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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Thursday, July 04, 2002
Baseball Primer?s 2002 Mid-Season Awards
With many teams reaching the midway point of the season on Sunday, June 30, we thought we?d take a poll and hand out some midseason awards. Seven Baseball Primer authors ? Chris Dial, Joe Dimino, Eric Enders, Sean Forman, Rich Rifkin, Charles Saeger, and Dan Szymborski ? voted in mock MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year elections, following the same rules that the BBWAA uses when it votes each October.
Not surprisingly, the four guys who finished one-two in last year?s Primer MVP voting occupy those top spots again this year. Three of the four major awards were unanimous, but there are some wide-open races for Rookie of the Year. Without further ado, here are the results:
National League MVP
Player 1st Pts #Ballots Barry Bonds, SF 7 98 7 Sammy Sosa, Chi 58 7 Junior Spivey, Ariz 41 7 Brian Giles, Pit 32 5 Tom Glavine, Atl 30 4 Todd Helton, Col 28 5 Mike Lowell, Fla 24 4 Shawn Green, LA 17 3 Odalis P?rez, LA 14 3 Adam Dunn, Cin 13 5 Randy Johnson, Ariz 11 3 Jos? Vidro, Mon 11 3 Jim Edmonds, St.L 10 4 Lance Berkman, Hou 9 4 Cliff Floyd, Fla 6 1 Eric Gagne, LA 3 1 Andruw Jones, Atl 3 1 Larry Walker, Col 3 1 Vladimir Guerrero, Mon 2 2
Bonds and Sosa?s respective teams may go nowhere this year, but that hasn?t stopped them from turning in the kind of season we?ve come to expect. For Bonds, there is nothing left for him to compete against except his own past standards. He has zero chance to break his home run record, but is on track to top last year?s single-season record for walks (177) by a full 31 free passes. To statheads, of course, Bonds is now seeking a record even more important than the home run record ? that for on-base percentage. His .566 clip is 13 points ahead of Ted Williams? 1941 mark. With yet another astounding record in his sights, it will be a shock if Bonds doesn?t remain atop the MVP heap at the end of the season.
Besides Bonds and Sosa, the only player to appear on every midseason ballot was the ubiquitous Ernest Spivey, Jr. The onetime 36th round draft choice has a .984 OPS, eighth in the National League. In addition to Spivey, breakout seasons by Mike Lowell, Odalis P?rez, and Eric Gagne also earned unexpected mentions in the MVP voting. The standings didn?t seem to matter much in this race, as the two best teams in the league ? Atlanta and L.A. ? have only one player combined in the top seven.
American League MVP
Player 1st Pts #Ballots Alex Rodr?guez, Tex 4 81 7 Jason Giambi, NY 55 7 Alfonso Soriano, NY 53 7 Derek Lowe, Bos 3 46 4 Ichiro!, Sea 36 6 Mike Sweeney, KC 30 5 Jim Thome, Cle 21 6 John Olerud, Sea 21 4 Omar Vizquel, Cle 16 3 Nomar Garciaparra, Bos 12.5 6 Paul Konerko, Chi 10 3 Torii Hunter, Min 9 3 Bartolo Col?n, Cle 7 1 Derek Jeter, NY 5.5 2 Pedro Mart?nez, Bos 3 1 Eric Ch?vez, Oak 2 2 Ram?n Ortiz, Ana 2 1 Shea Hillenbrand, Bos 2 1 Barry Zito, Oak 1 1
Not since Andr? Dawson (ugh) in 1987 has a last-place team produced an MVP winner. Alex Rodr?guez is trying to change that. Although his Rangers have presumably sewed up last place in the A.L. West, Rodr?guez continues to establish himself as the second-best shortstop in baseball history. (He is, alas, still a very distant second to Honus Wagner.)
Aside from Rodr?guez, the voters tended to place some importance on where you are in the standings. The teams with the three best records in the league ? Boston, New York, and Seattle ? each placed two players in the top ten. Derek Lowe received all three first-place votes that A-Rod didn?t, but three people who voted for A-Rod left Lowe off their ballot altogether. Like the embattled BBWAA, apparently not all Primer authors are convinced that pitchers should be considered for MVP.
National League Cy Young
Player 1st Pts #Ballots Tom Glavine, Atl 7 35 7
An easy win for the remarkable Tom Glavine, whose first half performance has probably cinched his eventual election to the Hall of Fame. Although Odalis P?rez beat out Randy Johnson in the MVP race, the two southpaws came out dead even in balloting for the league?s best pitcher. This may actually make some sense: While the two may be even in pitching, P?rez is one of the best pitcher-athletes in baseball. He is an outstanding fielder, fast runner, and competent hitter, all areas in which Johnson is notoriously inept.
Johnson appeared on all seven Cy ballots, while P?rez was mentioned on only five, as two voters gave Curt Schilling the third-place nod instead. P?rez has an 0.88 WHIP, the best in baseball, and his ERA is almost three-quarters of a run better than Schilling?s. But Schilling has won more games (13 to 9), pitched slightly more innings, and plays in a tougher park for pitchers. Incidentally, it?s been a good year for control pitchers in the National League, with P?rez, Schilling, Jon Lieber and Brian Anderson all averaging less than one walk per game. Last year, two pitchers in baseball ? Greg Maddux and Brad Radke ? did that.
American League Cy Young
Player 1st Pts #Ballots Derek Lowe, Bos 7 35 7
It?s also a unanimous choice in the American League, where so far nobody is even a close second to Derek Lowe. Now that Col?n is out of the league, the race for the Cy in the second half will be between the two Boston pitchers. Lowe has never pitched more than 123 innings in a season before, a number he will pass shortly after the All-Star break. Therefore, don?t be surprised if he falters a tad in the second half, enabling the newfangled Pedro to sneak in and grab his fourth Cy Young Award.
NL Rookie of the Year
Player 1st Pts #Ballots Damian Moss, Atl 4 25 7
Pitching has dominated among NL rookies this year. Kaz Ishii is by far the flashiest of this bunch, leading all of baseball?s rookie pitchers in wins (11) and strikeouts (93). But that was only good enough for fourth place, as clearly some voters were reluctant to consider Ishii, a 10-year veteran of the Japan Central League, a rookie. (Incidentally, this did not dissuade Primer authors from naming Ichiro! the 2001 ROY in a near-unanimous vote last year.) If Moss, the Australian lefty with the Mike James sideburns, can maintain his 3.15 ERA until the end of the season, Ishii?s status as a rookie may be a moot point anyway.
AL Rookie of the Year
Player 1st Pts #Ballots Eric Hinske, Tor 6 33 7
It looks like a fairly weak crop of American League rookies this year ? so weak, in fact, that several part-time players received votes. And when was the last time that no rookie in either league made the All-Star Game? Seems like it?s been a while. Hinske appears to have a pretty solid grip on this award, so unless he completely falls apart in the second half, expect him to take home the hardware in November.
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