If only all the decisions were as easy as the choice of the NL Cy Young Award winner and the AL MVP. But choose we must, so here goes:
MVP—Don Mattingly, Yankees. Besides the obvious—.324, 35 homers, his major league-leading 145 RBIs and 48 doubles—he's the first player in 31 years to drive in 140 runs while striking out fewer than 50 times.
CY YOUNG—Bret Saberhagen, Royals. A tough call over Ron Guidry. But Saberhagen (20-6) had a 2.89 ERA to a 3.27 for Guidry (22-6). And K.C. provided him with far less support (4.7 runs per nine innings) than the Yankees did Guidry (5.9).
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR—Ozzie Guillen, White Sox. The shortstop hit .273, but, more important, he made a mere 12 errors in 150 games, remarkable for a 21-year-old.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR—Gene Mauch, Angels. His team didn't win, but his genius kept them near the top all year.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR—Darrell Evans, Tigers. He had only 16 homers and 63 RBIs last year and started '85 poorly. But he finished with 40 homers and 94 RBIs to make him the oldest (38) home run champ in AL history, the first player to hit 40 home runs in both leagues, and the first Tiger lefthanded home run king since Ty Cobb (1909).
MVP—Willie McGee, Cardinals. He did it with his bat (.353. 26 doubles, 18 triples, 10 homers, 82 RBIs, 114 runs), his feet (56 steals) and his glove (he should be a cinch for a Gold Glove). Pedro Guerrero was heroic for the Dodgers, but he missed 26 games.
CY YOUNG—Dwight Gooden, Mets. Not only did he go 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA, eight shutouts and a majors-leading 268 strikeouts, but he also could have had nine more wins had the Mets given him more support at the plate and in the pen. What if he gets better?
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR—Vince Coleman, Cardinals. He stole 110 bases, the third highest total ever, as the catalyst for the Cardinal offense. Too bad for Reds lefty Tom Browning (20-9), who was the first rookie in 31 years to win 20.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR—Pete Rose, Reds. The power of the man's positive personality carried Cincinnati until the last week of the season. We would be singing his praises even if the Reds won half their games—and they won 89. Whitey Herzog did a great job with the Cardinals, but Rose worked wonders.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR—Bob Horner, Braves. There were doubts that he would ever play again because of his broken right wrist, but he hit 27 home runs, drove in 89 runs and had a .499 slugging percentage.
Their sale to local interests last week means that the Pirates, the worst team in baseball, will stay put. But it's expected that Chuck Tanner, one of the best managers in baseball, will be working elsewhere next year. The guess here is that Tanner will manage either the Yankees or the Padres.
Tanner, who has two years left on his contract, says, "I'll sit down with the new owners and see in what direction they're going. If they want me, then I must decide if I want them. I think I can get out of it. I even heard that a couple of clubs asked for permission to talk to me."
The '85 season produced some remarkable achievements. Vince Coleman's 110 steals; Willie McGee's .353 average, the highest ever for a switch hitter in the NL; Don Mattingly's 145 RBIs, the most in the AL since 1953; and just about everything Dwight Gooden did. Here are some other notable stats:
Wade Boggs won his second batting title (.368), broke Willie Wilson's AL record with 187 singles, tied Chuck Klein's major-league record by getting at least one hit in 135 games, led the majors with both 240 hits and a .450 on-base percentage and raised his lifetime average to .351. He hit .396 after May 25 and never went more than two games or 10 at bats without a hit.
Cal Ripken played every inning of every game for the third straight year and ran his Ironman act to 5,436 innings, dating back to June 5, 1982. As far as anyone can determine, this is the longest such streak ever.
John Tudor's 10 shutouts are the most in the major leagues since Jim Palmer of the Orioles had 10 in 1975. You have to go back to 1968, when Bob Gibson had 13 for the Cardinals, to find anyone with more.
Jose Deleon's 2-19 record has the biggest differential between win and lose since the Mets' Roger Craig went 5-22 in 1963. The patron saint of losers is Jack Nabors, who went 1-20 for the 1916 A's, a club that had a record of 36-117.
This simply wasn't the Cubs' year. On Sept. 29 Dick Ruthven accidentally clipped fellow pitcher Ron Meridith in the cheek with a bat, knocking him to the ground. When infielder Dave Owen saw what happened, he ran for the trainer, but in his haste he cracked his head on the top of the dugout. The result was two concussions, neither serious.... Ted Turner wants Jays manager Bobby Cox to return to Atlanta as his G.M. and manager. Says Cox, who lives in nearby Marietta, "I'm happy right where I'm at." Why would anyone leave serenity and success for Ted's circus? ...It didn't end happily for Rollie Fingers in Milwaukee. The 39-year-old Fingers, who had a 5.04 ERA and saved 17 in 27 opportunities, went home during the team's final road trip as George Bamberger decided to look at kids.
•Trade Tom Seaver to either the Mets or Yankees. Seaver has expressed a strong desire to return to New York, and Harrelson would like to accommodate him. "If I have to take a little of the worst of the deal, I'll probably be the first guy to do it. New York is where he belongs."
BALL PARK FIGURES
In April SI went out on a limb and ranked all 26 teams. We thought the Blue Jays would be the best club, and they finished with the second-best winning percentage. On the other hand, we had the Cardinals, who did wind up with the best record, only 15th. For some reason, the Angels were our choice for third-worst team and the Cubs for third best. Oh well, here are the teams ranked according to final winning percentage, along with our predictions: