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Archive for the 'Post-Season Awards' Category

Phillies Shut Out of Major Post-Season Awards

Friday, December 18th, 2009

As I continue housecleaning on the blog after the 7 week layoff, one cannot pass on the post-season awards and the absence of NL pennant- winning  Phillies from winning any of them.  One could say, however  that the Phils’ success in making a 2nd consecutive trip to the World Series was the result of the sum total of all of their parts.

However, I was expecting young lefthander J.A. Happ to have won NL Rookie of the Year honors which were ultimately won by Florida Marlins leftfielder  Chris Coghlan.

While Happ mainly sparkled finishing with a 12-4 record and 2.93 ERA with 3 complete games, including 2 big shut outs, he was pounded in a couple of outings down the stretch.  It seems obvious that Coghlan trumped Happ with a consistent .321 BA in his rookie season breaking .300 and driving to his ending .321 average through the September stretch getting 162 hits in 504 at bats over 128 games and going 6 for 13 with 3 doubles and 3 RBIs in 3 games in the NL East division series with the Phillies.

I was also expecting Charlie Manuel to win NL Manager of the Year having guided the Phils to 3 straight division Championships, 2 consecutive World Series and a World Championship in 2008.  But it was not to be as Colorado Rockies Manager Jim Tracy chapped the honors.  I’m not sure I understand the logic here, but one could probably say that Tracy rated the edge by hitting the ground running after his promotion in late May from bench coach to manager in wake of Clint Hurdle’s firing.  The Rockies went 74-42 with Tracy as skipper.  Tracy got 29 of 32 1st place votes while Charlie garnered no first place votes — figure that one out!

Two Phillies, shortstop Jimmy Rollins and centerfielder Shane Victorino, managed to nail down Gold Glove awards while a Silver Slugger Award went to 2nd baseman Chase Utley so that the team was not totally shut out.

For those who were hoping for an MVP award for 1st baseman Ryan Howard,  St. Louis Cardinals 1st baseman Albert Pujols notched the award for the 2nd straight season based on out-and-out merit.  Check this out:

  • 2009       AB      Hits     HRs    RBIs     BB     K    BA
  • Howard  616     172     45     141       75    186   .279
  • Pujols     568     186     47     135     115     64   .327

Enough said??  Howard’s got to cut down on strikeouts — Big Time!

Finally, I can’t let this post go by without commenting on the AL MVP award going to Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer.   Mauer caught in 138 games in 2009 hitting 28 HRs with 96 RBIs and amassing a .365 BA.  This after catching in 146 games in 2008, driving in 85 runs with a .328 BA.  Checking out his 6 season career, he’s caught in-excess of 130 games in 4 of his last 5 seasons and is in the midst of a career, both offensively and behind the plate, which recalls to memory Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” era Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, although so far, Bench holds a decisive margin in HRs and RBIs.

Below are reports with more detail on the Post-Season Awards:

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Phillies Pound Dodgers, Clinch 2nd NL Pennant in 2 Seasons

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

          Phillies  Phillies

Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels lasted just 4 1/3 innings.  But the Phils clubbed Los Angeles starter Vicente Padilla for 6 runs in four innings on Wednesday.  Four homers, including 2 by rightfielder Jayson Werth, led the Phillies who pounded the Dodgers by a 10-4 tally to clinch their 2nd NL Pennant in 2 seasons and set-off celebrations in Philadelphia.

With this 2nd Pennant in 2 seasons, the Phils have achieved not only a first in their franchise history but a rarity in Philadelphia sports history. The only other Philadelphia teams ever to make it to a Championship series 2 seasons in a row were the Eagles in 1948 and 1949 seasons, the 76ers with Wilt Chamberlain in 1966-67 and 1967-68 seasons and the Flyers in 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons.

1st baseman Ryan Howard was awarded the NLCS MVP award.  Howard, who hit .333 for the series with 2 homers and 8 RBIs while going 5 for 15 in the series also collected a double, a triple. This blog noted after game 4 that Howard tied Lou Gehrig’s 7 decades old MLB record garnering at least one RBI in eight straight playoff games.  Howard’s RBI streak ended in Wednesday’s clincher when he failed to knock in a run.  He went 0-2 in game 5 as Dodgers pitching gave him little to hit resulting in his reaching twice on walks.

The Dodgers notched a first inning run off of Hamels on leftfielder Andre Ethier’s 2 out solo homer, but the Phils came back wth 3 runs in their first inning as Werth homered to right centerfield off of Padilla following 2 out walks to 2nd baseman Chase Utley and 1st baseman Ryan Howard.

The two teams swapped single runs in the second inning as Dodger 1st baseman James Loney reached Hamels for a leadoff homer and 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz followed suit with a leadoff shot off of Padilla.

After Hamels settled down somewhat retiring 6 of the next 7 Dodgers he faced in the third and fourth innings, Werth lead off the Phillies fourth with a single to leftfield and scored on Raul Ibanez’s double to deep centerfield.   That was it for Padilla who was relieved by Ramon Troncosco who first got Feliz to ground out to 3rd base before walking catcher Carlos Ruiz.  Hamels bunt sacrificed the runners up — Ibanez to 3rd base and Ruiz to 2nd.  Then Troncosco proceeded to hit shortstop Jimmy Rollins and was gone, replaced by reliever George Sherrill who plunked centerfielder  Shane Victorino, the latter hit batsmen forcing in the Phillies 6th run.  Sherrill finished the inning by striking out Utley with the sacks jammed. After four innings, the Phillies were up by 6-2. 

Hamels opened the fifth by getting 3rd baseman Casey Blake to pop out to rightfield before pinch hitter Orlando Hudson solo homered to narrow the Phils lead to 6-3.  Shortstop Rafael Furcal followed with a double to leftfield chasing Hamels and beginning a parade of Phillies relievers.  Lefthander  J.A. Happ notched the 2nd out and Chad Durbin the final out of the fifth.  Durbin went clean in the sixth inning to notch the Pennant-clinching win. 

Victorino padded the Phils’ lead to 8-3 with a 2 out, 2 run shot in the sixth off of reliever lefthander Clayton Kershaw, the originally schedule starter for game 5.

Chan Ho Park relieved Durbin and went clean on the Dodgers in the seventh inning.   Lefthander Hong-Chih Kuo replaced Kershaw for the seventh inning and opened by striking out Howard.  But Werth followed solving Kuo for his 2nd homer of the game, a solo shot to centerfield.  Kuo then fanned both Ibanez and Feliz to strikeout the side.  After seven innings, Phillies 9, Dodgers 3.

In the eighth, Park was chased giving up 2 hits to open the inning.  Ryan Madson came on to walk leftfielder Manny Ramirez to load the sacks with none out.  Centerfielder Matt Kemp followed capping the Dodger scoring with an RBI single to center — the run being charged to Park.  Madson then got Loney on a foul-out and struck out catcher Russell Martin.   Madson could almost see himself out of the inning, but still had to get past Casey Blake as the sacks remained loaded with Dodgers.   What ensued was a epic 9 pitch confrontation between Madson and Blake in a situation where one solid swing could have changed the game from a Phillies cruise into a nail-biter.   After 2 balls and 2 strikes including 4 fouls,  Madson coaxed a shortstop fielder’s choice  by Blake to end the only significant Dodger threat of the game.

Leading 9-4 in the game, the Phils capped their scoring as Rollins scored on a wild pitch after singling with 2 outs and going to 3rd on Victorino’s ground-rule centerfield double.

Then, all there was left was for suddenly rejuvenated closer Brad Lidge to close out the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth.  He notched a strikeout, a foul out and a fly out to centerfield to cinch the game, the series and the 2nd NL Pennant in 2 seasons for the Phillies.

Interesting, former disgrunted BoSoxer Manny Ramirez,  who chose to shower and not to stick around with the team in game 4 after removed for defensive reasons, provided some offense for the Dodgers; 6 hits in 19 at-bats with a homer and 2 RBIs in the series, but he was largely not a factor in the offense against the Phillies.

The boxscores for both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s league championship games in both leagues can be found here and here.

The World Series opener is tentatively set for Wednesday October 28, 2009, barring any weather-related postponements in either the ALCS final games or in the opener itself, in the stadium of the ALCS winner, either the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Angels.  This gives the Phils 7 days to rest, heal and prepare for the series.

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Pedroia Takes AL MVP Honors

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

                  Dustin Pedroia       Dustin Pedroia

Boston Red Sox 3rd year 2nd baseman Dustin Pedroia was the hands-down winner of the 2008 AL MVP Award.  He becomes the first 2nd baseman in nearly 50 years, and only the 10th 2nd baseman to win the award since AL and NL awards were first presented in 1931.  Pedroia had won AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2007.

The last 2nd baseman to win the award in the AL was Nellie Fox of the Chicago White Sox in their pennant-winning 1959 season.  In the succeeding 48 seasons since Fox won the award in the AL, the NL boasts four MVP award winning 2nd basemen; Cincinnati’s Joe Morgan in 1976 and 1977, Chicago Cubs’ Ryne Sandberg in 1984 and San Francisco’s Jeff Kent in 2000. In each instance from Fox to Kent, their clubs won either pennants or division championships.  And for trivia, Fox, the last AL 2nd base recipient, was the same height as Pedroia at 5′9″.  But, unlike Fox, Pedroia’s Red Sox did not win the 2008 AL pennant, losing out to Tampa Bay in the regular season as well as in the ALCS.

Pedroia far outdistanced Minnesota’s Justin Morneau who finished 2nd in  the balloting.

Yahoo’s Gordon Edes notes;

Pedroia made a strong case by becoming just the fifth second baseman since 1937 to have a season with 200 or more hits, 100 or more runs scored, 80 or more RBIs, and 40 or more doubles.

He started 155 games, had just one month all season in which he hit below .300, hit .307 with runners in scoring position, and had a .298 average with two strikes. He also stole 20 bases in 21 attempts, and and struck out just 52 times in 653 at-bats.

When the Red Sox didn’t have a cleanup hitter in August after Mike Lowell was hurt and Manny Ramirez was traded, Pedroia stepped in for four games and belted 12 hits in 18 at-bats.

“Pedroia said it’s long overdue,” Boston manager Terry Francona said of his new No. 4 hitter, “and Ortiz said he’s retiring.”

When Pedroia played in his first All-Star Game last July in Yankee Stadium, he noticed that Francona had dropped him from his customary No. 2 spot in the batting order to ninth.

Pedroia stuck his head in Francona’s office. “Hey,” he cracked, “I thought we were trying to win this game.”

That kind of brash confidence has been a critical component of Pedroia’s game, enabling him to win over detractors who questioned his size (he’s listed at 5-9 and 180 pounds) and his big swing. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen jokingly likened him to a jockey but said that he wished that the Sox had gotten rid of Pedroia instead of Mannny Ramirez.

“How do you not love him,” one scout said Tuesday. “He brings energy to the table, he plays with passion. Every manager in the American League will tell you they’d love to have him. He plays like a giant.”

AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker adds this on Pedroia for Yahoo sports;

Pedroia led the AL in hits, runs and doubles in helping the Red Sox win the AL wild-card berth. He batted .326 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs and also stole 20 bases. Earlier this month, he also won his first Gold Glove.

Pedroia, who made just $457,000 last season, didn’t have an MVP bonus provision in his contract. Morneau earned $75,000 and Mauer, Youkilis and Pena got $25,000 each.

Just a final observation about Pedroia;

He looks to be on a Chase Utley curve and Utley is seen to be THE preeminent 2nd baseman of of recent years. Take a look at Utley’s OBP and SLG for his 3rd through 6th seasons and you’ll see that Pedroia, aside from Utley’s predominance in hitting homers, was not far off in this, his 3rd season.

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Pujols Beats Out Howard for NL MVP

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

                 Albert Pujols      Ryan Howard

Albert Pujols, 1st baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals was awarded the 2008 NL MVP Award over his closest competitor, Phillies 1st baseman Ryan Howard, in balloting which was much closer than it should have been.

Although this blog is partial to the Phils, 2008 World Series champs, the obvious truth is that the comparative 2008 performance numbers between Pujols and Howard, not withstanding Howard’s fine September finish, are not even close.

True, Howard led all of baseball with 48 homers and 146 RBIs, but he batted a a woeful (for an MVP candidate) .251 and struck out an unsightly 199 times in roughly 690 plate appearances.  That’s a strikeout every 3.47 plate appearances.

Also true, Pujols’ Cardinals finished in 4th place, 11 1/2 games off of the   Cubs’ pace in the NL Central Division, but check out his numbers compared with Howard’s above; League-leading .357 batting average to go along with 37 homers and 116 RBIs.  His 54 strikeouts in 624 plate appearances puts him at an astounding strikeout every 11.5 plate appearances.  Add to that his .462 OBP and .653 SLG % as compared with .339 and .543 for Howard.

Despite Pujols’ dissing of Howard’s receiving of the MVP in 2006 (they’re close friends) claiming that “Someone who doesn’t take his team to the playoffs doesn’t deserve to win the MVP,” Howard, despite his MLB-leading 48 homers and 146 RBIs just didn’t deserve the award in light of his appalling strikeout numbers.

PhilliesNation’s Tim Malcolm provides additional interesting stats and background to back up the fact that Pujols clearly deserved the award.

AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker notes the other award contenders for Yahoo sports;

Los Angeles outfielder Manny Ramirez and Milwaukee pitcher CC Sabathia, who both led postseason pushes after being traded by AL teams in July, also drew strong support.

Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun was third with 139 points, and Ramirez fourth at 138. Houston’s Lance Berkman was fifth and Sabathia sixth.

Personally, I don’t think that players who split leagues in a season should qualify off of their 2nd half performances.  It just somehow doesnt seem right or accurate.  Sabathia, while excellent at 11-2 since coming into the NL with 7 complete games, I view as problematic because of his “rented property status” with the Brewers.  Plus I hold that Manny, also “rented,” is extremely shabby and non-hustle on defense and has base-running issues and foibles which severely detract from his stick prowess.

Another Phil, closer Brad Lidge finished 8th in the MVP voting on the strength of his 41 saves in 41 opportunites in the regular season.  He finished going 48 for 48 including the playoffs and the World Series.

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Piniella, Maddon Take Manager of the Year Honors

Friday, November 14th, 2008

              Lou Piniella         Joe Maddon

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella and Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon took Manager of the Year honors in an MLB announcement made on Wednesday.

Piniella, dubbed “Sweet lou” both for his hitting prowess (.291 lifetime BA with both the Kansas City Royals and Yankees over 18 seasons) and, sarcastically, describing his demeanor as a player and manager, led the Cubs to consecutive NL Central titles in 2007 and 2008 without reaching the next level having fallen in the division championships in 3 games in both seasons.

AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick notes;

Piniella beat out Charlie Manuel of the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies to earn his third Manager of the Year award and first in the NL. The fiery skipper also won in 1995 and 2001 with Seattle.

This time, he got 15 of 32 first-place votes and totaled 103 points to 67 for Manuel, listed first on eight ballots. Florida’s Fredi Gonzalez finished third with five first-place votes and 48 points.

“I’m thrilled and I’m honored. I know there were a lot of managers in the National League who had good seasons,” Piniella said from his home in Tampa, Fla.

The 65-year-old Piniella earned a $100,000 bonus for winning, which he plans to donate to the team’s charity partner, McCormick Foundation’s Cubs Care.

“My good fortune can get spread around a little bit,” he said. “The kids in the Chicago area will benefit from this and I’m very happy.”

Frankly, I am disappointed with the choice.  Yes, Seattle reached the next level 3 times between 1995 and 2001 but Piniella never got higher, nor did he win anything during 3 seasons as manager of the Yankees in 1986,  1987, 1988. 

Charlie Manuel took over as manager of the Phils and kept them in contention in 2005 and 2006, before chasing, catching and overtaking the  NY Mets on the last day of the 2007 season to win the NL East and doing so again in 2008, this time going all of the way to the World Series title.  Manuel got jobbed, robbed and deprived of the award he so justly and richly deserves.

Meanwhile, in the AL, the Rays’ Joe Maddon, who never played a game in the Majors and who piloted the team to horrific finishes of 61-101 in 2006 and 66-96 in 2007, caught the Boston Red Sox midway through the season and then nipped them by 2 games at the end of the 2008 regular season for the NL East title with a 97-65 mark.

After advancing to the ALCS, the Rays took a 3 games to 1 lead over the  Red Sox, who have a proclivity for coming back from long deficits in championship play.  The Red Sox rallied in the next 2 games to tie the series at 3 games apiece before the Rays held on to edge them by 3-1 to win the AL pennant.

AP’s Fitzpatrick further noted;

Tampa Bay, which started play in 1998, had never won more than 70 games in a season before Maddon engineered an incredible turnaround. With his motivational quotes and phrases, the 54-year-old skipper led a young team that finished in last place a season ago… to… the AL East title.

Maddon used his versatile bench brilliantly and juggled a much-improved bullpen that lost veteran closer Troy Percival to injury. The stunning success continued in October, when the Rays beat the Chicago White Sox and defending champion Boston Red Sox to capture the AL pennant.

“It was all there for us. It was just a matter of time,” Maddon said. “It happened a little sooner than I thought.”

Tampa Bay’s postseason run ended with a five-game loss to Philadelphia in the World Series, but that hardly spoiled it for Maddon.

“He’s got a great mind, he’s a great communicator and he’s been remarkably consistent since the first day of spring training in 2006,” Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “That’s extremely difficult to do in an environment so full of emotion. He has maintained that through our low points and also our high points.”

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Lincecum, Lee; Cy Young Award Winners

Friday, November 14th, 2008

             Tim Lincecum        Cliff Lee

24 year old 2nd year ace of the San Francisco Giants Tim Lincecum and 30 year old Cleveland Indians 7 year veteran lefthander Cliff Lee garnered their respective league’s Cy Young Awards in MLB announcements made on Tuesday and Thursday.

Both Lincecum and Lee had phenominal seasons; Lincecum going 18-5 while racking up an incredible league-leading winning .783 percentage and league-leading 265 strikeouts in 227 innings with a 2.62 ERA for a Giants team which finished 4th in the NL West with a 72-90 mark and one of baseball’s least productive offenses.  Lee finished with the best mark in all of MLB at 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 223 1/3 innings pitched.  Between them, they gave up an incredibly low total of 23 homers (11 off of Lincecum, 12 off of Lee) in 450 1/3 innings.

In the NL, Arizona’s ace Brandon Webb finished a distant 2nd in the voting despite his 22-7 mark and 3.30 ERA in 226 2/3 innings.  Webb gave up but 13 dingers.  Johan Santana and CC Sabathia came in 3rd and 4th in the voting while Phillies closer Brad Lidge who recorded a perfect 41 saves in 41 chances in the regular season, 48 for 48 including the playoffs and the World Series, finished in the 5th spot in balloting.

Lincecum is only the 2nd Giant ever to win the Cy Young award with joining  Mike McCormick who won in 1967.  Records show that only Steve Carlton, in 1972, won the Cy Young for a club with a worse record than the 2008 Giants. Lefty went 27-10 with a 1.97 ERA for the morbund 1972 Phillies team who sported baseball’s worst record that year of 59-97.

Toronto Blue Jays starter Ray Halladay, with a 20-11 mark and a 2.78 ERA in 246 innings finished a distant 2nd in AL balloting and L.A. Angels closer
Francisco Rodriguez who set an MLB record with 62 saves and had a 2.24 ERA finished an even further distant 3rd.

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