As many of you know, I'm a big baseball fan. I attend about 40 games each season, and I really love the sport. I am not Peter Gammons, but I do have an opinion on baseball's awards. Here is a look at my picks for the major baseball awards for the 2001 season:
NL MVP: Barry Bonds. It is unbelievable to see a player hit 73 home runs in a season! That's 24 more than his previous single-season high. He did a lot more than just hit home runs. He shattered Babe Ruth's longstanding record for slugging percentage. He also broke the Babe's mark for walks in a season. Bonds created incredible excitement in baseball all season long.
To me, Barry Bonds is the best left fielder of all time -- and he deserves his fourth MVP award.
I know that Sammy Sosa and Luis Gonzalez enjoyed tremendous seasons, but to me, Bonds is the best left fielder of all time. He also deserves his fourth MVP award.
AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez. I know a lot of people feel that Bret Boone, Ichiro and Jason Giambi deserve the honor, but look at what Rodriguez did on a losing team. He hit more home runs in one season than any shortstop. He led the AL in runs scored with 133. He joined a select group with 50 home runs and 200 hits in a season (Hack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx and Ruth were the others). Rodriguez took the big contract and performed under pressure. He never quit during a season in which his team was a major disappointment. Rodriguez came out and played every game, excelling both offensively and defensively.
NL CY YOUNG: Curt Schilling. This is a tough call between Arizona teammates. Schilling gets my nod over Randy Johnson. The former Phillie won 22 games, five more than his prior season-high total. He was consistent all season long. Matt Morris of the Cardinals (and Seton Hall, my alma mater!) should receive some consideration as well.
AL CY YOUNG: Roger Clemens. The Rocket fired bullets all season long, starting 20-1 before a few bumps in the road the final few weeks. He's been impressive all season, showing a tremendous work ethic, and that paid dividends. He's also been a leader for the Yankee staff. Freddy Garcia and Jamie Moyer of the Mariners should battle for second in this category.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Albert Pujols. Where would the Cardinals be without this star rookie? He has shown versatility and power, hitting 37 home runs while driving in 130 runs. He also set the NL rookie record for extra base hits. Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies had a super season, but he's No. 2 in this race.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Ichiro Suzuki. No surprise, since he won the AL batting and stolen-base titles. He is the third player in 70 years to have 240 or more hits in a season.
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Larry Bowa. Yes, the Phillies fell just short of the playoffs, but Bowa did a great job rallying the Phillies with his feisty style. Philadelphia won 65 games a season ago; they went 86-76 this year.
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Lou Piniella. The Mariners tied the major-league record with 116 wins this season. And Seattle didn't have Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson or Ken Griffey Jr. in the lineup.