2009 Awards

Okay, so thanks to the Twins and Tigers, the 2009 regular season isn’t quite over yet, but everyone else is either getting ready for the playoffs or 2010. So, as we put the first 2,430 games to rest, let’s reward some players for their accomplishments. Note – these awards purposely renamed because I don’t particularly care about the BBWAA votes, and don’t want to get into the usual arguments surrounding those.

Best Pitcher, American League:

Zack Greinke. Do I really have to say much here? +9.3 wins from a pitcher. Just ridiculous. Congratulations on a great year, kid.

Best Pitcher, National League:

Tim Lincecum. With all due respect to the Cardinals duo, it’s Lincecum. More quantity than Carpenter and more quality than Wainwright.

Best Player, American League:

Joe Mauer. One of the great catcher seasons of all time. Might make the playoffs with a group of teammates that wouldn’t finish over .500 without him.

Best Player, National League:

Albert Pujols. The best player in the game is also the most consistent. Truly, one of the greatest hitters of all time.

Best Rookie, American League:

Brett Anderson. A legitimate front-of-the-rotation starter who does everything well. One of the best young lefties we’ve seen in years.

Best Rookie, National League:

Andrew McCutchen. Hits for contact and power, draws walks, steals bsaes, and plays a solid center field. Not just a good rookie – he’s already a really good player.

Best Manager, American League:

Don Wakamatsu. Took over a team in turmoil, made them like each other, and won 85 games in the process.

Best Manager, National League:

Jim Tracy, I guess, if I have to pick someone. Not a very impressive group.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

77 Responses to “2009 Awards”

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  1. Kevin S. says:

    Wasn’t going to argue with any of these, then saw you put Wakamatsu down. Homer*.

    *kidding, of course

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  2. Logan says:

    “More quantity than Carpenter and more quality than Wainwright.”

    Well put.

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  3. JoeR43 says:

    I think the BBWAA is going to agree with you this year, though. Mauer’s generated too much hype by now and the only people seemingly left in the Jeter or (gag) Teixeira camps are Yankee homers and grossly underqualified writers.

    Well, I think Wainwright will win the NL Cy Young, mainly due to the “let’s not keep giving it to the same guy” method of voting (see 1952 NL MVP vote). Greinke should be set as well, wins still matter to too many writers, but I think it’s not all that hard for them to wrap their heads around how awesome Greinke was in 2009. 242 K vs. 41 walks? Ridiculous.

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    • Bodhizefa says:

      I’m sorry, but if I see someone else write something about how “ridiculous” Greinke’s K/BB ratio is, I’m going to scream. Curt Schilling never won a Cy Young and was better than Greinke at both striking people out as well as not walking people (example: Schilling in ’02 had 316 K’s and only 33 Walks — now THAT’S ridiculous). Greinke’s ratios are quite good, but when people call them ridiculous, it’s like saying baseball before 2009 didn’t exist.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        So, because Schilling’s season was more ridiculous, it precludes Greinke’s from also being labeled as such?

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      • kwk9 says:

        Roy Halladay also had a better K/BB ratio this year. What made Greinke’s year truly crazy was just 11 HR allowed.

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      • joser says:

        That Schilling’s ratios were even more ridiculous doesn’t necessarily make Greinke’s less so. My threshold for “ridiculous” may not be the same as yours, but Greinke can still meet it without taking anything away from other players.

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      • Bodhizefa says:

        I suppose I have a different definition of ridiculous. I just don’t think Greinke’s ratios are all that absurd, honestly. They’re very very good, but ridiculous? Seems like a reach to me.

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      • Michael says:

        Personally, it seems like “semantics” to me. Greinke’s been good, it’s hard to deny that.

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      • scott says:

        in 1994 greg maddux allowed 4 HRs in 202ip. holy christ.

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      • wobatus says:

        Yes guys, Schilling’s ridiculous ratio kinda does make Greinke’s seem not so ridiculous. Schilling ratio was TWICE Greinke’s. 9.58 to 4.75.

        Greinke’s ratio was 4th this year, would have been 6th last year, 4th in ’07, 4th in ’06, 5th in ’05, 8th in ’04….It is very good, but doesn’t even come close to ridiculous.

        Ya wanna know ridiculous? Brett Saberhagen’s k/bb ratio in 1994 was 11.

        Greinke would not have finished in the top 2 in any year of this decade and his season was 50th of the decade for a full season by a starter. Carlos Silva had a ratio over 7 once. This doesn’t even count Ben Sheets’s 10.55 ratio in 2006 9only 106 innings) or Jon Lieber’s 7+ in 2002 (141 innings).

        This isn’t to take away from Greinke’s season. He’s the best pitcher of the year.

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      • wobatus says:

        Maybe part of the issue is Greinke didn’t walk 41. he walked 51. :) 4.75 is very impressive indeed, but not ridiculous.

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      • B says:

        Stop. Please. You guys are knowledgeable baseball fans. You need to drop the whole K/BB ratio thing. K/BB ratio is not the proper way to weight how important strikeouts and walks are to winning/pitching well. If Player A strikes out 200 with 40 walks in 150 innings, while Player B strikes out 100 with 10 walks in 150 innings, Player A had a better season (just plug those numbers into the FIP equation and you’ll see I’m right), despite Player B having twice the K/BB ratio. K/BB ratio is a nice thing to use just to glance at a pitcher’s numbers and quickly judge if he’s effective or not, but if you’re getting into a detailed discussion like this, it’s a bad tool. You might as well go back to using ERA.

        (I’ll also note the original poster for this conversation, JoeR43, didn’t use the ratio but instead gave us the total K’s and BB’s, which is good, everyone else should follow suit…)

        Greinke just posted a 2.33 FIP and 2.75 tRA (remember – scaled to total runs, not earned runs). I believe the run environment has dropped off a bit from where it was at a few years ago, but it’s still on the high side in baseball history. He also did it in the higher run environment (and tougher league), the AL. Color me impressed. It was a ridiculous performance.

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    • wobatus says:

      B, you are correct. Except for the fact it was 242 to 51, not 242 to 41. And the first response pointed out Schilling both had more Ks and fewer walks. And his ratio was double Greinke’s. I don’t think anyone in the thread thinks absolute ratio is the determinant of who had the better season.

      Santana, Martinez, Johnson and Schilling all had seasons this decade of higher k rates and lower walk rates than Greinke’s this year. Just on first look. halladay had fewer Ks but also fewer walks and a higher ratio, and his k rate wasn’t chopped liver. His higher FIP is much more due to home runs than fact he had a slightly lower K rate. Greinke’s home runs per flyball was 4.5%. Normalize that and his FIP comes back to earth somewhat. Indeed, his tRA* is slightly below Lincecum and Carpenter.

      Of course none of this is particulalry important and again not to take away anything from Greinke, who should be AL Cy Young.

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      • B says:

        And I believe it, I’d just like to see people post the total K’s/BB’s/IP’s as their evidence instead of something meaningless like K/BB. It’s an important point to keep us on track as to who’s really performing better.

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      • wobatus says:

        B, sometimes it is just shorthand just to give the k/bb. A low walk rate is also pretty important in run prevention. But in fairness to the original poster, that wasn’t what he used.

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  4. Shant says:

    Wakamatsu is a good choice, but what about Ron Washington?

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    • Logan says:

      I thought the same thing when I saw Dave’s pick. I’m not sure what criteria people look for when choosing Manager of the Year, but here’s a thought- Seattle finished 8 games above its Pythagorean W-L, Texas finished 2 above it. You could use this to argue that Wakamatsu thus got the most out of the least. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but it’s a debatable point.

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  5. Kampfer says:

    Zobrist was the best player in the AL.
    By WAR, he was better Pujols and Mauer
    even though you could argue that Mauer’s defense is good(say+5~10 run?), Zobrist was punished by being flexible(-1.1 positional despite having to play 90 games in the infield and others in the outfields)
    Just by value, Zobrist outplayed Mauer in 2009. What a year.

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    • Snapper says:

      I doubt anyone really believes his defensive numbers. You’ve got SSS at multiple positions. No one is getting credit for being a +20 defender until he’s proven it over several years. This year’s results could too easily be a fluke.

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      • JoeR43 says:

        Since when are MVP awards dished out based on what he’s expected to do in the following year?

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      • Shawn says:

        Since when are MVP awards dished out based on WAR?

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      • John says:

        JoeR43 is ttly right here. MVP, or “Best Player,” means who had the best SEASON or the most valuable SEASON or whatever. Who cares that Joe Brown had a .380 BABIP in an MVP conversation? If you’re having a discussion about who’s better: Joe Brown or Bill Walker, then it matters. If ur talkin about who will do better next year, it matters.

        And just cuz the BBWAA doesnt use WAR doesnt make it irrelevant to Dave’s “Best Player” award. It just means the BBWAA CHOOSE that it is irrelevant to THEM. Not the rest of us.

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      • Snapper says:

        You should know defensive stats, like UZR, are not that precise yet, and 1 season of defensive stats is like 1/3 of a season of offensive stats in terms of sample size.

        Zobrist may have gotten a disproportionate number of easy plays.

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      • I like WPA as an MVP metric more than WAR

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      • Alex JN says:

        Yeah, the difference between UZR and batting runs here are that batting runs are definitively based on real events, whereas with UZR there’s a measurement error that means it’s likely even if Zobrist actually fielded over his head this year, his true performance wasn’t +20 (his distribution of balls was favorable, or what have you).

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      • Joe R says:

        As much as we hate on the BBWAA, they aren’t crazy people (most at least). They generally know who dominated, as do most people.

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    • Bill says:

      As long as you assume Mauer had minimal or negative defensive value, I guess. John Dewan’s system gives him +4 runs, which is just about exactly what Mauer would need to be dead even with Zobrist in WAR.

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      • joser says:

        Just the “utility player” vs “catcher” argument is an interesting and uncommon one, if you think about it.

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    • Michael says:

      You say “He’s been better than Pujols and Mauer” like it’s so definitive, but when checking the leaderboards, he “beat” Pujols by less than one run. If you honestly feel these statistics are so accurate as to claim value to less than one run, you’re a more trusting person than I am.

      I love WAR, but let’s not make it the be all, end all. Results that are within 5 runs of each other are not so conclusive that we can say, “Well that guy was CLEARLY better this year.”

      Finally, if you want to play the “hurt by positional adjustment” thing, it’s not as if Mauer received the full catcher positional runs as well.

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  6. Logan says:

    Dave, I know WAR disagrees with this pick, but how about some consideration for Tommy Hanson for best NL Rookie? With an ERA under 3, a FIP and tRA under 4, and 116 punch-outs in 127.2 innings, he had an excellent 2009 campaign. He’s an ace in the making.

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  7. Adam D says:

    two words: Elvis Andrus

    if that kid played anywhere East of the Mississippi, he’d have been shoved down our throats as the next Derek Jeter by now. playing for the Rangers doesn’t somehow make him a worse player.

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    • PL says:

      two words: Brett Anderson

      if that kid played anywhere East of the Mississippi, he’d have been shoved down our throats as the next CC Sabathia by now. playing for the A’s doesn’t somehow make him a worse player.

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    • scott says:

      almost all of andrus’ value lies in his defensive ability. he’s certainly adept at stealing bases, but those two things alone will not get you touted as the next derek jeter. if that were the case, jack wilson would be mentioned in the same breath as david eckstein.

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    • Rob in CT says:

      The last guy touted as the next Derek Jeter plays West of the Mississippi: Troy Tulowitski.

      The difference? His bat.

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    • B says:

      “almost all of andrus’ value lies in his defensive ability. he’s certainly adept at stealing bases, but those two things alone will not get you touted as the next derek jeter.”

      Good point, it really wouldn’t make much sense to tout a great defensive shortstop as the next Derek Jeter, arguably the worst defensive SS in the game (at least for most of his career)…

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  8. Nats fan says:

    The second best player in the NL and the best 3rd baseman was Ryan Zimmermann!!!! 7.1 WAR for a really bad all round team!!!! its hard to play well when your team just sucks, yet he did.

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    • Michael says:

      No disrespect to Zimmerman, but I think Mr. Utley and Mr. Ramirez would like to have a word with you.

      They’re actually probably closer than I just made it sound, but I think Utley and Ramirez have a definite edge over Zimmerman, albeit slight.

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  9. The A Team says:

    I’m going to be interested to see the results of the NL Cy Young and both rookie of the year awards since there are plenty of valid candidates for the 3. My picks are Lincecum, Andrus, and Happ.

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    • The A Team says:

      I should note that I like to consider a player’s impact on his team. And of course, the larger the sample of effective play, the more I like a player (which is what edges Happ over McCutchen and Hanson in my mind). Happ saved the Phillies rotation (it baffled me that Park was given 1 start over Happ, let alone 7). What Andrus has done for Texas’ defense is difficult to understate and he accomplished it while hitting better than most expected.

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  10. Tony says:

    Chris Coghlan deserves some mention for NL ROY. Hell, I don’t even know if anyone’s even said his name on this page, which is ridiculous considering the numbers he’s been putting up.

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  11. Xeifrank says:

    Picking a manager of the year is like picking a favorite brand of bottled H20. vr, Xei

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    • Kincaid says:

      Very apt analogy, especially considering the descriptions were:

      “Don Wakamatsu, Took over a team in turmoil, made them like each other, and won 85 games in the process.”

      Jim Tracy, I guess, if I have to pick someone. Not a very impressive group.”

      CHONE at least projected both teams to have the same record before the year (78 wins). Jim Tracy was handed his team 10 games under already at 18-28, and still got them to 92 wins by playing .638 ball. Not only that, he almost got his team to catch the Dodgers, who had already won the division by May 6. Which is just good enough to edge out an unimpressive group. I guess. If I have to pick someone. But Don Wakamatsu! He led them to 85 wins, and they liked each other, dammit!

      I wonder what Dave’s favourite brand is. I guess for an award that there’s no point in trying to pick, though, you might as well make a mockery of it.

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      • Joe R says:

        While I agree Tracy is NL MoY, did Tracy really get the Rox to 92 wins? Or was it Tulo/Smith/Jimenez/Helton/Street/etc?

        I’m going with the latter.

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      • Kincaid says:

        Did Wakamatsu really get the Mariners to 85 wins, or was it Ichiro/Gutierrez/Hernandez/Branyon/etc?

        I’d prefer not to pick the award at all, since I don’t think anyone here can really tell how much each manager really did, but if you’re going to pick it, at least don’t gush over one manager for one set of criteria and basically dismiss another who exceeds that criteria.

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  12. Josh says:

    Actually Greinke’s had 51BB’s and 242K’s not 41BB, but if you think those numbers are ridiculous they aren’t, just go look at a man that can’t even get a sentence mentioned for him for NL Cy Young. Javier Vazquez, 219.1IP 15 W’s 2.87ERA 238K’s 44BB and 1.03WHIP. His best season of his career, granted it is the NL and not the heavy hitting DH’d AL, but this guy does it year in year out, 3 straight season with 200+K’s. I mean clearly he doesn’t deserve the Cy over Lince, Carp, or Wainy, but still he should be mentioned.

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    • B says:

      Vasquez definitely deserves mention. For a chronic underachiever, he put together a fine season that’s at least deserving to be in the running with the other 3.

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  13. Josh says:

    Heck you can tell my favorite team, but throw Jurrjens into that 215IP 25QS(only Lincecum had more at 26). 2.60ERA 152K’s(obviously a downer) but those are quite impressive numbers, and with a little run support and no failing bullpens he would have had 20wins to got with that 2.60ERA

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  14. Josh says:

    It’s also a travesty if Coghlan is not the NL Rookie of the year, i’ll quit watching baseball if that happens, McCutchen did his work but Coghlan deserves it Dave.

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    • Eric says:

      I’d go with Randy Wells to be honest.

      Wells: 12-10 3.05 ERA/3.88 FIP/4.57 tRA 5.7 K/9 2.3 K/BB 1.28 WHIP
      over
      Coghlan: .321/.390/.460 .372 wOBA 31 2B 6 3B 9 HR 47 RBI 84 R 8 SB .139 ISO

      Call me crazy but I don’t see how Coghlan is the obvious pick here at all really. You can even make a case for Hanson and Happ over Coghlan, but I do think Coghlan is the best NL rookie positional player.

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    • Michael says:

      You’ll quit watching baseball? I’m a Marlins fan and I’d accept McCutchen. He’s damn good. And Coghlan hurt his value with his glove in left field. It’s not his fault Gonzalez put him in left, but it’s what happened. And the argument that he started bad but got better doesn’t change the fact that he was bad enough to cost around eight to ten runs with his glove (UZR’s got 12, but I’m sort of regressing in my head).

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      I disagree Josh. While Coghlan has been the best rookie hitter by a pretty large margin, he plays an “easy” defensive position and by all accounts has played it rather poorly this year. Using WAR, Coghlan actually falls behind a few other rookies in the NL.

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      • scott says:

        an “easy” defensive position he was basically thrown into, though. his natural position is 2b.

        in my opinion, seeing a lot of hanson, mccutchen, and coghlan this year; i’d probably vote mccutchen, hanson, coghlan. for the future i think it’s hands down, hanson. kid has incredible swing & miss stuff.

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      • don says:

        The offensive margin isn’t even large. Coghlan has McCutchen beat by .004 in wOBA and .014 in OPS.

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  15. Chris says:

    How about Ron Gardenhire for AL Manager of Year? Started the season w/o Mauer for a month, starting pitchers pitched well below expectations for two thirds of the season. Crede was pretty much a non-factor the second half. Morneau missed the last month of the season and was also basically a non-factor the second half. Have had to play a rookie (Morales) at DH most of the second half. No set infield the second half, changes in each position since the break.

    All that and one game from a playoff birth. Wakamatsu and Washington had good seasons, but neither are going to the playoffs or even have a chance.

    IF not Gardy, then Scoscia for holding the team together after the death of Adenhart.

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    • JMK says:

      Please don’t start with the Scoscia stuff… Please.

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      • ineedanap says:

        You could make an arguement, though.

        Not so much the Adenhart thing, but how many teams finish atop their division (or even with a winning record) by using 14 different starting pitchers?

        Of course, MotY arguments could be made for just about any manager with a winning record.

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    • Joe Twinsfan says:

      Ron Gardenhire started an outfield of Cuddyer(in CF!!), Kubel, and Young. Multiple times. No.

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    • ThundaPC says:

      “All that and one game from a playoff birth. Wakamatsu and Washington had good seasons, but neither are going to the playoffs or even have a chance.”

      Rangers: 87-75 (No Chance)
      Twins: 86-76 (One Game Playoff!)
      Mariners: 85-77 (No Chance)

      Gee…I wonder why?

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  16. zurd says:

    So do we get FanGraphs Gold Gloves as well?

    Getting to read something awesome like that would totally make up for these new pop-up detergent ads.

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  17. emoneypitt says:

    As much as I love Andrew McCutchen, I’d have to give NL ROY to either Hanson or Happ, probably Hanson. I had the oppurtunity to see Hanson pitch on a couple occasions this season. Kid got some dynamite stuff and knows how to use it.

    Maybe someday, if the NL keeps getting the quality of rookies as compared to the AL this season, the NL will stop being dominated.

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  18. Jim says:

    Where’s the love for Adam Dunn? He is clearly a monster and you people show your ignorance by not realizing it.

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  19. ineedanap says:

    What, no “Tums Relief Man of the Year Award”?

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  20. Xavier says:

    Or the Pepsi-Bank of America Sponsored BMW Player of the Sponsors Award, presented to the player whose calm eyes lend the most credence to Sponsorship (brought to you by Visine and Taco Bell)?

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  21. Teej says:

    Yay on the Lincecum pick. It’s like people are starting to pay less attention to him now that it’s become so normal to see him dominate. Another stellar season — even better than last year, actually. I won’t be mad if he doesn’t win it, because Carpenter and Wainwright had great years as well and they made the playoffs and voters are going to love that, but Tim deserves his second trophy.

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    • B says:

      I feel weird as a fan right now when it comes to Tim. Obviously I love seeing Giants players get the recognition they deserve, but it’s bad for the team I root for if Tim wins the award. Going into Super-Two status with not one, but TWO Cy Youngs under his belt? Ugh I can’t even imagine being on the Giants side of that argument/negotiation. So…should I feel bad hoping he doesn’t get it to save my team money?

      The correct answer is that Sabean is an idiot and would waste whatever money we saved, so obviously I hope Tim wins it, but hypothetically if we had a good GM that could use that money well…would it be ok for me to feel that way?

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  22. SpacedCowboy says:

    I love Andrew McCutchen and Happ and Hanson are both deserving, but what about Garrett Jones? He BY FAR had put up the best hitting numbers by any rookie this year…..in 3 months no less. His line of .293/.372/.567 with 21hr in 358 pa is amazing.

    I think he deserves way more love than what he’s getting. Just because he’s 28 doesn’t make his year any less great.

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    • Teej says:

      He was awesome, and on a rate basis you’re right that he was the best rookie hitter, but playing only half a season is going to get him dinged pretty heavily in awards voting. He’s definitely a guy to look out for next year.

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    • B says:

      “Just because he’s 28 doesn’t make his year any less great.”

      See, I disagree with this. I like the idea of giving the award based on performance rather than projections, but I look at it as…well, there are a lot of 27,28,29 year olds out there that had better years than he did. The only difference between Jones and them is they aren’t rookies. How many other 22 year olds performed like McCutchen? I think that’s another point that’s strongly in McCutchen’s favor – most kids his age are in college, or in the minors. Indirectly of course that factors projected production in, but the thought process that goes into it is strictly based on his actual production.

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  23. Butters says:

    Match my picks exactly except for best AL Rookie, I had Jeff Niemann of Tampa Bay.

    Would be curious to see what the remainder of your best player “ballot” would look like.

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  24. whatlyahave says:

    Where is Mike Scoscia in the manager discussion? All of the injuries. The lack of a bullpen. Sure, he had some quality players to fill in. Lackey, Guerrero, Hunter missed huge chunks of the year. They were carried by guys who came up through the system. Aybar, Figgens, Morales, Weaver. I appreciate what Washington, Wakamatsu and Gardenhire did, but no manager has as firm a stamp on a franchise than Scoscia (except maybe Tom Kelly, via Gardenhire).

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  25. Logan says:

    Bump.

    Well, Dave, 31 total wins from this year’s Cy Young winners. Looks like the statistical shift might be closer than you thought.

    Now let’s see how Mauer and Pujols do.

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