Yes–as autumn baseball winds down with most players now hanging out at the golf course, recognition is in order based on the 2010 regular season:
*The STAY AT FIRST Award: No doubt–goes to Torii Hunter of the L.A. Angels. Hunter tried to steal 21 times this year and was thrown out on TWELVE occasions–a SB success rate of just 43%. Just a reminder, Torii: You’re NOT 25 anymore.
*The PETE ROSE/GEORGE BRETT HONORARY THROWBACK PLAYER Award: Roy Halladay of the Phillies. When I see this guy pitch, I think it’s 1970 again. A stud, a horse–you get the picture. Led ALL MLB pitchers in complete games, innings, AND shutouts; when he DOESN’T go nine, he looks like Clint Eastwood in a “Dirty Harry” scene. Yeah–my kinda guy.
*The TONY BENNETT/BEST YEARS BEHIND HIM Award: Without question–goes to Brewers reliever Trevor Hoffman. In 50 relief appearances at age 42, the all-time saves leader blew five saves, went 2-7, and pitched to an ERA of 5.89. This is a guy who used to average around 40 saves per season and pitch to an ERA of at least three runs LESS than the inflated # he put up this year. Yes, Trevor–it’s time.
*The LITTLE BUCKS/BIG NUMBERS Award: Goes to Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies. The man earned the league’s minimum salary and put up MVP-type #’s: 34 HR’s, 117 RBI’s, .336 batting average. Yeah–a MAJOR return on the team’s investment. Milwaukee’s Casey McGehee and Trevor Cahill of the A’s finished high in this category.
*The BONNIE AND CLYDE/HIGHWAY ROBBERY Award (for stealing large sums of money): Sadly, goes to Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies. Once the best hitter in the game, Helton hit .256 with just 8 HR’s and 37 RBI’s in the thin air of Coors–and was paid almost $18 million (ouch). Helton could have easily qualified for the aforementioned Tony Bennett Award, too. Barry Zito finished second–earning even MORE than Helton and winning just nine games.
*The BLACKSTONE/HOUDINI DISAPPEARING ACT Award: Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies. When he was 15-1 at the All-Star break, it was simply a question of if he’d win 20 by Labor Day. He proceeded to go 4-7 the rest of the way–failing to hit the 20-win mark while making Colorado fans wonder if burnout will be an issue with him as his career unfolds.
*The PITIFULLY PUNCHLESS Award (for lack of offense): Hands down–goes to the Seattle Mariners. They hit a pathetic .236 as a team and finished last in the majors in runs, hits, OB %, total bases, doubles, triples,–well……EVERYTHING. Somewhere, Felix Hernandez is weeping.
*The ARSONIST OF THE YEAR Award: I’ll give this one to George Sherrill of the L.A. Dodgers. Appearing in 65 games, he pitched to an ERA of 6.69 while hitters tallied a .311 batting average against him; right-handed hitters hit a blistering .427 off Sherrill. Yes, vs. right-handed batters, Sherrill might have been better off letting them hit off a TEE–and Joe Torre would concur.
*The BUM OF THE YEAR Award: Oliver Perez of the N.Y. Mets. The man pitched 46 innings and walked 42 hitters in 2010. In fact–since signing a 3-year, $36 million pact before the ’09 season–“Ollie” has now put up ERA’s of 6.82 and 6.80 and won just THREE games. I don’t know a SINGLE Mets fan who wants this guy to even SHOW UP at spring training in five months–and he’s owed another $12 million.
*The second annual EARL WEAVER/FULL PACK Award: This one goes to Hideki Okajima of the Red Sox. If manager Terry Francona DID smoke, he would have gone through a pack of cigarettes QUICKLY (like Weaver did with Don Stanhouse) every time Okajima pitched. He gave up 59 hits in 46 innings, was susceptible to the HR ball, and opponents hit .314 against him. Red Sox Nation collectively holds its breath EVERY time he jogs in from the bullpen. Simply a Double-A pitcher at this juncture.
*The HIT OR MISS Award: A “no-brainer” as D’Backs infielder Mark Reynolds wins this award for the third year in a row–in a LANDSLIDE. The man slugged 32 home runs but also struck out 211 times–the third year in a row he’s topped the 200 mark. Winning this award is usually only “slightly” embarrassing; the REAL embarrassing part of Reynolds’ 2010 campaign was that he hit .198–yes, below the famed “Mendoza Line.”
*The MAYTAG/DEPENDABILITY Award: As mentioned last year, Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners is a shoe-in for this award YEARLY–as long as he’s breathing. Once again, he played in ALL 162 games; he also garnered 200+ hits for the TENTH year in a row. Also played great in the outfield once again and stole 42 bases at the age of 36. Bottom line with this guy? When you have an “off” year and hit at a .315 clip, Cooperstown will be calling in the near future.
*The AVERSION TO WALKING Award: Pedro Feliz–who split time with the Astros and Cardinals in 2010. The man came to bat 409 times this season and walked just THIRTEEN times–yes, just once every 31 at-bats. This guy takes pitches about as often as yours truly dates supermodels.
*The GERITOL/AGE DOESN’T MATTER Award: The Yankees’ Mariano Rivera wins this award for the second year in a row. At age 40, he gave up just 39 hits in 60 innings–allowing just two home runs and pitching to an ERA of 1.80. Opponents hit .183 against him as he saved 30 or more games for the thirteenth time in his career. I’m beginning to think that Rivera is aging just as well as Christie Brinkley–well, ALMOST.
*The RODNEY DANGERFIELD/LACK OF RESPECT Award: Paul Konerko of the White Sox. Made the All-Star team only because Justin Morneau got hurt–yet put up huge #’s this year: 39 HR’s, 111 RBI’s, .312 BA. Plays a decent first base, too–though that’s overlooked at times. Adam LaRoche of the D’backs received votes in this category–going ‘under the radar’ while driving in 100 runs for a last-place club.
*Finally, the DOLLY THE SHEEP/REASON TO CLONE Award: Albert Pujols of the Cardinals. What more can you say about a guy who’s hit 30 or more HR’s/drove in 100 or more runs in EACH of his ten big league seasons (seemingly in CLEAN fashion, too)? Rarely misses a game–and a slugger who’s NEVER struck out 100 times in a season. Great fielder (almost underrated) who made just four errors in 2010. Good family man, too, who launched the Pujols Family Foundation in 2005 (dedicated to Down’s syndrome) with his wife Deidre. Congrats, Albert–to a guy who does it on the field AND off.
Enjoy the rest of the postseason, folks.