With Election Day behind us, it's time for some very qualified candidates with plenty of popular support to prepare for Election Week.
For the first time, baseball's annual individual awards will be presented live on television next week on MLB Network, with the announcement of four major awards -- as voted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- taking place on four consecutive nights at 6 p.m. ET, beginning Monday.
Those final candidates were revealed Wednesday, giving fans a glimpse at those considered by voters to be the best of the best for each of the awards. Ballots were submitted at the end of the regular season, two contributors per city in each league voting for each award.
All the votes are in, but the suspense remains -- until Election Week arrives, that is. With Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year awards being presented Monday for both the American League and the National League, both Manager of the Year awards Tuesday, the Cy Young awards Wednesday and the Most Valuable Player awards Thursday, the week of announcements will honor the best baseball had to offer in 2012.
In order of appearance in the MLB Network series of announcements, and in alphabetical order, here are the final candidates:
AL Rookie of the Year
Final candidates: Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish, Mike Trout
Trout made a case not only for this award but also for MVP -- looking to be the first since Ichiro Suzuki to pull that double -- by becoming the first Major Leaguer ever to hit at least .320, score 125 runs, hit 30 home runs and steal 45 bases in a single season -- all while turning 21 during the season. Darvish, from Japan, had a strong first season on the mound for the Rangers, and Cespedes, from Cuba, was a key to Oakland's amazing run to the AL West title.
NL Rookie of the Year
Final candidates: Todd Frazier, Bryce Harper, Wade Miley
Frazier filled in extremely effectively for not just one but two stars for the Reds, Miley emerged as a left-handed force on the mound for the D-backs by going 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA, and Harper -- like Trout -- made a big splash at a young age (19), and helping the Nationals to their remarkable rise to the top in the NL East.
AL Manager of the Year
Final candidates: Bob Melvin, Buck Showalter, Robin Ventura
For Melvin and Showalter to even be in the conversation puts a spotlight on two of the sport's great stories for 2012. Showalter led the Orioles into the postseason for the first time since 1997, and Melvin took the A's to the top in the AL West. The White Sox, meanwhile, pushed the Tigers down to the last few days of the season behind Ventura's rookie effort.
NL Manager of the Year
Final candidates: Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy, Davey Johnson
No edge for Bochy here for winning a second World Series in three years, so winning 94 games and the NL West title will have to do for his credentials. The Nationals brought postseason baseball to the nation's capital for the first time since 1933, and Johnson's touch was a big reason why. Baker led the Reds to a powerful runaway in the NL Central. All three are former winners.
AL Cy Young Award
Final candidates: David Price, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver
Price brings a 20-win season and a league-leading 2.56 ERA to the table here, a tough combination. Weaver contributes a 2012 no-hitter to his resume for the award, while 2011 Cy Young/MVP Verlander finished strong to lead the Majors in strikeouts (239) and innings pitched (238 1/3).
NL Cy Young Award
Final candidates: R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw
Dickey aims to become the first knuckleballer to win pitching's greatest prize, and being the first to win 20 games in more than three decades while leading the league in strikeouts was a good place to start. Kershaw, the Dodgers' runaway 2011 winner, didn't have much of a dropoff at all in 2012, and fellow left-hander Gonzalez was instrumental in leading the Nationals to the best ERA in the league.
AL Most Valuable Player
Final candidates: Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout
Whether one believes in the Triple Crown as a measure of player performance, it exists -- and Cabrera nailed it for the first time since 1967. But Trout's amazing rookie season certainly gives the Tigers' star third baseman some competition, considering his own assault on the record books. Beltre and Hamilton both did excellent work in leading the Rangers into the playoffs for a third straight season, and Cano continued to provide the Yankees with excellence on both sides of the game at second base and in the heart of their order.
NL Most Valuable Player
Final candidates: Ryan Braun, Chase Headley, Andrew McCutchen, Yadier Molina, Buster Posey
Being in position to match a Willie Mays accomplishment is always a good thing, and Posey can do that by winning MVP to go along with a batting title and a World Series championship the way Mays did in 1954. The Cardinals' Molina also helped lead his team to the postseason with his two-way talent behind the plate and beside it, setting up a playoff matchup between the two premier backstops. Braun, the 2011 winner, had a frantic offseason with a positive drug test overturned, and responded with another award-worthy performance on the field to lead the Brewers back into contention. McCutchen had an amazing first half of the season and was a catalyst to the Pirates staying in contention deep into the season, and even if Headley's Padres weren't in contention down the stretch, his breakout performance with an NL-leading 115 RBIs certainly became worthy of MVP consideration.
There they are, the final candidates for baseball's Election Week. All that's left now is to watch the results revealed on MLB Network next week.