September 29, 2012

Projected Award Winners: National League

By - Jaquan Murphy

Last week, the potential AL award winners were named. This week, the projected National League winners will be revealed.

Unlike its American League counterpart, the NL predictions will most likely stir up debate -- because these races are a lot closer.

Here are the men who should walk away with the hardware, and again, this is barring some crazy unforeseen event significantly affecting their stats, or team, heading down the home stretch.

Most Valuable Player: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

Photo by: Ezra Shaw
Without Posey, it is easy to say San Francisco would be a team on the outside looking in. There's no way they would be in the position they are in right now. To be the man to catch and manage a top 10 pitching staff is hard enough. Being dealt the task of catching pitchers with stuff as nasty as Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner is certainly no easy task. But to then turn around and anchor the lineup on top of that shows just how heavily the Giants lean on Posey to carry them to success. The team leader in homers and the NL leader in batting average and RBIs, Posey's presence in San Francisco is by far more valuable than anyone else on any other team in the league.

Runner-Up: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Cy Young: Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals

The Nationals will have a Cy Young winner this year -- just not who everyone expected. Behind the media frenzy surrounding Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez has quietly put together a Cy Young worthy season. Top 10 in both ERA and WHIP, top 5 in strikeouts and leading the NL in wins, it's pretty easy to say Gonzalez has been Washington's real ace, and the best pitcher in the entire National League.

Runner-Up: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets

Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

It's hard to go in any other direction but Harper here. To face such media attention at the age of 19 and still lead all NL rookies in homers and RBIs is pretty amazing. Helping change the culture of the Nationals' clubhouse with his youth and enthusiasm while playing every inning like it's his last, setting the tone with non-stop hustle and solid defense, Harper is not only the Rookie of the Year, but it can easily be said that he is the catalyst that sparked Washington's playoff run.

Runner-Up: Yonder Alonso, San Diego Padres

Comeback Player of the Year: David Wright, New York Mets

An injury-plagued 2011 season for David Wright was one of the many things wrong with an atrocious New York team a season ago. While the Mets still continue to go left -- their third baseman has gotten himself right. Wright has bounced back from an extremely sub-par 2011 campaign to hit over .300 this year. He is also on pace to double his home run output from last season as well. It's safe to say that all the wounds are healed and Wright is right back to being the face of the franchise.

Runner-Up: A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates

Delivery Man of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

A dominant closer is an opponents worst nightmare, and Craig Kimbrel has been the reason for many sleepless nights for players and managers all season. He has basically made games 8 innings long when Atlanta has been leading. With only 3 blown saves to date, along with a tie for the league-lead in saves, and an ERA just a pinch over 1.00, Kimbrel has made comebacks against the Braves nearly impossible. Combine that with a microscopic WHIP, and he edges out the competition for Delivery Man of the Year.

Runner-Up: Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh Pirates

National League Silver Slugger Team:

P: Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds
C: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
1B: Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals
2B: Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
3B: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
SS: Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals
LF: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
CF: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
RF: Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers

It will be interesting to see how the final few weeks of the season play out. What is undeniable is the fact that all these players will have major impacts on what teams will play into late-October and November, and what teams will start planning their offseason vacations sooner rather than later.

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