ST. PETERSBURG – It’s time to roll out this year’s annual Bastian Postseason Awards. I’m hanging at my hotel here in Florida, getting ready to watch the White Sox and Twins play for the right to join me at Tropicana Field tomorrow. In the meantime, here are my picks:
CY YOUNG AWARD
1. Roy Halladay, TOR: 20-11, 2.78 ERA, 9 CG, 246 IP, 206 K, 39 BB, 1.05 WHIP, .237 BAA
2. Cliff Lee, CLE: 22-3, 2.54 ERA, 223.1 IP, 170 K, 34 BB, 1.11 WHIP, .253 BAA
3. Francisco Rodriguez, LAA: 62 saves, 2.24 ERA, 77 K, 34 BB, 68.1 IP
Apologies to: Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS; Mike Mussina, NYY; Joakim Soria, KC; Mariano Rivera, NYY; Jon Lester, BOS.
COMMENT: No, I am not a homer. But, I will admit that it is a joy to watch Halladay pitch every five days. I give Doc the nod here based on a few things. One, I’m a sucker for innings and complete games. Second, Halladay received 4.72 runs or support to Lee’s 6.13, and pitched in a far tougher division. Consider that in Halladay’s 11 losses, he received just 23 runs to work with from his offense. Lee had a fantastic season, but if you look at everything but their records, Halladay should be the obvious pick — at least to me. I’ve included K-Rod in the top three as an honorary pick for setting the all-time single-season saves record. I realize he arguably wasn’t the best closer this season, but that record is too impressive to ignore.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
1. Dustin Pedroia, BOS: .326 AVG, 17 HR, 54 2B, 83 RBI, 213 H, 118 R, .869 OPS
2. Justin Morneau, MIN: .302 AVG, 23 HR, 47 2B, 129 RBI, .877 OPS
3. Kevin Youkilis, BOS: .312 AVG, 29 HR, 115 RBI, .958 OPS
Apologies to: Carlos Quentin, CWS; Miguel Cabrera, DET; Alex Rodriguez, NYY; Joe Mauer, MIN; Josh Hamilton, TEX; Milton Bradley, TEX.
COMMENT: Through August, Quentin seemed destined to take home the AL MVP — that was until he broke his wrist by slapping his bat in frustration. With Quentin missing the final month, this race became wide open. My first reaction was to give it to Morneau, considering Minny wasn’t expected to do anything this season and, without him, they wouldn’t have. But, upon further review, I bought into the Pedroia hype. He plays a strong second base, helped out in the heart of Boston’s order when David Ortiz was out, and put up some solid numbers for a little guy. One that I always look at is strikeouts to walks, and Pedroia fanned 52 times and drew 50 walks — almost even. He also stole 20 bases and was caught just once. Oh, and he led the league in hits and runs scored. Good enough for me.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. Evan Longoria, TB: .272 AVG, 27 HR, 31 2B, 85 RBI, .531 SLG, .874 OPS
2. Alexei Ramirez, CWS: .290 AVG, 21 HR, 77 RBI
3. Armando Galarraga, DET: 13-7, 3.73 ERA, 178.2 IP
Apologies to: Jose Arredondo, LAA; David Murphy, TEX; Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS; Mike Aviles, KC; Glen Perkins, MIN; Nick Blackburn, MIN; Jesse Carlson, TOR.
COMMENT: This is a no brainer. Longoria is practically the posterboy for Tampa Bay’s turnaround this season. From worst team in baseball in ’07, to AL East champs in ’08, with Longoria unaware of what it was like to play for a losing team in St. Pete. His numbers would be solid over a full season, but he missed time due to injury, and put up those totals in 448 at-bats. It’s similar to what Ryan Braun did last year for the Brewers en route to the NL’s ROY honor. Behind Longoria, there is a wealth of talent in this rookie class, but Ramirez and Galarraga stand out. Ellsbury could just as easily be among the top three as well.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
1. Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay: 97-65
2. Terry Francona, Boston: 95-67
3. Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota, 88-74
COMMENT: Maddon should be a unanimous pick for this award. It’s one thing to show improvement, but to climb out of the cellar and jump over all four AL East teams to claim the crown? And on a $44 million payroll? The Rays should have shed the “Devil” tag a lot sooner. As for Francona, he’s done an admirable job with an injury-riddled roster all year long, and Garden hire took advantage of a surprisingly weak AL Central, putting the Twins within striking distance of the playoffs — maybe even in the playoffs with a win tonight.
CY YOUNG AWARD
1. Tim Lincecum, SF: 18-5, 2.62 ERA, 265 K, 227 IP, 1.17 WHIP, .221 BAA
2. Brandon Webb, ARI: 22-7, 3.30 ERA, 183 K, 65 BB, 3 CG, 1.20 WHIP
3. Ryan Dempster, CHC: 17-6, 2.96 ERA
Apologies to: Johan Santana, NYM; C.C. Sabathia, MIL; Brad Lidge, PHI.
COMMENT: Anyone wish the Blue Jays would’ve swung that trade for Lincecum now? The young right-hander threw down some wicked numbers for a weak San Francisco squad this season, and no disrespect to Webb and his 22 dubyas, but Lincecum was the top pitcher in the league. Timmy had a 3.15 K/BB ratio and logged a quality start (at least six innings and no more than three earned runs) 79 percent of the time.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
1. Albert Pujols, STL: .357 AVG, 37 HR, 44 2B, 116 RBI, 100 R, .653 SLG, 1.114 OPS
2. Ryan Howard, PHI: .251 AVG, 48 HR, 146 RBI, 105 R, .543 SLG
3. David Wright, NYM: .302 AVG, 33 HR, 42 2B, 124 RBI, 115 R, .924 OPS
Apologies to: Chipper Jones, ATL; Lance Berkman, HOU; Hanley Ramirez, FLA; Carlos Delgado, NYM; Ryan Ludwick, STL; Manny Ramirez, LAD.
COMMENT: Why on Earth would Pujols want to get that elbow surgery? If it ain’t broke…you know? Prince Albert had (yawn) another season of .330/30/100 — his fifth such showing in eight years. This year, he did so with a team that wasn’t expected to do much. So they finished fourth, they could’ve been a lot worse off this season, and where would they have been without him? I don’t always buy into the “MVPs shouldn’t be on teams that don’t make the playoffs” argument. The Cardinals were within striking distance most of the season in a year no one thought they’d do anything. That credit goes largely to Albert. There’s a serious case to be made for Howard and Wright as well, and Jones should get some well-earned consideration, too.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. Geovany Soto, CHC: .285 AVG, 23 HR, 86 RBI, .868 OPS
2. Joey Votto, CIN: .297 AVG, 24 HR, 84 RBI, .874 OPS
3. Jair Jurrjens, ATL: 13-10, 3.68 ERA, 139 K, 188.1 IP
Apologies to: Kosuke Fukudome, CHC; Johnny Cueto, CIN; Hiroki Kuroda, LAD.
COMMENT: There’s certainly a case to be made for Toronto native Joey Votto, but what Soto has done behind the plate has been integral to the Cubs’ success this year. Handing a rookie catcher a full-time job takes is a leap of faith in its own, but Soto came through in a big way. Offensively, he was strong all year. Behind the plate, Soto had a 3.80 catcher’s ERA, which was the second-best mark among qualified NL regulars. Now, the Cubbies are in the playoffs for the second straight year — a first since 1907-08 — and vying for their first World Series title in a century. Oh, and Soto was nails for my league champion fantasy team. Just saying…
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
1. Lou Piniella, CHC: 97-64
2. Charlie Manuel, PHI: 92-70
3. Cecil Cooper, HOU: 86-75
COMMENT: As noted in the previous section, Cubs fans are enjoying a type of success they haven’t witnessed in 100 years. Piniella deserves all the credit in the world for helping Chicago reach this point. The Cubs were the best team in the National League this year, making me wish I was still just a kid in Chi-town. Manuel and his Phils benefited from another Mets collapse and won the NL East for a second straight year, this time with 92 wins. It helps having a pair of MVPs in your lineup. As for Cooper, I’m including him for Houston’s surprise act in the second half. They came out of nowhere and ended up right in the thick of the Wild Card race.
So, there you have it. Comments and arguments are always welcome. Who are your picks?