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October 1, 2010

On the Beat

Year-End Awards

by John Perrotto

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With three days left in the regular season, it's time to hand out awards for 2010. Not all of my selections will jibe with those made by my Baseball Writers Association of America brothers and sisters. I take a bit of a sabermetric bent in making my selections—though I won't delve deeply into the numbers here, leaving that for our other (and smarter) columnists to handle—so that is why things might look a little different than the norm.

National League MVP—Albert Pujols, Cardinals. Yes, I know he won't win because of the Cardinals' late-season collapse, but it wasn't his fault. No team counted on a player more than the Cardinals did on Pujols and he kept them in the race until the final week while everything was falling apart around him. And oh, by the way, he will lead the NL hitters in WARP and VORP again this season.

The rest of the ballot: 2. Joey Votto, Reds; 3. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres; 4. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies; 5. Matt Holliday, Cardinals; 6. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; 7. Aubrey Huff, Giants; 8. Jayson Werth, Phillies; 9. Brian McCann, Braves; 10. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals.

American League MVP—Evan Longoria, Rays. OK, before everyone jumps on me, let me explain. Like the departed Will Carroll (from Baseball Prospectus, not the Earth), I believe that being there is part of the criteria. Josh Hamilton just wasn't there enough and it didn't matter as the Rangers had a big lead in their division. Meanwhile, Longoria was consistently excellent in all phases of the game for a team that has battled for the best record in the major leagues all season despite being in the toughest division in baseball. Also, Longoria leads all AL position players in WARP and had enough guts to call out an apathetic fan base.

The rest of the ballot: 2. Josh Hamilton, Rangers; 3. Adrian Beltre, Red Sox; 4. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers; 5. Robinson Cano, Yankees; 6. Joe Mauer, Twins; 7. Carl Crawford, Rays; 8. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays; 9. Paul Konerko, White Sox; 10. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians.

National League Cy Young Award—Roy Halladay, Phillies. He has been everything the Phillies could have hoped for and more when they acquired him from the Blue Jays last winter. He's outstanding and durable, too, and it will be fun to see what he does after finally reaching the postseason for the first time in his distinguished career.

The rest of the ballot: 2. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals; 3. Tim Hudson, Braves; 4. Josh Johnson, Marlins; 5. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies.

American League Cy Young Award—Felix Hernandez, Mariners. His record be damned, he is the best pitcher in the league and it's not even close. Hernandez winning the award would be a great sign that advanced statistical analysis has taken another small step forward.

The rest of the ballot: 2. Jon Lester, Red Sox; 3. David Price, Rays; 4. CC Sabathia, Yankees; 5. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox.

National League Rookie of the Year—Jason Heyward, Braves. Rarely does a rookie live up to the hype but Heyward did while helping hold together an often patchwork Braves lineup all season. What he did this season is just a taste of what he will eventually accomplish.

The rest of the ballot: 2. Buster Posey, Giants; 3. Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks.

American League Rookie of the Year—Austin Jackson, Tigers. The best in a thin class. Jackson has his flaws such as striking out too much for a non-power hitter but he got a lot of hits to fall in this season and played terrific defense at times. Playing every day and producing is  more valuable than the few innings Neftali Feliz provided the Rangers, despite most of those being very good innings.

The rest of the ballot: 2. Danny Valencia, Twins; 3. Wade Davis, Rays.

National League Manager of the Year—Bud Black, Padres. Though they have faded at the end, the Padres have exceeded even the biggest dreamer's expectations and Black has guided them with a steady hand.

American League Manager of the Year—Ron Gardenhire, T wins. While the Twins were expected to win, they took the AL Central going away despite a season-ending injury to Joe Nathan in spring training and the loss of Justin Morneau in July with a concussion.

---

Diamondbacks interim manager Kirk Gibson, as has been reported in this space for the last two weeks, is almost certain to be given the job on a permanent basis when the season ends. He hasn't been getting much sleep since Kevin Towers was hired as general manager on September 21. The duo has been having plenty of late-night long conversations during the Diamondbacks' season-ending road trip this week.

"We've gotten to know each other a lot more the last four or five days, talking about philosophy," Towers said. "On first impression, on him. (I) like the look in the eye, and like what he had to say. He probably deserves a little bit more time to set a foundation in spring training and an environment. I told him if he wants to stay up until 2, 3, 4 o'clock on the road trip talking baseball, you've got a guy, you are going to have to kick me out of the room."

Towers has also been talking to Gibson's former teammates, including Alan Trammell and David Wells. They have given Gibson glowing recommendations. Gibson, Trammell, and Wells own and operate a farm in the northern part of Michigan.

"You can tell he's a winner," Towers said. "He's a grinder. He has high expectations. He's learned from some great people, Jim Leyland, Sparky Anderson. I am looking forward to spending (time) with him and the entire coaching staff and getting to know him a little more."

Towers has not said if he is going to interview any other managerial candidates or when he plans to make an announcement on the manager: "No real timeline, other than we are not going to drag this thing out."

---

When Jay Bruce helped clinch the Reds' NL Central championship with a game-ending home run against the Astros on Tuesday night, he joined some select company. The right fielder became just the fifth player in major league history to clinch a post-season berth with a walk-off shot.

Bobby Thomson was the first when his "Shot Heard 'Round The World" won Game Three of the best-of-three playoff series with the Dodgers for the 1951 NL title. The others were Hank Aaron for the 1957 Braves, Alfonso Soriano for the Yankees in 1999 with his first major league hit, and Steve Finley for the storied 2004 Dodgers with a grand slam.

Bruce was thrilled to make history. He was even happier to strike the final blow in the Reds reaching the postseason for the first time since 1995.

"It has been a long time," he said. "I was just happy to be able to bring a jolt back. This is a great place to play."

Making the moment even more special was that the game was being televised back to his hometown of Beaumont, Texas.

"All of my friends and family got to watch," he said.

---

The Rays' celebration after clinching a playoff spot was not quite as wild as the one two years earlier for accomplishing the same feat. Of course, the Rays making the playoffs in 2008 was one of the great underdog stories in major-league history after they had been an AL East doormat ever since their inception as an expansion team in 1998.

"Obviously, you revel in that moment, but it's different this year in a sense that I'm already looking forward to the next moment," manager Joe Maddon said.  "And I think that's a good thing. It gets to the point where you expect to be in the playoffs on an annual basis. The first time you do it—we talked about that magical moment, and I'm not saying it isn't still magical—but you're a little bit more pragmatic in a sense the second time through."

The Rays say that they very much want to win the AL East and finish with the best record in the league in order to have home-field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. Left unsaid is that the Rays would love to win the World Series after losing to the Phillies in the 2008 Fall Classic and in light of the idea that the roster could be dramatically altered next season as owner Stuart Sternberg plans to substantially reduce the payroll.

"We still have other goals in mind," Maddon said.

---

MLB Rumors & Rumblings: The Nationals' biggest off-season objectives are to re-sign first baseman Adam Dunn and sign a frontline starting pitcher. Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa and right-handers Carl Pavano of the Twins and Javier Vazquez of the Yankees have appeal. … Right-hander Jake Westbrook is hopeful of working out a deal with the Cardinals before he reaches free agency in November. … The Red Sox will consider trading for Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez if they are unable to re-sign Adrian Beltre, and they seem unlikely to re-sign catcher and team captain Jason Varitek. … White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle, for the umpteenth time, is hinting that he will retire after next season, but 43-year-old infielder Omar Vizquel would like a return engagement on the South Side in 2011. … Ryne Sandberg, manager of the Cubs' Triple-A Iowa farm club, plans to leave the organization if he is not hired as the major league club manager.

---

Scouts' views on various major league players:

Giants infielder Mike Fontenot: "This might wind up being an important under-the-radar pickup for (Giants general manager) Brian Sabean, especially if (second baseman) Freddy Sanchez's shoulder acts in the postseason. They can plug Fontenot in and be OK. He's a tough little out at times and he won't kill them if they have to play him at second base."

Diamondbacks right-hander Daniel Hudson: "If he would have been with Arizona all year, he'd be the National League Rookie of the Year, no question about it. He has a great mound presence, repeats his delivery well and throws any pitch in any count. I can't wait to see him next year now that he has a little big-league experience under his belt."

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips: "He was pretty much a non-factor in September after sitting out when he got hit in the hand with a pitch. However, I'd bet on him playing well in the postseason. He likes the big stage and he's going to eat up the chance to play in October."

Astros shortstop Angel Sanchez: "I really hope that (Astros GM) Ed Wade doesn't think this guy is an everyday shortstop because he's not. This has been a fluke year, especially at the plate. He's not going to hit .275 again with regular playing time."

---

Three series to watch with probable pitching matchups (all times Eastern):

Yankees (94-65) at Red Sox (87-72), Friday-Sunday October 1-3
Andy Pettitte vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka, 7:10 p.m.; A.J. Burnett vs. Clay Buchholz, 4:10 p.m. Undecided vs. John Lackey, 1:35 p.m.

Phillies (95-64) at Braves (90-69), Friday-Sunday October 1-3
Kyle Kendrick vs. Brandon Beachey, 7:35 p.m.; Undecided vs. Tommy Hanson, 4:10 p.m. Undecided vs. Tim Hudson, 1:35 p.m.

Padres (88-71) at Giants (91-68), Friday-Sunday October 1-3
Clayton Richard vs. Matt Cain, 10:15 p.m.; Tim Stauffer vs. Barry Zito, 4:10 p.m. Mat Latos vs. Jonathan Sanchez, 4:15 p.m.

John Perrotto is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see John's other articles. You can contact John by clicking here

29 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Mike White

Am I crazy to think Posey is worthy of some, not necessarily many, NL MVP votes?

Oct 01, 2010 00:03 AM
rating: 1
 
CRP13

Maybe. Probably should go get checked.

Oct 01, 2010 07:09 AM
rating: 2
 
harderj

I will join you in the asylum:

Jason Heyward .278/.394/.457/.851
Buster Posey .313/.365/.511/.877

Yes, Heyward leads in every counting category, but Buster's better on pretty much every rate stat (save OBP and steals, but look at Jason's caught stealings).

J.H. B.P.

G 139 105
AB 508 393
R 81 57
H 141 123
TB 232 201
2b 29 23
3b 4 2
HR 18 17 (now 18?)
RBI 71 66
BB 89 30
IBB 2 5
K 125 54
SB 10 0
CS 6 2
WAR 4.4 4.0

Maybe it's not relevant to the conversation for Rookie of the Year, but where were the Giants when they handed him the day to day job and where are they now?

Oct 01, 2010 09:34 AM
rating: 0
 
CRP13

He said NL MVP, not ROY. Posey has a solid argument for ROY.

Oct 01, 2010 09:47 AM
rating: 2
 
harderj

Duh. Thanks for pointing out my oversight. He'd have to split M.V.P. votes on the Giants with Aubrey Huff, most likely, but he's made a huge difference.

Oct 01, 2010 10:05 AM
rating: 1
 
smansell

Where is Jered Weaver in the AL Cy Young list? He leads all starters in SIERA, will probably lead the majors in strikeouts, and he leads all of the guys you have listed in FIP, and he leads Sabathia, Price, and Bucholz in xFIP. For that matter, Liriano and Cliff Lee should be ahead of everyone except King Felix. How did you choose this list?

Oct 01, 2010 01:15 AM
rating: 3
 
Simon C.

Why are they the "storied 2004 Dodgers"? It's entirely possible I'm forgetting something about that team, but I have no clue what was so special about them.

Oct 01, 2010 01:39 AM
rating: 0
 
David Laurila

I'll respectfully disagree with my colleague John on Hamilton and the AL MVP. Assuming that he plays this weekend, as planned, he will finish with only five fewer games than Mauer had when he won last year. Also, much of the first-place cushion came with Hamilton in the lineup; the Rangers have been barely north of .500 in September. With Hamilton's impressive all-around performance, including leading the league in SLG and OPS, I feel he merits the honor.

Oct 01, 2010 06:15 AM
rating: 0
 
StatFreak101

I am sure, as most people would, that the difference in Mauer's missed time and Hamilton's missed time is that Mauer's came at the beginning of the 2009 season; with Hamilton's coming in the latter part of the 2010 season.

Missed time is still missed time - but it kind of falls under the 'what have you done for me lately' category.

Oct 01, 2010 10:05 AM
rating: 0
 
ostrowj1

Availability is an important issue. I suspect, though, that if the Rangers were involved in a close race Hamilton would have found some way to be in the lineup a week ago. Obviously it is speculation, but I don't know how you can ding Hamilton that much for missing games when the games he missed were not important (especially because he was a main contributer in them being unimportant).

Oct 01, 2010 10:37 AM
rating: 2
 
David Laurila

I should add that I also respectfully disagree with John's NL MVP choice, as Joey Votto basically carried the Reds to the postseason on his back. What jumps out at me when I look at his stats is the 111 RBI. Those came with the likes of Phillips [.331 OBP] and Cabrera [.303 OBP] hitting in front of him. In my mind, Votto deserves the award.

Oct 01, 2010 06:34 AM
rating: 0
 
CRP13

add your +1's here.

Oct 01, 2010 07:10 AM
rating: 7
 
BillJohnson

Swap Pujols and Votto, and you get close to the same race you saw, with perhaps a slightly larger lead for the Reds, park effects being what they are.

Swap Scott Rolen and Felipe Lopez ... and the Cardinals win the NL Central in a landslide, even if it's over Tony La Russa's dead body.

These "carried XXX team on his back" arguments always make me want to throw up. NO player carries a team on his back. Getting to the post season is a team effort.

Oct 01, 2010 07:34 AM
rating: 7
 
Lou Doench

Having watched almost every reds game on tv, I'll concur. Joey and Albert can fight over who was the leagues MVP, but Scott Rolen has been the Reds MVP this year.

Oct 01, 2010 08:22 AM
rating: 0
 
kddean

I'm not one to nitpick, but it does seem contradictory to say that Pujols carried the Cards all year, but then have Matt Holliday as 5th in the MVP race.

Oct 01, 2010 07:35 AM
rating: 2
 
jlefty

Your criteria for picking Longoria:

1) being there
2) consistently excellent in all phases
3) battling for best record
4) tough division
5) leads in WARP
6) guts

I concede guts to Longo, but Cano has played in a few more games, has been the better hitter--though I'll concede baserunning, and for the sake of argument I'll give you defense too (even though Cano has a positional advantage)--numbers 3 and 4 also apply to Cano, Cano ties Longo in WARP1, and is right behind him in WARP3.

I'm not necessarily pushing for Cano to win MVP (though I think he'd make a fine choice), but just curious that you have him at number 5 and Longoria at number 1, when, based on your criteria, Cano is probably the same, if not better.

Oct 01, 2010 07:24 AM
rating: 1
 
mikeryan

Votto in the NL MVP without him the Reds would never have won the Central. His offensive stats and defense were excellent. The line---BA .323, HR 37, RBI 111, OBP .425 OPS 1.026, SB 16.

Oct 01, 2010 08:00 AM
rating: 0
 
SeanDoyle

Always a good read John, as a NL writer do you only vote on NL awards? I'm still not sure how that works, thanks!

Oct 01, 2010 08:02 AM
rating: 1
 
David Laurila

Regarding Scartore's opinion that Scott Rolen has been the Reds' MVP this year, there is no doubt he has been a huge contributor and a key to the team's success. That said,going strictly by the numbers, Votto has made a far larger impact. Cherry picking three stats, their respective rankings in the NL show:

OPS = Votto 1st, Rolen 16th.
Runs Created = Votto 2nd, Rolen 35th
VORP = Votto 2nd, Rolen 23rd

Oct 01, 2010 08:53 AM
rating: 0
 
bflaff1

Considering the brutal tank job the Padres are about to complete, I can't see Bud Black getting the MOY.

Oct 01, 2010 09:01 AM
rating: 0
 
CRP13

How about *shudder* Dusty Baker? Nobody seriously thought the Reds would win the division.

Oct 01, 2010 09:49 AM
rating: 2
 
amazin_mess

It is one massive collapse. They are lucky they aren't in a huge market. The heat they'll get will be nothing compared to the 2007 Mets.

Oct 01, 2010 10:52 AM
rating: 1
 
NYYanks826

I really think Neftali Feliz deserves more credit for the AL ROY than just saying "he was good in the few innings he pitched for the Rangers". He took over the closer's role as a 21-year-old, which is something you almost never see, and he dominated. To have done that at such a young age, and in the thick of a division race (at least for a good chunk of the season) definitely deserves some consideration.

Oct 01, 2010 11:10 AM
rating: 2
 
vertumnus

Especially since Dan Hudson's ~80 IP for the Diamondbacks are good for 3rd on the NL ROY ballot, over Jaime Garcia and Starlin Castro.

Maybe Hudson deserves to be in front of those two - I'm not arguing for or against that. But Hudson being on the NL ballot at least establishes that a rookie can be worthy of recognition despite pitching only a "few innings".

It's hard to argue that Feliz hasn't been better and more valuable than Danny Valencia or Wade Davis, unless you use the "few innings" argument. But Dan Hudson's selection seems to undermine that.

Oct 01, 2010 14:13 PM
rating: 2
 
Simon C.

This is a great point.

Oct 02, 2010 01:32 AM
rating: 0
 
NYYanks826

Is it me, or does the Undecided family have more pitchers in the majors than the Molina family has catchers?

Oct 01, 2010 11:17 AM
rating: 1
 
jlefty

www.instantrimshot.com/

Oct 01, 2010 11:32 AM
rating: 1
 
RedsManRick

"I believe that being there is part of the criteria. Josh Hamilton just wasn't there enough and it didn't matter as the Rangers had a big lead in their division."

Why do you think the Rangers had a big lead in their division? A big reason why was that Josh Hamilton was so freaking awesome before he got hurt.

I appreciate the value of being there. When you looking at comparisons to players above some level of replacement, Hamilton still comes out looking pretty darn good -- even if the Rangers did have to use a replacement level player in his stead for September.

Oct 01, 2010 17:59 PM
rating: 1
 
Ira

Mr Perrotto. Ask yourself the following:

Andrew Bailey or Elvis Andrus for 2009 ROY?

You cannot in good faith argue for Austin Jackson over Neftali Feliz, without acknowledging that Elvis should have won in 2009.

Oct 04, 2010 12:43 PM
rating: 0
 
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