The Year-End awards on the AL side and my take. Vote totals are in parentheses.
Most Valuable Player
1.Burt Stevenson, Milwaukee (13)
2. Gregg Black, Nashville (10)
3. James Dixon, Anaheim (5)
4. Howard Murray, Monterrey (2)
Luis Martinez, Milwaukee (2)
My pick: Stevenson
Analysis: This basically came down to a 2-person race. Black's numbers were almost as impressive as his MVP season from Season 1, but I just felt Stevenson's .344-64-150 numbers were just too much to ignore. Black had a 40-40 season, but Stevenson had both a higher batting average and higher slugging average than Black. Like the NL Rookie of the Year race, reasonable minds could make an argument for either guy.
1. Vin Solano, Milwaukee (19)
2. Woody Hiller, Milwaukee (5)
3. Philip Allensworth, Monterrey (4)
4. Carlton Fleming, Cleveland (2)
Ajax Drabek, Anaheim (2)
My pick: Solano
Analysis: This was a no-brainer. If Cleveland's Steven Michaels had struck out 9 fewer batters, Solano would own the Triple Crown. He went 23-2 with an ERA of 2.07 (next out of these 5 was Fleming at 3.08) and a WHIP of .97. The league hit .203 and had a slugging average of less than .300, which means if you're lucky enough to get a hit off the guy, it's probably a single. He was a large part of why the Manic Maulers came within a game of going to the World Series.
Rookie of the Year
1. Kenneth Graves, New York (13)
2. James Dixon, Anaheim (9)
3. Jared McMahon, Toledo (5)
4. Josh Gant, Nashville (3)
5. Al Carrasco, Las Vegas (2)
My pick: Graves
Analysis: To be honest, I don't remember who I picked. I think I picked Graves. If I had to pick today, I'm not sure who I would take. Graves, a 20-year-old lefty, went 18-5 with a 3.26 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP, numbers just about any veteran would be quite proud of. Dixon, 21, went 40-40 in his rookie year, hitting .328 with 41 home runs and 145 RBIs while stealing 50 bases. Both should be significant ballplayers for seasons to come.
Fireman of the Year
Candidates: Quinton Hughes (MIL), Jared McMahon (TOL), Larry Stokes (MNT), Justin Lawrence (LOU), Wesley Cora (NY)
My pick: Hughes
Analysis: Even the computer couldn't foul this one up; this was too easy. Except for switching Stokes and Lawrence, these were the top 5 guys in saves in order. Looking at peripheral numbers (see my NL analysis), Cora is the only person who is close to Hughes. Cora has a slight edge in ERA (2.00 to 2.07- the other 3 guys are over 3), but Hughes has a lower WHIP, opponents' batting average, and an OPP SLG of .257, which is ridiculous for any pitcher. So, using both the pure save numbers and a more sabremetric approach, Hughes should win either way.