Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

The MVP “Debate”

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves

It turns out there was no real MVP debate: Miguel Cabrera wins the American League’s Most Valuable Player, nabbing 23 of 30 first place votes. Andrew McCutchen earns the National League honor, picking up 28 of a possible 30 votes. Those are not really debates, those are landslides.

Which would be shocking if you looked only at the candidates. Looking across the baseball landscape, free from baggage, you have two very good fields of players vying for the right to be called the best or most valuable player in each league.

In the AL, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout stood head and shoulders above the competition. In the National League, a strong case can be made for as many as five players as the best in the league. But the voting failed to reflect this diversity. Instead the memories of bitter, entrenched battles fought over the same silly ballots as one year ago changes the discussion to a black/white, right/wrong dichotomy that cheats all baseball fans out of the finest barstool arguments.

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MLB: Seattle Mariners at St. Louis Cardinals

I know, I know: of all the players in baseball, Yadier Molina needs more smoke blown up his ass the least. As a member of the Cardinals and Molina brother, he already attracts all manner of attention for his exploits on the field.

Over-inflated as his tires might be, it is important to recognize that Yadi Molina is in fact one of the best players in baseball. He is in fact one of the two or three best catchers in the game right now. He is looked upon adoringly by his teammates and revered by his opponents. With out without the recognition of the writers’ association, Yadier Molina is an invaluable member of the best organization in the game.

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MLB: ALCS-Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox

It wasn’t a slam dunk but Max Scherzer was the odds-on favorite to be named to the AL Cy Young award after his great season. Yes, he picked up the required pitcher wins that tend to swing these votes but Scherzer is no Bob Welch.

The race in the American League was such that there was no sure shot to take home the honor. Hisashi Iwakuma did a great job of preventing runs, though he did so in a bigger ballpark and posted pedestrian strikeout rates. Yu Darvish had the innings and strikeouts but struggled at times with the long ball.

In the end, it was Scherzer who managed to sway the vote thanks to his combination of strikeouts, innings and yes wins to take home the AL Cy Young award.

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Miami Marlins v Colorado Rockies

The Rookie of the Year award can occasionally be an exercise in searching out, rather than celebrating, a worthy candidate. The list of former winners is littered with one-offs and flame-outs among future Hall of Famers.

Between Wil Myers and Jose Fernandez, it sure looks as though the class of 2013 has a bit of staying power. Fernandez famously shot to the big leagues at the tender age of 20, after pitching only in the low minors. Wil Myers was the odds-on favorite to take home the honor last year at this time, so well was he regarded as a minor leaguer.

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andrelton stretch

If nobody cared about postseason awards, nobody would complain about them. But people do care about awards and recognition for their favorite players and so, when those players do not receive awards and recognition, they complain.

The Gold Gloves are an everlasting part of the game – win a GG once, it is on your resume forever. In recent years, the inanity of the voting process turned the once-revered Gold Gloves into something of a laughing stock. The best hitters miraculously won awards for fielding year after year.

All this makes it difficult to care about the Gold Gloves, which sucks because people really want to care about the Gold Glove. I want to care about the Gold Gloves. Finally, it is beginning to look like it’s safe to care and celebrate a Gold Glove victory once again.

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The word “bravery” gets thrown around a lot these days. Too often it is used to describe the worst kind of reflexive defense of the status quo, where a Torii Hunter-type is cast as a hero by the “you must tolerate my intolerance” set.

That is not bravery. Bravery is turning your back on millions of dollars, walking away from a lifetime of comfort because it just isn’t working out right now. Bravery is Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the Getting Blanked Man of the Year for 2012.

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Without managers making IDIOT calls and baseball broadcasters saying the STUPIDEST THING EVER, baseball fans have been forced to direct their vitriol at the annual parade of ridiculousness that is MLB Award voting. It’s an easy target. And this year, the bulls eye got a whole lot bigger with the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) deciding to reveal each the ballots of each voter on its website after individual award winners are announced.

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