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11/16/09 12:01 AM EST

Rasmus bidding to claim NL ROY honors

Cardinals OF slugged 16 homers, flashed fine leather

ST. LOUIS -- Awards season keeps rolling on Monday, and once again a Cardinal is at least a candidate to receive some votes.

Colby Rasmus is part of a wide-open field of contenders for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, and though he's a very long shot to win the trophy, he's at least one of the players who could be considered.

In some years, Rasmus' 2009 would have been enough to win the award. But in a very deep class of NL first-year players, it's likely too steep a hill to climb.

Rasmus faces a field of contenders that includes the Pirates' Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen, the Braves' Tommy Hanson, J.A. Happ of the Phillies, Randy Wells of the Cubs, Dexter Fowler of the Rockies, Casey McGehee of the Brewers, Florida's Chris Coghlan and Arizona's Gerardo Parra.

However he fares in the voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Rasmus nonetheless enjoyed a solid year. That's especially true considering that he didn't turn 23 until the final third of the season. He batted .251 with a .307 on-base percentage and a .407 slugging percentage while playing a fine defensive center field. He hit 16 home runs and 22 doubles, scored 72 runs and drove in 52.

Perhaps the strongest argument for Rasmus is not numbers-based at all, but rather to be found in his role. Throughout the season, but especially in the second half, he was a regular player at a pivotal position for a division winner. He handled the expectations placed upon him with aplomb, and took arguably the Cardinals' best at-bats in the team's Division Series loss to the Dodgers.

The best news for Cardinals fans, meanwhile, is that Rookie of the Year will likely represent the team's lowest showing in any of the upcoming BBWAA award announcements.

Wednesday brings NL Manager of the Year results, and Tony La Russa will likely get some legitimate consideration -- though Colorado's Jim Tracy is a heavy favorite for that award. On Thursday, the NL Cy Young winner will be announced, with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter two of the top three candidates.

And on Tuesday, Nov. 24, Albert Pujols will probably pick up the Most Valuable Player award. Pujols is a prohibitive favorite to win NL honors for the third time in his nine-year career.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.