Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Post Season Awards - National League

This is such a typical topic - everyone that writes about baseball has a column like this every year. But I can't help it, these are the arguments that make baseball fun.

National League MVP

Call me biased, but I think the choice here is clear cut. Albert Pujols currently leads the National League in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage. He is in the top ten in hits, doubles, home runs and walks. Of course, unless a miracle occurs the Cardinals won't make the playoffs and a lot of voters put a lot of weight into a candidate's team success.

Albert's closest competitor also suffers from the same problem, however. Lance Berkman is third in batting average, third in on base percentage and second in slugging percentage. But he is a clear second to Pujols and since the Astros aren't going to make the playoffs either, it is unlikely that he will win the award over Albert.

So who is on a contending team that could win the award? Well, Ryan Braun has put up a .304/.344/.597 line with 34 homers and 11 stolen bases for the Brewers, Chase Utley has put up a .293/.382/.550 line with 31 home runs and 12 stolen bases for the Phillies and David Wright has put up a .292/.383/.521 line with 27 homers and 14 stolen bases for the Mets. Each of these candidates are inferior to Lance Berkman and, especially, Albert Pujols, but it wouldn't surprise me if one of them won the award, considering past voting of the BWAA.

My choice: Pujols.
My preseason choice: David Wright, who still has a shot.

Cy Young Award

This award isn't quite so clear. The question is muddied by the fact that Brandon Webb has three more wins than any other NL starter. He will likely be the league's only 20 game winner and the BWAA puts a lot of emphasis on wins, which is ridiculous. Webb has had a bad couple of starts lately, which has brought his peripheral stats back to the pack - three weeks ago it was inconceivable that anyone else could win this award. Now the matter is not so certain.

Webb is currently 19-6 with a 3.19 ERA and 160 strikeouts. The league leader in strikeouts and ERA is Tim Lincecum, who is 15-3 with a 2.43 ERA and 210 strikeouts. Lincecum has put up these numbers while pitching for a terrible Giants team, which you would think would make his numbers all that much more impressive, but voters, as with the MVP, often vote for a guy on a winning team.

Other candidates are Johan Santana, who is 12-7 with a 2.67 ERA and 169 strikeouts for the Mets, Ryan Dempster, who is 15-5 with a 2.95 ERA and 160 strikeouts for the Cubs, and Edinson Volquez, who is 16-5 with a 3.04 ERA and 161 strikeouts. Some are arguing for CC Sabathia, who is 9-0 with a 1.43 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 11 starts since being traded to the Brewers, but I don't like the idea of giving the award to a guy that only played in the NL for half the year.

My choice: Lincecum.
My preseason pick: Ben Sheets (12-7 with a 2.97 ERA and 144 strikeouts - not a bad choice, probably in the top ten).

Rookie of the Year

This has become a runaway race since Kosuke Fukudome has slumped badly in the second half. His departure from the race leaves his teammate Geovany Soto as the clear front runner. He has put up an excellent .292/.371/.508 line with 20 home runs. Coming in a distant second would be Joey Votto, who has put up a .294/.361/.458 line with 15 homers, which are decent numbers, but clearly second to Soto. Immediately after he was called up, Jay Bruce looked like he was going to take over this race, but he has fallen off quite a bit after a hot first couple of weeks.

My pick: Geovany Soto.
My preseason pick: Soto.

Tomorrow: the American League

Daily Links - 9/3/08

Tom Verducci agrees with me about CC Sabathia and the Cy Young and then lists the five most impactful mid-season trades of the last twenty-five years.

Here is a breakdown of the AL Central race by Baseball Musings.

Here is a look at the very nice crop of free agent pitchers that will be available this offseason.

This entry takes a look at what should be looked at when considering choices for MVP and Cy Young.

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