Beginning Monday, major league baseball will be handing out its annual awards to players who've achieved some of the finest seasons in recent memory.
In the American League, the Baseball Writers Association of America face some challenging decisions, specifically the fight for the MVP award that features Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and rookie extraordinaire Mike Trout.
The awards will unfold like this: Rookie of the Year (Monday), Manager of the Year (Tuesday), Cy Young (Wednesday) and MVP (Thursday).
Here is a breakdown of all the AL finalists: (Click here for the NL list)
Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) — The Tigers' third baseman certainly put together an MVP-worthy season. Cabrera became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win baseball's Triple Crown — leading the American league with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI. Cabrera's Triple Crown was more impressive than Yaz's feat since he outright won the home run title. He also collected the first 200-hit season of his 10-year career.
Mike Trout (Angels) — This rookie is the reason the MVP is an actual race. Trout waited 20 games before being called up, yet still had an epic first year. Only 21, Trout became the youngest player to hit at least 30 home runs and steal at least 40 bases (49). His .326 batting average ranked only behind Cabrera and he scored an impressive 129 runs in only 139 games.
Josh Hamilton (Rangers) — Hamilton was downright Bonds-esque in the earlier part of the season, one that featured a 5-for-5 effort on May 8 against the Baltimore Orioles, including four homes runs and eight RBIs. He also broke the AL record in that game with 18 total bases. While various injuries limited Hamilton to 149 games, the slugger still smacked 43 home runs and 128 RBIs.
Robinson Cano (Yankees) — New York's second baseman, who finished third in MVP voting in 2010, had another outstanding season. Cano set a career-high in home runs with 33 and posted the second-best batting average of his career (.313). Cano was also important to the Yankees down the stretch. With the Orioles and Rays closing in, Cano went on a scorching tear, going 24-for-39 with three home runs, 14 RBs and a .615 average.
Adrian Beltre (Rangers) — The unsung hero of a powerful Rangers' lineup, Beltre was the team's best offensive player in the final two months. Even while he was struggling through some intense abdominal pain, Beltre still managed to his 36 home runs and 102 RBIs. His .321 average tied for the second-highest mark of his career.
Justin Verlander (Tigers) — The reigning AL Cy Young and MVP winner had another stellar season for the Tigers, one that led Detroit to a World Series appearance. Verlander wasn't consistently dominant as he was in 2011, but still flashed a 17-8 record. The durable hurler also led the AL in innings pitched (238.1) and struck out a league-leading 239 batters.
David Price (Rays) — The lefty rebounded from a rough 2011 campaign in a big way. Price was easily the Rays' best pitcher in 2012, earning his first 20-win season (20-5) of his career. His season highlights include a complete-game shutout against the powerful L.A. Angels in April and an eight-game winning streak during a two-month stretch. Price also reeled off 12-straight games pitching at least seven innings.
Jared Weaver (Angels) — Like Price, Weaver completed the first 20-game win season of his career, going 20-5 with a 2.81 ERA. His biggest moment came on May 2, when he recorded a no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins. Weaver was placed on the disabled list later in the month due to a lower back injury, but returned to win nine-straight.
Mike Trout (Angels) — If Trout doesn't beat out Cabrera for MVP, the rookie honour will be a nice consolation prize. His first year can only be described as unreal. Aside from the numbers listed above, the centre fielder had an on-base percentage of .399 as the team's leadoff hitter, and chipped in with 83 RBIs. Simply put, Trout should win in a walk.
Yoenis Cespedes (Athletics) — Had this been any another year, Cespedes could well have taken the rookie honours. But Trout’s incredible season will likely prevent the Cuban from winning. Still, Cespedes, who defected from Cuba in the 2011, put together an impressive season, hitting 23 home runs and 83 RBIs, along with 16 stolen bases. The 27-year-old contributed heavily to a surprising Oakland team that won the AL West title.
Yu Darvish (Rangers) — There was a lot of hype when the Rangers spent a boatload of cash to get Darvish, but the Japanese star delivered. It didn't take long for Darvish to make an impact. He was named AL's top rookie for the month of April, going 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA and 33 strikeouts. The 26-year-old right-hander finished with a 16-9 record, a 3.90 ERA and 221 strikeouts.
Buck Showalter (Orioles) — The 56-year-old skipper led the Orioles to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Showalter is no stranger to the award, winning in 1994 with the New York Yankees and then nine years later with Texas. He also finished in the top five in voting on three other occasions.
Robin Ventura (White Sox) — Ventura is the only man in either the AL or NL list never to have won this award. There a good reason for that, since he was a rookie manager this past season. Despite his lack of experience, his White Sox squad managed to stay in AL Central contention until the final week, finishing with an 85–77 record.
Bob Melvin (Athletics)— In only his second year with Oakland, the 2007 NL manager of the year took the A's on a stunning ride that led to the AL West title. Under Melvin's guidance, the cardiac A's completed a sweep of the Rangers (who were in first place since early April) in Game 162 to capture the division.