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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
BTF Awards - 2005 AL Cy Young Award
Baseball Think Factory’s AL Cy Young Award Winner - Johan Santana
While he did not quite reach is 2004 level, Johan Santana pieced together another fine season in 2005 and was the runaway winner of the BTF AL Cy Young Award. He finished with 16-7 with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts while anchoring the outstanding Minnesota pitching staff. After finally entering the Twins starting rotation at the 2003 All-Star Break, Santana has been the best pitcher in baseball and an absolute joy to watch. He has an aura on the mound. In fact, he has a finely tuned routine in which he hops on both feet slightly, puts his head down, and walks in a circle towards third base and looping around to the back of the pitcher’s mound after each strikeout without a runner on base. Making this walk over two hundred times a season, he has begun puffing his chest out a little bit and looks more and more like a strutting peacock. On a team that seems to play flat and lack character, Johan’s silent confidence was a welcome break from the Twins attempts to set the record for most double plays hit into in just one season.
The man who cannot spell his name correctly, shave his face, or grow a beard without looking like a member of Kevin Federline’s family has cemented his spot as the second best left-handed pitcher in the AL Central. Buehrle has been nothing short of outstanding since first reaching the Majors and he led the junior circuit in innings for the second straight season. Plus, he ratcheted up his already excellent control while maintaining the 2004 improvement in his strikeout rate. There is absolutely no reason to not expect Santana and Buehrle to continue to finish 1st and 2nd for any of the next three seasons as both have proven to be very durable.
Rivera, the top reliever on the ballot, put together a surprisingly excellent season for someone who the rest of the league had finally figured out way back in April. The lesson, of course, is that any reliever can lose a couple of games and there is no need to panic when a reliever has a god-awful 6.75 ERA after just 8 innings. Rivera picked up quite possibly the cheapest save in baseball history at the SABR game back in August as he entered with four-run lead and two outs and threw just one pitch to finish the game.
Colon reached twenty wins for the second time in his career and bounced back from a mediocre 2004 by eliminating both some walks and some homeruns. He started thirty games for the eighth consecutive season before finally breaking down in Game Five of the ALDS. His training routine has never been noted for its effectiveness, and his most similar pitcher according to Baseball Reference is now Jack McDowell, so some Angel fans may want to begin feeling wary.
After winning Game Seven of the 2002 World Series, John Lackey struggled for a couple of seasons before breaking out this year. He really honed his cut fastball and spiked his strikeout rate considerably. He is a big, tall right-hander – the type of pitcher who would look good selling jeans – and he really came into his own in 2005. Lackey cut his homeruns allowed by nine each of the past two seasons and now is extremely stingy with the long ball. After starting with three rough starts in April, Lackey compiled a 3.07 ERA over his final thirty starts.
After years as a mediocre pitcher who could not live up to his hype, Jon Garland finally reached the performance in 2005 that the White Sox expected to see when traded Matt Karchner. Garland really benefited from the White Sox fantastic middle infield defense as he induced groundball after groundball with his biting sinker. Having watched several of his starts this season, I was struck by how similar his pitching motion is to Derek Lowe’s. Both players rely on getting on top of their fastballs to allow the natural movement to create groundballs. In fact, I will go out on a limb here and say that Garland will have a career from this point forward very similar to Derek Lowe’s in terms of strikeouts, walks, innings and injuries.
Score one for the owners as Kevin Millwood joined the Indians for a one-year incentive laden contract despite the presence of several teams offering “5 years, and $75 million” for his services according to his agent. Still, Millwood and the Indians both benefited as he led the league in ERA while pitching deep into games and always managing to leave with the score tied. The Indians removed one question mark from the rotation with Millwood’s performance while Kevin rehabilitated his injury-prone image setting him up for a bigger payday this offseason. A few more teams will likely nibble around at him, but he was at the upper bound of his ability last season.
Doc was running away with the award early in the season prior to breaking his left tibia in a freak accident. He is very frugal with his pitches and can go deep into games with ease. In fact, he led the league in complete games despite missing nearly the entire second half of the season. A healthy season from Halladay in 2006 will go a long way towards helping the Blue Jays stake a claim in the post-Theo and post-Stottlemyre (ha) AL East.
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