Thursday, September 29, 2011

My baseball post season honors

I’ll stop laughing at the total collapse of the Boston Red Sox just long enough to present my Major League Baseball post-season awards for 2011:
American League
MVPMiguel Cabrera, Detroit. Unlike the National League, leading your team to victory should be a major factor. Adrian Gonzalez has this award sewn up until September rolled around. You could select Curtis Granderson of the Yankees by numbers alone but the Yankees are loaded and, besides, Derek Jeter was the team’s MVP from the All-Star break.
Cabrera means more to the Tigers’ lineup than any other player and responded (after a difficult spring training) to lead the league in batting, hit 30 HRs, 105 RBI, 197 hits and scored 111 runs. And teams tried to pitch around him…
Justin Verlander will get some MVP consideration and deservedly so. But, for the purist, it should be the players MOST valuable to his (winning) team with the best season (not just one month like Tampa’s Evan Longoria).
Cy YoungJustin Verlander, Detroit. It should be unanimous and if it isn’t, the voters should be drug-tested.
Manager of the YearJim Leyland, Detroit. There were contenders (Manny Acta, Cleveland or Joe Madden, Tampa Bay), but Leyland reversed the Tigers’ recent history and instead of collapsing down the stretch, Detroit just got better and better and better …

Rookie of the YearMark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels. In the end, he became the best power hitting rookie (29 HRs, 87 RBI) and the one player LAA could NOT replace down the stretch.
Comeback Player of the YearJ.J. Hardy, Baltimore. Tossed on the scrap pile 12-18 months ago, Hardy had THE most incredible second-half of anyone in baseball … repeat, ANYONE. He hit 30 HRs (20 of which came after June 1) and drove in 80 runs.
Executive of the YearDave Dombrowski, Detroit. His off-season move, signing Victor Martinez was the best overall free agent signing of all, and his trading deadline acquisitions of pitcher Doug Fister (who went 8-1 with a sub 2.00 ERA), 3B Wilson Betemit and OF Delmon Young (who hit .300 for the Tigers and was a solid number 3 hitter) were strokes of genius.
Biggest Surprise PlayerAlex Avila, Detroit. This all sounds top-heavy for Detroit, but few picked them to run away with the division. One of the biggest reasons was Avila’s development from second-string rookie to All-Star in less than a year. Production from the catching position and shortstop were among the top reasons Detroit won 95 games.
Biggest Disappointment PlayerAdam Dunn, Chicago White Sox. Has anyone ever been touted SO much and not even hit his weight (when he was 12) than Dunn? He was simply a non-factor from the start and because he was only the DH, he proved to be more of a liability to the Chisox. I’d be shocked if he wore a SOX uniform next season.
Future MVPJacoby Ellsbury, Boston. This is the real star of the Red Sox; Pedroia is the catalyst. But age has caught the Beantowners and Youkilis, Oritz, Drew and Varitek are closer to retiring than their pinnacle. Next season could be a major rebuilding year but Boston is now destined to fight for a wild card slot – not as a division contender.
By the way, the Yankees won and didn’t spend a fragment of the money Boston doled out (Crawford, Gonzalez). What does THAT say about the state of baseball?
National League
MVPMatt Kemp, Los Angeles. When you are a legitimate Triple Crown contender on the last week of the season, you deserve to be called Most Valuable Player. He was a one-man wrecking crew on a team with little offense elsewhere.
The Brewer twins of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun deserve ample consideration as does Arizona outfielder Justin Upton. But no one has the numbers and value to his lineup as did Kemp.
Cy YoungClayton Kershaw, Los Angeles. The pride of Highland Park, Texas edges out Arizona’s Ian Kennedy and Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay. Of course, what does it say when a team has the MVP and Cy Young recipients and still cannot compete in the weak NL West???
Manager of the YearKirk Gibson, Arizona. Should be unanimous but some love goes to Ron Roennike of Milwaukee. But Gibby infused his team with the combative spirit he showed during his playing days because, position-by-position, there was far better rosters than the Diamondbacks. But none as feisty and unwilling to lose.
Rookie of the YearCraig Kimbrel, Atlanta. Despite the late September meltdowns (a product of being poorly used by manager Fredi Gonzalez), this was the rookie with the MOST impact in his first season; he still accounted for 46 saves – a rookie record – and good ERA (2.10) and WHIP (1.04).
Comeback Player of the YearLance Berkman, St. Louis. When the Puma finished 2010 with the Yankees, he was D.O.A. for any squad in 2011. He looked hurt, slow and tired. Well, surprise, the Cards took a flyer and Berkman responded hitting .301, with 31 HRs and 94 RBIs – almost ALL of them coming at key moments (many while Albert Pujols was injured). It was a storybook ending when his key hits, against his former team in Houston, led the Cards to an improbable Wild Card playoff berth.
Biggest Surprise PlayerIan Kennedy, Arizona. Had theYankees REALLY known how good this kid would be, going from 9-10 in 23010 to a 21-game winner this season, he’d STILL be wearing Yankee pinstripes.
Biggest Disappointment PlayerUbaldo Jimenez, Colorado/Cleveland. This supposed new-found pitching ace and starter in the 2010 All-Star Game, faded SO fast, he was dumped by the Rockies in mid-season. For good reason because he lost yards off his fastball and was hit as hard as a throw rug trying to get the dirt out of it.
Future MVP – Mike Stanton, Miami/Florida. I hope they built the new Marlins Stadium for the new Miami Marlins tailor-made for this immensely powerful outfielder. His home runs will become legendary for distance and majesty; he could be a steady 40/30 man and IF the Marlin ownership ever decides to keep its star instead of cyclical salary dumping, you’re looking at a multi-year MVP.
As for the MLB Playoffs:
American League – Rays over Rangers; Tigers over Yankees. Then, Tigers over Rays.
National League – Milwaukee over Arizona; Phillies over Cardinals. Then, Phillies over Brewers (because Milwaukee WON’T have home field advantage).

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