Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Prince Of New York's 2010 Award Winners

  • Award winners without bias, fear, partisanship or stat zombieing; and my pre-season pick is listed too----don't judge me!!!

American League MVP:

1. Josh Hamilton--Texas Rangers

Again there was a great disparity between Hamilton's home/away splits; but his numbers on the road were still excellent and it's not his fault he plays in a great hitter's ballpark; if there was a viable candidate to compete with his overall production, then maybe it could be a deciding factor; but Hamilton's the clear winner.

Despite only playing in 133 games, Hamilton put up massive numbers: 32 homers; 100 RBI; 95 runs; a .359 BA; .411 on base; .633 slugging; and 1.044 OPS; and 75 extra base hits. If he hadn't gotten hurt, the distance between Hamilton and the other contenders would've been greater.

2. Miguel Cabrera--Detroit Tigers

He was essentially alone in the mediocre Tigers lineup and hit 38 homers; drove in 126; and had terrific across-the-board numbers. Cabrera redeemed himself off the field after his embarrassing arrest on the final weekend of the 2009 season for a domestic incident with his wife.

3. Robinson Cano--New York Yankees

The thing that impresses me about Cano is how calm he always seems. In years past, it appeared to be a byproduct of disinterest; but now it's more of an embedded self-confidence leading to utter fearlessness. He hits lefties as well as righties; plays excellent defense; and is emerging as the key to the Yankees offense. He'll win an MVP one of these years.

4. Paul Konerko--Chicago White Sox

A leader on and off the field, Konerko had a huge year as he enters free agency with 39 homers; 111 RBI; a .312 average; .393 on base; and 70 extra base hits.

5. Adrian Beltre--Boston Red Sox

You can make all the comments you want about Beltre again having a terrific year conveniently when he's about to go free agent, but you can't deny what he did for the Red Sox in 2010. As the stars for whom he was supposed to function as a background contributor dropped one-by-one like the faceless victims in a bad 3-D horror movie, Beltre was there every single day with clutch hits, great defense and leadership.

My pre-season pick for AL MVP was Joe Mauer. It was a bit of a cop-out considering Mauer's annual output, but before he got hurt, Justin Morneau was a better candidate than Mauer. It's hard to criticize Mauer for the season he had----the standard he's set for himself is insane----but he "fell back" (as much as Joe Mauer can fall back) to his 2008 numbers.

American League Cy Young Award:

1. Felix Hernandez--Seattle Mariners

As you probably know, I'm no stat guy. In fact, two years ago, I had Brad Lidge as my NL Cy Young Award pick based on his dominance and importance to the team; I'll give the nod to one player over another because of his individual work and importance to the team----the question of "where would they be without him?" is something to take into account; but when a pitcher is as head-and-shoulders above everyone else, he has to be recognized.

Hernandez's ERA was an absurd 2.26; he struck out 232 in 249 innings; only allowed 194 hits; and would've won 25 games with a better team. The argument that he wasn't pitching in any "pressure" games is only stated by those who either haven't experienced or don't understand the competitive nature of sports; for the elite athlete the team situation is irrelevant in the heat of battle.

Felix Hernandez deserves the award; it's not his fault the Mariners are terrible.

2. David Price--Tampa Bay Rays

The 24-year-old Price had a wonderful first full big league season with 19 wins; a 2.72 ERA; 170 hits allowed in 208 innings; 188 strikeouts; and gave up only 15 homers. He'll win the award one of these years.

3. C.C. Sabathia--New York Yankees

The horse of the Yankees rotation is one of the few pitchers who appears as if he'll live up to his massive contract. Sabathia won 20 games for the first time in his career. Sabathia had to be the true ace of Yankees rotation as the other members either got hurt or were awful.

4. Clay Buchholz--Boston Red Sox

Buchholz justified the Red Sox refusal to trade him with a 17-7 season; 2.33 ERA; 142 hits allowed (9 homers) in 173 innings.

5. Mariano Rivera--New York Yankees

If anyone deserves a "lifetime achievement" Cy Young one of these years, it's Rivera. Man or machine? I'm not sure.

My pre-season pick was Jake Peavy.


Every year I've been waiting for Peavy's arm to come flying off in one of his all-out efforts; every year it hasn't. Then when I concede to his ability to keep on going despite those atrocious mechanics, what happens? His arm comes flying off. (Not really. He tore a muscle in his back clean off the bone; but it's in the same ballpark as his arm flying off.)

American League Rookie of the Year:

1. Neftali Feliz--Texas Rangers

Being a closer is hard enough; it's even worse for a 22-year-old rookie on a contending team. Feliz had his ups-and-downs, but was extremely reliable pitching in a hitters' ballpark. He saved 40 games; struck out 71 in 69 innings; allowed 43 hits; 5 homers; and only 18 walks.

2. Austin Jackson--Detroit Tigers

Jackson's still raw, but once he cuts down on his strikeouts and becomes more patient, he's going to be an All Star.

3. Danny Valencia--Minnesota Twins

Valencia batted .311 in 85 games after taking over for the injured Nick Punto at third base; he had 26 extra base hits in 322 plate appearances; and a .351 on base percentage. Very respectable numbers and another cog in the Twins machine of team-oriented players.

4. Brian Matusz--Baltimore Orioles

His numbers would've been more impressive if he'd been on a better team. Matusz took flight under Buck Showalter and will only get better.

My pre-season Rookie of the Year pick was Scott Sizemore of the Detroit Tigers.

We will never speak of this again.

American League Manager of the Year:

1. Terry Francona--Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox organization generally gets credit for their success, but what about some recognition for Francona keeping it all together despite the injuries? He's not a manager who'll win regardless of personnel, but he's got control of the clubhouse and steered the ship through the storm.

2. Ron Washington--Texas Rangers

He's not a good strategic manager; I'd have fired him after the failed drug test; in fact, I probably would've fired him two years ago; but the Rangers have stuck with him and the players never, ever stop playing hard for him. Sometimes that's more important.

3. Ron Gardenhire--Minnesota Twins

"The Twins Way" stems from the front office; Gardenhire's mentor Tom Kelly; and that Gardenhire is the boss. If you don't play the game correctly, you don't play. They're contenders every single year in part because of Gardenhire.

4. Joe Maddon--Tampa Bay Rays

I don't like the way he handles his team on or off the field, but they're going to the playoffs for the second time in three years. That deserves some acknowledgment.

5. Cito Gaston--Toronto Blue Jays

Many experts had the Blue Jays losing 100 games; with their pitching, that was ridiculous. Gaston handled the young pitchers well and is going out on a respected note. For a manager who's won two World Series, Gaston doesn't get much credit, but he should.

My pre-season pick was Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox. Amid all the controversy he creates with his lunacy, it's easily lost what fine game manager he is and that he kept the White Sox together while they were slumping and he was bickering with his bosses and the media.

National League MVP:

1. Joey Votto--Cincinnati Reds

The Reds won the NL Central and are in the playoffs for the first time since 1995; Votto had 37 homers; 113 RBI; batted .324; had a .424 on base; .600 slugging; and 1.024 OPS. He also had 75 extra base hits; 16 stolen bases; and was a leader on and off the field.

2. Albert Pujols--St. Louis Cardinals

I certainly hope people are watching Pujols and appreciating the fact that he's well on the way (if he's not already there) of being the greatest right-handed hitter in the history of baseball.

3. Carlos Gonzalez--Colorado Rockies

Gonzalez's numbers are ridiculous. 34 homers; 117 RBI; a batting title at .336; and nearly a triple crown.

4. Adrian Gonzalez--San Diego Padres

For most of the season, Gonzalez dealt with trade rumors and that he essentially stood alone in the Padres lineup; and he was playing in a cavernous ballpark. He still put up 31 homers and drove in 101 runs.

5. Matt Holliday--St. Louis Cardinals

Is it an indictment of the Cardinals and Tony La Russa that they had Pujols and Holliday at the plate; Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter on the mound, yet faded out and didn't even come close to the playoffs?

I endured a ludicrous amount of ridicule for picking Jose Reyes as the NL MVP. I was accused of being a homer; laughed at; even threatened.

I do so love being threatened.

Reyes's thyroid problem set him back in spring training and his oblique injury cost him games during the season. My question----which never receives a "no" ---is, "Does Jose Reyes have the talent to win an MVP?"

I receive stupidity in return. Such nonsense as, "he has no heart" or other ridiculousness. It's not as if I picked Eric Bruntlett or Gary Matthews Jr. to win the award.

National League Cy Young Award:

1. Roy Halladay--Philadelphia Phillies

Old school to the end, Halladay pitched deeply into games; gobbled innings; threw stri....oh, never mind. You know the deal.

2. Adam Wainwright--St. Louis Cardinals

Wainwright won 20 games for the first time; pitched 230 innings; allowed on 186 hits; 15 homers; struck out 213; and had a 2.42 ERA. He'll win the award one of these years.

3. Ubaldo Jimenez--Colorado Rockies

Jimenez looked to be tired at the end of the season. He carried the Rockies on his back as their starters----Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, Jorge De La Rosa and Jason Hammel----all got hurt.

4. Tim Hudson--Atlanta Braves

Hudson was rejuvenated after Tommy John surgery and looked better than he had since his early days with the Athletics.

5. Chris Carpenter--St. Louis Cardinals

Carpenter had a durable season with 35 starts and won 16 games. One can only speculate what he would've been for his career had he not gotten hurt and missed parts or all of so many seasons.

My pre-season pick was Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had a good year going 13-10; breaking the 200 inning/200 strikeout barrier; but wasn't the 20-game winning; 300 strikeout man I said he'd be; but it's coming. Soon.

National League Rookie of the Year:

1. Buster Posey--San Francisco Giants:

The stat zombies have been going on and on about Jason Heyward and his numbers; but Posey was dealing with catching a pitching staff that included Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain; and other pitchers that needed to be nursed, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez----and he did it.

He also hit, hit, hit for power and in the clutch. Taking into account everything from the fact that Posey is a catcher and had things other than his hitting to worry about----but still hit a ton----I have to tilt toward him for the award.

2. Jason Heyward--Atlanta Braves:

Like Posey, he was an imperative piece in the Braves playoff run. Eventually (as soon as next year, both Heyward and Posey will be competing for an MVP award); but the Braves strength was on the mound. The Braves would've survived without Heyward in far better condition than the Giants would have without Posey.

Heyward's contributions----power, defense and walks----cannot be discounted, but weren't as grand as those of Posey.

3. Jaime Garcia--St. Louis Cardinals:

In addition to Pujols, Holliday, Wainwright and Carpenter, how are the Cardinals not in the playoffs after the work Garcia did as a rookie?

4. Ike Davis--New York Mets:

Davis hit 19 homers; drove in 71; and had 54 extra base hits. His homers were rarely cheap; when he hits the ball squarely, it goes very, very far.

5. Gaby Sanchez--Florida Marlins:

Sanchez hit 19 homers; drove in 85; and had 59 extra base hits. His numbers are very close to Davis's, but Davis gets the slight nod because his defense is so much better than Sanchez's.

My pre-season pick was Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner got blasted in spring training and didn't make the big league club; he was recalled in June and pitched well. He wasn't going to win the award with the rookies listed above playing as well as they did.

National League Manager of the Year:

1. Bobby Cox--Atlanta Braves:

Admittedly, I'm giving Cox the nod because he's retiring. The combination of guiding the Braves into the playoffs with the spate of injuries to Chipper Jones and Troy Glaus, and a team bridging the personnel between young and old exemplified Cox's strength in running his team and maintaining control.

2. Charlie Manuel--Philadelphia Phillies:

Many other teams would've bagged the season in July when the Phillies stumbled to 2 games over .500, were entertaining trade offers for Jayson Werth and a large chunk of the core was on the disabled list. Manuel patched it together with journeymen and a questionable bullpen.

3. Dusty Baker--Cincinnati Reds:

Baker walked the tightrope with young pitchers that needed to be watched; was combating the unfair allegation that he's responsible for the dual falls of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior; was managing for a contract; and had Brandon Phillips in his clubhouse.

He fought through it all and the Reds are in the playoffs.

4. Bud Black--San Diego Padres:

Despite the Padres falling out of the playoffs with a maybe/maybe-not collapse, Black deserves credit for his handling of a young team----specifically the pitching staff----and getting to 90 wins.

5. Bruce Bochy--San Francisco Giants:

Bochy is underappreciated for the fine manager he is. Whenever any of his teams have been in a playoff race, he finds a way to get them in. It was such with the Padres; it's that way with the Giants.

My pre-season pick was Jerry Manuel of the New York Mets. It wasn't so laughable at mid-season when the Mets were playing well. The bottom line with the Manager of the Year is that it greatly depends on a number of factors; the line between winning the award and being fired is so thin that it's a coin flip. I called heads on Manuel; the coin came up tails.

  • Viewer Mail 10.6.2010:

MacW writes RE Ichiro:

It would be one thing, Prince, if you simply cricized Ichiro for not not being able to hit more home runs. That's a valid but trivial criticism. A player can't be held accountable for what isn't in his skill set. But you do something far worse. You imply that he could hit more home runs (as many as 30 a year) but refuses to do so in order to pursue his own selfish agenda. If you simply slandered Ichiro with innuendo, by suggesting that he was sulking in center field (I couldn't see it), by saying that he runs things in Seattle (although if he did why would he agree to move to center field or allow the hiring of Hargrove in the first place), by using fallacious logic to say that he drove Hargrove out of Seattle (post ergo procter hoc -- after this therefore because of this), I could dismiss you as a shameless gossip. But by saying a singles hitting lead-off hitter can suddenly become a slugger who hits thirty home runs a year late in his career, something that is unprecedented in the history of baseball, you're doing something else. You're creating a straw man (that Ichiro is selfish) that you can pummel, and then in the next breath you claim that that is not what you're doing. If you could simply acknowledge my larger point (that there is no power hitting slugger that Ichiro is purposely hiding within his 165 pound frame)instead of dancing around it I wouldn't have to resort to snide remarks or use the extreme case of Juan Pierre to show the absurdity of your argument. I could have just as easily used Tony Gwynn or Rod Carew or Pete Rose or Lou Brock or thirty other players to make the same case.

Your arguments are literally all over the place.

Why would Ichiro have had a problem with Hargrove before Hargrove was hired? Doesn't it make sense that any issues between a manager/coach and a player would have some basis in reality----a history?

What parts of "stat compiler"; of "unproductive player in the team concept"; of "uselessness in context" do you not understand?

You can twist my premise all you want and it won't make you right; it won't make me say that you're right about me when you're not. I criticize Ichiro because he can do more to help his team, but doesn't. You understand stats, but do not understand human beings. You continually refer to Ichiro being 165 pounds as if that has anything to do with him hitting for power when it doesn't. Do you understand bat speed? Timing? Wrist strength? Lift in the swing?

Size is a factor for some individuals, but there have been smaller-framed individuals who have hit for tremendous power----Joe Morgan; Jimmy Wynn; Ben Oglivie; Jimmy Rollins; Rico Petrocelli----can your adherence to out-of-context "straw men" of your very own (doubtlessly stemming from you overall lack of comprehension) explain their power? Hank Aaron was listed at 6'0", 180 lbs.

Do you have a counter for this?

Would you look at Tim Lincecum and Pedro Martinez and think they would've been able to generate the force they do on the mound and maintain it for an extended period? Not based on size, you couldn't.

The players you mention are of a similar scattershot attempt to refute me. Lou Brock was good for 15 homers a year in his prime.

You're either refusing to back down or truly don't realize that players of Ichiro's clear skills with coordination can alter their games to hit for more power if they choose to. If you bury your head in stats, eventually there will be no escape. Grabbing the lifeline I'm extending is your only hope.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Yankees-Twins:

Yes, the Yankees are a slightly different team than last year's. But the Twins will be without Morneau, which is bad luck for them and him. It's kind of scary how long he's taking to get over the concussion. He's a really good player and seems like a good guy, so I wish him well (as much as I won't miss his bat).

The Twins have replaced Justin Morneau with Michael Cuddyer shifting to first base and Jim Thome entering the lineup; so his absence wasn't as glaring as it would've been had they not had such players to pick up the slack.

Interestingly, Morneau's absence shines a light on why WAR is such a specious stat. Had the Twins replaced Morneau with a baseline Triple A player, it would matter; but they replaced him with two guys who can hit and take over adequately for a former MVP like Morneau.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger (Brooklyn Capo) writes RE the Wilpons and the Mets:

Jeff and John Ricco will be chosing the next GM? *sigh*
Here's to hoping they get it right.

One reason I have hope is that the Mets had the intelligence and the audacity to ask the Marlins for permission to speak to their front office people----but didn't set their sights lower with assistant Dan Jennings; they asked if they could speak to Jennings....and GM Michael Hill...and president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest!!

The Marlins said no, but the Mets are looking for a quality person to take the job. I think Beinfest is one of the best minds in baseball.

If you don't ask, you don't get.

As for the press conference, the most interesting thing that came out was that John Ricco's name isn't pronounced REE-KO; it's RICKO.

Who knew?

I was a guest with Sal at Sportsfan Buzz Monday talking about the post-season; the firings; and Ichiro. Click to listen directly here. Or at Sal's site here and get it on I-Tunes.


Gabriel said...

No love for José Bautista? I think he'll get mentioned in the ballot, at least.

She-Fan said...

You're still talking about Ichiro??????????????????

Jeff said...

I think Hamilton will get the MVP.

And in recognizing such, I would like to set the odds that the trophy might some day be hocked off for drug money at 20-1.

For now. Odds subject to change, of course.

Macw said...

Prince, my arguments are all over the place? I'm not twisting your premise, I'm confronting you with it. Here's your premise: that it is reasonable for a 36 year old singles hitter to be able to transform himself into a slugger capable of hitting 30 homers a year. When you offer me Joe Morgan, Jimmy Wynn, Jimmy Rollins and Hank Aaron you've done nothing to support your argument (talk about my incomprehension). None of those players satisfy the requirements of your premise. How about I offer you the statistical testimony of every singles hitter who has ever lived, none of whom showed dramatic increases in power production after the age of 35. Is that still too haphazard for you? The statistical evidence speaks more definitively than you or anybody else can. If Ichiro himself came up to me and said with a straight face that he was going to hit 30 homers next year, I wouldn't believe him. Why would I? I know enough about human nature to know that people consistently overestimate their abilities, besides, I've been watching his home runs for ten years and they barely clear the fence, so why would he be able to do something no other singles hitter has done. If Ichiro were to hit 30 homers next year at the age of 37 my first thought would be 'Oh my God, Ichiro is on 'roids. Say it ain't so Ichiro.' Many people would think the same thing (you apparently would not). Bautista's 54 homers is more believable because there is a precedence for hitters to show dramatic increases in power during their physical prime. There is no precedence for what you're asking Ichiro to do. Do you not see this? I guess when Ichiro inevitable fails to hit thirty homers next year you can continue to maintain that Ichiro is 'unproductive in the team concept'. Other than that though, I don't see the value in maintaining a baseless position. If you were to say, 'Okay, maybe I don't know how many home runs Ichiro is capable of hitting. Maybe it is unreasonable for me to believe he can transform himself into another Ryan Braun at his age. But I would respect him more if he would at least offer to hit third and try to hit more homers.' That's a fair position that I would have no quarrel with and I would get off this thread and give She-Fan a break. Your current position, however, is not a fair one.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

Now now Boys...., play nice (I'm one to talk). Prince, I hear you and your premise. I'm drinking the kool-aid. If you've ever seen Suzuki in batting practice, sometimes he hits everything out for fun. I'm fully aware of what he can do, and doesn't do. I think your opponent in this debate is just rankled by the number 30. Thirty is a bit much and might fall a little on the side of hyperbole. But I myself wouldn't lower the potential HR level by too many more. Me personally, I think Suzuki can be a regular 17 to 23 HR guy consistently until he retires, if he chooses to be.

C'mon Macw, it's the number thirty that bugs you, not necessarily Prince or his premise.....right? There's a couple of other things that might sway your opinion about Suzuki; like he doesn't like to be touched by others and other such types of aloof idiosyncrasies he has. There is a substantial degree of overt selfishness in his game. It's also no secret he has a reputation for self-aggrandizing himself back in the Land of the Rising Sun. So Ichiro being contrary to the team concept holds water. He plays to his agenda. It is part of his "human nature". I am a fan of his. But the critique is fair.

Brooklyn Capo out.

Macw said...

Brooklyn Trolley, what you would have to do to support your argument (Prince also), is to find a similar player who has had the kind of career arc that you're proposing for Ichiro. An established singles hitter who in his mid to late thirties began to consistently hit more homers than he had at any other time in his career (forget the number 30). There is no such player. In fact, all players, singles hitters as well as power hitters, begin to show a decline in their power numbers after the age of 35. To say that he hits homers in batting practice is irrelevent (so did Boggs). To compare him to Jimmy Wynn or Joe Morgan or Hank Aaron who were established power hitters before they even hit their thirties simply because they were the same size is to propose a false analogy, much the way Prince accuses me of doing in bringing up Juan Pierre. That's not the sample group we're looking for. It's easy for a back seat fan to say, 'oh this player should be able to do that,' or he could easily do this if he only tried,' is to assume a whole lot of things that no fan is in a position to really know. All we've got is the history of baseball and Ichiro's own record, and they speak volumes on this issue. Is Ichiro selfish? Sure. Is he a flawed player? You bet. But he prepares himself every day and every year with the same dogged persistance - like a professional in other words. That counts for a lot, even if he can't hit twenty or thiry homers. I just don't think it's fair to assume that he can. Thanks for your input.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

No ~ Thank you for your candor, friend. Here's the problem. I'm talking about Ichiro. You're busy looking for someone to compare him to. When we can agree to sing-along on the same page of music, we'll sing. Apples and oranges I can get on 18th Avenue.

Macw said...

I guess that's the problem, Brooklyn Trolley. You look at Ichiro and see an apple (a dormant power hitter). I see an orange (a singles hitter with just a little power). I think its fairer to judge him as he is and always has been, not the way I would like him to be. And to ignore historical precedent and demand that he do something unprecedented just because he is Ichiro is a bit unfair, don't you think? Thanks.

Macw said...

Prince, I've thought about what Brooklyn Trolley said about playing nice, and I'm probably as responsible as anyone for things getting chippy in our exchange. Let me tell you where I'm coming from. I'm a stat head, I've read everything Bill James has written and regularly visit sights like I'm also an Ichiro fan, and yes I did not take some of your criticism well. The thing is, Bill James' exhaustive study about the effects of aging on player production has given me a tragic perspective on the inevitably of player decline. I've seen it with all my favorite players in varying degrees, from Willie Mays to Wade Boggs. I know that a player's peak years happen between 24 and 30, then sometime in their early thirties to mid thirties their production begins to decline. As an Ichiro fan, then, I keep my fingers crossed that this isn't the year that he begins his march to oblivion. I'm just hoping he can maintain his productivity, forget about hitting 25 or 30 homers. I'm hoping that he follows the career path of Sam Rice rather than Rogers Hornsby, or Pete Rose rather than Dick Allen or Joe Morgan. I find it incredible then, to even consider the possiblity that he could suddenly begin hitting 25 home runs a year. As a stat head, I know that this kind of thing just never happens. I like your blog, and I hope to keep things cordial between us in the future.

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