Baseball’s Best At The Break
Wednesday - July 11, 2007
The mid summer break is a time to rest the injured, cheer the ballot-stuffed All-Star rosters and argue about who’s got the biggest jump on the post-season awards. Let the fighting begin.
All stats as of July 6.
AL MVP Finalists: Magglio Ordonez, Victor Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero, Alex Rodriguez, Justin Morneau.
Though the Yankees are not what they were in recent years, a monster year is a monster, and A-Rod has been scorching the league to the tune of .314, 28 hopme runs and 80 RBI. That’s two out of the three legs for the Triple Crown if you’re keeping score. But with his team 11.5 back of Boston, that award is just not happening. Last year’s MVP, Morneau, is showing that last season was no fluke (.283, 20, 63), Guerrero (.329, 14, 75) has his team tied for the best record in the league, and Martinez is the leader of the big-hitting Indians. Ordonez loses votes to his own teammate (Gary Sheffield .298, 20, 56), but even with the help he is getting, Mags is having a career year. Ordonez has scored 68 runs (No. 4), drove in 69 (No. 3), has 35 doubles (No. 1), is second in OPS, has walked more than he has struck out and leads the league in batting at .370.
Finalists: Prince Fielder, David Wright, Chase Utley, Albert Pujols
The Mets are again leading the National League East and Wright is again an MVP candidate (.291, 15, 49, 18 stolen bases). Pujols (.312, 16, 51) is his same old nasty self, carrying his team after off-season defections. Utley (.324, 15, 66) just keeps adding to his All-Star credentials, but this is the year of the Fielder. The Brewers are this year’s semi-surprise team and no one deserves more credit than this second-year, second-generation bleacher basher. Fielder is hitting steady (.278), he leads the league in home runs (27) is second in slugging (.604), tied for third in RBI, and fifth in OPS and sixth in runs scored.
AL Rookie of the Year
Finalists: Jeremy Guthrie, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Reggie Willits, Joakim Soria, Dustin Pedroia
Though Willits (.324, 39 runs, 18 stolen bases) and Pedroia (.322, 25 RBI and 33 runs) are making a case for the hitters, for the second year in a row this has turned into a pitchers class. Saving 10 games for a team that has won on 36 is an impressive accomplishment for Soria, as is
his 2.27 ERA and .183 batting average against. Guthrie joins Soria in the good rookie, bad team category with his 2.63 era, .205 batting average against and paltry .89 whip. Unfortunately for his fellow rookie throwers, Dice-K doesn’t have the burden of wallowing on a bad team. His 10 wins are just two shy of the league lead and his .233 BAA is impressive. He is also third in the league in strike outs and he doesn’t give up walks (119/37). Most important, he’s getting better. Matsuzaka has only given up a total of six runs in his last six outings.
NL Rookie of the Year
Finalists: Josh Hamilton, Hunter Pence, Ryan Braun, Justin Germano
As the American League continues to march out its talented young arms, the National League is once again led by hitters. That being said, San Diego’s Germano has been impressive with 5 wins, a 3.12 ERA, and a .226 BAA, while keeping a strikeout to walk ratio of 3:1. Though Hamilton’s 13 home runs leads the class and Braun is tops in hitting (.347), this award goes to the Astro’s centerfielder. Pence leads his class in doubles, triples, on-base and slugging percentage. He is second in the league in batting (.346) and leads his team in stolen bases (7).
AL Cy Young Award
Finalists: C.C. Sabathia, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Dan Haren,
Johan Santana, Justin Verlander
Sabathia (12-3) has been the-favorite of many for the first half’s best pitcher, but his ERA (3.58) and BAA (.270) are high for the best arm in a pitching strong league. Verlander, last year’s Rookie of the Year, picked up his 10th win against Sabathia and has a much lower ERA(3.14), a BAA (.213) and a no-hitter. Lackey has helped carry the Angels and his ERA (3.04) and wins (11) keep him in the running. Santana is simply again one of baseball’s best (10-6, 2.75, .215). Beckett (12-2, 3.44) has paced the Red Sox to a big lead in the East. But his is Haren’s half year. The Oakland righthander has 10 wins against two losses, leads the league in ERA (2.20) and BAA (.202) is second in whip (.98) and has a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. That’s dominance.
NL Cy Young Award
Finalists: Ben Sheets, Brad Penny, Jake Peavy, John Maine, Chris Young
San Diego’s best pitching staff in baseball, is led by two Cy Young candidates in Peavy and Young. Peavy leads his teammates in wins (9-8), Young gets the nod in ERA (2.00-2.19) BAA (.197-.213) and the two are tied in WHIP at 1.06. Maine has been the star of the Mets rotation with 10 wins, a 2.71 ERA and a .214 BAA. Sheets’ 10 wins for division-leading Milwaukee is a big reason for their success, but
none has so far topped Penny, who has 10 wins against only 1 loss, and his 2.39 ERAis good for third in the league.
AL Comeback Player
Sammy Sosa: Last year Sosa was out of baseball and seemingly out of step when he told everyone he could still play the game. Following his .221, 14, 41 season with Baltimore, who could have though otherwise? In the past 365 days, it seems he has found his stroke and his ability to speak English. Sammy is hitting .251 with 14 home runs - including No. 600 for his career - 63 RBI and 35 runs scored.
NL Comeback Player
Dimitri Young: 2006 was a difficult year for Young. He got divorced, was treated for depression and substance abuse, and plead guilty to assaulting his girlfriend. Young was also released from the Tigers and his once promising career came close to being over. Now he is hitting 39 points higher than his career average, has 8 home runs and 41 RBI along with 39 runs scored. His 22 doubles show that he can still
get into scoring position, and he’ll represent the Nationals at the All Star Game. That’s a comeback.
Managers of the Year
A few names to toss around. Though Indian’s manager Eric Wedge is able to lean on his wealth of talent, like all successful managers, he has still led the Indians to the division lead while racking up 12 more victories.
A month ago the Chicago Cubs were on the wrong side of .500 and seemingly had blown a huge amount of cash on under performing players. Since then the Cubs have gone 21-13 to take over second place and gained two games on Milwaukee and increasing by a dozen their win total from from last year. Looks like Lou Piniella can do more than just get thrown out of games.
Big props also to Ned Yost of Milwaukee and Mike Scioscia of the Angels. The Brewers have led all season and Sciosica has gotten his team to rebound from a disapointing, injury-filled season a year ago.
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