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Award Time
NL MVP: 1. Albert Pujols 2. Ryan Howard 3. Lance Berkman

Ryan Howard is very deserving and obviously had one hell of a year, but donít overrate home runs here. Pujols beats him in average, OBP and slugging percentage, while striking out 131 fewer times. He plays a far superior defense, is more of an asset on the basepaths, hit in the weaker lineup and led MLB in game-winning RBIs by a sizeable margin. With RISP, Pujols has a 1.337 to .942 OPS advantage. Howard is the man, but Pujols is baseballís best hitter.

AL MVP: 1. Johan Santana 2. Derek Jeter 3. Justin Morneau

This is where I expect to get the most flak, and I understand itís unorthodox, especially considering Santana will win the Cy Young, and an offensive player of the year award doesnít exist. Still, Iím sticking to it, mainly because I am so underwhelmed with all other options. Derek Jeter had a fine year and all, but he was one out away from finishing with an OPS in the 800s. Joe Mauer deserves serious consideration as well, but losing at-bats because of catching certainly hurts his chances. David Ortiz is another tough pick, considering heís a DH on a non-playoff team. Same goes for the ALís best hitter this year, Travis Hafner. If you want to get all ďmost valuable to their teamĒ on me, look no further than Frank Thomas, who absolutely carried an inept Oakland offense on a very affordable contract. Morneau helped lead a weak lineup into the playoffs with 130 RBI, but his OPS doesnít even crack the ALís top-5. Ask yourself this, would the Aís rather play the Twins without Morneau (or Jeter, hypothetically speaking) or without Santana in their series? Of course itís Johan.

NL Cy Young: 1. Chris Carpenter 2. Brandon Webb 3. Roy Oswalt

I would have no problem if this list was flipped, as it really is that close. Webb deserves credit for his extra 15 innings and calling Chase Field home, but he also pitches in the NL West and has the weakest K/BB ratio. Oswalt paces them all in ERA and flashes a brilliant 166/38 K/BB ratio, but batters hit nearly 30 points higher against him than the other candidates, resulting in a higher WHIP. Which brings us to Carpenter, who limited hitters to a .235 BAA, posted a 3.09 ERA and 1.07 WHIP to go along with a nifty 184/43 K/BB ratio. But really, all three are deserving.

AL Cy Young: 1. Johan Santana

This one is the easiest pick of all and is pretty much undebatable.

NL Rookie of the Year: 1. Takashi Saito 2. Hanley Ramirez 3. Ryan Zimmerman

Another extremely tough call, as the National League had a huge year for rookies. Dan Uggla, Prince Fielder, Josh Willingham, Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen and Matt Cain all deserve attention as well. Whether or not a 36-year-old from Japan should be truly considered a rookie is up for debate, but his performance during his first year in the majors certainly is not. While there are rumblings that Trevor Hoffman should receive some Cy Young votes, Saito quietly put together an even more impressive campaign. While his 24 saves wonít jump off the page, his 107 strikeouts in just 78 1/3 innings do. A 2.07 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and .177 BAA reveal the most dominating season by a first year player in the National League.

AL Rookie of the Year: 1. Francisco Liriano 2. Jonathan Papelbon 3. Justin Verlander

A lot can be said for simply staying healthy, which makes this another tightly contested battle. I tend to completely ignore the wins category, but in this case, it was Verlanderís extra innings that allowed him to accrue them. Still, he might as well have been hurt when the other two were, as he sported a 5.87 ERA once July ended. His 124/60 K/BB ratio also looks downright embarrassing compared to Lirianoís 144/32 and Papelbonís 75/13. Since he tossed 50 more innings than Papelbon and was basically baseballís most dominant hurler when on the hill, Liriano gets the nod.

Posted by Dalton at 10/4/2006 1:54:00 AM
Comments (11)

joe morgan in playoff form (ugh)
Just when you think Joe Morgan has hit the ultimate low point, he takes it down a notch. Amazing ability to suck in the clutch, state the obvious, and consistently avoid speculating on anything until it's a second guess (thus he can't appear wrong). I did think Jon Miller had a decent game. And it was fun hearing Erin Andrews pronounce "Metrodome" as three separate words (though in general she's solid enough).

Posted by pianow at 10/3/2006 1:45:00 PM
Comments (4)

Postseason Predictions
Considering 3 of 5 ESPN Baseball Tonight analysts picked the Yankees to win (and most picked the Mets), I'm surprised the ESPN baseball analysts in general pick the Twins to win (7 votes) over the Yankees (5 votes).

ESPN Experts' Picks

I think the postseason is as wide open as it's been in recent memory. If there were decent odds against a Mets-Yanks Subway series, I'd take it. The Mets without Pedro Martinez don't seem to be much of a favorite and may be equal to the Dodgers and Padres. I like the Padres given how hot they were down the stretch and that they have an easier matchup with home field in the first round.

I think the Yankees are vulnerable because of their pitching, especially if Randy Johnson has any kind of a setback. But the first round should be a cakewalk with the way Detroit has been playing. The winner of the A's-Twins may be your World Series winner because good pitching usually beats good hitting in the playoffs. Both could beat the Yankees. I'd go:

Twins over A's
Yankees over Tigers

Padres over Cardinals
Mets over Dodgers

Twins over Yankees
Padres over Mets

Twins over Padres.

A nightmare series for TV ratings. Your take?

Posted by Peter Schoenke at 10/2/2006 12:31:00 PM

Comments (10)

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