2010 MLB Awards Contain Few Surprises

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Looking back at a 2010 season that has been widely regarded as the Year of the Pitcher, there were a surprising number of impressive performances by players on both sides of the diamond. The official postseason awards, which have been trickling out during the month of November, call attention to the fact that having a strong offense can still make a huge difference.

Golden Glove and Silver Sluggers awards

While the MVP awards won’t be released until next week, the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards have all been announced. The Gold Gloves are supposedly about defense, but they always seem to go to players who shine on offense as well. In the National League, for example, offensive powerhouses Pujols, Tulowitzki, and Carlos Gonzales are all undeniably strong defenders, but they didn’t have standout years in that capacity.

When it comes to the Silver Slugger awards—given out to the best offensive player in each position in each league—the picture of the game’s best offensive players becomes even clearer. Pujols, Tulowitzki, and Gonzalez appear again in the NL, now joined by the likes of Zimmerman, Holliday, and Braun. In the AL, all the expected names are represented—including Guerrero, Hamilton, Crawford, Beltre, Cabrera, and Mauer. No surprises here.
Rookie of the Year
Things were a little more interesting in the Rookie of the Year category. On the NL side, everyone more-or-less assumed that the Giants’ catching phenom Buster Posey was going to take home the award thanks to his .305 average, 67 RBI, and 18 homers in just 108 games, plus his strong defensive presence. And when the Giants took home the championship, it was cemented. Atlanta’s Jason Heyward received a fair number of votes, but in the end it wasn’t close.

The AL ROY award was far less certain, even though the vote tally might suggest otherwise. Texas closer Neftali Feliz ended up taking the honor. His performance was certainly deserving, but many analysts suggest that he benefited from a relatively weak crop of 2010 rookies and that he might have had a tougher time winning the award in any other year. Second in the voting was Detroit’s Austin Jackson.
CY Young and MVP Awards
The Cy Young awards promised to be interesting given the extensive hype over pitching this year, but the choices are fairly obvious. Ubaldo Jimenez had clearly been the best in the NL during the first half of the season, but Roy Halladay made a strong push during the second half, while other contenders such as Wainwright, Hudson, Josh Johnson, and Lincecum certainly made their presences known all season long. In the end, you just couldn’t argue with Halladay’s great season, which consisted of a perfect came, a 21-10 record, and the second postseason no-hitter in history.

On the AL side, voting results won’t be released until the 18th, but the race is basically down to two contenders—Sabathia and Hernandez. While Sabathia played for a contender and received more winning decisions, Hernandez was clearly better, as the advanced stats indicate. However, award voters are notoriously allergic to the advanced stats, so it’s hard to guess which way this one will go.

Next week’s MVP awards could get interesting, but they’re not likely to surprise anyone. Voters in the NL could surprise us by giving the award to Carlos Gonzalez (who lead the league in average) or Joey Votto, but the award will likely go to Pujols, who led in the all-important homerun and RBI categories. In the AL, Josh Hamilton’s season certainly earned him the award, but voters may choose to favor Bautista and Cabrera due to their higher homer and RBI tallies.

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