Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Post-Season Baseball Awards: Youkilis wins Gold Glove. Pedroia wins Rookie of the Year. Beckett does NOT win Cy Young?!?

Well, now that the World Series has ended, Major League Baseball has begun to hand out its post-season awards. First up were the AL and NL Gold Glove winners: AL first: WORLD SERIES CHAMPION Boston's Kevin Youkilis, first base. Detroit's Placido Polanco, second base. Anaheim's Orlando Cabrera, shortstop. Seattle's Adrian Beltre, third base. The outfield is comprised of Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, Minnesota's Torii Hunter and Cleveland's Grady Sizemore. Minnesota's Johan Santana won for pitchers and Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez won at catcher. For Rodriguez, it was his 13th Gold Glove, a record for catchers. Ichiro and Hunter each won their seventh Gold Gloves. Cabrera won his second. The others were all first time winners.

Youkilis and Polanco did not make a single error at the positions at which they won their awards, though Youkilis did make three errors at third base in part-time duty to rest Mike Lowell, who, for the second year in a row, got screwed. Beltre made a league-high 18 errors, which isn't so bad, but he turned only 24 double plays. Lowell made 15 errors and led the AL with 34 double plays. Rodriguez is still a solid catcher, but Seattle's Kenji Johjima deserved this award. He was fourth in putouts, third in assists and led the AL in double plays with 15, all while having made just two errors.

I still have a bone to pick with the outfield selection. Why is it almost always three center fielders? Why can't they award a Gold Glove at each outfield position? Christ, pitchers get a Gold Glove, and do they really make more plays than an everyday left or right fielder? Of course they don't. I'd let Ichiro keep his award and give Hunter's and Sizemore's to Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford (LF) and Kansas City's Mark Teahen (RF). Crawford led AL left fielders in putouts and Teahen led AL right fielders in putouts and led all AL outfielders in double plays with seven (tied with Tampa Bay's Delmon Young), and was second in assists with 17 (Minnesota's Mike Cuddyer led the AL with 19). Another good choice would have been Baltimore's Nick Markakis who was second in putouts among AL right fielders, had 13 assists and just two errors.

In the NL we have Chicago's Derrek Lee, first base. Arizona's Orlando Hudson, second base. Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins, shortstop. New York's David Wright, third base. The outfield is crowded with four winners: Atlanta's Andruw Jones, New York's Carlos Beltran, Philadelphia's Aaron Rowand and Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur were the winners. Greg Maddux won his 17th Gold Glove at pitcher, a record at any position, and Los Angeles' Russell Martin won at catcher. Andruw won for the tenth time. Lee and Hudson are now third time winners. Beltran won his second, and everyone else was a first time winner.

Analysis: Lee is a good first baseman, but Colorado's Todd Helton was better. He made just two errors while having the second most putouts and double plays in the NL. Hudson is a good second baseman who reminds me of Frank White who played with Kansas City from the mid-70s through the 80s, but Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips should have gotten the nod. He led the NL in putouts, assists and was second in double plays, and made just eight errors. At shortstop, Jimmy Rollins should give his award to Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki. Troy led all major league shortstops in putouts, assists, double plays AND fielding percentage. And David Wright clearly has an advantage playing for the Mets, as he did not deserve his Gold Glove either. I'd flip a coin between Washington's Ryan Zimmerman who led all ML third basemen in putouts, assists AND double plays. Yes, he did have the second highest number of errors, two more than Wright, but actually had a higher fielding percentage than Mr. Met, which should tell you something about Wright's range. Or, if you want low error totals you could go with San Francisco's Pedro Feliz who made just eleven errors, but turned 28 double plays.

The NL outfield is less of a mess than the AL's, but there is still no left fielder. I'd give it to Arizona's Eric Byrnes. He was in the middle of the pack in putouts, but he also played well in limted time in center and right field. I'll let Andruw keep his award, though it is a tough call because Beltran is terrific (and so is Rowand, but you should only have one center fielder). Francoeur was a good choice as a right fielder. He was second to Washington's Austin Kearns (who would have also been a good choice) in putouts, and he tied with Chicago's left fielder Alfonso Soriano for the NL lead in assists with 19.

Maddux will win this award as long as he wears a baseball uniform. Martin led all NL catchers in putouts, assists, double plays and errors. He was only one of five catchers who played in 120 games or more (he led in that department too with 145), and the others don't have anything special to sell, so Martin, well done!

After the Gold Gloves were handed out, both leagues revealed their respective Rookies of the Year in the persons of WORLD SERIES CHAMPION Boston's Dustin Pedroia and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. Pedroia, who overcame a hideous first five weeks of the season that saw his batting average go as low as .172, led AL rookies with a .317 batting average and 39 doubles, and won easily with 24 first-place votes. Braun won by a mere two points over Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki. Braun, who only played in 113 games, hit 34 homers, batted .324 and slugged .634, though he did commit a league high 26 errors at third base. Tulowitzki's credentials are already outlined above.

In other baseball news, Boston's Josh Beckett did NOT win the AL Cy Young award. That honor went to Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia. I'll try to analyze this later in the week. By then the NL Cy Young winner should be announced. I'm thinking it will be San Diego's Jake Peavy...

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