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AL Central In Review: Awards Time

Well, the Sox couldn’t quite dig themselves out of the 2-0 hole that they dug for themselves in Tampa, so one week after their dramatic victory over the Twins in a one-game tiebreaker, it’s already the offseason for the last team standing in the AL Central. It was an interesting season, if not a dominant one for any squad. Detroit and Cleveland were expected to dominate, but they underachieved and finished last and third, respectively. Minnesota and Chicago were tabbed for the second division, but they were the only factors in the race from June onward.

So, since it’s the end of the year, the simple thing to do would be hand out awards for the best performances of the year, and I’m all about the simple thing at this point.

AL Central MVP: Joe Mauer, Twins (.328/.413/.451, 9 HR, 85 RBI)
Apologies to: Justin Morneau, Twins (.300/.374/.499, 23 HR, 129 RBI), Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (.292/.349/.537, 37 HR, 127 RBI), and Carlos Quentin, White Sox (.288/.394/.571, 36 HR, 100 RBI)
This is the award that nobody wanted to win, apparently. It was all Quentin’s through mid-August, when he fragged himself out of the lineup. Morneau was the next heir apparent, but his disappearing act as the Twins lurched along in September gave his final numbers an empty feeling. Cabrera has the stats, but most of those impressive totals were accumulated after the Tigers fell out of the race early on. That leaves Mauer, who almost certainly won’t get much love from the writers for league MVP because of his unimpressive homer and RBI numbers. However, he won his second batting title (the only AL catcher to do that, ever) and stayed healthy all season, filling box scores in the process.

AL Central Cy Young: Cliff Lee, Indians (22-3, 2.54 ERA)
Apologies to: John Danks, White Sox (12-9, 3.32 ERA)
No surprise here, as Lee continued his dominance even after his hefty rotation compatriot, C.C. Sabathia, was shipped to Milwaukee. Lee was incredibly consistent, living on the black all year long and making batters look silly. Danks was excellent, but not anywhere near Lee’s class.

AL Central Rookie of the Year: Alexei Ramirez, White Sox (.290/.317/.475, 21 HR, 77 RBI)
Apologies to: Denard Span, Twins (.294/.387/.432, 6 HR, 47 RBI), Armando Galarraga, Tigers (13-7, 3.73 ERA)
Ramirez may have as much athletic ability as the rest of the Sox’ lineup put together, and he provided a needed spark and bit of flash at the plate and in the field. Span surpassed all expectations filling in for an injured Michael Cuddyer, and Galarraga was the surprising rock of Detroit’s rotation.

AL Central Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire, Twins
Apologies to: Ozzie Guillen, White Sox
This one could have gone either way, but Gardy almost certainly had less to work with than Ozzie, and they had identical results through 162 games. Gardenhire continues to do it with mirrors, as the Twins actually improved after cutting ties with the best pitcher in baseball (Johan Santana), a perennial Gold Glover in center (Torii Hunter) and the worst free-agent pitcher signing since Barry Zito (Carlos Silva). Who woulda thunk it? Meanwhile, Ozzie held things together despite attacks from both without and within.

Enjoy the offseason, and we’ll see you in the spring.

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