Tuesday, 10 October 2006

2006 American League Awards

I don't have the energy to put all this all in one post, and it would get very long, so I'll just cut it in half, and go for the American League awards now:

More than any other year, there are lots and lots of legitimate candidates. Heck, I've seen guys that are as high as 1 and as low as 8 or 9 on some ballots... the class is that strong. Before he got hurt, I would have put Travis Hafner as my MVP. Obviously he doesn't play defense, but he was the best hitter in the American League this year when he was healthy. Manny Ramirez was also fantastic at the plate, but he had even less ABs than Hafner.

The toughest thing about this crop of candidates is that all of them are so similiar... Hafner, David Ortiz, Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, etc. For the most part, they're very good hitting 1B/DH. Other than Morneau, none of those guys contributes at all in the field.

Then there's the guys that contribute greatly not only at the plate but in the field. Joe Mauer is a gold-glove caliaber backstop, Derek Jeter plays an average SS, Grady Sizemore is a great defensive CF, and Jermaine Dye has a cannon in right. Personally I tend to favor these guys a bit (as you'll notice).

So who's my MVP? I'll give you a hint, he put up a .429 OBP while playing catcher. To a lot of Twins fans, Joe Mauer wasn't even the MVP of the Twins... but I'd obviously disagree. Mauer was the rock in the lineup, posting a great OBP at #3. Also, while he didn't hit a lot of HR, he did hit a good amount of doubles, which helped contribute to a solid SLG. He finished 7th in the league in OPS (right above Morneau). Oh yeah, and he played great defense at the most demanding defensive position.

1. Joe Mauer
2. Derek Jeter
3. Grady Sizemore
4. Jermaine Dye
5. Johan Santana

Cy Young
There's really no debate up top. Johan led the league in Wins, ERA, Ks, and IP. If he doesn't win the Cy, we'll know for sure the award is a sham. This should be his 3rd straight, but I guess I'll have to settle for #2.

After that is where things start to get real hazy. Kelvim Escobar (11-14) is 6th in the league in ERA. CC Sabathia, John Lackey, and Mike Mussina also deserve some consideration.

But the other factor is closers. Normally, I would say closers don't deserve to be in the discussion. Pitching 70 innings is just not as valuable as pitching 200 innings. However, some things are at work here. For one, there were a lot of legitimately great closers this year. K-Rod, Mariano Rivera, Jonathon Papelbon, Joe Nathan, BJ Ryan, and JJ Putz were all unvelievable this year. Combine that with mediocre starting pitching, and I think some closers deserve to at least be in the discussion.

1. Johan Santana
2. Roy Halladay
3. Mike Mussina
4. JJ Putz
5. CC Sabathia

Rookie of the Year
If only Francisco Liriano hadn't gotten hurt. Then we'd be talking about him as the easy ROY and a Cy Young candidate. He was that dominant this year. But there's no need to dwell on the past. Health was a big issue for the class... Papelbon also missed extensive time. Which I why I like Verlander the one pitcher to throw over 125 innings, and he threw 186. That's a huge margin.

After that, Liriano and Weaver were great in about 120 innings. Papelbon was lights out in the pen. Ditto for Joel Zumaya. In any other year, these guys are worthy winners. Nick Markakis was excellent as well. But I think the top 5 spots all belong to pitchers this year, who, if healthy, can wreak havoc in the AL for year.

1. Justin Verlander
2. Jonathon Papelbon
3. Francisco Liriano
4. Jered Weaver
5. Joel Zumaya

Any egregious errors?