Friday, September 30, 2005

And the Envelope Please…
By Ben Valentine

Well rather than rant on and on about the Jets, I figured it was time for a shift back to baseball for a moment. Another long season is again coming to a close with some great races taking place in the American league between the Red Sox, Yankees and Indians. Hopefully, the Sox and Indians make it. But we’ve all heard enough talking about that. There’s nothing left to do there but to play the games.

So instead, I’m rolling out the red carpet for some awards. Here’s my take on who’s been the best in each league this year. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (foul) and I guarantee if you’re reading this, you’ll find it more interesting watching the Emmys. Why? There are no desperate housewives wandering around this post. Just disgruntled Jets fans. And possibly ex New York Ranger Dan Blackburn. What else is a NHL goalie who just retired at the age of 22 going to do with his free time?
Anyway without any further adieu, the best players in MLB for 2005:

NL MVP: Derrek Lee, Chicago Cubs,
Okay, I changed my mind. A few weeks back I said with his defense and position, Andruw Jones was the MVP of the NL. Well now after looking hard over the stats, I cannot justify this statement in good conscience. No matter how good Jones is in center, it does not account for the fact Lee is just better than him in every major offensive category. Lee posted .338/.421/.670/1.091, Jones was .264/.347/.579/.926. I mean Lee is outslugging him by 100 points! Defense and position factor in when the race is close, but Lee has been too good offensively to overlook. Meanwhile, once again the bridesmaid, but never the bride, is Albert Pujols. With his sick .329/.427/.602/1.029 clip, he is again one of baseball’s most feared hitters. Unfortunately for the fourth straight year, he’s also the second best hitter in the NL.

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez 3B, New York Yankees,
Remember how I said defense and position matter in a close race? Well, here it is for you. A-Rod gets the nod over David Ortiz because he plays 3rd base. Look A-Rod isn’t great at 3rd. But he plays the field and Ortiz does not. Like or not, that counts for something. It isn’t best hitter, it’s most valuable player. Ortiz isn’t the better hitter by the way; he was .298/.394/.605/999. That’s good. Real good. A-Rod’s better though. He was .320/.421/.608/1.029. I don’t want to hear how clutch Ortiz is and how unclutch A-Rod is with runners in scoring position. THE WHOLE GAME counts! As my friend Gray says, "You still need to get on base and get hits if there's no one on." It’s not one specific aspect, it’s everything. A-Rod is the more complete player this year, thus he is the most valuable. No matter who makes the playoffs this year, he’s the deserving AL MVP.

NL Cy Young: Chris Carpenter SP, St. Louis Cardinals
And it’s really not close. Roger Clemens was having a phenomenal year, but now has drifted back to planet earth. As good as Dontrelle Willis has been, Carpenter has been better. He’s posted a better WHIP (1.06 to 1.14), K/9 (7.93 to 6.20) and K/BB ratio(4.18 to 2.98). Plus, Willis pitches in one of the premier pitchers parks in the NL. Carpenter is the clear cut winner here, though I’m not sure if he’ll get it. People tend to fall in love with wins and ERA, and Willis will probably end up better in both categories.

AL Cy Young: Johan Santana SP, Minnesota Twins
He only has 15 wins right now, but no pitcher in baseball has been as dominant as Santana. There’s just one word to describe his numbers; Sick. Let’s see, he’s only striking out 9.17 batters per nine while posting a 5.33 K/BB ratio. Oh yeah and opponents are hitting .212 off him. Did I mention his .98 WHIP? Like I said sick. It’s amazing he only has 15 wins but that’s a product of the AAA lineup the Twins throw out there every night. Put him on the Yankees or the Red Sox and he might have 25 victories. The fat man Bartolo Colon has 21 wins and probably will get it, but Santana has been baseball’s best pitcher this season. He deserves the Cy Young.

NL Rookie of the Year: Jeff Francouer RF, Atlanta Braves,
This one is of the closest races, but I’ll take Francouer over Ryan Howard. The splits for the two were similar, Francouer .306/.343/.565/908 while Howard was .283/.350/.550/900. In the end, add in Francouer’s good defense and incredible arm as a corner outfielder, along with the fact Howard plays in one of the best hitters part in the NL as a first baseman, and I had to go with Francouer. I think Howard will be a better player in the long run offensively, but this year Francouer is the man.

AL Rookie of the Year- Huston Street RP, Oakland A’s
No contest despite what the most die hard Yankee fans who call up WFAN might say. Robinson Cano went .294/.317/.458/775; respectable for a second baseman, but nothing to write home about when you factor in his miserable defense. Meanwhile, Street posted a .98 WHIP and a 1.63 ERA this season while recording 22 saves. He also struck out 8.96 batters per nine, while recording a respectable 2.96 K/BB. That makes him one of the best relievers in the game already. Like I said no contest. Sorry Zach, but Felix Hernandez didn’t pitch enough to warrant it over Street.

NL Breakout Player of the Year: John Patterson SP, Washington Nationals
From an afterthought on a last place team to one of the top five pitchers in the National League, Patterson gets one more reference in a post of mine for the 2005 baseball season. Deservedly so as well, for although he only won nine games this year, he struck out 8.32 batters per nine and had a 2.92 K/BB ratio with a solid 1.17 WHIP. He also logged an impressive 193.2 innings and with one start to go, looks poised to hit the 200 innings mark for the first time in his career. Definitely the biggest surprise in baseball, even for someone who thought highly of him before.

AL Breakout Player of the Year: Jhonny Peralta SS, Cleveland Indians
Okay, I’m biased. Both my breakout players were on my fantasy team. But before anyone argues with Mr. Peralta, the line of the night, taken verbatim from Rotoworld: “Peralta should get some down-ballot MVP votes for his outstanding season. He's batting .295/.368/.528 with 24 HR and 78 RBI. Miguel Tejada, by comparison, is hitting .306/.352/.521 at the moment.”

There you go folks. Right now Peralta is having a better season than a perennial MVP candidate who is having a very good season. He’s good. Real good.

So there’s my set of awards for this 2005 baseball season. But I’m not done yet. We’ve checked out the good, next up we’ll take a look at the bad. That’s right, the worst players of 2005. And once again, unlike the Emmys, I pull no punches.


Blogger David Arnott said...

It would be foolish to argue against ARod for MVP, but not because of the reason you set forth. Late-inning hitting, though not a demonstrable skill, still effects the game FAR more than early-inning hitting. It's all about context. If a guy hits a three-run homer in the second inning, it's not as high-leverage as a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. By that count, and there are statistics that account for game leverage, Ortiz destroys everyone else, with ARod a distant second. However, and this is an old by trusty argument, ARod plays defense. If the only truly convincing argument for Ortiz's candidacy is that he is more clutch, then you have to go with the guy who plays defense. Beyond bringing something to the table that Ortiz simply doesn't, it helps his team immeasurably by freeing up the DH spot. ANYONE can DH, and when that spot is reserved for a healthy guy who simply cannot play in the field, then it limits the team's flexibility. If Ortiz had been able to strap on the mitt, who might they have been able to go out and get to play outfield so Manny and Damon could occasionally DH? To DH in his stead? To get Millar out of the damn lineup?

1:17 PM  
Blogger RotoAuthority said...

I like your picks. But I don't think you can say Carpenter is a clear cut winner for NL Cy. Clemens has had a slightly better year - better WHIP, way better ERA. ERA's not perfect, but Clemens is almost a full run better. Pettitte has even been slightly better.

As for AL ROY, I don't like giving it to a guy who pitched 77 innings, even if they were high leverage. Starters are simply more valuable (this goes back to your DH vs. playing the field argument) and Joe Blanton's 195 innings of 3.55 ball should take the cake. And how bout a Jonny Gomes mention? He's been phenomenal. Guess I should contribute a column on this stuff.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

David- In my many arguments with Zach on the matter, the DH is always the first thing I brought up. But I do feel that quantifying value based on late game situations is unreliable because of the small sample size involved. It's like arguing someone is more clutch in the postseason. Usually over the long haul, the stats balance out. (As has been shown in the past with the Yankees and the legend of playoff clutchness)That is why I think the most important thing to look at is the overall body of a player's work, then differentiate based on other factors if it's close. A-Rod's overall body of work is better than Ortiz's. Then you add the DH/3B argument to it and it becomes more skewered in A-Rod's favor.

Tim- It is arguable Clemens has been better than Carpenter. While his WHIP and ERA are better, his K/9 is identical and Carpenter's K/BB is much better (4.18 to 3.05) Plus Carpenter's thrown 38.1 more innings this year. It is closer than I said, but Carpenter is still the Cy Young.

If Blanton had been a top notch starter this year, then I would agree. His peripherals indicate he was solid, but not great pitcher. Street although a reliever, was a great pitcher this year. As for Gomes, I should have mentioned him. He is having a phenomenal year. I think I fell into the "he plays for a bad team" trap and overlooked him. Personally, I still like Street because a dominant reliever can save a mediocre staff, (look at the Yankees) and that he played the whole season, but you can't go wrong with Gomes.

1:46 AM  

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