I'd like to take this time to discuss the potential recipients of the American and National League postseason awards; that is, the winners of the MVP and Cy Young awards.
First, the AL MVP and NL Cy Young have already been wrapped up by Alex Rodriguez and Jake Peavy, respectively. You're welcome to look at the numbers yourself, but if you're any kind of baseball fan, you already know that those awards are locked.
So, let's move on to the other two awards, which are in fact wide open. I'm going to comment on players based on their Yahoo Fantasy Baseball rankings, which seems as valid an order as any to sort by. (Stats with *'s after them indicate league leaders).
1. Matt Holliday, Colorado Rockies - (.340*, 36 HR, 137 RBI*, 120 runs, 11 SB) The Rockies slid into the playoffs, winning 14 of 15 games to close the season, and Holliday was a huge part of that epic run. He hit 12 home runs and racked up 30 RBI in September to lead the Rockies to their first playoff appearance in years. Many people believed that the Rockies had to make the playoffs for Holliday to win the MVP award, which I think was unfair, but Colorado made the point moot. Holliday ought to be your NL MVP.
2. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins - (.332, 29 HR, 81 RBI, 125 runs, 51 SB) More reasonable as a fantasy MVP than a league MVP, Hanley continued to grow and impress in his second full season in the big leagues. But the Marlins will have to at least break .500 for one of their players to win the MVP award.
3. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies - (.296, 30 HR, 94 RBI, 139 runs*, 41 SB) Comparable to Hanley Ramirez, but on the Phillies, Rollins will get some consideration for the MVP award, but some of his potential votes may go to his teammate Ryan Howard. Rollins is another player who'll get more credit in fantasy circles than he will in MVP voting.
4. David Wright, New York Mets - (.325, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 113 runs, 34 SB) Wright had an extremely balanced season statistically, and had one of the better seasons for a 3B in recent memory. However, the only thing voters will remember is how the Mets crumbled in September, and Wright will end up as someone who just had another great season. He's a decent bet for a future MVP award, though.
5. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers - (.288, 50 HR*, 119 RBI, 109 runs, 2 SB) Fielder seemed primed to have a breakout season in 2007, and he certainly didn't disappoint, becoming the youngest player ever to hit 50 home runs in a season. Heading into September, Fielder was the favorite for the MVP award, but as Milwaukee fell in the standings and Colorado surged, Holliday took the lead. The voters will show Fielder some love, but playoff berths seem to be a prerequisite for most MVP winners.
Other impressive performers this season include Ryan Howard (47 HR, 136 RBI), Miguel Cabrera (.320, 34 HR, 119 RBI), and Jose Reyes (119 runs, 78 SB*).
But hold on a second. There's actually a player ranked in between Rollins and Wright: the aforementioned Jake Peavy. Peavy's numbers this year were absurd (19-6, 2.54 ERA, 240 Ks in 223.1 IP), and as I said, he's a lock for the Cy Young award. While many voters tend to shy away from selecting pitchers as their MVP winners, I would not be surprised nor would I be upset if Peavy received a substantial number of votes for his tremendous season. I do think that it's probably time to establish the MVP awards as solely for hitters, but until that happens, the elite pitchers deserve consideration for the MVP awards.
My prediction: Matt Holliday, probably in a landslide, with Prince Fielder garnering most of the #2 votes.
AL Cy Young
1. J.J. Putz, Seattle Mariners - (6-1, 40 saves, 1.38 ERA, 82 Ks in 71.2 IP) It's rare that a closer gets much consideration for Cy Young awards; it really only happens when a closer has a year that defies logic. While Putz had a very nice season, it's not a season so rare to see out of a closer. You'll find similar statistics out of Jonathan Papelbon and Joe Nathan, so don't look for Putz to grab any first place votes for Cy Young.
2. Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins - (15-13, 3.33 ERA, 235 Ks in 219 IP) In most fantasy baseball leagues, losses carry no punishment, which is how a guy with 13 losses ends up #2 on the list. Santana was certainly a very nice pitcher this year, but the high number of losses, combined with the expectations of so much more out of Santana because of his previous performances, will keep him on the outside looking in when it comes to the Cy Young award.
3. C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland Indians - (19-7, 3.21 ERA, 209 Ks in 241 IP*) Finally a real legitimate Cy Young candidate. His 19 wins were tied for second most in the American League, and he pitched more innings than anyone else in the majors. He was the ace for a Cleveland team that finally started to perform after a few disappointing years.
4. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox - (20*-7, 3.27 ERA, 194 Ks in 200.2 IP) What's funny here is that the one win difference between Beckett and Sabathia (likely explainable due to the difference between Papelbon and Joe Borowski as closers) will end up being the difference between a Cy Young award and second place. The fact is, the 20-win mark is still a very big deal in all baseball circles. While Sabathia's complementary numbers are at least as good as Beckett's, the Red Sox' ace will likely bring home the gold.
5. Erik Bedard, Baltimore Orioles - (13-5, 3.16 ERA, 221 Ks in 182 IP) I considered skipping Bedard because of his low win total and the Orioles' failures this season, but absolutely worth mentioning is his ridiculous K/IP ratio. Not even the incomparable Jake Peavy can touch Bedard when it comes to his strikeout frequency. If the Orioles can repair their bullpen and develop a couple other starters to go with Bedard, Baltimore could be a solid team, and even if they're only a few games above .500, Bedard could demand reckoning as a Cy Young candidate like Santana has for the Twins over the years.
6. John Lackey, Anaheim Angels (I will never call them by that ridiculous conglomerate of a name they've given themselves) - (19-9, 3.01 ERA*, 179 Ks in 224 IP) Very solid numbers, but again, missing out on that 20th win will cost him 1st place votes to Beckett, and in the end, it'll be between 19-game winners Sabathia, Lackey, and Wang to fight for 2nd place. The strikeouts from Lackey and Sabathia should force Wang into 4th, but never underestimate the power of the New York media.
7. Dan Haren, Oakland Athletics - (15-9, 3.07 ERA, 192 Ks in 222.2 IP) Haren is unlikely to get much consideration outside of the later votes (4th, 5th, 6th place votes), but he had a very nice season. More importantly, he sports a beard as thick as my own, and that counts for something in my heart.
My prediction: Josh Beckett by a solid margin, with Sabathia, Wang, and Lackey
very close to each other for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively.
Now go watch some playoff baseball. It'll do wonders for your back pain and migraine headaches. Wait, don't quote me on that, I'm not a doctor.
But it might help. :)
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