Wow. What an end to the regular season. I know that many fantasy leagues had just as suspenseful an ending, including the FB365 Roto League. Congrats to all those who brought home a championship this season.
Piranhas - FB365 Roto
Joker in the Pack - FB365 H2H
Roy Oswalt's Groin - FB365 Dynasty (Year 1)
Now, on to the fun stuff. My personal MLB (and fantasy) awards and postseason predictions...
AL Manager of the Year - Joe Maddon
Yes, this literally came down to the last week of the season. Jim Leyland has done a great job in Detroit, but the way Maddon pushed all the right buttons down the stretch was incredible. He did it with Casey Kotchman at first base and Kyle Farnsworth at the back of his bullpen. Even his best player, Evan Longoria, missed time with injury and slumped for a large chunk of the season.
NL Manager of the Year - Kirk Gibson
It's one thing to have talent, it's another to get the best out of that talent. Under his wing, Justin Upton had his best season yet, cutting down his strikeout rate, a skill that entails discipline, something Gobson has instilled in his team, made a huge difference.
AL Rookie of the Year - Michael Pineda
While he faded in the second half, the debut season of Michael Pineda was a tremendous success. He posted a 3.53 xFIP with one of the best K/BB rates in the AL. He also struck out 173 in 171 innings.
NL Rookie of the Year - Craig Kimbrel
Normally, I would chose to shy away from a reliever when looking at who deserves Rookie of the Year. Position players have such more pronounced of an impact on a daily basis. However, Kimbrel had a truly amazing season, throwing 77 innings while posting nearly four strikeouts for every one walk. I fear, however, that his heavy workload will affect his numbers next season, in case you were thinking in terms of fantasy baseball.
Fantasy Baseball Rookie of the Year - Eric Hosmer
I decided to give this award to a player that gave fantasy teams a little bit of everything on the offensive end. Hosmer hit for AVG (.293), power (19 HR in 128 games) drove in runs (78 RBI) and even stole a few bases (11).
AL Cy Young - Justin Verlander
While wins are not the best stat to value a pitcher by, Verlander certainly earned his 24. If we compare the numbers, CC Sabathia ends up being quite the number one contender, but Verlander edged him in innings pitched, K/9 and BB/9.
NL Cy Young - Roy Halladay
In my mind, I wanted to give this award to Clayton Kershaw. He was soooo dominant and for a bad team, but Roy Halladay's season was just sightly more impressive in my eyes. The Phillies offense is not what it used to be. but that didn't stop Halladay from posting 19 wins. His 6.3 K/BB rate was the best in baseball. He also had the third lowest HR/9 rate in baseball.
Fantasy Baseball Cy Young - James Shields
The fantasy Cy Young is a bit different, as fantasy baseball is based on both performance and draft day value. James Shields had come off of a 5.18 ERA performance the year before. That performance made him a late round pick at best and, obviously, he provided those who used such a late round pick with tremendous value. Those looking toward 2012, however, might want to note his .258 BABIP while assessing his value.
AL MVP - Jose Bautista
The separation between Bautista and Jacoby Ellsbury is so minute that one might not be able to slide a piece of paper between them. Ellsbury had the edge on defense, but Bautista switched between right field and third base and then back again without hesitation when asked. On the offensive side, Baustista was flat-out the best hitter in the game, posting a major league best .441 wOBA, a major league best 43 home runs and he even hit over .300. Bautista drew more walks (132) than strikeouts (111) and that doesn't even count the 24 intentional walks he received. My vote goes to the best player, not the best player for a contender.
NL MVP - Matt Kemp
Again, this was a close call. Ryan Braun has an amazing season, but Kemp's 2011 numbers are out of this world. Kemp missed a 40/40 season by one home run and hit .324/.399/.586 while playing in 161 games, compared to 150 from Braun. Kemp also played the tougher defensive position.
Fantasy Baseball MVP - Alex Gordon
While players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson had breakout seasons, both were top ten round draft picks on draft day. Gordon, on the other hand, was a late round pick at best, going undrafted in some formats. Gordon hit .303/.376/.502 with 23 home runs, 17 stolen bases and 101 runs scored. All of those numbers became all the more valuable due to his 3B eligibility. He'll lose that eligibility next season, but those who took a chance on him early in the 2011 season we handsomely rewarded.
DET vs NYY
Sabathia and Verlander lock horns in a classic pitchers duel in game one, but the Yankees take the game 2-1, thus setting the tone for the series. The Yankees' offense carries them through.
TB vs TEX
Tampa Bay rides it's wild-card-high into Texas where they scrape together enough runs and play excellent defense, backing up their starting rotation depth.
STL vs PHI
Though the Cardinals made an incredible push to catch the Braves, they are stifled by the Phillies pitching, losing the series in three games.
ARI vs MIL
Arizona has the pitching, but so does Milwaukee. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder both put up big numbers, helping the Crew advance to the NLCS
TB vs NYY
This time, the Yankees roll out the A-squad. While the series goes seven, CC Sabathia wins two games and the series MVP.
MIL vs PHI
The pitching matchups are a thrill to watch, but the Brewers offense gets the job done, while Ryan Howard and the Phillies are unable to back up their starting staff.
NYY vs MIL
The Brew Crew can hit, they can pitch, they can run. They are too much for the Yanks and they win the World Series using their home field adantage to the max. The streets of Milwaukee flood with Blatz, PBR and Leinenkugel's.