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10/04/2004 Archived Entry: "MLB year-end awards"

MLB awards

By Michael Toeset

The 2004 season was witness to many prominent personal achievements – Barry Bonds passing Willie Mays on the homer list, then passing 700 home runs, Greg Maddux getting his 300th win and Ichiro Suzuki’s hits record, to name a few – and it is in the year-end awards that the year’s best players are highlighted. But it isn’t necessarily the players with the best stats who wind up with awards – team performance, or lack thereof, factors in as well.
One thing you’ll notice is missing is Manager of the Year. While managers do play a part in a team’s performance, I think their significance is highly overrated (I live in Chicago, where Dusty Baker is getting a verbal lashing, this despite the fact that the Cubs offense couldn’t score more than three runs in a game during the most crucial week of the season and that the bullpen was a disaster). So, for this season at least, I’m boycotting Manager of the Year.
At any rate, on to the awards.

AL MVP: Vladimir Guerrero, .337 avg, .391 OBP, .598 SLG, 39 HR, 15 SB, 124 R, 126 RBI
Guerrero sealed the award in the final week of the season when hotheaded Jose Guillen got himself suspended right in the middle of the division title race. Guerrero responded like an MVP should, essentially carrying the team to first place with his scorching bat. The five-tool outfielder also finished the year with some of the best all-around numbers.
HONORABLE MENTION: Manny Ramirez, who put up fairly identical numbers to Guerrero. He looses points because David Ortiz, also a runner-up, could be said to have been more valuable to the Red Sox. And Miguel Tejada, who drove in 150 runs for the hapless Orioles, is certainly deserving of a few votes.

NL MVP: Barry Bonds, .362 avg, .609 OBP, .812 SLG, 45 HR, 6 SB, 129 R, 101 RBI, 232 BB
Despite a drop in the average the last week (but accompanied by a huge gain in walks), Bonds had one of the finest offensive seasons in baseball history. Bonds was rarely pitched to in tight spots, yet he still managed to top 100 RBI, and he became the first player ever to record an OBP of more than .600. He also was pretty much the entire Giants offense. Without him and Jason Schmidt, the Giants might have been battling Arizona for the league’s worst record.
HONORABLE MENTION: Any of the Cardinals trio – Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds – are worthy of a look, but if I had to pick between them, it would be Pujols. And let us not forget Adrian Beltre, who had one of the best turnaround seasons in history.

AL CY YOUNG: Johan Santana, 20-6, 2.61 ERA, 228 IP, 265 K, 54 BB, 0.92 WHIP
Since June, Santana has been nearly unhittable, and his second half is arguably the greatest pitching performance since Orel Hershiser rattled off his scoreless streak. Santana finished first in the American League in strikeouts (and second overall), and recorded a WHIP that again put him atop the AL (and again second to the NL Cy Young winner). There was no pitcher in baseball this season that a manager would rather have entrusted with the ball every fifth day.
HONORABLE MENTION: Curt Schilling, who won the most games but otherwise was bettered by Santana. Any other year and Schilling would have been a runaway winner.

NL CY YOUNG: Randy Johnson, 16-14, 2.60 ERA, 245.2 IP, 290 K, 44 BB, 0.90 WHIP
Because Johnson plays for the worst team in baseball, many voters will overlook him. But once you look at his stats, it’s hard to ignore how great he was this season. His 16 wins – a very respectable total even if he was pitching for a division champion – accounted for almost one-third of his team’s wins. I haven’t found stats showing if a pitcher has ever been that good for a bad team, but it certainly is a rare occurrence. Johnson also led the majors in WHIP and strikeouts, and he walked only 44 batters all year. Is this guy getting better the older he gets?
HONORABLE MENTION: Houston’s big guns – Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt – are certainly going to get a few votes, as are Jason Schmidt and Carl Pavano. One pitcher who probably won’t receive a single vote but deserves a few is Ben Sheets, who put up numbers close to Johnson’s, also for a bad team.

AL FIREMAN: Mariano Rivera, 4-2, 53 saves, 1.94 ERA, 78.2 IP, 66 K, 20 BB, 1.08 WHIP
Rivera approached the single-season saves mark (57) but couldn’t get enough chances to set a new record. But his 53 saves did top the majors, and he only blew four saves. This may have been the finest season of Rivera’s career, and he’s already had a handful of fine seasons.
HONORABLE MENTION: Closers Joe Nathan, Keith Foulke and Francisco Cordero all had excellent seasons, and another relief pitcher who had a great year but will be overlooked because he wasn’t a closer is Tom Gordon. This year’s Yankees bullpen with Gordon and Rivera may have been as tough to beat as Rivera and John Wetteland in the 1990s.

NL FIREMAN: Armando Benitez, 2-2, 47 saves, 1.29 ERA, 69.2 IP, 62 K, 21 BB, 0.82 WHIP
Discounting Billy Wagner, who only pitched in 40-some innings, Benitez put up the majors’ best WHIP, something a great closer needs to do. His ERA also topped all pitchers in baseball, and he only blew four saves. Florida couldn’t put it together to make the playoffs, but it certainly can’t be blamed on Benitez, who had the best season of his career.
HONORABLE MENTION: There were a handful of super-closers in the NL, the other top ones being Jason Isringhausen, Eric Gagne, John Smoltz, Trevor Hoffman and Brad Lidge.

AL ROOKIE: Lew Ford, .299 avg, .381 OBP, .446 SLG, 15 HR, 20 SB, 89 R, 72 RBI
For some reason, sportswriters keep picking Bobby Crosby as the winner. I don’t even have him listed as a runner-up, and he certainly wasn’t the year’s best rookie shortstop. He hit a pathetic .239 with no outstanding numbers, but I guess his 22 homers blinded everyone to that fact. In any event, Ford was the league’s best rookie, putting up solid numbers across the board. The good news here for Minnesota fans: If Joe Mauer hadn’t gotten hurt and if Justin Morneau had been called up earlier, they both might have topped Ford for the honor.
HONORABLE MENTION: Zack Greinke had a stellar rookie year for the lowly Royals, proving that despite his 12-year-old looks, he belongs in the majors and just may be the next Greg Maddux. Also worthy of votes is Japanese import Shingo Takatsu, who had an outstanding season in the White Sox’s bullpen.

NL ROOKIE: Jason Bay, .282 avg, .358 OBP, .550 SLG, 26 HR, 4 SB, 61 R, 82 RBI
Bay didn’t have a sensational year, but he was one of the Pirates’ best players all year, and his numbers were fairly solid. Coming into the season, everyone expected Kazuo Matsui to walk away with the award, but he faltered and then got hurt, and Bay all-too-happily filled the rookie void.
HONORABLE MENTION: Had David Wright been called up sooner, he easily would have taken top honors. He flashed a brilliance that have many calling him the next Scott Rolen. Khalil Greene (better than Crosby) and pitchers Ryan Madson and Akinori Otsuka also had good years.

American League

FIRST BASE: Mark Teixeira
SECOND BASE: Alfonso Soriano
SHORTSTOP: Miguel Tejada
THIRD BASE: Melvin Mora
CATCHER: Ivan Rodriguez
OUTFIELD: Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki
STARTING PITCHERS: Johan Santana, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Bartolo Colon, Kenny Rogers
RELIEF PITCHERS: Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Keith Foulke, Tom Gordon

National League
FIRST BASE: Albert Pujols
SECOND BASE: Mark Loretta
SHORTSTOP: Jimmy Rollins
THIRD BASE: Adrian Beltre
CATCHER: Paul LoDuca
OUTFIELD: Barry Bonds, Bobby Abreu, Jim Edmonds
STARTING PITCHERS: Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Carl Pavano, Jason Schmidt
RELIEF PITCHERS: Armando Benitez, Jason Isringhausen, Eric Gagne, Brad Lidge

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Replies: 5 comments

Hadn't Johnson pitched for Arizona this year he might have been more deserving of a Cy Young award, though the Diamondbacks were just terrible this year, this wasn't Johnson's fault but he was only 16-14, Oswalt or Clemens deserves to win the Cy Young this year.

Posted by John Brooks @ 10/11/2004 08:02 PM EST

Good of you to stick up for Randy Johnson. He was by far the best pitcher in the NL, but I also fear he will be overlooked due to his win-loss record

Posted by Eric Gartman @ 10/09/2004 09:25 PM EST

Good of you to stick up for Randy Johnson. He was by far the best pitcher in the NL, but I also fear he will be overlooked due to his win-loss record

Posted by Eric Gartman @ 10/09/2004 09:25 PM EST

To my way of thinking, a pitcher who doesn't even reach 100 innings shouldn't be considered for MVP. Closers are way overrated, and if I had to name a relief pitcher an MVP candidate, I'd choose Tom Gordon over Rivera.

Posted by Michael Toeset @ 10/08/2004 04:01 PM EST


Posted by HERB ROGOFF @ 10/07/2004 11:21 AM EST

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