Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008 MLB Awards (by the other Joe)

Open for debate? I'm not sure what you are talking about Joe because here are the correct answers (including Manager of the Year, because you, the reader, demand it):

AL MVP - Cliff Lee - My choice of Lee has as much to do with his incredible season as it does with the lack of a offensive front runner. A-Rod, Kevin Youklis and Carlos Quentin put up very similar stats, Josh Hamilton really slowed down in the second half of the season, Miguel Cabrera didn't find his power stroke until July and on top of all of that Milton 'freaking' Bradley led the AL in OPS. Lee, on the other hand, was definitely the best pitcher in AL, leading the league in wins and ERA. Looking at the big picture, the Cleveland Indians finished the year at 81-81, but were 24-7 in games in which Lee pitched. So let me put that another way, the Indians were 57-74 when Cliff Lee wasn't on the mound. Lee single handedly kept 2008 from being a complete disaster for an Indians team that was one game from advancing to the World Series in 2007 and if that isn't the definition of an MVP then I don't know what is.

AL Cy Young - Cliff Lee - See above

AL Rookie of the Year - Evan Longoria - Brad Ziegler had a nice year (making his debut on the last day of May), but didn't have nearly enough innings. Longoria's homer and RBI totals, along with on-base and slugging percentages that are much higher than Alexei Ramirez, make him the AL's best first year player.

AL Manager of the Year - Joe Maddon - Took the Rays from worst to first in the AL East by winning 34 more games in 2008 than in the previous season. Oh yeah, Tampa Bay has the second lowest payroll in the majors.

NL MVP - Albert Pujols - Your choice for NL MVP really comes down to what type of baseball fan you are. If you are a fan of eye-popping numbers, it's Ryan Howard and his 48 HR and 146 RBI. If you are a fan of percentages, it Albert Pujols by a mile. Pujols lead the majors in OPS and slugging percentage and trailed only Chipper Jones in batting average and on-base percentage. While Pujols did not benefit from an explosive offense or a tiny ballpark, he was simply the best hitter in the game. Want more proof that Pujols was the best hitter in the game, the well-traveled Ryan Ludwick raked 37 homers and 113 RBI in the coveted lineup spot behind big Al.

NL Cy Young - Tim Lincecum - Wrong again Joe. A pitcher's job isn't "to win games", it's to put your team in a position to win games. Since pitchers have relatively little impact on the offensive side of the game, all they can do is limit what the opposing hitters do and nobody in the NL did that more consistently than Tim Lincecum in 2007. Lincecum led the league in strikeouts, opponents batting average and winning percentage, while finishing second in ERA and quality starts (at least 6 innings, no more than 3 runs). Brandon Webb had a better offense behind him, but does that make him a better pitcher than Lincecum? My answer is no.

NL Rookie of the Year - Geovany Soto - Good with the stick, good with the glove and good with one of the NL's best pitching staffs.

NL Manager of the Year - Fredi Gonzalez - I'm not going to lie to you, I had no idea who the Marlins manager was and I'm guessing you probably didn't either. Gonzalez, who took over when the Marlins canned Joe Girardi after 2006, led baseball's lowest payroll to a 84 win season, no small feat.

1 comment:

GoodPointJoe said...

Your MVP choice is different from mine partially on a simple basis of philosophical differences. I don't believe a pitcher (starter OR reliever) can justifiably be named the "Most Valuable Player." Lee pitched in 31 games, which puts him 107 games behind Alex Rodriguez. Quentin was my pick until he got hurt, but he needed those last couple of weeks to solidify himself. A-Rod himself missed a couple weeks, but he's got the numbers.

And don't go off about how Lee was "definitely the best pitcher in the AL" without looking at Halladay. He finished 2nd in ERA behind Lee, won 20 games to Lee's 22, had a lower WHIP, lower batting average against, better strikeout rate, and more innings, along with the 9 complete games, which is Unit-esque. He also only had 1 start in which he didn't pitch at least 6 innings, and 22 "quality starts." I have Lee as my Cy Young as well, but he's not unchallenged in that race, which was part of your argument.

And if we're talking about total domination with regards to AL pitchers, what about K-Rod with a record-breaking 62 saves? What about Mariano Rivera with 39 saves and a ho hum 1.40 ERA and 0.67 WHIP? I mean, if we're going to talk about who the "best pitcher in the AL" is, those guys have to be considered as well. Lee had a great season; K-Rod broke a record.

Now to the NL; winning percentage? First off, Lincecum had a 78.3% winning percentage to Webb's 75.8%, so it's not like Timmy blew him (away; Arrested Development, watch it). Second, doesn't actually winning a game put your team in the best position to win? Webb did that 4 more times than Lincecum. His team also won a greater percentage of his starts than Lincecum's did: 24-10 to 22-12, with comparable closers (Brian Wilson vs. Brandon Lyon/Jon Rauch).

Webb also was pitching in relevant games through mid-September. Lincecum's last relevant game was in spring training. There's a difference. You know how I know? Because people who've played baseball professionally keep telling me on TV that there's a difference.

I'll acquiesce to your selections for managers of the year, because I just don't care, except to say that Ron Gardenhire has deserved consideration more seasons than not. I get the Maddon pick this year, it's a foregone conclusion, but people need to realize Gardenhire is a giant.

The last point I'd like to make is that, at least with my selections, these are not predictions. This is a list of who I truly believe deserves each award. However, it happens that I think that the guys I named will also win each of the listed awards, with perhaps the exception of Alex Rodriguez, since as we mentioned, the AL MVP race is really wide open. Or at least wide open among hitters, we can agree on that.

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