Today was a sad day. No baseball. The regular season ended yesterday, and the postseason starts tomorrow. This postseason is bitter sweet, as it is the first time in more than a decade that my favorite team, Atlanta, is not taking part. So time to look back at the regular season. Here are my picks for the various regular season awards.
First off, the National League. It is a clear race between Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard. Pujols was spectacular all season. He was the best overall hitter in the NL, as measured by OPS . However, he missed several weeks early in the season. This helped Howard put up greater cumulative numbers with 58 home runs to 49 and 149 RBIs to 137. Pujols still managed 119 runs to Howard's 104, despite Howard having nearly the same OBP as Pujols (.425 for Howard vs. .431 for Pujols) and actually getting on base 21 more times than Pujols. This just shows that Howard had weaker hitters behind him than Pujols. Overall, Howard also racked up 155.5 runs created vs. 141 for Pujols, and even had a slightly better RC/27 outs of 10.19 vs. 9.94. In my opinion RC/27 is just as good as OPS for measuring production. So with a wash on the "average" categories, you have to give the MVP to Ryan Howard with his overall better numbers. He certainly carried his team back into contention, and only a tremendous finish by the Dodgers kept the Phillies out of the playoffs.
Honorable Mention: Lance Berkman. Clearly overshadowed by the other two first basemen, Berkman had a huge season (.315-45-136.) He was definitely behind the other two guys in every category, but he was also easily above everybody else.
Now for the American League. It's kind of a similar story over there. Travis Hafner and Manny Ramirez had great average numbers (OPS and RC27,) but David Ortiz put up much better cumulative numbers, particulary total runs created. Like Howard, he lead the league in home runs and RBIs. In addition, Ortiz was probably the most feaured hitter, especially late in the game. This lead to him leading the league in walks as well. Ortiz is a clear choice over Hafner and Ramirez. The White Sox's 1-2 punch of Jim Thome and Jermaine also had huge numbers, but clearly below Ortiz as well.
No, the only hitter who could challenge Ortiz for MVP is Derek Jeter. Jeter had a great season, finishing second in batting to Joe Mauer. He had a great OBP (.417) which lead to him scoring 118 runs. Obviously his power numbers are nowhere near Ortiz's. In addition, Ortiz's OBP (.413) and runs scored (115) were nearly equal to Jeter's. It's hard to make a statistical argument for Jeter. Really Jeter was only the third best hitter on his team, behind Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a Jeter over Ortiz pick, kind of like Terry Pendleton beating out Barry Bonds back in the early 90's.
Let's do the easy one first, the AL. Johan Santana put togther a triple crown season, leading the league in ERA, wins, and strikeouts. Actually, he lead all of the majors in all three categories. Nobody is even close to Santana in the AL. In fact, you can make a strong case for him as an MVP candidate.
Honorable Mention -- Roy Halladay. He put together a great season (16-8, 3.19 ERA) for Toronto. Just nowhere near as good as Santana.
Now for the more contentious NL. Nobody had more than 16 wins in the NL, which is really unusual. Still, three pitchers had significantly better ERAs thant he rest of the league: Roy Oswalt, Chris Carpenter, and Brandon Webb. Oswalt and Carpenter won 15 games, trailing Webb's 16 games. Overall, Carpenter was harder to hit than the other two (.643 Opp. OPS, leading the league) and had more strikeouts. He also played on a playoff team, though Oswalt helped Houston make a run for the NL Central title. Seems like enough of an edge to hand him another Cy Young.
There are two NL relievers worth mentioning. Trevor Hoffman lead the league with 46 saves and had a 2.14 ERA. Billy Wagner was just behind with 40 saves and a 2.24 ERA. Both of these guys helped their teams win their divisions. Both guys also had 5 blown saves. Those are good percentages, but not good enough to pick them over a starting pitcher.
So to summarize:
NL MVP -- Ryan Howard
NL Cy Young -- Chris Carpenter
AL MVP -- David Ortiz
AL Cy Young -- Johan Santana
Next time, I'll put together some playoff analysis and picks.
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