Friday, February 15, 2008

Awards Pre-View: MVPs, Cy Young & AL Fireman

Welcome to the awards preview. Once again bear in mind this is just one man’s opinion. I am doing the awards just before the end of the season so I can make an educated guess at who the finalists should be. Before each award I will state any caveat’s I had when evaluating the award. I am picking the top 5 for each major award and then ranking those in the order I see fit. Please note, I’ve tried not to look at the projected awards lists for the last week. Therefore I do not know who is on the list and who is not on the list. So I’m trying to be objective. Obviously anyone that ends up in my top 5 but misses the world top 5, I would view as a snub. Conversely anyone who ends up in the world top 5 and misses my top 5 I would view as overrated. Since there are a little over 10 games left. Players that going on massive year end binges will not be reflected.

AL and NL MVP’s

Since this is the biggest trophy, it is also the one I have the most stipulations for.
The MVP should come from a playoff contending team, unless the players’ numbers are so overwhelmingly good that they dwarf all other candidates. My rationale if you really are the MVP of the league you should be able to get your team into the playoffs.
No pitchers will be considered. This is really more of a WIS sports rule than my rule. Since pitchers never make the MVP list, I will exclude them for consistency. Although a strong case could be made for a couple pitchers to be among the top 5.
The MVP’s batting average must exceed .275. It seems that WIS takes this a little bit farther and rarely do you see a MVP candidate bat lower than .300. However, I personally think that batting average is a little over-rated and as long as you bat over .275 you aren’t hurting you team with the outs your making.

Based on that now on to the awards.

AL MVP (League Rank in brackets if within top 25):
1a: Magglio Javier (Lou): 135 GP, 109 R (T-3), 46 HR (4th), 143 RBI (1st), .289 AVG, .626 SLG % (3rd)

I know I know, everyone is going to look at this pick and automatically think “Homer”. While I will gladly admit I have a man-crush on Mr. Javier, his numbers more than justify his lofty standing. The only player on this list that can claim to be in the top 5 in 4 out of the 5 major hitting categories despite playing approx. 10 fewer games than some other candidates. With that said compared to the other top 5 candidates his batting average does leave something to be desired. Which is why he is 1a the player at 1b is an equally deserving candidate, depending on your personal selection criteria and how much weight you put into batting average.

1b: Darryl Biddle (Wash): 148 GP, 126 R (1st), 40 HR (T-8th), 130 RBI (3rd), .325 AVG (7th), .583 SLG% (11th)

Biddle barely misses becoming the only candidate to have all five categories in the top 10. As mentioned above depending on your selection criteria Biddle may be your choice. He bests Javier in runs and average, while playing on a team that currently leads Louisville in the race for the 2nd bye. With that said his power numbers do fall short of Javier’s, including HR and RBI’s despite playing 13 more games.

3. B. Cox (Min.): 131 GP, 109 R (T-3), 37 HR (12th), 117 RBI (8th), .317 AVG (11th), .615 SLG % (5th)

Last year’s MVP is still having a very good season , although an injury has robbed Cox of his ability to pad his counting stats. Despite playing the fewest games out of the top Cox still manages to be top 10 in 3 of the 5 hitting categories while barely missing in the other two. Cox is a worthy final candidate but his numbers for this season lags in comparison to the top two. Cox only betters Javier in AVG and Biddle in SLG%. This clearly shows that the AL MVP is a two horse race.

4. Bernie Marrero (SCO): 137 GP, 89 R, 50 HR (2nd), 115 RBI (10th), .285 AVG, .595 SG% (9th)

Power numbers are better than every candidate other candidate save Javier, however his peripherals do lag behind in both Rs and AVG. Marrero still has an outside shot at the HR championship, however it doesn’t appear the MVP is in the cards.

5. Mark Kim (SF): 148 GP, 105 R (11th), 29 HR (23rd), 113 RBI (13th), .350 AVG (1st), .574 (12th)

The Night Demons deserve to have one candidate in the top 5, as they do have the AL’s best record and are the strong favorite to be the AL rep in the World Series. I am sure that WIS has Kim in the top 5 as they have an unhealthy obsession with batting average. Beyond Kim’s batting average the rest of his numbers are very good but not great. This makes him a worthy finalist for the award but an unlikely MVP. Additionally, it’s tough to be the league MVP when you are not even the team MVP (Bournigal). Once again, if not for WIS adversity to making a pitcher a finalist Bournigal would have likely held down one of the spots from (3-5).

Honourable Mentions: Tom Leonard (ROC) would have been in the mix had Rochester been contending for the playoffs.
B. Kaufman (Tex) had a major injury not derailed his season Kaufman would have been a definite finalist and was very close to making the top 5 in spite of only 109 games played. I would be willing to bet that multiple MVP’s are in the future for this young star.

NL MVP (League Rank in Brackets if top 25):

1. Y. Molina (CHA): 138 GP, 115 R (T-9), 71 HR (1st), 161 RBI (2nd), .328 AVG (T-9), .755 (1st)

Unlike the AL MVP their isn’t much doubt as to who is taking home the NL hardward, barring a collapse the league’s best team will also be home to the league’s best player. Molina’s HR total is clearly the class of the word and he manages to rank inside the top 10 for all 5 categories, the only candidate in either league to do so. Odds are the final week, will be nothing more than a victory lap for Molina.

2. J. Stevens (San Juan): 140 GP, 122 R (6th ), 50 HR (T-4), 183 RBI (1st), .295 AVG, .612 (10th)

If anyone is going to make a push to beat out Molina it will be Stevens who bests the Charlotte Bomber in R and RBI’s while ranking in the top 10 in 4 out of the 5 major categories. Stevens’ RBI great benefits from A. Bolivar insane .471 OPS. If Stevens’ HR total was within 10 of Molina this would be a neck and neck race. Unfortunately for Stevens he trails Molina by 21 HR. Stevens does lead Molina by 22 in RBI’s but I am of the thinking that HR are a little bit more difficult to acquire.

3. A. Bolivar (San Jaun): 148 GP: 156 R (1st), 18 HR, 99 RBI (T-24), .411 AVG (1st), .586 (18th)

While I do believe that average is a bit of an overrated stat it is impossible to discount a .411 batting average. Bolivar and Molina are the only two players to lead two of the 5 categories. Bolivar’s power numbers are quite impressive for a lead-off hitter who is batting over .400. By season’s end Bolivar should go over 20 HR and 100 RBI’s. Bolivar is likely to garner strong consideration from owners to place high value on OBP and Rs. However, compared to his teammate and Molina he lags a bit behind.

4. L. Iglesisa (Col): 121 GP: 106 R (16th), 56 HR (2nd), 136 RBI (5th ), .325 AVG (T-11), .721 SLG (2nd)

The only reason Iglesisa isn’t higher on the list is he has played approx. 20 less games than the other candidates. Which makes the fact he is 16th, 2nd and 5th in the counting stats. Had Igesisa played 15 more games odds are his numbers would be in Molina’s neighborhood and may surpasse Stevens. However, MVP’s aren’t handed out on what ifs and the Coors Effect does have to be considered for any Colorado hitter. I will be very interested to see what kind of numbers Iglesisa puts up next season if he can reach the 140 game plateau

5.M. Garces (Buf): 139 GP, 105 R (17th), 50 HR (4th), 150 RBI (3rd), .319 AVG (T-15), .629 SLG (6th)

Garces may have a beef to be higher on this list, maybe as high as 3rd. His numbers across the board are sparkling. His problem was he was in a coin flip situation with Bolivar and Iglesisa who both play on better teams which is the ultimate tie-breaker. Garces seems destined to be one of those players who will end up in the top 5 for career HR and RBI’s without ever getting a sniff of an MVP. There are too many hitter’s havens in the NL, which leads to outworldly totals for at least one batter.

Honorable Mention:
Frank Zhang (Col): Much like Kaufman in the AL limited games played ended up hurting his candidacy.

Geraldo Escuela (SLC): Good overall numbers but were not good enough to overcome the fact he plays on a non-contending team.

Cy Young: NL and AL

Contributing factors.
1) Unlike the MVP the pitcher does not have to come from a playoff team. Although if you are one of the top 5 pitchers in the league odds are you team is going to the playoffs
2) I view wins as a little bit overrated as the pitcher can’t affect how many runs his team with score. Well except in the NL, but with that said pitcher are typically a detriment to a rally not a contributing factor.

AL Cy Young.

One related side note, this was by far the easiest category for me to pick the top 5. If you look at the AL ERA standings there are 5 pitchers that are sub 2.75, then there is a full ER jump before the next pitcher, which made things pretty cut and dry.

1. Felipe Bournigal (SF): 234 IP, 20W-5L, 249 K’s 2.03 ERA

Last year’s winner is at it again. Bournigal is a pitcher who has gotten better with age, not only in ratings but in his statistics. Until his age begins to catch up on his it’s a pretty safe bet to engrave his name on the trophy at the start of the season. He’s the best of the SF big three. The fact that SF has 3 members on this list explains why they are the class of the AL.

2. Elvis Ogea (Wash): 247 IP, 20W-5L, 163 K’s, 2.55 ERA

Ogea comes to us from the 2nd best team in the AL (starting to detect a trend). If Bournigal weren’t so utterly dominant a case could be made for Ogea who has an outstanding 14 CG which is 6 more than his nearest competitor. However, a much lower K rate and higher ERA means Bournigal gets the better of him again.

3.Pete Daly (SF): 233 IP, 21W-5L, 225 K’s, 2.56 ERA

The 2nd of the San Fran trio makes an appearance his numbers are a mirror image of Felipe’s save for the ½ run higher era. If Bournigal were to suddenly disappear then Daly and Ogea would be in a dog fight for award.

4. David Caulfield (Lou): 226 IP, 19W-5L, 185 K’s 2.74 ERA

See I can be completely unbiased. While I would love to make a case for Caufield for Cy Young there is no arguing the numbers. To finish the trend Caufield comes from the AL’s 3rd best team. Caufields numbers while great are a step behind Daly and Ogea but very comparable to the last pitcher on the list. Caufield gets the nod at 4 based upon a higher K rate and the extra innings he’s given his team.

5. Sal Kennedy (SF): 193 IP, 18W-4L, 147 K’s, 2.46 ERA

Bjb put Kennedy up for trade earlier in the season and had anyone landed Kennedy they would have been very pleased with his production. Kennedy’s ERA is 3rd best in the AL but out of the top 5 candidates he’s pitched the fewest number of innings and produced the fewest number of K’s.

Honourable Mention: As mentioned before there is no player outside of the top 5 that a case could be made for to take one of these 5 players spots. But as an interesting side note SF has 5 pitchers in the top 25 in ERA while Lousville and Washington both have 4.

NL Cy Young

1. K. Coleman (NY2) 217 IP, 15W-5L, 216 K’s, 2.07 ERA

Much like the AL the Cy Young winner in the NL sticks out from the group. While I’m sure the votes will be more evenly spread in the NL because Coleman is a little light in the W total. However, as I mentioned before W total is an overrated stat. Coleman has clearly the best ERA and is the strikeout leader.

2. M. Meng (St. L) 220 IP, 22W-2L:, 170 K, 2.57 ERA

It would have been just as easy to put O’Keefe at number 2, but I value the extra 20 innings pitched over the slightly lower ERA. Some may argue the opposite either is a good choice for 2nd.

3. D. O’Keefe (Cha) 202 IP, 21W-2L, 165 K, 2.36 ERA

O’Keefe is the ace on the best team in the NL and is 2nd in the league in ERA but the rest of his numbers fall a little off the two players in front of him. Those extra 15-18 innings are two extra games that Meng and Coleman gave their teams.

4. J. Urbina (Col) 195 IP, 20W-5L, 141 K, 2.95 ERA

To be fair if I am going penalize Colorado hitters based on their park, I must give credit to Colorado pitchers. Urbina’s numbers are fantastic once you factor in he plays in the toughest pitchers park in the game. It would be interesting to see how his number would stack up in a more pitcher friendly environment.

B. Bonilla (NY2) 187 IP, 17W-7 L, 167 K’s, 3.08 ERA

Now this pick could have gone a number of different ways and I’ll explain why other pitchers weren’t listed here in the honorable mention section. Bonilla was picked based on the fact he has been in the rotation for the entire season and his K’s and IP were higher than all the other pitchers around him in ERA.

Honorabe Mention:

J. Nieves (Cha) this pitcher has put of fantastic numbers pitching in the middle innings. However, on the scale of pitcher’s importance it goes SP, Closer then relievers. Unfortunately, he falls into that 3rd category. He will get strong consideration for the fireman awards as I do value the quantity of innings he’s given Charlotte.

G. Dale (St. L) The last spot in the top 5 came down to Urbina and Dale. The fact that Dale has worked out of the pen for part of the season was just enough to tip the scales in Urbina’s favour, although it was very close.

AL/NL Fireman

It would be easy to pick this award just based upon the number of saves accumulated by each pitcher. Which is more or less how WIS determines it. However, a closer’s ability shouldn’t be determine by how many close games his team plays in, as that is a factor outside their control. The things I’m looking for in firemen, are SV conversion rate, K’s, IP, W and L’s. You may find it odd that I discount starter wins while valuing reliever wins. However, it makes sense since a closer will have a direct affect on the W or L, as they are suppose to be the last pitcher to pitch.

AL Fireman

1. S. Johnson (Min): 35/35 SV/SVO, 58 IP, 46 K, 2.47 ERA, 3W-4L

The top spot was a difficult decision as the next pitcher on the list is having a dymamite season as well. Johnson takes top spot based on the fact he’s perfect in save situations and he has given his team almost double the innings of the 2nd pitcher.

2. J. Esocbar (Sco): 34/35, 33 IP, 26 K, 1.62 ERA, 0W-0L

Loses out to Johnson because he has blown one more save and with how few innings he’s been used his ERA is only one or two ER from jumping to Johnson’s level. If his SV rate and ERA weren’t so great he’d be lower on this list due to IP.

3. Jared Page (SF): 34/38, 48 IP, 51 K, 2. 44 ERA 2W-3L

Page makes the list based upon his high K rate very good ERA and this close to .500 record. Page is one of two pitchers on this list that average more than a K an inning.

4.Terrence Floyd (BUR): 40/44, 56.2 IP, 3.02 ERA, 2W-6L

The season’s save leader Floyd missed out on the 3rd spot based on the fact his ERA is higher than Page’s and he’s been on the hook for 3 more losses. Between the two, their isn’t a large discrepancy. Over the final week of the season the could waffle back and forth.

5. Darrin Cota (Lou): 31/38, 109 IP, 112 K, 3.69 ERA, 8W-5L

Darrin was the toughest pitcher to place on this entire list. I toyed with putting him everywhere from 2nd to 5th. I decided for the sake of an unbiased opinion I’d put him in the lowest spot. The reason it was so difficult to place Cota was on the negative side he is only 31/38 in save opps and his ERA is the highest at 3.69. However, he has pitched double the innings of most pitchers on this list, while averaging over a K a game and has picked up 8 Ws which is more than his 7 blown saves. But he definitely deserves some fireman consideration as he differentiates himself from the field in several areas.

Honorable Mention:
C. Connelly (Roc): Just missed out on the top 5. Could overtake Floyd or Page for their spots down the stretch. Connelly’s stats are slightly worse than the top 4 pitchers and has pitched significantly fewer innings than Cota. As a consolation Connelly could take him the save crown.

I will try to get to the NL fireman, ROY and Silver Sluggers next week

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