitting first baseman in that lineup and the Cardinals are not nearly the same team.
AL CY Young. This is a tough one. Johan Santana has been unbeatable over the last half of the season. He ranks either first or second in every important pitching category. But my choice is Curt Schilling. He landed in Boston, unquestionably one of the biggest gold fish bowls in all of baseball and a team that was built to win now, damn it. And win he did. Schilling’s statistics are comparable to Santana’s but the pressures under which he labored were far greater, say, 86 years worth.
NL CY Young. The sentimental if not obvious choice has to be Roger Clemens. Great winning record that saved his team from its first half collapse and the near-fatal loss of Andy Petitte. Roger definitely stepped up when the going got tough. (P.S. Anyone who votes for Randy Johnson and cites a lack of run support from his teammates as the only reason his record wasn’t better should be denied a future vote. To whom, exactly, was he most valuable other than himself?)