September 22, 2005

Please Pass the Hardware

Okay, okay. Jeez! Relax, alright? Please, just stop pestering me. You only need ask once.

Actually, come to think of it, you have only asked once -- which is to say, one amongst you has asked. What, you may be wondering, have you asked for? My picks for baseball's regular season awards, of course. And after much thought, and with a heavy predisposition towards personal bias, I am ready to oblige. But first, my rules for picking baseball awards:

1. The Meaningful Games Clause: The MVP needs to be on a team that makes the postseason or is at least in the pennant race, unless there are no clear candidates from contending clubs.

2. The Rule of Two: If two players on the same winning team are having comparably spectacular seasons, in most cases they cancel one another out and cannot be considered for the award.

3. The Pitcher's Exemption: Cy Young candidates, unlike MVP candidates, need not be members of a contending squad. And ties shall not be broken by choosing which pitcher is on a better team. This is blasphemy. The award is for the best pitcher. Decide who that is.

4. Just Win, Dammit! Not Quite. Wins are an important part of the equation when deciding between Cy Young candidates, but other factors (particularly ERA; sorry, I'm not a huge enough stat geek to get into any newfangled business) are at least equally important. One cannot choose a Cy Young candidate by simply saying, "He has more wins."

5. Stats Are What Matter, Rookie: By the way, don't give me some nonsense about how a guy with lesser stats should be Rookie of the Year just because he played for a winner. Just like the Cy Young, the ROY award is supposed to go to the best rookie. Doesn't matter who he played for. (We'll put this rule to a good test in just a moment.)

6. A Xenophobe is Not an Instrument: Some people believe that if a player has been playing professionally overseas (this most often comes up for players coming over from Japan) he shouldn't be eligible for the Rookie of the Year award. I can see where people are coming from with this, but this would be a tough rule to regulate. Where do you make the cut-off? Is one year of pro ball in Japan enough to preclude a player from winning the ROY? Is it three years? Five? Is a guy playing two seasons of Japanese baseball really that much more prepared than someone spending two years in Triple-A? Furthermore, enough players have struggled in the big leagues after successful careers in Japan to make it a significant accomplishment when a guy comes over and has a great first year.

Now that you've got the rules, we can go to the picks. (Stats are as of Wednesday)


American League: Huston Street, A's. 1.59 ERA, 21 saves, 0.99 WHIP, a .190 BA against. And he was in college last year. 'Nuff said.
Also considered: Tadahito Iguchi, Joe Blanton, Scott Kazmir, Jonny Gomes, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Dan Johnson, Chris Young, Gustavo "I Only Pitch Against Shawn Chacon" Chacin.

National League: Willy Taveras, Astros. Sorry, Jeff Francoeur, you had to take one for the team here. I couldn't very well pick Francoeur for ROY and not have my readers) immediately remember for the thousandth time what a ridiculously biased Braves fan I am. I could make a strong case for Francoeur considering that he has 32 extra base hits and 12 outfield assists in just 61 games, but I need all the ammo I can get for when it comes time to talk NL MVP. I don't think Taveras is an exceptionally valuable player, but he has hit .290 and stolen 33 bases while playing just about every day in center field, and some of the other candidates chasing him weren't in the big leagues for the whole season, which gives Taveras the nod.
Also considered: Francoeur, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Howard, Zach Duke, Clint Barmes, Garret Atkins, Kelly Johnson, Ryan "Laderhosen" Langerhans


American League: Bartolo Colon, Angels. Very tough call, as there really isn't one truly dominant candidate. Jeff Gray broke this race down very well on his Tigers blog recently. I wanted to give the award to Johan Santana, and considered Mariano Rivera, but ultimately Santana didn't quite have enough wins or a great enough ERA to separate himself from the pack, and I don't really think relievers should get the Cy Young (another one of my rules -- I think it makes more sense to give a reliever MVP; tough to call a guy the league's best pitcher when he only has to throw one inning at a time). Colon gets the nod because he's got 20 wins, a 3.34 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. And this year in the AL, that's enough to win it.
Also considered: Santana, Rivera, and a bunch of other guys who aren't good enough to mention.

National League: Roger Clemens, Astros. Is this a controversial pick? I think some of you would say it absolutely is. Do I think that the Rocket is on some kind of undetectable mystery drug that is allowing his body to hold up and enabling him to pitch as well as he ever has at age 43? I have my suspicions. Was I tempted to pick either Dontrelle Willis or Chris Carpenter? No more questions please. The fact is, Clemens has a 1.89 ERA. Opponents are hitting .197 against him. Sure he's only 12-8, but remember rule #4 above -- wins can be overrated. With a little bit of luck, Clemens would have 20+ wins easily. And I know it's not about luck, but I look at the numbers without overemphasizing wins, and it seems pretty clear that Clemens has been the best pitcher in the league this year.
Also considered
: Willis, Carpenter, Pedro Martinez


American League: Vladimir Guerrero, Angels. Yes, I did. (I will now duck to avoid whatever that is you just threw at me. Was that a knife?!? It stuck right into the wall. That could really hurt somebody.) Seriously, before you Red Sox and Yankee fans accidentally force out a turd getting all fired up about this choice, I draw your attention to The Rule of Two, clearly stated above: "If two players on the same winning team are having comparably spectacular seasons, in most cases they cancel one another out and cannot beconsidered for the award." So as much as you want to pick Big Papi, Manny or ARod, you have to realize each one of those guys has one glaring dominant offensive force on his squad to take away some of the import of his numbers (for Ortiz, it's Manny, and for Manny it's Ortiz; for ARod, it's Gary Sheffield and even Hideki Matsui). Vlad's totals might not be as good as these others, but he's carrying the Angels basically by himself. That's valuable.
Also considered: Ortiz, Ramirez, ARod, Mark Teixeira

National League: Andruw Jones, Braves. That was tough to see coming, right? Call me crazy, but I guess I've been won over by the 50 HR's, 126 rbi's and Gold Glove play in center field. Sure it helps that I've watched him play every day, and talk all you like about Albert Pujols' superiority in various stats like OPS, etc., but Andruw Jones deserves this award. With Chipper Jones missing significant time with injuries, Andruw has been the only consistent force in the middle of the Atlanta lineup, and without him, there is absolutely no chance the Braves are in contention.

Unfortunately, I suppose the same could be said for Pujols. His normal sidekicks (Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen) haven't been particularly great, or in the case of Rolen, haven't been healthy, yet somehow the Cardinals score tons of runs (and win tons of games) running the likes of Abraham Nunez and So Taguchi out there every day. So, yes, I'll give Pujols his dues.

I just won't give him the award.

  • Some non-sports news is too good to overlook. This just in, courtesy of a loyal reader: Ice-T is going to produce David Hasselhoff's rap album. Definitely falls under the category of, "I sincerely hope that this is a hoax. Wait, no I don't."
  • reviews the latest series of NBA video games. Personally, I haven't played any of them, but the new NBA Live looks pretty sick. If they ever figure out how to make that game as playable as it should be, someone let me know and I'll go buy another PS2.
  • You know, people say we Braves fans aren't passionate about our hometown team, but the truth of the matter is, we're in such a hurry to get back to our seats at Turner Field that we don't even wash our hands.
  • ESP-aNnoyance: Have you noticed that sometime in the past six months or year has started featuring a handful of its columnists under the heading "National Voice"? For example, currently on the front page, just below the main headlines, is a box that says "National Voice: Pat Forde." Pardon me, but where the hell does ESPN get the gall stones to call its columnists national voices? Are these elected spokespeople for our country? Are they expressing the words the anonymous people of our nation so badly want to speak, but don't have the platform to do so? Forgive me for not quite buying it -- Forde's current nation-encompassing column is about how the Oklahoma Sooners are out of the title hunt in college football. I can feel American pride rising from within like an upswell of strangely wonderful embalming fluid. The National Voice has spoken!


Blogger jimmyrad said...

I've got a problem with the Clemens pick, and I'm in Houston. While Dontrelle has kicked it into overdrive for the stretch run, Clemens has reverted to a somewhat above average pitcher. Carpenter has remained fairly consistent, though he's had some rough patches in the past month as well. Since one of MY rules would be that play down the stretch in crucial games can be weighted more heavily than games in April, (i.e. Chipper winning the MVP by batting about .640 in the last two monthes of the season and about .900 against the Mets alone,) I lean towards Dontrelle, with a 2nd place vote for Carpenter.

12:04 PM, September 22, 2005  
Blogger The OCC said...

Gotta be honest...I'm already questioning the Clemens pick myself. He missed his start this weekend, Carpenter has been getting shelled, and Dontrelle is on fire.

4:24 PM, September 24, 2005  
Blogger jimmyrad said...

I knew I could convince you! I survived.

7:06 PM, September 26, 2005  

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