Friday, November 18, 2005

Awards Season Review

I don't get too excited about these awards any more, simply because these days, they exist more as writing exercises for the BWAA than as matters of real importance. You can find my preseason picks here. Without much chatter, here are the awards for this season, and a few thoughts about each:

AL Rookie of the Year
1. Huston Street
2. Robinson Cano
3. Johnny Gomes
Shoulda Won: Street
Preseason Pick: Nick Swisher

The stathead pick was Street's teammate, Joe Blanton, who had a nifty season as a starter. I thought that Street's quality high-leverage innings were just a little more important than Blanton's quantity starting innings. My pre-season pick--another one of Streets' teammates, Nick Swisher--had injury problems and huge problems making contact.

1. Ryan Howard
2. Willy Taveras
3. Jeff Francouer
Shoulda: Howard
Preseason: Andy Marte

I was pleasantly surprised with the Howard pick--I expected voters to be dazzled by Francouer's high batting average and first-place team. Meanwhile the voters were dazzled by Willy Taveras, fast. I'd love to have a guy like him on the Yanks, but the main appeal of his candidacy is that he played the whole year--and early in the season, when the Astros were going nowhere fast, Taveras was part of the problem. I didn't think he should win, but I'm flabbergasted that Zach Duke didn't finish higher in the running--the guy was a monster on the mound, yet he got three first place votes, one third place vote, and nothing in between. The preseason pick, Andy Marte, wound up getting skipped on the depth chart by Francouer, and found that Wilson Betemit was not yet ready to go gentle into that good night.

NL Manager of the Year
1. Bobby Cox
2. Tony LaRussa
3. Phil Garner
Shoulda: Cox
Preseason: None

No, I didn't fail to predict the MOY award because I thought they'd suddenly stop giving it out this year, I simply overlooked it. If the Braves finish in first place again in 2006, without Leo Mazzone, they should forget giving Cox the award, and simply name the darn thing after him.

1. Ozzie Guillen
2. Eric Wedge
3. Joe Torre
Should: Guillen or Wedge
Preseason: None

One of the reasons I overlooked Manager of the Year in my preseason picks is that managerial awards tend to go to freak success story teams, where since you can't explain why the team suddenly got good, the manager gets the credit. Nonetheless, Guillen's a good pick, although Eric Wedge also got a lot more out of his charges than expected. Guillen's team beat Wedge's in the waning days of the season, so Ozzie gets the MoY, and a World Series ring, to boot.

AL Cy Young
1. Bartolo Colon
2. Mariano Rivera
3. Johan Santana
Should: Santana, but you could have made a good argument for Rivera
Preseason: Randy Johnson

Note to self: never pick Yankees for Cy Young. Got killed with Mussina a number of times, and this time RJ. Observational fallacy: Santana dropped off some from his meteoric performance in 2004, therefore he must no longer be the best pitcher in the AL. He was still way ahead of the field, and Colon probably wasn't even the closest competitor. On a side note--more of a fan thing than anything else--this was probably Mariano Rivera's best chance to win the Cy, absent a run at the season saves record.

NL Cy Young
1. Chris Carpenter
2. Dontrelle Willis
3. Roger Clemens
Should: Clemens or Carpenter
Preseason: Josh Beckett

Note to self: stop being impressed just because someone beat the Yankees in the postseason. Beckett wasn't in the Cy Young picture, at all, and now that 2003 afterglow has faded from him, and resides with runner-up Dontrelle Willis. Some folks are worked up because Clemens was 12 runs better than Carpenter in VORP--a little more than a win better. I'm not too upset that Roger got rogered, since at least Carpenter was in the same ballpark of performance, and he gave the Cardinals an average of 2/3 of an inning more per game. What mystifies me is this: Andy Pettitte gets the same number of votes as Chad Cordero? Nuts.

1. Albert Pujols
2. Andruw Jones
3. Derrek Lee
Should: Pujols
Preseason: Pujols

Lee wouldn't have been a bad pick. I don't think having a team in contention is a qualifier for MVP consideration, but I admit that I use it as a tiebreaker when the performance is close. Does this mean that I'm penalizing Lee for his teammates' incompetence? Sadly, yes. In another shameful disclosure, I'm also rewarding Pujols for his past performances--kind of a lifetime achievement MVP. The question for Jones is whether he sticks at this new performance level, or goes all Adrian Beltre on us. These three guys collected all the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes. I wonder how often that happens?

1. Alex Rodriguez
2. David Ortiz
3. Vlad Guerrero
Should: Rodriguez
Preseason: Manny Ramirez

The main event. The eternal arguments between DH and defender, clutch hitter and non-clutch hitter were hopelessly clouded by personality issues. David Ortiz is a "leader" which is often reporterspeak for "good interview." We all know what a great interview subject A-Rod is--the mainstream guys will be flogging him about his "my benchmark is so high that no matter what I do, it will never be enough" quote straight through Spring Training. My opinion? Defense is part of the game, and even a guy whose glove is bad is an improvement over one that can't play the field at all. Still, this could have gone either way, and it wouldn't have been too disappointing.

Congrats to all the vote-getters. Well, except maybe for Jose Reyes...

No comments: