Awards season is here

fielder-braun.jpgIt’s awards season in Major League Baseball. Will any Brewers walk the red carpet?

The announcement of American League Gold Glove Award winners on Tuesday kick-starts a two-week run of honors that culminates Nov. 24 with the National League MVP. Here’s a rundown, and where the Brewers might fit:

Tuesday, Nov. 10 – AL Gold Gloves
Wednesday, Nov. 11 – NL Gold Gloves

The Brewers haven’t had a Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner since Robin Yount won as a shortstop in 1982, but left fielder Ryan Braun figures to win a few before his career is over. Braun certainly made some mistakes in his second season as an outfielder but was charged with only two errors — his first two in two seasons since a move off third base. Braun rates low in the defensive statistical metrics, but because Gold Gloves almost always go to very good offensive players who happen to play solid defense — and not necessarily the game’s best defensive players — he’s got a chance.

Mike Cameron should also be in the mix after another season running down baseballs in center field. Cameron is a three-time Gold Glover, last in 2006 with the Padres.

I think Fielder deserves a mention here as well, because he made tremendous strides in 2009 while working endlessly with infield coach Willie Randolph. He still doesn’t have the reach of, say, Chicago’s Derrek Lee or reigning NL Gold Glove first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres, but Fielder improved dramatically at picking balls out of the dirt this season. Give Fielder credit for wanting to be an all-around player.

Thursday, Nov. 12 – Silver Sluggers
The award, given to a player at each position in each league, was first presented in 1980 and is determined by a vote of baseball’s managers and coaches. Winners will be announced at 5 p.m. CT on MLB Network.

Prince Fielder
was the last to win a Silver Slugger Award, for his 50-homer season in 2007. Fielder put together an even better year in 2009, batting a career-best .299 with 46 home runs and 141 RBIs while playing all 162 games. He tied Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard for the NL RBI crown, but Howard is also a first baseman and will draw notice. So will Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who led baseball with 47 homers and a 1.101 OPS.

Braun probably has a better chance to win among NL left fielders. He ranked second to Marlins rookie Chris Coghlan with a .320 batting average, second to the Phillies’ Raul Ibanez with 32 RBIs and a .551 slugging percentage and led NL left fielders with 114 RBIs.

Monday, Nov. 16 – Rookie of the Year
Both the AL winner and the NL winner will be announced this day, at 1 p.m. CT. The Brewers pushed hard for third baseman Casey McGehee, who emerged from the waiver wire to be a major contributor to the team in 2009. McGehee started only one of the Brewers’ first 38 games, but finished with a .301 average, 16 home runs and 66 RBIs in 116 games. He led all Major League rookies in RBIs, including 27 over the final 31 games.

Unfortunately for McGehee, the NL had a number of impressive rookies in 2009. Florida’s Coghlan, Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen or utility man Garrett Jones, Philadelphia pitcher J.A. Happ and Atlanta pitcher Tommy Hanson are among them.

Tuesday, Nov. 17 – AL Cy Young Award

Wednesday, Nov. 18 – Manager of the Year
Like the rookie honor, a manager from each league will be honored at 1 p.m. CT. Brewers skipper Ken Macha isn’t a candidate after his team went 80-82 and finished third in the NL Central. Macha will have to settle to returning to the manager’s office for a second season.

Thursday, Nov.19 – NL Cy Young Award
Pitchers from non-playoff teams who tied for the worst starters’ ERA in baseball don’t win Cy Youngs, so Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo is out. He did have a nice bounce-back year after missing most of 2008 with a knee injury, becoming the fourth Brewers pitcher ever to cross the 200-strikeout plateau. Catcher Jason Kendall predicted that Gallardo will win multiple Cy Young Awards before his career is over.

Monday, Nov. 23 – AL MVP

Tuesday, Nov. 24 – NL MVP
Minus Pujols’ season for the ages, Fielder would be a strong candidate to be the Brewers’ first league MVP since Yount in 1989. But with Pujols considered the clear frontrunner for the award, Fielder may have to settle for a runner-up finish. Fielder finished third in MVP balloting in 2007. Braun, who finished third in MVP balloting in 2008, will once again place in 2009.

Who are your picks for the major postseason awards? You can post your predictions in the comments.


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