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2006 National League Awards Predictions

Source: ESPN NL Most Valuable Player
Albert Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
First Baseman
What is there to say about Albert Pujols? When his career is over (hopefully in many, many years from now), we may have watched the greatest player to ever grace a batter?s box. Am I exaggerating? Not one bit.

At 26-years-old, Pujols is just getting better. With a quick glance at his stats, one thing pops out at me ? and it?s not his home runs, runs batted in, or batting average ? it?s his stolen bases! He stole 16 bags last year and was only caught twice. What is he doing? Just toying with the rest of the National League?

Hands down, Pujols is the best player in the game; on and off the field. I expect him to be a MVP favorite for the next ten years at the least.

Source: ESPN NL Cy Young
Roy Oswalt
Houston Astros
Starting Pitcher
As much as I?d like to choose incumbent and New Hampshire-native Chris Carpenter, Roy Oswalt has been knocking on Mr. Young?s door for the last couple of seasons, and I believe this is his year.

He has finished fourth (2005) and third (2004) in the voting, and last year made it to the World Series as the ace of the Houston Astros. He may have struggled in the World Series (7.50 ERA, five walks in six innings), but without him, the Astros wouldn?t have even sniffed the playoffs.

What may make or break Oswalt?s chances this season is how the offense behind him performs. Oswalt can have a fantastic season, but still just go 15-10. For the most part, win/loss is dependant on the offense, not the pitcher, but not many Cy Young Award winners just win 15 games (that are starters). The last starter to win a Cy Young and win less than 15 games is Fernando Valenzuela, who went 13-7. He only edged out Tom Seaver by three points.

If the Astros offense is clicking with Lance Berkman anchoring the lineup, Oswalt will benefit and win the award.

Source: ESPN NL Rookie of the Year
Prince Fielder
Milwaukee Brewers
First Baseman
I was very tempted to choose Marlins? outfielder Jeremy Hermida here, but I think Fielder will have the better numbers ? this season, at least.

A big reason why Fielder gets the nod over Hermida is because of their home parks. Hermida plays in spacious Pro Player Stadium, while Fielder takes advantage of Miller Park for 82 games a year. Also, the right field fence has been moved in for a new picnic area, giving Fielder more of an advantage.

I?ll predict 23 home runs with 75 runs batted in, if he stays healthy and gets in 140+ games. Hermida, also, should have a good season, but I don?t think his numbers will top Fielder?s ability to get the ball out of the yard. I?ll go out on a limb, however, and say Hermida will have a better career than Fielder. No matter who wins, these should be two fun guys to watch this year.