The MLB 1/5th Awards!!!
It’s May 11th and we all know what that means…The baseball season is 1/5th over. April and early May produce interesting stories. Old stars start hot, reminding us of their storied primes, second year players show sings of regression, and career nobodies hit .350. This year is no different.
So without further adieu, the 2011 1/5th AWARDS!!! (And bold predictions for the next 4/5ths!)
AL: Jose Bautista
Is Jose Bautista the most intimidating hitter in baseball? The way guys are pitching him lately, you might think so…and maybe with good reason. Since the beginning of last year he’s belted 65 home runs. Pitchers just won’t throw inside to him anymore and he’s drawing a ton of walks. Statistically he’s starting to look like Sammy Sosa in him prime. As of 5/11 Jose is hitting .350 with a .515 on-base, not to mention 11 home runs and a ridiculous .760 slugging percentage and 1.275 OPS. He’s gone from a middling journeyman to an eye-twitch inducing power house who can hit for average and make the ladies knees go weak in a matter of a couple years. To bad people will start in with the steroid allegations soon and ruin a fun story. (Not sure about the ladies comment, but I imagine if I was him they’d be swooning despite with my giant Dumbo ears)
NL: Lance Berkman
What a great redemption story. Cast away by his Astros and underused by the vile Yankees, Berkman finds his swing again in boring old St. Louis. He’s been an absolute beast this year. He’s 2nd in the NL in homers (10), first in RBI’s (32), 3rd in batting (.357), first in slugging by over 100 points (.705 and the next closest is .588). He’s 0 for his last ten so he might be entering slump but in a lineup with Pujols, Matt Holiday, and Colby Rasmus he should see good pitches and have a ton of RBI chances. He won’t keep up his torrid pace but Big Puma has lost weight and seems to love his new team. Look for him to put up a top-5 MVP season along the lines of .320 with 35 homers, 120 RBIs, and a .440 on-base.
1/5th Cy Young:
AL: Trevor Cahill
Last year Cahill put up a great on paper season. 18 wins, 8 loses, and a 2.97 era. Yet, coming into this season, everyone had him pegged as an over-achiever and a top candidate for regression. Why? Strikeouts. Last season Cahill struck out only 118 batters in 196 2/3 innings. Many assumed last season had more to do with luck than skill. Not so. This season Cahill has upped his strikeout rate. He’s fanned 45 in 52 1/3 innings. He’s tied for the major league lead in wins (6), he leads the AL in ERA (1.74), and he has a 1.09 WHIP. By years end Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, David Price, and who knows, maybe even James Shields will have better numbers, but Oakland fans can rest assured that they have a legitimate ace in Cahill.
NL: Josh Johnson
If he had Halladay’s durability, Johnson would be the best pitcher in baseball, hands down. The guy is near untouchable. He leads the majors in ERA with a 1.63. He’s struck out 53 in 55 1/3 innings. He throws an incredible fastball and takes no hitters into the middle innings with regularity. He’s a great candidate to throw one this year in fact. Batter can’t touch him. They’re hitting an anemic .168 against him this year. He even beat Roy Halladay in a great pitchers duel last week. He’s a stud and will probably keep this pace up for the next 4/5th of the season.
1/5th Rookie of the Year
AL: Michael Pineda
6’7” and 260 pound…he looks like a giant 12 year old and throws 98. This guy is something special. Watching him pitch is like watching a video game. He simply overpowers guys and he does it efficiently. They’ve held him to a low pitch count and he’s gone at least 6 innings in all of his starts. He’s got 2.84 ERA and a 4-2 record with the worst offense in baseball behind him. He throws with poise and has great command of his pitches. (12 BB vs. 45 SO) The Mariners have themselves two top-flight aces at the top of their rotation with Pineda and King Felix.
NL: Craig Kimbrel
He came into this season with high expectations and he’s lived up to them. With only 20 2/3 innings pitched in the majors coming into this season he stepped right into the closers role and has handled it very well. He’s top 10 in the majors in saves, throws a nasty 96 mile per hour fastball with a solid slider. His 25 strikeouts in only 16 2/3 innings is pretty damn good too. He blew a save last night but he looks like the real deal and so do the Atlanta Braves.
1/5th Rolaids Reliever of the Year (God damn MLB and their product integration!!!)
AL: Mariano Rivera
It almost needs no explanation but…leads the AL in saves, 0.84 WHIP, 1.62 ERA, 14 strikeouts and only 2 walks in 16 2/3 innings pitched. Also, he’s one of the 25 best pitchers of all time…seriously…go look at the numbers long and hard.
NL: Drew Storen
Can’t argue with the numbers: 8 saves, no blown saves, 0.77 WHIP, 0.44 ERA, 3/1 strikeout to walk ratio. Not much more to say about that.
1/5th Ultimate Underachiever, Let Down, LVP, Fuck Up, etc…
AL: Carl Crawford
Things will level off for him but my god, has any AL plater been more of a letdown this year. Vernon Wells and Alex Rios have been bad, but they’re not playing on a 142 million dollar contract. Morneau has brain trauma so he gets a pass. Crawford is fine. He was supposed to be a Top 10 MVP guy hitting in Boston’s lineup. He looks like a deer in the headlights out there so far. He’s hitting .218 with a .255 on base. He has 1 home run and only 11 runs scored. Damn.
NL: Hanley Ramirez
Albert Pujols is lucky Hanley is so atrocious this year because he nearly deserves this one. Hanley can’t get anything done in the field this year. He’s a lifetime .309 hitter and .511 slugger. This season he’s hitting .217 with a .302 slugging percentage. He only has 2 home runs and has been caught stealing 4 times. Here are some guys having statistically better seasons than Hanley: Rod Barajas, Ryan Theriot, Yadier Molina, Emilo Bonafacio, and Pat Burrell, just to name a few.
BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR THE NEXT 4/5ths
Ubaldo Jimenez will finish with an ERA over 4.00.
-He was a god last year but his second half wasn’t so stellar and he’s been awful so far this year. (0-2 with a 5.88 era) In fact, he just gave up a two run homer in the first inning of the Mets as I write this paragraph. He’ll figure it out and pitch better, just don’t expect him to win the Cy Young. It just feels like an off-year for him.
Albert Pujols won’t even be the MVP of his team, let alone the National League.
-Holliday and Berkman are off to torrid starts and one of the two will finish with a better line than the slumping Pujols. He only had one double as recently as a week ago!!
James Shields will finish in the Top-5 of the AL Cy Young Race
-He has two complete games already with a 2.08 ERA and a .96 WHIP. He’s taking games into the late innings, striking guys out, and putting no one on base. It’s a great comeback story after a horrid season in 2010.
Jed Lowrie will hit .300
-He was solid in 2010 and hasn’t slowed down since. He’ll see a ton of pitches to hit batting in that lineup.
The Indians will win the AL Central
-The division is awful and they just keep building a cushion.