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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
BTF Awards - 2005 NL MVP
Known as “Prince Albert” to his fans in St. Louis, the BTF NL MVP Award electorate crowned Albert Pujols “King Albert” when he became the top vote-getter for this election. His fifth straight year of at least a 150 OPS+ with his 167 in 2005, the right-handed Pujols has proved to be among the most consistently outstanding and durable players of all-time already at age 25. Though not his best season, a line of .330/.430/.609 in 700 plate appearances (not to mention 41 homers, 117 RBI, and a league-leading 129 runs) will always turn a baseball enthusiast’s head. A questionable defensive player during his rookie season in 2001 at his position, hard work has led to his place as one of the premier first basemen of his generation. He even surprised on the basepaths this season with his 16 stolen bases out of 18 tries! A terrific effort for the NL Central Division leader.
Even with all of Pujols’ heroics, he had remarkable competition for the award in the Cub’s Derrek Lee. A fine hitter, but never an upper-tier player, the right-handed Lee easily obtained his best season in 2005 with his .335/.418/.662 (his BA and SLG were tops in the ML) batting line and a 177 OPS+ (best in the majors) in 691 plate appearances. He also notched 46 home runs, 50 doubles, 199 hits, and 393 total bases, earning him top honors for those categories in the NL, too. A good fielding first baseman, he continued his gradual improvement as a base stealer with 15 stolen bases in 18 attempts and his best percentage of 83%. But what ultimately kept Lee from claiming #1 for this award was his team’s second-division status.
Except for those two, no other position player received a #1 vote on the ballot, except for the Atlanta Braves Andruw Jones. Renowned as a phenomenal defensive star in center field (a seven-time Gold Glover prior to this year) and a decent hitter, the ten–year veteran may have had his best season in 2005 with his league-leading 51 homers and 128 runs batted in. Though his offensive numbers collectively trailed Pujols and Lee considerably, what allowed him to be a viable contender were his RBI, defense for a critical fielding position, and his status on the NL East Division champions.
Though his Pirates were also-rans, left fielder Jason Bay nabbed 5th place with his best season to-date. An impressive hitter his previous two seasons, Bay’s 148 OPS+ and line of .306/.402/.559 established himself an upper echelon player (stealing 21 bases out of 22 tries didn’t hurt him either).
Another left fielder, Florida Marlin Miguel Cabrera, won 6th place based on his career high 151 OPS+. A sparkling line of .323/.385./.561 and 116 RBI, Cabrera was a big reason why the Marlins were able to contend as long as they did this season. Only 22 in 2005, he most likely will see his name on a few more BTF Award ballots in the future.
Cabrera’s teammate Carlos Delgado was the other book end for the Marlin offense in his first year with the NL team from Florida. The 7th place finisher made up for a below standard 2004 with his .301/.399/.582 and 115 RBI and allows the 13-year veteran first baseman’s HOF chances from fading away.
Without one of the game’s most underrated players, right fielder Brian Giles, the Padres not only would most likely have been left out of the postseason, but would have been a sub-.500 team, to boot! Now in his 11th season, the remarkably consistent Giles had a season no better or worse than his norm (a 148 OPS+ compared to his career 146). In other words, he had his typical fine season, leading San Diego on to a surprising first-place finish in their division and 8th place on the ballot.
Houston’s strong-armed Morgan Ensberg showed everyone that 2003 wasn’t a fluke with his outstanding numbers among third baseman (especially his .557 SLG and 36 homers for the NL champions) and gives the Astros the best player they have seen at that position since the late Ken Caminiti.
The ace of Ensberg’s team, legendary hurler Roger Clemens keeps defying his age by posting a major league-leading 1.87 ERA and 221 ERA+. Pitching 211 innings at the advanced age of 42, the “Rocket” was the top vote-getter for this BTF Award comfortably, despite winning only 13 games due to inferior run support. He was also the only moundsman with a first-place vote to his credit for this election.
The 10th place spot goes to New York Met “star of the future” David Wright. The 22-year old third baseman dazzled the denizens of Shea offensively (.306/.388/.523) in 2005 and may yet to prove to be the third baseman Met fans have been looking for since a young Don Zimmer manned the “hot corner” in 1962.
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