Prediction: Third-place finish, sprained ankle will cost Cabrera MVP he deserves
I am not voting for MVP this year -- I'm voting for AL Manager of the Year. But, for the record, if I did have a vote it would definitely go to Cabrera, with the Yankees' Robinson Cano second, and the Rangers' Josh Hamilton third.
However, the fact that it is a three-player race this year will spread the first-place votes around -- and hurt Cabrera's chances.
Cabrera wants to win the MVP. He wants it and deserves it. No other American Leaguer has performed at such a high level all season.
Hamilton has been missing in action since he busted a couple of ribs on Sept. 4. But, although he appeared in only 130 games, he has enough at-bats to claim the AL batting title. And the Rangers are in the playoffs. Those two factors will weigh heavily in the minds of the 28 baseball writers who have a vote.
Since the schedule was expanded to 162 games in 1961, only two American Leaguers -- Mickey Mantle in '62 and George Brett in '80 -- have been voted MVP despite playing 130 games or fewer.
But in the past decade, only Alex Rodriguez of the 2003 Texas Rangers has won MVP honors while playing for a team that failed to finish first or second in its division.
And getting injured cost Cabrera a chance to further pad his already-impressive stats with some convincing final week HRs and RBI.
I predict Hamilton will be elected MVP with Cabrera finishing a close second and Cano taking a half-dozen first-place votes away from Cabrera and placing third.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Austin Jackson is having a season for the ages. He leads all AL rookies in just about everything -- including strikeouts. Suddenly, Austin's name is being mentioned in the same sentence with the legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson.
The Rangers' Neftali Feliz is no slouch. He broke the save record for a rookie closer and has been outstanding down the stretch. Again, the fact that the Rangers are in the postseason, while the Tigers are not, will sway some voters.
But I don't see how anyone could justify giving the award to a one-inning closer over a rookie who played and contributed as much every day as Jackson -- Austin, not Shoeless -- did.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR: My vote goes to Minnesota's Ron Gardenhire, with Tampa's Joe Maddon second, and the Rangers' Ron Washington third.
For Gardenhire, the honor will be long overdue. He has finished second in the balloting three times.
All of the awards, presented by the Baseball Writers Association of America, will be announced in November, after the conclusion of the World Series.