Almanza bests Hines for AL Cy
Although Javier Henriquez posted his lowest win total since season 4, owners in The Bigs still voted him as the National League's Cy Young Award winner for the fifth time in his career. Henriquez posted a 16-8 record but it was his world-leading 1.84 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 237 strikeouts that earned him Cy Young number five despite stiff competition from Austin rookie Dan Benard, who finished second to Henriquez's 15 votes with 9 of his own. Fargo teammate Sammy Pierce, who led The Bigs in wins with 22, finished third in voting. The award is Henriquez's fourth in the past 5 seasons.
Over in the American League, the debate over who would win the Cy Young Award came down to a starter versus a closer. In the end it was Jackson starter Fausto Almanza who won his first career Cy Young Award, beating Las Vegas' record-setting closer Coco Hines 20 votes to 11. Almanza tied for the AL lead in wins with 20 while posting a 3.19 ERA and notching 183 strikeouts.
The closest of all voting came in the National League MVP Award voting. Just one season after losing the NL MVP to Huntington's Monte Duvall by two votes, Fargo 3B Calvin Chang was named the NL MVP for the first time in his illustrious career. Chang narrowly edged teammate Alex Lim and Salt Lake City's Vic James for the award, making it the second season in a row that James has been out-voted for the award by a slim margin. It's also the first time since season 5 that Duvall has not been named NL MVP.
Chang won over voters by posting a ridiculous .465 OBP to go with his .334 AVG, .561 SLG, 29 home runs and 109 RBI. Before suffering an injury towards the end of the season, Chang was in line to challenge his single season walks record of 143 but fell short after missing about a dozen games. His .465 OBP is the third best single season OBP in Bigs history.
While the NL MVP voting was the closest of all votes, the American League MVP voting was easily the most lopsided of all voting as Buffalo's A.J. Leonard ran away with the award. Leonard, this season's Home Run Derby champion, received 26 of a possible 32 votes to win his first career MVP. Buffalo's star outfielder posted a .295 AVG and a .616 SLG to go with his 55 home runs and 158 RBI, both of which led the American League.
Austin's Benard may have fallen short of winning the NL Cy Young Award but was a landslide winner of the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Benard received 23 of 32 votes to earn the award after his season 9 line of 19 wins, 197 strikeouts, a 2.17 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. The 22-year-old rookie also threw two complete games.
Over in the American League, it was Montgomery's Mitch Sobkowiak who took home the Rookie of the Year Award. Sobkowiak batted .299 with 43 home runs, 113 RBI and a .968 OPS in 128 games with the Alibamu's major league club this season. Jackson's Neifi James finished second in voting with 9, trailing Sobkowiak's total of 17 votes.