Wrapping up the 2010 Major League Baseball season.
THREE BIGGEST STOREIS
1. Umpire Jim Joyce blows call at first base to cost the Tigers' Armando Galarraga a perfect game and starts the debate about using replay in baseball.
2. Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg strikes out 14 in his big-league debut but pitches only 12 games before being lost for a year with elbow surgery.
3. The Rays clinch their second playoff spot in three years but continue to struggle with attendance issues.
-- AL: What a strange year to pick an MVP. Do you go with the Rangers' Josh Hamilton, who was having a monster season until he missed most of the past month with an injury? Or do you go with the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who put up huge numbers for a non-contender? Or, you could split the difference and take the Yankees' Robinson Cano, who put up good numbers for a good team. Yes, Cabrera's power numbers were better than Hamilton's: 38 HRs compared to 32 and 126 RBIs compared to 98. Hamilton was hit .359 to Cabrera's .328. In the end, the question is: Whom would you rather have this season? The answer: Hamilton.
-- NL: It seems strange not to just fill in Albert Pujols' name and move on. Pujols is a three-time MVP and won the award the past two seasons. He put up big numbers again, leading the NL with 42 homers and 118 RBIs while hitting .312. And if we're starting a team today, Pujols would be our first pick. But this time, the Cardinals' disappointing season hurts him. Players on postseason teams do get a little extra credit. Because of that, our pick is someone no one thought would be an MVP before this season: first baseman Joey Votto, the chief reason the Reds are headed to the postseason for the first time since 1995.
-- AL: There's a big push out there for the Mariners' Felix Hernandez, who wound up 13-12 because he plays for a crummy team. Everyone talks about how he had it easy pitching in the weak AL West as opposed to the Yankees' CC Sabathia and the Rays' David Price. But Hernandez was 3-0 with a 0.35 ERA against the Yankees and 5-1 with a 0.63 ERA against the AL East. Meantime, Sabathia won 21 games, but 10 of those came against last-place teams. Hernandez might be the best pitcher in baseball, but how can you go with a player who won 13 games? This might seem like a homer pick, but our choice is Price, who won 19 games, gave up just about a half-run less a game than Sabathia and was the Rays' rock in the rotation.
--NL: This was Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez's award to lose halfway through the season, but lose it he did with a so-so second half. The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright won 20 games, but he wasn't great down the stretch, either. Meantime, the Phillies' Roy Halladay had another amazing season, including going 11-3 to start the second half. Halladay is our pick to become the fifth pitcher to win the award in both leagues.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
-- AL: The Tigers' Austin Jackson collected his 181 hits. But our choice is Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who had converted 40 of his 43 save chances.
NL: This is a two-kid race. Really, you can flip a coin between the Braves' Jason Heyward and the Giants' Buster Posey. Their power numbers are fairly close, but remember Posey didn't get called up until two months into the season. Posey has hit for a better average, while Heyward is a better baserunner. Offensively, Posey has been a touch better. But here's what puts it over the top: Posey has spent most of the season catching, the most demanding position on the field. Our choice: Posey.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
-- AL: We're tempted to list the Rays' Joe Maddon just to tick off all those people who criticize him. Plus, Tampa Bay's record says flat-out that he's doing a good job. We love the Twins' Ron Gardenhire, but our pick is the Rangers' Ron Washington.
-- NL: The sentimental pick is the Braves' Bobby Cox, who says this will be his last season. Atlanta has been a surprise, and Cox has done a nice job, but even though they just missed the playoffs, the Padres had a stunning season under Bud Black. He's our choice.