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July 14, 2004

Mid-Season Baseball Awards

Staff Picks, 2004

by Ryan Wilkins

Index: Voting Results | Individual Ballots

Welcome all to the results of the Baseball Prospectus Mid-Season Awards.

The points system is 10-7-5-3-1 for the MVP and Cy Young Awards, and 5-3-1 for the Rookie Awards. BP authors' picks, with all-too-clever comments, are included here, below the awards standings.

Legend

    Hitters: Ballots, Points (1st Place Votes), (Avg/OBP/SLG/RARP/VORP)
    Pitchers: Ballots, Points (1st Place Votes), (ERA, IP, SNWAR or ARP, VORP)

BP authors' bias for up-the-middle defenders manifests itself in eight first-place votes for Pudge. Manny Ramirez has continued his annual assualt on American League pitching, posting the highest EqA in the league (.357), and maintaining his career figure of .332. Carlos Guillen, meanwhile, grabs two first-place votes and wins the Damion Easley Award™, which is given to the player who leaves a team run by Bill Bavasi, only to put up huge first-half numbers as a member of Detroit's middle infield. (Award given only once per decade.)

AL MVP

  1. Ivan Rodriguez 13 103 (8) (.369/.411/.564/42.0/50.4)
  2. Vladimir Guerrero 13 89 (2) (.349/.392/.591/41.2/53.2)
  3. Carlos Guillen 12 52 (2) (.324/.388/.558/40.1/47.6)
  4. Manny Ramirez 10 51 (1) (.344/.437/.682/47.3/53.7)
  5. Alex Rodriguez 5 23 (.270/.361/.510/30.3/34.70
  6. Hank Blalock 4 8 (.303/.355/.580/28.0/37.6)
  7. Melvin Mora 1 5 (.347/.428/.556/32.4/40.1)
  8. Jorge Posada 1 3 (.275/.419/.506/30.5/30.8)
  9. Frank Thomas 2 2 (.271/.434/.563/59.2/36.5)
  10. Curt Schilling 2 2 (3.16/123.3/3.7/42.1)
  11. Miguel Tejada 1 1 (.311/.358/.506/29.0/37.6)
  12. Mike Young 1 1 (.342/.377/.505/28.6/41.6)

The difference between Barry Bonds' and Scott Rolen's respective offensive contributions this season is greater than the difference between Frank Thomas' and Jeff DaVanon's. Nevertheless, the ongoing debate over the definition of "value" keeps Bonds from grabbing all 13 first-place votes.

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds 13 127 (12) (.365/.628/.794/73.4/75.5)
  2. Scott Rolen 13 88 (1) 9.339/.414/.599/38.0/48.0)
  3. Bobby Abreu 13 55 (.306/.440/.569/40.3/49.6)
  4. Jim Thome 8 26 (.289/.406/.653/34.0/44.8)
  5. Todd Helton 5 17 (.348/.464/.614/36.8/53.6)
  6. J.D. Drew 7 13 (.312/.433/.628/40.6/48.6)
  7. Lance Berkman 2 6 (.299/.452/.556/34.1/39.2)
  8. Adrian Beltre 1 1 (.315/.355/.580/28.1/37.3)
  9. Mike Lowell 1 1 (.305/.384/.571/34.2/43.8)
  10. Randy Johnson 1 1 (2.99/129.3/3.3/30.9)
  11. Albert Pujols 1 1 (.304/.399/.599/33.4/44.1)

Despite nearly identical VORP and Support-Neutral numbers, Curt Schilling edges Oakland's Mark Mulder--currently the most dominant head of the Athletics' Cerberus. Brad Radke places fourth thanks to Tewksberian control and authors adjusting for the sub-par defensive support he's received in the first half. Mariano Rivera sneaks in at fifth, thanks to one first place vote, despite fewer IP and slightly fewer Adjusted Runs Prevented than teammate Tom Gordon according to Michael Wolverton's Reliever Evaluation Tools.

AL Cy Young

  1. Curt Schilling 13 116 (9) (3.16/123.3/3.7/42.1)
  2. Mark Mulder 13 94 (3) (3.21/131.7/2.9/40.6)
  3. Tim Hudson 11 47 (2.98/108.7/2.7/34.8)
  4. Brad Radke 7 31 (3.27/124.3/2.8/32.6)
  5. Mariano Rivera 4 17 (1) (.99/45.3/18.2 ARP/26.4)
  6. Kenny Rogers 7 16 (4.2/117.7/2.2/23)
  7. Johan Santana 3 9 (3.71/123.7/2.6/32.1)
  8. C.C. Sabathia 3 7 (3.33/105.3/2.3/30.5)
  9. Freddy Garcia 2 6 (3.2/107/2.4/34.7)
  10. Pedro Martinez 1 3 (3.67/117.7/2.6/30.0)
  11. Juan Rincon 1 1 (1.84/44.0/11.0 ARP/20.5)
  12. Francisco Rodriguez 1 1 (1.34/47.0/15.7 ARP/22.6)

In the closest race yet, four pitchers finish within 20 points of one another, with the youngster Ben Sheets taking the top slot.

NL Cy Young

  1. Ben Sheets 13 82 (5) (2.26/123.3/3.7/42.1)
  2. Jason Schmidt 13 75 (2) (2.51/122.0/3.8/41.3)
  3. Randy Johnson 10 69 (3) (2.99/129.3/3.3/30.9)
  4. Roger Clemens 13 62 (2) (2.62/116.7/3.7/37.9)
  5. Tom Glavine 7 30 (1) (2.66/128.7/3.3/38.5)
  6. Carlos Zambrano 7 13 (2.61/114.0/3.3/36.2)
  7. Roy Oswalt 1 5 (3.65/130.7/.8/27.8)
  8. Chris Carpenter 1 1 (3.87/111.7/1.7/21.7)
  9. Livan Hernandez 1 1 (3.58/135.7/2.9/31.9)

Miguel who? Recovering from a horrid April, Oakland shortstop Bobby Crosby managed to nab 11 of 13 first-place votes, vaulting himself to an easy victory over Zach Greinke. Look for Joe Mauer to challenge in the Internet Baseball Awards at the end of the year, however, as our No. 1 prospect continues to accrue playing time and tear the cover off the ball.

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby 12 58 (11) (.266/.326/.452/14.2/19.4)
  2. Zack Greinke 8 16 (3.86/56.0/.9/14.6)
  3. Shingo Takatsu 7 15 (1.3/34.7/15.4 ARP/19.0)
  4. Joe Mauer 3 9 (1) (.311/.372/.575/12.2/13.4)
  5. Lew Ford 1 5 (1) (.307/.374/.466/20.2/23.4)
  6. Justin Duchscherer 2 4 (3.27/52.3/7.8 ARP/15.3)
  7. Daniel Cabrera 2 4 (2.9/77.7/.5 ARP/26.5)
  8. Kevin Gregg 1 3 (3.28/24.2/ 5.5 ARP/14.5)
  9. Kevin Youkilis 2 2 (.287/.397/.434/7.7/8.0)
  10. Jason Frasor 1 3 (3.27/52.3/7.8 ARP/15.3)

In the most uninspiring of all the groups, reliever Ryan Madson barely edges Padres' shortstop Khalil Greene. For a second year in a row, a highly-touted Japanese player now making his home in New York fails to garner consideration, despite loads of preseason hype.

NL ROY

  1. Ryan Madson 12 34 (3) (2.02/53.5/17.6 ARP/ 18.3)
  2. Khalil Greene 11 33 (3) (.259/.348/.381/19.1/15.4)
  3. Akinori Otsuka 7 29 (5) (2.34/42.3/11.2 ARP/15.4)
  4. Kazuo Matsui 7 15 (1) (.269/.336/.411/15.1/19.1)
  5. Jason Bay 2 6 (1) (.304/.371/.642/14.4/17.9)

Staff Ballot Index

Gary Huckabay

AL MVP

  1. Ivan Rodriguez
  2. Vlad Guerrero
  3. Melvin Mora
  4. Hank Blalock
  5. Carlos Guillen

Yes, Melvin Mora. Is he the smoothest fielding 3B in baseball? Well, no. But he's developed a batting eye, and a .433 OBP and .556 SLG are impossible to ignore. Especially when you consider that he's either traveling for road games, or staying in a home with five quintuplets. On my ballot, that's worth another 8-10 points of OBP. .500 in June? Who does that? Hank Blalock's going to channel Will Clark in his prime at the plate for a few years; it's a joy to watch that guy unload when he gets all of a pitch. Vlad Guerrero's jerky motions moving around always make me think he's hurt or something, and then you watch that swing, where he manages to center a ball that's six inches inside and at his shoulders. Pat Gillick's swollen resume precludes me from making a comment about Carlos Guillen.

AL Cy Young

  1. Mark Mulder
  2. Curt Schilling
  3. Tim Hudson
  4. Kenny Rogers
  5. Brad Radke

Thought about listing Schilling over Mulder because of my perception of the A's defense versus the Red Sox, but Mulder has been outstanding. Kenny Rogers is someone I absolutely loathe to root for--like all soft-tossing, boring-ass lefties--but he's been a key to Texas' surprising fortunes. Still, every time a junkballing lefty who spends all day trying to hit the bottom-outer black, trying to convince the umpire to expand the zone and bore the crap out of the fans, gets pounded like veal piccata, an angel gets its wings. Hudson's wormkilling ways, and Radke's luck have them filling out the ballot.

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby
  2. Justin Duchscherer
  3. Zack Greinke

What will NorCal sportswriters do in offseason stories about the A's if not lament the latest loss of the overpriced, just-exiting-prime veteran? Crosby's already one of the best shortstops in a stacked league, and beginning a career that should earn him eight figures. Duchscherer's not blessed with a fastball that screams "2.00 ERA! Eighteen-year career!" but he gets people out, bears a heavy load in what has been a besieged pen, and could have a very nice career. Greinke's cartoonish, freakish, string-pulling will leave thousands of batters doing a Tony Armas impersonation, attempting to drive their front foot 10-15 inches into solid earth. It's going to be fun to watch.

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Scott Rolen
  3. Lance Berkman
  4. Jim Thome
  5. Bobby Abreu

Barry Bonds has more walks than outs. If he goes three-for-five, his OBP drops. His strikeout to walk ratio is 19-126. Scott Rolen's having a fine year, as are the others on this list. But, just to put things in perspective:


Scott Rolen:   142
Lance Berkman: 112
Jim Thome:     158
Bobby Abreu:   124

That's the length of 0-fer that Bonds would have to endure to match the OBP of each of the other four guys on my ballot. And it's not as if those guys are chopped liver. If you want to talk about someone other than Bonds, you probably should move on to another streetcorner.

NL Cy Young

  1. Ben Sheets
  2. Jason Schmidt
  3. Randy Johnson
  4. Roger Clemens
  5. Carlos Zambrano

Ben Sheets' use of the well-placed fastball is nothing short of inspiring, and this roster of five is a heck of a lot better than its American League counterpart. Jason Schmidt is a force of nature when he's on, and has enough to battle to a win when he doesn't. Yes, he's helped by SBC Park, but it hasn't mattered much on most days, when his fastball is just a rumor to opposing hitters. Carlos Zambrano's more of a "Last Cub Standing" in that rotation. Soon enough, Dusty'll be back to working on the ligaments of those surrounding him. Remember, if you're up 8-1 after seven, and Wood's thrown 109 pitches, it's a great opportunity for him to get back out there, strike out a few more guys, and really learn to stretch it out during a game. It's Dusty's world. And Dr. James Andrews is just livin' in it.

NL ROY

  1. Akinori Otsuka
  2. Ryan Madson
  3. Khalil Greene

Otsuka's penchant to make hitters stop their motion midswing is amazing. You have expect to hear a laugh track and hear a Bob Saget voiceover. It's not often you get to see Major League Hitters™ finish their swings by planting their front foot. Madson's combination of groundballs and strikeouts is a potent one, and he's not been overused. If he can keep up his performance, he may be on the Johan Santana career path. Greene's more of a default vote at this point; he's played well, but hasn't knocked anyone over with his performance, and needs to improve on at least one facet of his game if he wants to meet the lofty (and probably unfair) expectations placed upon him out of college.

Derek Zumsteg

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Todd Helton
  3. Scott Rolen
  4. Bobby Abreu
  5. Jim Thome

Not very exciting. I didn't see anyone down the offensive side that's so valuable with the glove that I'd have to include them. I wanted to give a slot to J.D. Drew, because I always like to see guys who've struggled with expectations and injuries get recognition, and La Russa's genius-aspiring hijinks to go south on him.

AL MVP

  1. Vlad Guerrero
  2. Ivan Rodriguez
  3. Manny Ramirez
  4. Carlos Guillen
  5. Michael Young

It's strange not to write "Alex Rodriguez" in the top spot. Alex/Barry, every year, I might as well have included their names in the templates. While some hoped Alex would somehow manage to hit even better relieved of shortstop duties, the opposite's been true. This opens the door for all kinds of crazy players to jump into consideration: Michael Young, the man who took over for Alex at shortstop in Texas, hasn't hit as well as Alex did in Texas, the difference mostly in the power--which is what Alex is partly missing, oddly. Still, a .335/.376/.508 line at short is sweet in any park.

While the Freddy Garcia for Jeremy Reed/Miguel Olivo trade won Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi a lot of praise, it should also be noted that Bavasi attempted to trade Carlos Guillen (.329/.394/.560) to the Indians for Omar Vizquel (.297/.363/.392). After that failed, he signed Rich Aurilia (.246/.310/.345) and traded Guillen for Ramon Santiago (.143/.280/.190 in limited use).

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby
  2. Shingo Takatsu
  3. Zach Greinke

I like that Greinke kid, but he hasn't done enough this year to move himself up the list. Mauer should be here by the end of the year, but if being good sometimes and injured the rest got you hardware, Nick Johnson would have a shelf full of trophies.

NL ROY

  1. Ryan Madson
  2. Khalil Greene
  3. Akinori Otsuka

I can't bring myself to put Kazuo Matsui on here. His swing is just so ugly I can't in good conscience type his name. I was tempted to put him in there to add one more Japanese player, since I enjoy honking the noses of people who argue, with their reason-of-the-week on why they're not rookies, that they should be excluded from consideration.

AL Cy Young

  1. Curt Schilling
  2. Mark Mulder
  3. Tim Hudson
  4. Freddy Garcia
  5. Brad Radke

Mulder's got the better defense, and Schilling's K rate is ridiculous, so I gave him the nod. Why does everyone forget about Freddy Garcia? Sure, he doesn't have the wins because he spent the beginning of this season on a punchless team that also featured the defensive stylings of Randy Winn in center ("Ball hit to center, Randy Wiiiiinnnnn.... can't get to it, and that will go for a double") and Raul Ibanez in left, and it's easy to point to his home-road splits as evidence he was helped by Safeco Field, but his starts there were that good.

NL Cy Young

  1. Tom Glavine
  2. Ben Sheets
  3. Jason Schmidt
  4. Roger Clemens
  5. Carlos Zambrano

Glavine's not doing a lot of whining about Questec this year, is he? No, of course not, because it's not as if there's anything for him to blame Questec for. And yet, if the technology is flawed, shouldn't last season's crusade against the system continued unabated? Sheets versus Schmidt isn't that close to me: Sheets' walk rate is better, the strikeout rate is way better, and Schmidt's been lucky on his hits. Randy Johnson over Carlos Zambrano in the last spot would seem nice, as a sentimental gimmie, but to what end? Zambrano's been better so far, even if it's not a huge gap.

Ryan Wilkins

NL MVP

  1. The One Who Has No Name

    <- deep, yawning chasm ->

  2. Scott Rolen
  3. Bobby Abreu
  4. J.D. Drew
  5. Todd Helton

Duh. As others have stated, Rolen's put together a very nice first half for a mortal--combining average, power, plate-discipline, and some stellar work with the glove. Abreu just keeps adding to his case as Most Underrated Player in the game; he's Bernie Williams with more walks and half the notoriety. J.D. Drew's been healthy, finally. And Todd Helton just keeps on truckin'. As Dayn mentioned in his ballot, the backlash against Colorado hitters can go a bit far in some cases, and I think Helton's fallen victim to that, especially over the past few years. Sure, applying Park Factors to individuals can be tricky business, but we're talking about a hitter with a translated career line of .304/.397/.557 coming into 2004. Let's give credit where it's due: .349/.467/.623, while hitting .324/.427/.595 on the road? I'll take two, please.

AL MVP

  1. Ivan Rodriguez
  2. Vladimir Guerrero
  3. Manny Ramirez
  4. Carlos Guillen
  5. Curt Schilling

What can you say? Pudge gets the bump over Vlad thanks to positional scarcity and defense, and Manny continues his quest as the best hitter of his generation never to be the best in the league. (It's true; check the under-exposed historical VORP reports.) Two Red Sox, two Tigers, and no one from a first place team? Welcome to CrazyWorld.

NL Cy Young

  1. Ben Sheets
  2. Randy Johnson
  3. Roger Clemens
  4. Jason Schmidt
  5. Livan Hernandez

I'll probably catch flak for choosing Sheets, but the way I see it, he splits the difference between his top contenders, grabbing the best of both worlds. Johnson has been as effective over more innings, while posting similar peripherals, but sports a significantly lower BABIP (implying some luck). Clemens has been slightly more effective with a higher BABIP (implying less luck), but has worse peripherals and has tossed fewer innings. Sheets, meanwhile, falls somewhere in between, with outstanding numbers across the board. This was the toughest ballot to fill out. Livan Hernandez rounds out the list with yet another ligament-defying performance in Montreal. Has there been a better pitcher in the National League over the past 1.5 years? (OK, there's Jason Schmidt, but who else?)

AL Cy Young

  1. Curt Schilling
  2. Mark Mulder
  3. Tim Hudson
  4. Johan Santana
  5. Francisco Rodriguez

Schilling's clearly the class of the group, in my mind, given his combination of strong peripherals and weak defensive support. Tim Hudson continues to get the job done with smoke, mirrors, and gravity. Yes, the strikeout rate's low, but there are few pitchers better at keeping the ball down (3.5 GB/FB) and in the park (0.2 HR/9), and that has a ton of value. On the opposite end of the spectrum, of course, is Johan Santana (1.2 GB/FB, 1.3 HR/9), who spent most of April and May feeding his gopher, but has done this over his past seven starts:


IP   H   R  BB   SO
-------------------
8    2   2   2   11
9    3   0   2   13
8    3   2   2   12
7    4   1   0   10
8    4   2   2   12
8    3   2   0    7
7    6   1   0   10
-------------------
55  25  10   8   75

Complete and utter domination. There's simply no other way to put it.

K-Rod gets the Honorary Reliever spot on the ballot thanks to a Gagnesque strikeout rate and just five extra-base hits allowed in 44.1 innings of work.

NL ROY

  1. Akinori Otsuka
  2. Ryan Madson
  3. Jason Bay

(Yawn.) Otsuka's been great. Madson's been good. And if people are going to give Joe Mauer down-ballot votes, then I'm going to give one to Jason Bay, who's accumulated more PAs than Mauer, and is positively hitting the snot out of the ball (.301/.365/.618).

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby
  2. Kevin Gregg
  3. Zach Greinke

Crosby's lived to up expectations, hitting roughly .270/.350/.490 since April, and playing every day. Greinke's been the Royals' best starter, which might sound like damning with faint praise ("You're twice as funny as Chris Kattan!"), but isn't. Meanwhile, where's the love for Kevin Gregg? Dude's been awesome, and with nary a support from his defense (.333 BABIP).

Joe Sheehan

AL MVP

  1. Ivan Rodriguez
  2. Vladimir Guerrero
  3. Carlos Guillen
  4. Manny Ramirez
  5. Alex Rodriguez

He's the third-best hitter in the league and he catches. By improving even as he moves past 1,600 games caught, Ivan Rodriguez has established a unique career path for a catcher. He might even add a second AL MVP award to his mantle. This is a fluid group; two through four could really be in any order, depending on how you evaluate defense and run environment. Alex Rodriguez gets the #5 slot based on what appears to be considerable defensive value in his first season as a third baseman. You could put Miguel Tejada or Michael Young there-or Curt Schilling or Mark Mulder-and I wouldn't argue.

Two Tigers in the top three of an MVP ballot. That's just weird.

AL Cy Young

  1. Curt Schilling
  2. Mark Mulder
  3. Tim Hudson
  4. Brad Radke
  5. Mariano Rivera

Curt Schilling is doing it himself moreso than Mark Mulder is, getting more strikeouts and pitching in front of an inferior defense. The two A's are comfortable, safe picks, while Brad Radke is just a ton of fun to watch this year, throwing strikes with metronomic regularity. Mariano Rivera represents the group of relievers, including teammate Tom Gordon, having outstanding years in the AL.

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby
  2. Daniel Cabrera
  3. Shingo Takatsu

Lew Ford isn't a rookie. Lew Ford isn't a rookie. Lew Ford isn't a rookie.

Bobby Crosby is, and he has played very well after a rocky start. After him, you can throw everyone else in a pile. Daniel Cabrera has the numbers to deserve the #2 slot, although I seriously doubt he end up on many ballots at the end of the year. Shingo Takatsu gets bonus points for enabling the White Sox to trade Billy Koch.

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Scott Rolen
  3. Bobby Abreu
  4. Jim Thome
  5. J.D. Drew

Barry Bonds gets intentionally walked in more than 20% of his plate apperances. I'll happily concede that his OBP and EqA and VORP and what have you are inflated by low-leverage walks. I also don't care. One time in five, the opposition manager doesn't even try to get him out. That's dominance the likes of which virtually no one alive has seen, and which we may never see again. It's also the MVP.

Scott Rolen is the MVP of the mortals, mixing a career offensive year with his usual plus defense. Bobby Abreu was my pre-season pick for MVP, so I'll go with him ahead of his teammate. There are any number of good candidates for the last slot; Drew is a pure numbers play.

There are virtually no up-the-middle players having big years in the NL. The best catcher, Johnny Estrada, has a VORP of just 26.4; Jack Wilson, Mark Loretta and Jim Edmonds lead at shortstop, second base and center field. All might be viable down-ballot candidates, but they can't crack this group.

NL Cy Young

  1. Roger Clemens
  2. Randy Johnson
  3. Ben Sheets
  4. Jason Schmidt
  5. Tom Glavine

Various metrics make a mess of this list, so consider the above to be fluid, and possibly insulting to Carlos Zambrano. Ben Sheets is really getting overlooked, as he's having a Maddux '92 season, a breakthrough to a level of performance he's going to sustain for a while. I really wanted to vote for Dan Kolb and his .000 isolated power allowed.

NL ROY

  1. Ryan Madson
  2. Kazuo Matsui
  3. Khalil Greene

What a boring group. Madson's league-leading APR doesn't tell the whole story. It seems like he pitches every time a Phillies game is in doubt, and he pitches damn well. With more than 50 innings under his belt, he could well be forgotten by September. The two shortstops have been serviceable; that's OK for Greene, disappointing for Matsui.

Jim Baker

AL MVP

  1. Vladimir Guerrero
  2. Manny Ramirez
  3. Ivan Rodriguez
  4. Carlos Guillen
  5. Hank Blalock

Up until recently I would have had Guillen ahead of his teammate, but Pudge has been putting the spurs to it of late. I am not thoroughly convinced that Guerrero has been better than Ramirez, but he has been an island of productivity in the midst of under- and non-achievement. Troy Glaus checked out early, Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson have been hurting, David Eckstein and Darin Erstad couldn't set a table if Emily Post herself showed them how.

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Scott Rolen
  3. Bobby Abreu
  4. Todd Helton
  5. Jim Thome

You could take Bonds' season, split it among two guys and still almost have two viable MVP candidates. Abreu is playing out of his mind right now. Maybe he'll actually surpass his career total of MVP points this year (18).

AL Cy Young

  1. Mark Mulder
  2. Curt Schilling
  3. Tim Hudson
  4. Freddy Garcia
  5. C.C. Sabathia

Isn't it kind of neat to have three starting pitcher teammates taking turns having the best season among themselves?

NL Cy Young

  1. Ben Sheets
  2. Jason Schmidt
  3. Tom Glavine
  4. Roger Clemens
  5. Randy Johnson

Nobody is lapping the field at this point so I thought I'd go with the guy with the 125:18 K:BB ratio. I think Johnson is going to be at the top in the end, though.

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby
  2. Zack Greinke
  3. Shingo Takatsu

I had a hard time giving a vote to Daniel Cabrera with that more-walks-than-Ks thing of his. Kevin Gregg of the Angels has a great K:BB ratio but I just couldn't squeeze him in. Greinke's trial by fire is much more impressive than Jeremy Bonderman's of a year ago under similar circumstances of relative deprivation. I couldn't vote for Joe Mauer at this point because he hasn't played a lot, but I think he is the odds-on favorite to take the award at season's end.

NL ROY

  1. Khalil Greene
  2. Ryan Madson
  3. Kaz Matsui

I have no problem with voting for a multi-year veteran Japanese import for Rookie of the Year, but, to me, they really need to smoke the field and Matsui is not doing that by any stretch of the imagination. It may turn out that he will in the second half, but he sure hasn't to this point. Madson is fun to watch.

Will Carroll

AL MVP

  1. Ivan Rodriguez
  2. Alex Rodriguez
  3. Manny Ramirez
  4. Vlad Guerrero
  5. Carlos Guillen

I should get a float in next year's Puerto Rico Day parade for this ballot. Pudge is doing an encore to last season's legend-making. Any catcher fighting for a batting title should get double credit. I'd love to see Trammell protect him by giving him some DH time, using Brandon "Pod 2004" Inge at catcher. Alex Rodriguez settled in fine in New York, plus he gets credit for inspiring Derek Jeter. Ramirez and Guerrero just keep doing what they do, but Guillen is the real surprise. Dombrowski and crew aren't getting enough credit.

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Scott Rolen
  3. Jim Thome
  4. Bobby Abreu
  5. J.D. Drew

I've been touting Scott Rolen for NL MVP, but I always forget to leave off the qualifier of "MVP, Human Category." Bonds is unreal. I don't care if he's injecting the blood of virgins into himself, it's still unreal. Rolen is having a great season, making some question who the best player on this team is. Pujols doesn't make my top five somehow and Todd Helton probably should. It says something that Thome and Abreu make the list and Philly's still not running away with a weak division.

AL Cy Young

  1. Mark Mulder
  2. Curt Schilling
  3. C.C. Sabathia
  4. Tim Hudson
  5. Kenny Rogers

Guess that hip is okay. Mulder's been lights out, just edging out Schilling on my ballot. Sabathia's becoming what everyone expected--if his arm holds together. Hudson's got to figure out that oblique or he might follow the career path of Jeremy Affeldt rather than Catfish Hunter. Rogers should be fine as long as he doesn't have to pitch in any big games. There may not be clutch, but I'm convinced there's choke.

NL Cy Young

  1. Jason Schmidt
  2. Ben Sheets
  3. Tom Glavine
  4. Roger Clemens
  5. Carlos Zambrano

I'll give Schmidt the slight nod, but I could have flipped a coin among the top three. Still, in the writer's vote, this is Clemens' to lose. Glavine might get comeback player as an apology, but so what? When Scott Boras told me last year on BPR that Zambrano was the best pitcher on the Cubs staff, I laughed. Ummm, sorry, Scott. Carl Pavano would get more consideration from me if he hadn't dumped Alyssa, while Al Leiter should be getting more credit for pitching with half a shoulder.

AL ROY

  1. Lew Ford
  2. Bobby Crosby
  3. Kevin Youkilis

I want so bad to write "Joe Mauer" but he's been in UTK more than any other BP column this year. He's going to hit and he's going to be at the top of this list at the end of the year. Takatsu's been interesting and Greinke should keep dazzling, but neither makes the list. Crosby could get more notice than the rest with a pennant chase, but Mauer and Greinke are the ones we'll be writing about in BP2010. Lew Ford, however, has earned the top slot, while Youkilis has proved he's more than a god--he's a ballplayer.

NL ROY

  1. Akinori Otsuka
  2. Khalil Greene
  3. Ryan Madson

How many of us wrote in "Kazuo Matsui" in the pre-season ballots? With as much work as Clay put in re-adjusting numbers, we still haven't figured out the cultural adjustment. Perhaps we should re-visit just how special Ichiro or Nomo was in their first seasons. Given enough sample size, I wouldn't be surprised to see the success rate for Japanese rookies be roughly that of what we see for players coming out of Triple-A. I only hope the Pads call up one more rookie--Tag Bozied? Brad Baker?--so they can sweep. It's a weak crop and I expect it might be someone who hasn't set foot on a field yet who could win.

Nate Silver

AL MVP

  1. Ivan Rodriguez
  2. Vladimir Guerrero
  3. Manny Ramirez
  4. Carlos Guillen
  5. Frank Thomas

For the first time since I hit puberty, there's a Detroit Tiger who is a legitimate MVP candidate and you think I'm not going to vote for him? Are you kidding me? There's an old cliche about the player--say Scott Brosius or Chuck Knoblauch or someone--who is so underrated that he becomes overrated. Well, I think I-Rod might have been overrated enough for so long that he's now become underrated; if he puts together another couple of solid seasons while Piazza moves to 1B, the guy will have a pretty good claim on being the best catcher ever.

The numbers two-through-four selections seem straightforward to me. Number five should probably be Hank Blalock or Melvin Mora, but Thomas is having (another) fine season, and gets dissed enough in the mainstream media that I think he deserves the recognition.

AL Cy Young

  1. Curt Schilling
  2. Mark Mulder
  3. Tim Hudson
  4. Mariano Rivera
  5. C.C. Sabathia

A weakish crop, but Schilling bests the Pair of A(ce)s in all the categories that I care about, so I give him the nod. It has also become my belief that, while statheads are generally correct in their distaste in the attention given to closers, they probably underrate the three or four guy in the league at any given time who performs at a truly dominating level, hence the nod to Rivera. C.C. Sabathia is way cooler than Brad Radke, and gets extra credit for his selfless sacrifice of his left arm in pursuit of a glorious third place finish for the Cuyahoga Valley Indigenous Peoples.

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby
  2. Zach Grienke
  3. Shingo Takatsu

I have something of a bias when it comes to Rookie of the Year selections, which is to lean toward selecting the guy whom I think is going to have the greater career. I was going to use that as an excuse to justify picking Zach Grienke over Crosby. The thing is, all things considered, I'm not sure that I'd trade Crosby for Grienke at this point. I don't think Billy Beane would, either. And Crosby has clearly had the better season up to this point.

PECOTA projected Takatsu to have an ERA around 10.00 or so my apologies to Mr. Zero, who would be more cool if his nickname were Mr. Sparkle. By the way, I have a Mr. Sparkle T-shirt.

NL MVP

  1. B-nds
  2. Scott Rolen
  3. Bobby Abreu
  4. Todd Helton
  5. Albert Pujols

I realize that my ballot is quickly devolving into an exercise in subjectivity, but Scott Rolen is another guy whom I've always felt doesn't get the recognition that he deserves, and I'm thrilled to see that he's having a great year. I also think that Rolen lapped Andruw Jones as the best defensive player in the league after Andruw ate one too many Chik-fil-As last June or so. After Rolen (and way after Bonds), there are a heap of qualified candidates who are not all that differentiable, but I can't conceive of not having Albert Pujols somewhere on this ballot.

NL Cy Young

  1. Jason Schmidt
  2. Randy Johnson
  3. Ben Sheets
  4. Roger Clemens
  5. Carlos Zambrano

Man, what a wealth of riches. I decided to be somewhat scientific about this one, ranking the leading candidates in three categories--VORP, SNWL, K/BB ratio--and seeing how they came out:


         SNWL VORP K/BB  Average
Schmidt   3    2    3     2.67
Johnson   1    6    2     3.00
Clemens   2    4    4     3.33
Sheets    6    3    1     3.33
Glavine   4    1    6     3.67
Zambrano  5    5    5     5.00

I gave Sheets the nod over Clemens because he's coming on stronger and I think is more likely to finish the year that way. Also, I replaced Glavine with Zambrano because succeeding as a groundball pitcher when your middle infield for most of the year has been Todd Walker and Ramon Martinez is pretty damned impressive. The fact that Carlos Zambrano is my favorite baseball player right now has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Just a coincidence.

NL ROY

  1. Akinori Otsuka
  2. Khalil Greene
  3. Kazuo Matsui

Boring. None of these guys are going to be stars. When is David Wright going to get called up? Is Wily Mo Pena eligible?

Dayn Perry

AL MVP

  1. Carlos Guillen
  2. Pudge Rodriguez
  3. Manny Ramirez
  4. Vlad Guerrero
  5. Miguel Tejada

Guillen's manning shortstop and hitting .340/.413/.623 on the road, and he's faced the toughest collection of pitchers of any serious MVP contender. I think Manny will top this list by season's end, but right now he lags Pudge in my mind because of positional scarcity and park adjustments. Sorry, but I don't see a compelling case for A-Rod being in the top five as things stand now. Blalock's been the best third baseman in the AL, and he's not on my list.

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Scott Rolen
  3. Bobby Abreu
  4. Todd Helton
  5. J.D. Drew

Honestly, I'm weary of Bonds. It has nothing to do with his personality foibles or Skip Bayless-fueled rumors of his eating live howler monkeys for maximum hypothalamic hormone intake; I couldn't give a whit about any of that. Rather, I'm tired of his persistent refusal to play the game the other kids are playing. A .622 OBP? Stop it. Seriously. Enough. Rolen-excellent glove, success at every phase of the offensive game. Good thing the Phillies divested themselves of his nefarious influence. Abreu's closing fast in the non-Bonds division. Another fine Helton offering obscured by blanket application of the Coors discount. Drew gets the nod over Thome because of defensive value and the fact that he's the only Brave that's been healthy and hitting all year.

AL Cy Young

  1. Curt Schilling
  2. Brad Radke
  3. Johan Santana
  4. Pedro Martinez
  5. Mark Mulder

First, a dig at Tim Hudson: no pitcher with a 4.3 K/9 is going to make it on my ballot. I liken the Cy Young to the MVP in this sense-I'm not going to penalize a player for bad luck and incompetent teammates. The extension of this to pitcher's terms is what happens to the balls he allows in play. I'm not a DIPS absolutist by any means, but I do place more emphasis on a pitcher's "three true outcomes." That's why Schilling and his 8.2 K/9 and 5.13 K/BB gets the narrow edge over Radke and his nine freaking unintentional walks on the season. As for Santana, he leads the AL in strikeouts and has a 4.31 K/BB ratio. He needs to cut down on the homers, but he's done everything else quite well. Pedro hasn't been Pedro, but he's still been one of the best. I could make a case for Vazquez ahead of Mulder, but one can only be so edgy, right?

NL Cy Young

  1. Ben Sheets
  2. Randy Johnson
  3. Roy Oswalt
  4. Jason Schmidt
  5. Chris Carpenter

Sheets, and it's not particularly close in my mind. Johnson may well be tops in the end, but right now he's number two. Oswalt has 4.59 K/BB ratio and is keeping the ball in park despite pitching half his games at the Juice Box. The ERA may be high, but so is that .330 BABIP. Carpenter has a K/BB of better than 4.0, and he's been the glue of the rotation for the best team in the NL. And I'm a homer.

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby
  2. Joe Mauer
  3. Zack Greinke

How impressive would Crosby, as a rookie shortstop, have looked in the pre-trinity years? Tejada in 2003: .278/.336/..472. Crosby in 2004: .273/.331/.468. Mauer will probably top this list by season's end, but he just hasn't played enough at this writing. Greinke ... K/BB: 3.17, Age: 20.

NL ROY

  1. Khalil Greene
  2. Ryan Madson
  3. Kaz Matsui

Greene has somewhat middling numbers, but he's played excellent defense at a premium position, and Petco has been a fairly brutal park for hitters thus far. Madson has been excellent in mostly high-leverage situations. Matsui plays shortstop and is a highly-paid Met.

Jonah Keri

AL MVP

  1. Manny Ramirez
  2. Vladimir Guerrero
  3. Alex Rodriguez
  4. Hank Blalock
  5. Ivan Rodriguez

Comments: Carlos Guillen could easily be in Pudge's spot here too, but we'll go with the player with the longer track record. A-Rod has come back strong after a slow start, and has played Gold Glove defense at a new position to boot; he may very well top this list by year's end. For now it's Manny over Vlad, as Ramirez finally gets his due as the best hitter in the league and a huge reason the Red Sox are still within shouting distance of the Wild Card, given the team's slew of injuries. Blalock will be an MVP candidate for the next 10 years or so.

AL Cy Young

  1. Curt Schilling
  2. Mark Mulder
  3. Tim Hudson
  4. Brad Radke
  5. Kenny Rogers

Comments: Schilling and Mulder look dead even on the surface. But Mulder works in a better pitcher's park, while Schilling has been the victim of bad defense, with a .310 average allowed on balls in play to Mulder's .271 (through 7/8). Hudson is a close third, as the A's staff is now headed by two aces instead of three. Brad Radke and Kenny Rogers have been huge pleasant surprises, while Pedro Martinez could be in the mix by season's end, health permitting.

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby
  2. Zach Greinke
  3. Justin Duchscherer

Comments: Miguel who? While Scott Hatteberg for Jason Giambi was a huge downgrade for Oakland's offense, Crosby's hit for power right out of the gate and shows a decent glove for a big man at short. He could catch Tejada's production in a couple years' time. The next-best candidates aren't candidates at all, but rather players such as Lew Ford and Victor Martinez, who just missed the cut to preserve rookie eligibility. The final winner may be a player with just a few games under his belt to date. Greinke, who's been the Royals' ace from the moment he was called up in mid-May, slides into second place here. Joe Mauer's killing the ball after missing a big chunk of the season due to injuries, but lacks the playing time to make the top three. Duchscherer, Jason Frasor and Kevin Gregg are all having huge years carrying heavy burdens out of their team's bullpens, but we'll give the slight nod to Duchscherer for being the rock in a struggling A's pen.

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Scott Rolen
  3. Bobby Abreu
  4. J.D. Drew
  5. Jim Thome

Comments: In a non-Bonds world, this would be one of the most compelling MVP races in recent memory. Rolen has put it all together at the plate this year to go with his Gold Glove at a premium position. Abreu's another slow starter who's now wreaking havoc on the league; had he not landed the last spot on the All-Star team, it would have ranked among the worst ommissions of all-time. Drew and Thome is a toss-up, but we'll take Drew in a tie-break, as his baserunning, defense and less favorable hitting environment are enough to nudge him past Thome's raw offensive numbers. Lately BP authors have taken to running internal pools betting on Bonds' walks, in increments of 100. His ratio of smashing the stuffing out of the ball to swings taken is ridiculous.

NL Cy Young

  1. Randy Johnson
  2. Roger Clemens
  3. Jason Schmidt
  4. Tom Glavine
  5. Ben Sheets

Comments: Clemens comes up just a hair short, as Johnson's higher innings count, even accounting for the one-start difference between he and Johnson, gives the Unit the slight edge. Johnson, Schmidt and Tom Glavine all sport outrageously low BABIP numbers, knocking them all down a notch. Schmidt and Glavine also get the advantage of great pitcher's parks, which also costs them a bit here. Let's not take too much away from Tom Terrific, though--his amazing comeback season may have clinched his ticket to the Hall of Fame. Al Leiter has also benefited from Shea and Mike Cameron's wizardry (.197 BABIP!) to put up gaudy numbers, but just misses the cut. Ben Sheets has put it all together to become of the best and most entertaining pitchers in the game. He edges out Carlos Zambrano, who has helped carry the Cubs staff with Wood and Prior missing significant time.

NL ROY

  1. Kazuo Matsui
  2. Khalil Greene
  3. Ryan Madson

Comments: After starting the year looking much like the '03 version of Yankee namesake Hideki--chopping the ball into the ground and often swinging weakly--KazMat has finally started hitting the ball with authority. He was already a big part of the Mets' great defense this season, and should be a lock to win the award if he keeps hitting. Greene has been steady if unspectacular, which suits the Padres just fine as they look to a bright future at short. Madson gets the nod over fellow rookie relief aces Akinori Otsuka (slowing down lately) and Chad Cordero (solid, but hasn't logged the huge innings that Madson has).

Clay Davenport

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Barry Bonds
  3. Barry Bonds
  4. Barry Bonds
  5. Barry Bonds

But since the rules don't allow that, I'll reluctantly change 2-5 to be Scott Rolen, Bob Abreu, J.D. Drew, and Adrian Beltre. What Bonds is doing to the NL is just sick, putting up numbers that look he's playing in a slow-pitch softball league with a microwaved ball and a titanium double-wall bat. His translation for 2004, extending the season to 162 games, shows 235 walks and 36 strikeouts--with just 232 total outs. In any normal league, in the American League for instance, Scott Rolen would be the MVP. Abreu, Drew, Beltre--among the league leaders in hitting and leading their teams to contention for their respective divisions gets them their tips o' the old cap.

NL Cy Young

  1. Randy Johnson
  2. Jason Schmidt
  3. Ben Sheets
  4. Roger Clemens
  5. Carlos Zambrano

Helping your team to a title: I only consider that for the MVP voting. Cy Young goes to the best pitchers as I see them, regardless of whether he's helping his team get anywhere. So Randy Johnson gets my nod, as the ageless wonder continues to do more than any other pitcher to tear up the NL. Jason Schmidt is certainly close, and if I credited contender status he'd probably move ahead of Randy. Sheets is a stud, and is making me regret signing him to a two-year deal (ending last season) instead of a three-year deal in my NL fantasy league. Clemens has to be in there, which leaves the fifth spot to be between Zambrano, Glavine, Clement, and maybe Armando Benitez. I went with Zambrano, on the basis of record as much as anything else--they are close enough together in my mind that any little thing, even one I don't particularly like to consider, puts him over the top.

NL ROY

  1. Ryan Madson
  2. Akinori Otsuka
  3. Kazuo Matsui

I really, really liked Madson coming into this season, and he's done nothing to disappoint me. I really, really liked what Otsuka had done in Japan the last few years, and he's done nothing to disappoint me. I liked what Matsui had done in 2002, but so far 2004 looks more like his just-OK 2001 and 2003 seasons. Some may call it a disappointment, and he certainly has shown all-world credentials, but I think he's done a little more than Khalil Greene to this point in the season and so gets my third spot. There is certainly room for someone, like Greene or Jason Bay, to come on in the second half and take the title.

AL MVP

  1. Carlos Guillen
  2. Vlad Guerrero
  3. Alex Rodriguez
  4. Ivan Rodriguez
  5. Curt Schilling

I don't think he will sustain it, but through yesterday I think Guillen has been the best player in the American League. I never thought I would ever write that. Interesting that all five of the players on my list are new to their teams this year...I'd say they've handled their transitions well.

AL Cy Young

  1. Curt Schilling
  2. Mark Mulder
  3. Kenny Rogers
  4. Mariano Rivera
  5. Juan Rincon

Schilling and Mulder look to be well ahead of everybody else; they were the easy picks. Rogers has been terriffic, a direct consequence of my choosing him for my HACKING MASS squad. Yeah, him and Tom Glavine. Dear God, what has gotten into those two? Anyway, I think Pedro Martinez and Javier Vazquez will push their way into the list by the end of September, but I decided to recognize a couple of relivers who have been lights out so far this year.

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby
  2. Shingo Takatsu
  3. Joe Mauer

No rookie has been dominant this year, but Crosby has had the most respectable year so far. I'm not sure that he'll keep the lead, though, since Takatsu and Mauer have been coming on strong--frankly, I can't figure out how Takatsu is doing it. Zach Greinke has been one inning a game away from being a dominant starter, and I could easily see him vaulting over everybody here.

Chris Kahrl

AL MVP

  1. Ivan Rodriguez
  2. Vladimir Guerrero
  3. Carlos Guillen
  4. Jorge Posada
  5. Hank Blalock

My ballot is no doubt a bit predictable, what with the two Tiggers, and Vladi finally playing everyday away from the frigid tyranny of baseball's enserfed Team 30. As for Jorge Posada, Jeter might be the straw, A-Rod the pricey vodka, and the other guys can fight over who's an onion or an olive or a mixer, but it's Posada who's the glass, the thing that's always there. It seems impossible to call a Yankee underrated, but that he is. Finally, Blalock's the easily-chosen offensive machine and token Ranger to blame for their place in the standings.

AL Cy Young

  1. Curt Schilling
  2. Mark Mulder
  3. Brad Radke
  4. Kenny Rogers
  5. Tim Hudson

This is a pretty stratified field, in that Schilling's the easy obvious #1, and Mulder the easy obvious #2. From there, things get interesting. Hudson got hurt, so I've taken him down a couple of pegs, placing him behind the veteran anchors of the rotations of two contenders. Radke and Rogers have the been the inning eaters, the quality pitchers, and the bona fide staff aces of two teams spending lots of money on other starters; they're the ones delivering, and then some. I don't expect them to rank ahead of Hudson by season's end. Heck, I don't expect to finish ahead of Pedro. But for a half-season snapshot, they deserve the acknowledgment.

AL ROY

  1. Bobby Crosby
  2. Shingo Takatsu
  3. Jason Frasor

It's a weak field, and Crosby's the lone rookie regular playing regularly and well, so it's sort of a default. That undersells his value, of course, but until we see where he winds up between the peaks and valleys of his streaky hitting, it's hard to peg how enthusiastic we should be. Joe Mauer and Zack Greinke will be back on the ballot by season's end, but I need to see more before just taking their places for granted. So, until then, Takatsu and Frasor get tabbed for the key roles each has fulfilled in their team's pens, with an honorable mention for Anaheim's Kevin Gregg.

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds

    ...and in the non-Olympian hominid category...

  2. Jim Thome
  3. Scott Rolen
  4. Bobby Abreu
  5. Mike Lowell

I have to admit, there's a bit of favoritism in play here, because Thome's just one of those guys I love to watch, and as a matter of choice, I like blaming him for good news in Philly more than Abreu. It's an entirely idiosyncratic choice, but the 2-4 slots are basically a good gaggle, easily jumbled to suit. I'm giving Lowell a token mention because of his superb season, perhaps because it's this sort of hitting that has the Marlins contending, not the basepath skitterings that seem to fascinate some people so. That said, he probably won't rate this high on my season-end ballot, but there isn't a lot to chose from among J.D. Drew, Lance Berkman, and Albert Pujols yet, and we only have five slots.

NL Cy Young

  1. Roger Clemens
  2. Carlos Zambrano
  3. Randy Johnson
  4. Jason Schmidt
  5. Ben Sheets

Bad ballpark, bad defense, and the Rocket still showed the geezer circuit how it's done? I'm impressed. Some might wonder what I'm smoking to rate Zambrano this high, but Support-Neutral numbers put him in the top five in the league, and he's the power groundball guy who, in Alex Gonzalez's absence, has had to work with a double-play combo of two indifferent second basemen. I've left off the two qualified Mets, Glavine and Leiter, after giving it a lot of thought, Leiter's missed a bit too much time, and Glavine hasn't pitched better than any of the five guys I've got on my ballot. I suppose Sheets gets cookies for his big day, but he's also been amazing all along. As others will no doubt point out, it's a tough field to pick, but an interesting one.

NL ROY

  1. Jason Bay
  2. Ryan Madson
  3. Khalil Greene

Bay's a rookie, and given my choice between his hitting, and the two shortstops (Greene and Kaz Matsui) and the two top rookie relievers (Madson and Akinori Otsuka), you might think I was a wacky nativist or something, given my choices. However, I'm being pragmatic. Offensively, the differences between Greene and Matsui are pretty modest, Greene's the better defender, and he's hitting in a park so roomy the aircraft carriers are in play. Madson has been the best reliever in the National League, pitching for a team that has desperately needed the innings he's given them in a middle relief role; Otsuka has been fine, but again, he's been a lot less critical to the Padres, and again, he's got that big ballpark to help him. So I'm happy with Bay, because he's the hitter with a future who has already given the Pirates a healthy taste of what's to come, and Madson and Greene are the better pair within the two positions to pick the league's top rookies from. Either that, or I'm a closeted Buchananite, but I sort of doubt that.

Steven Goldman

AL MVP

  1. Maria Sharapova: Beautiful and she can play; baseball needs more stars like her.
  2. Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers: Detroit's flirtation with respectability can't be attributed to any one player, but it is undeniable that for the second year in a row Pudge-Rod's presence has proved inspiring to an otherwise rudderless franchise, and we haven't even mentioned his standout season at a position hungry for offense.
  3. Vlad Guerrero, Anaheim Angels: Doing what he's always done, but finally in a place where the market notices it.
  4. Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox: The Best hitter of anyone here, but miscast as an outfielder. They would make him a DH, but are afraid that if he wasn't obligated to go out to left field each inning he might wander out of the park. Ironically, if he could DH he might win an MVP as it is his my-soul-is-out-wandering-the-ethereal-planes approach to fielding that damages his reputation.
  5. Carlos Guillen, Detroit Tigers: Motor City's other liberator, Guillen is the golden goose who laid the egg on Bavasi's face. Note that away from Corporate Park/Detroit he's hitting .340/.413/.623.
  6. Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox: "Just" a DH, but there's no reason to hold Thomas' lack of defense against him when he's not asked to be defensive. One of the greatest hitters of all time personally putting the charge into the White Sox batting order; without him there would be no one on base.

NL MVP

  1. Scott Rolen, St. Louis Cardinals: I may be drummed out of BP for making this pick (So long, it's been good to know yuh) but it seems to me that Barry Bonds is like a freak weather event in an isolated region, a thunderstorm on the mountaintop. He's having yet another historic season, mostly because of the confluence of his refusal to swing at anything out of the strike zone and the self-defeating refusal of opposing pitchers to give him anything in the strike zone. On the rare occasions they do give in, he unerringly destroys the ball. However, Barry is not on a particularly good team, part of what enables pitchers to walk him every time up. His walks are ridiculously valuable, but would be more so if the men behind him were more competent. I conceive the MVP as being reflective of a contribution to the pennant race, and while Bonds is certainly having the year's best season (or season's best year), as far as the race goes, he's been marginalized The Giants are 1.5 games off the NL West lead, but going backwards; perhaps Bonds is driving his team towards a pennant, but it's not obvious.

    Rolen's team is six games ahead of the competition. Rolen is playing a key infield position, playing it marvelously, and having one of those seasons that you can put on the truly short list of dominant performances turned in by a third base defender. His team has the best record in the National League, and Rolen is a big part of that, sustaining the club when Pujols and Renteria got off to slow starts. Finally, we all know that RBIs are a function of opportunity. Rolen has done more with the opportunities that he's been given than any other player in baseball, driving in 25 percent of runners on base in front of him (14 percent is about average). There may be no such thing as a clutch hitter, but Rolen is doing a persuasive imitation.

    Don't buy it? Well, neither do I, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  2. Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants.
  3. Jim Thome or Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia Phillies.
  4. Bobby Abreu or Jim Thome: Without them, there is no Phillies. Even with them there are sometimes no Phillies. The Phillies are a concept by which we measure our pain.
  5. Lance Berkman, Houston Astros: The only Astro having a big season, a walks and power machine, a switch-hitter who is (for once) switch-hitting, and his hirsute stylings are more appealing than Johnny Damon's.
  6. Spider-Man: He's all heart.

AL Cy Young

  1. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: We can all agree that closers are overemphasized, but this is the Cadillac of the group, both in consistency and importance. New York's rotation has been an almost unmitigated disaster, yet they have the best record in baseball. Some would credit the never-say-die offense, which has scored a million late runs for a million late comebacks, but the relievers have been buying them time to do that.
  2. Mark Mulder, Oakland A's: Normally you would go for the starter having the best year, given that he's munching many more innings than the closer. But neither Schilling nor Mulder are much distinguished from one another, which allows Mo to leap ahead of the pack. Also, seven runs a game in support - you can do a lot with that.
  3. Curt Schilling, Boston Red Sox: See Mark Mulder.
  4. Tim Hudson, Oakland A's: It would be nice if he struck out a few more batters before we get too serious about him.
  5. Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins: Dominant after a difficult start to the season.

NL Cy Young

  1. Ben Sheets, Milwaukee Brewers: In an ever-lovin', blue-eyed landslide. His strikeout-walk ratio is as stark as a Manichaean worldview.
  2. Jason Schmidt, San Francisco Giants: Dominating at times, great the rest of the time.
  3. Roger Clemens, Houston Astros: The Frank Sinatra of baseball.
  4. Tom Glavine, New York Mets: The Dean Martin of... uh, no..
  5. Carlos Zambrano or Matt Clement, Chicago Cubs: Depending on the day of the week.

AL ROY

  1. Bing Crosby, Oakland A's: I used to love it when he did "Fat Albert."
  2. Zack Greinke, KC Royals: "I have nothing to say. Well, nothing that's not been said." --Mandy Patinkin, "Sunday in the Park with George."
  3. Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox: Probably better than even Billy Bean suspected.

NL ROY

  1. Akinori Otsuka, San Diego Padres: Setting up marvelously for that Hoffberger guy.
  2. Kahlil Greene, San Diego Padres: Eh. But getting better.
  3. Ryan Madson, Philadelphia Phillies: Should be in the rotation.

Michael Wolverton

NL MVP

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Bobby Abreu
  3. Scott Rolen
  4. J.D. Drew
  5. Randy Johnson

Yet another "record" Bonds can shoot for: fewest ABs by an MVP. Mickey Mantle holds the mark (pitchers and strike years excepted) with 377 in his injury-riddled 1962 season. Bonds is on pace to have just 345 this year.

AL MVP

  1. Ivan Rodriguez
  2. Vladimir Guerrero
  3. Alex Rodriguez
  4. Carlos Guillen
  5. Manny Ramirez

Two of the three best players in the AL this year were recently dumped by the Rangers, yet Texas is still first in a competitive division. Go figure.

NL Cy Young

  1. Randy Johnson
  2. Roger Clemens
  3. Jason Schmidt
  4. Tom Glavine
  5. Ben Sheets

This is going to be fun. Two giants in the history the game -- both of them over 40 -- going head-to-head down the stretch for the title of best pitcher in the NL. And that's not even considering that another aging great, Glavine, has served notice that he's not done either. Here's hoping that Johnson doesn't get traded to the AL, just so we can see what looks like an amazing Cy Young race.

AL Cy Young

  1. Curt Schilling
  2. Mark Mulder
  3. Tim Hudson
  4. Kenny Rogers
  5. Brad Radke

The AL has been short of great pitching performances this year, but Schilling is the clear stand-out among a weak field. The Oakland "Big Three, er, Two" is as dominant as ever, provided you don't dwell too much on that missing third member. To be fair, Rich Harden is showing some signs that he'll be ready to make it a trio again before too long.

NL ROY

  1. Khalil Greene
  2. Kazuo Matsui
  3. Ryan Madson

The NL rookie award is a battle between shortstops. Greene's hitting numbers, especially his walk numbers, need to be taken with a grain of salt because he's hit eighth most of the year. But he still gets the nod over Matsui because of his solid defensive work.

AL ROY

  1. Joe Mauer
  2. Shingo Takatsu
  3. Daniel Cabrera

It's a close call between Mauer and Bobby Crosby among AL rookie position players. Especially for Rookie of the Year, and especially for the mid-season article, I break ties in favor of the player who's performing at a very high level (Mauer) over the good player who's shown up for work every day (Crosby). If Mauer's and Crosby's current stats are doubled at the end of the year, I'll probably reverse my ordering of them. Daniel Cabrera isn't exactly a household name, but he's a promising young arm and easily the majors' best rookie starting pitcher so far this season.

A special thanks goes out to interns Jason Karegeannes and Sean Passanisi for their help compiling the data. You guys rock.

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