Monday, October 03, 2005

Season Awards and Assessment

Its been a tight season all around the MLB, so its a little fun to get out of the Twins hellhole and jumped into the fray. All the awards seem to be up for grabs between a few select choices, so here are my MVPs, Cy Youngs, and Rookie of the Years:

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, 3B Yankees

.321, 48 HRs, 130 RBIs, 124 runs, 21 SB, .421 OBP, .610 slugging, 1.031 OPS

Yes, of course I realize that Ortiz had a magical season. He did. But regardless, the DH is a trouble spot for me. The position itself should likely be removed for competitive reasons, but beyond that, the DH can only effect the game one way: with the bat. In, over the course of the entire season, Ortiz only had the upper hand on two accounts: RBIs and in general, the clutch stats. Its easy to paint an MVP win based on Ortiz's September, but thats not to say Rodriguez's was so bad. He hit .317 in September with 7 HRs (one on Oct. 1 as well) and 14 RBIs.

And, of course, he hasn't had an error since June. His defense is spectacular at third, as he had only 12 errors over the year. His gaving saving plays are another MVP factor. So is being a smart player. Rodriguez scores runs (124 runs to lead the AL) and steals bases (21). And this is all in addition to a campaign on par or superior to Ortiz's. Rodriguez's .321 average was second in the AL and his 48 HRs lead the AL, with most of them coming at Yankees stadium, a place not necessarly friendly to right-handers and breaking Joe Dimaggio's 1937 club record.

Yes, Ortiz was great but he also has Manny right behind him with his 45 HRs and 144 RBIs and a similar average and great clutch performances in September. So, unless its shared, the MVP is undoubtably A-Rod. Congrats to the best overall player in the bigs.

AL Cy Young: Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins

Yes, I know he's our hometown favorite. But he's also the most feared starter in the AL and maybe in the majors. Its hard to pitch in the AL and he managed to put up numbers starkingly similar to last year's great Cy Young season. 16 wins on this year's last-in-AL-in-runs-scored-mess-of-a-offense Twins isn't just impressive, its great. For all the terrible run support and losses in one-run games, he managed those 16 wins. And oh yea, he lead the big leagues in Ks with 238. That's a first for the club since 1921, when Walter Johnson did so. And he may be the best pitcher ever.

Lets run down the line in all the categories he leads the AL in, by a good margin I might add: Opponent OPS (.595), opponent BAA (.210), opponent OBP (.250, best in bigs), 2.87 ERA (barely second in the AL), WHIP (.97), and there is his record against the AL Central: 9-1. The highest ERA he had was against Cleveland, at 3.33 but with 36 Ks in 27 innings. He went an amazing 4-0 with a .92 ERA against the White Sox, beating them three times in a month down the strech. He went 9-2 after the All-Star break with a 1.59 ERA that would have been comparable to last year's 13-0, 1.21 run if the Twins could actually score.

With that said, Colon may well win it, but like our President, its never official in my mind. If not Santana, it should be Mariono Rivera, who has had a career-best season for the greatest closer of all time.

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

Three things tell me to pick Pujols: his amazing history and consistency, the line-up around him, and Andruw Jones' September breakdown. With a .330/41/117 line, its not Pujols' best year (2003 was that, and if not for Bonds, he was the MVP far and above everyone else). But it is the best in the NL this year. Jones' 51 HR and 128 are impressive and he's a great fielder, but he seriously broke down after getting to 50 HRs and a .263 average is not what to look for in MVPs. Jones couldn't even break 100 runs. Pujols has for 5 straight seasons, including a MLB-high 129 this year.

In fact, he has done something in his first five seasons no one has. He has had a .300 average, 30 HRs, 100 RBIs, 100 runs, and a OPS over .950 in every season he has been in the majors. No one has done that. His seasons have only comparison to greats like Williams. And this year has not been a down year at all. Just look at his constantcy: .322, .324, .370, .358, .287, .318. That is his averages for each month. I wouldn't exactly called .287 a slump. Especially with 7 HRs and 16 RBI in August.

And with injuries to great stars like Rolen, Edmonds, and Walker, Pujols has had little protection around him and has still managed to put up amazing numbers. He even stole a career-high 16 bases this year. Pujols had a MVP year, but his also has had a historical five years that will put him in the Hall of Fame. Its unquestionably his award, especially with no Barry.

NL Cy Young: Roger Clemens, Houston

I realize that all my picks may be unrealistic to some, but despite a 13-8 record, Clemens had a historical year in terms of dominating the league. And he's 43 years old people. This was an incredible season for him, on par with 1986 and 1997. He has earned a eight Cy Young, which is the record by far. Roger Clemens may be the best pitcher ever and he's by far the best any of us have ever seen and he got better this year.

Look at the stats: 1.87 ERA (Pedro was the last sub-2.00 starter and that was in 2000, an amazing season as well), 185 Ks, .198 opponent BAA, .284 opponent slugging, .542 opponent OPS, 1.01 WHIP. No one can come close to these numbers he has put up. If the Cy Young is about the best pitcher, its Clemens. And the post-season should prove it. His only competition should come from his teammate Andy Pettite, whose 17-9 record and 2.39 are career-bests, and Dontrelle Willis, who had a MLB-high 22 wins, and of course Chris Carpenter. Carpenter was great, but he broke down big time down the strech, with a 5.73 ERA in September. He may still win the Cy Young, but only because of his 21-5 record.

AL ROY: Huston Street, Oakland

Street had a amazing rookie year after being a dominant college closer before his drafting. When Octavio Dotel went down with an arm injury in May, Street was called on to take up closing duties and he preformed very well. His 23 saves, 1.72 ERA, and 72 Ks gave Oakland a winning chance to go to the playoffs this year and the award should be his in the face of a overall weak crop this year.

NL ROY: Ryan Howard, Phillies

Howard had a situation similar to Street's, and like the A's, the Phillies almost went to the playoffs because of Howard's strong play in a rookie season. Long highly-touted as a prospect but held back because of Jim Thome, he got his chance when Thome fell hard to injuries and Howard was given his chance. With 22 HRs, 62 RBIs, a .286 average, and a .568 slugging percentage, Howard beats out his rookie class. Jeff Francoer had a great month of July, but he quickly faded. Willy Taveras has had a good season, but just not strong enough to beat out Howard.