Even though there's one regular season game to go between the Tigers and Twins, it won't make a difference in my conclusions for the post-season award winners. Here's the American League:
MVP: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Mauer's numbers are ridiculous for a player at any position, but for a catcher? Even with missing most of the first month of the season, Mauer set a career high in homers with 28, drove in 96 and batted over .370 for almost the whole season. A .442 on base percentage and that he's a fine defensive catcher only seals the deal. That his main protection in the lineup, Justin Morneau, was lost for the season in September only makes Mauer's accomplishments more amazing.
Other candidates, in order:
2. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
Teixeira put up great offensive numbers, played excellent defense and comported himself as a true professional while showing a feistiness that hadn't been seen in him before.
3. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
It's as if Jeter took the criticism that was levied against him for lost range to heart and regained his defensive quickness. He had his best offensive year since 2006 and again led the club with aplomb.
4. Jason Bay, Boston Red Sox
He slowed down as the season wore on, but Bay carried the Red Sox early in the season while David Ortiz was in a fog; he also played surprisingly solid defense and is a better all-around player than anyone realized.
5. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Cabrera quietly put up big numbers as one of the few threats in a top-heavy Tigers lineup.
Note: In my book, I picked Alex Rodriguez as the MVP. Presumably, he would've been in the running had he not torn the labrum in his hip. In retrospect, the injury might've been the best thing for ARod and the Yankees as the club was able to start the season without the ever-present distraction that ARod's been with the wild off-field lifestyle and the Selena Roberts hatchet job disguised as a book. His numbers ended solidly anyway.
Cy Young Award: Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals
Why is there even a debate? Greinke plays for a rotten team with a bad bullpen; his ERA was .33 better than his nearest competitor; and he was borderline unhittable for most of the season. You can make an argument for a couple of others, but not enough to deny Greinke of his award.
2. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Verlander had an excellent comeback season carrying the Tigers to the brink of the playoffs. He racked up the innings, strikeouts and wins; and pitched deeply into games accruing massive pitch counts and was a warrior.
3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
At age 23, Hernandez blossomed and was right there with Greinke in most categories.
4. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Rivera gave up seven homers this year, which is a lot for him; but he also remained the most elite closer in baseball history. At this point, he'll never get his due with a Cy Young Award unless there's a horribly down year for starters or he receives a "lifetime achievement" award as Dennis Eckersley did in 1992.
5. Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays
Dealing with a collapsing team and non-stop controversy stemming from his embattled (and now fired) GM J.P. Ricciardi, Halladay went out every fifth day and functioned as the horse he's been his whole career.
Note: I picked C.C. Sabathia for the award in the pre-season and while he had a very good, mostly consistent year, he didn't pitch well enough to warrant realistic consideration.
Rookie of the Year: Rick Porcello, Detroit Tigers
Porcello was everything the Yankees wanted Joba Chamberlain to be, but wasn't. He showed stunning composure for a 20-year-old, was handled carefully and on pitch counts, but not overly babied and dealt with being the number three starter in a pennant race maturely.
2. Andrew Bailey, Oakland Athletics
Bailey had a fine All Star season after taking over as the A's closer.
3. Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay Rays
Niemann finally got a chance to pitch in the big leagues and won 13 games.
4. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
Andrus dealt with the controversy of seeing popular veteran Michael Young shifted to third base to accommodate him and, at 20-years-old, played solid defense and stole 33 bases.
5. Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays
The comparisons to Johan Santana were a bit much, but Romero won 13 games and helped the Blue Jays get off to their great start with consistency and more.
Note: I picked Andrus to win the award before the season started and while he was solid, he's nowhere close to being the ROY.
Manager of the Year: Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels
They shouldn't even have a vote for this award, so it's pointless to name other candidates. The way Scioscia led the Angels to another division title under his watch is nothing to how he held the team together as they were set to implode and cash in the season after the tragic death of Nick Adenhart. He's not just their manager; he's their father and his work prior to this season was child's play compared to what he dealt with in 2009.