And now, as promised, some more eclectic and sometimes humorous awards for the 2005 season:
BEST AL OFFENSE: New York Yankees
Thanks very much to the re-emergence of Jason Giambi, the Yankees were able to field a pretty potent lineup for most of the season. With Giambi, A-Rod, Matsui, and Sheffield, the Yankees had 4 great hitters lined up in their lineup. Jeter had a fine year, Posada had a good but slightly off year, and Tino Martinez was about average. All this was necessary to make up for some trouble in certain spots: 2B (Womack and Cano), CF (Williams & Lawton) and sometime DH Ruben Sierra.
The Yankees scored 5.47 runs/game, which ranked them 2nd in the AL to the Red Sox, who scored 5.62 R/G. However, when you account for the fact that Yankee Stadium is one of the league's best pitching parks and Fenway Park is the opposite, you must conclude that the Yankees are then the more productive offense. Boston had more doubles (339 to 259, thanks Fenway) and Texas had more HR (260 to 229). Boston also had more BB (653 to 637), but the Yankees struck out less frequently (989 to 1044). The Yankee team hitting line was 355/450/276, compared to 357/454/281 for Boston and 329/468/267 for Texas. When you take ballparks into account, the Yankees come out looking tops.
2nd place: Boston, 3rd place: Texas
BEST NL OFFENSE: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals scored 4.97 R/G, which actually ranks them 3rd in the league. Cincinnati scored 5.03/game to lead the league, and Philadelphia was second with 4.98. But the difference in ballparks (St. Louis not being nearly as hitter-friendly as the other two) edges the Cardinals past the short deficit. The Reds hit more doubles (335 to 287) and HR (222 to 170). They also drew more walks (611 to 534), but Cincinnati led the league in strikeouts (1303) by a huge margin, whereas the Cardinals fanned only 947 times as a team. St. Louis sported a 339/423/270 line. Cincinnati managed a 339/446/261 pace. Again, when considering ballparks, St. Louis gets the easy edge.
2nd place: Cincinnati, 3rd place: Atlanta
BEST AL PITCHING: Chicago White Sox
The Sox actually missed leading the league in ERA by a hair, with their 3.61 ERA just a few percentage points below Cleveland's 3.61. So what gives Chicago the edge? The fact that they play in one of the best hitter's parks in the AL (perhaps the very best). Cleveland, on the other hand, is more neutral. Cleveland did allow fewer HR (157 to 167) with a better BB:K ratio (413:1050 for CLE, 459:1040 for CWS). But you can't get past the fact that the White Sox faced a much greater challenge from their ballpark while achieving almost the same effect. So you can't just take the numbers and choose Cleveland. In fact, I would give the Minnesota Twins the edge over Cleveland as well. Minnesota's ERA was a strong 3.71, which is also better then Cleveland when considering the hitter-friendly MetroDome. And Minnesota managed an amazing 348 BB (against 965 K). So I'll give the Twins the #2 slot.
2nd place: Minnesota, 3rd place: Cleveland
BEST NL PITCHING: Houston Astros
My lesson in ballparks continues. The Cardinals have a better team ERA (3.49 to Houston's 3.51), but the difference in ballparks negates that. What really negates it is the difference in strikeouts, with Houston allowing 3 fewer walks (440 to 443) while racking up 190 more strikeouts (1164 to 974). They only allowed 2 more HR despite pitching in a much more homer-happy ballpark. So it's Houston going away in the NL.
2nd place: St. Louis, 3rd place: New York
BEST AL DEFENSE: Oakland Athletics
The A's new obsession is not OBP; it's defense. The A's are doing all they can to quantify defense so that they can discover undervalued defensive talents (hello, Mark Kotsay) now that the market for OBP has corrected itself. The A's have strong defense in the infield (other than 1B), with Mark Ellis, the Scutaro/Crosby pairing, and Eric Chavez all above-average. Catcher Kendall isn't a whole lot on defense, but the pitchers like him. Kotsay is the only defensive star in the outfield, having slipped through the cracks to Oakland and recently signing a long-term deal.
2nd place: Chicago, 3rd place: Cleveland
BEST NL DEFENSE: Houston Astros
With the best pitching comes the best defense. It better, since the Astros couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat.
Ensberg-Everett-Biggio is a pretty strong double play troika, with Lance Berkman manning first base as best he can. Taveras is a very strong center fielder, and Brad Ausmus is an excellent catcher, giving Houston a lot of strength up the middle.
2nd place: Philadelphia, 3rd place: St. Louis
OZZIE GUILLEN AWARD (AL): Angel Berroa
This award goes to the player with the worst plate discipline. Congratulations, Angel Berroa, on making the Royals look even dumber than usual for rewarding your rookie season with lots of wasted money. Those 18 BB and 108 K are just an illusion; you've got intangibles. Hopefully so, cause you hit 305/375/270 this year.
Other candidates: Jorge Cantu, Alfonso Soriano, Ivan Rodriguez
OZZIE GUILLEN AWARD (NL): Corey Patterson
On the list of worst possible candidates for the leadoff spot is this Chicago center-fielder (so where did Dusty Baker bat him? You guess. I guess he's got intangibles like Jose Macias ...). Patterson had an absolutely dreadful season, and everyone who thought he would be the next big thing should be ashamed of themselves for not seeing the obvious evidence to the contrary and getting the Chicago fans' hopes up. Corey had to endure booing in Chicago, as he struck out time and again with nothing to show for it in the offense department (254/348/215). But he's fast ...
Other candidates: Adam Everett, Willy Taveras
HARD-LUCK PITCHER AWARD (AL): Kevin Millwood
How can you possibly lead the league in ERA (2.86) and have a 9-11 record?
HARD-LUCK PITCHER AWARD (NL): Roger Clemens
Clemens is a hard-luck pitcher of historical proportions. When a starting pitcher gets a 1.87 ERA, he should be swept off to the Cy Young Award. But one year after snubbing Randy Johnson, Clemens is the snub-ee, as his terrible Astro hitters stuck him with a 13-8 record.
THE JIM ROSS "HOSS" AWARD (AL): Scot Shields
Shields was Mike Scioscia's bitch, throwing 91.2 innings out of the bullpen, getting7 saves to boot. He struck out an amazing 98 batters and allowed only 5 HR.
Other candidates: Mark Buehrle, David Ortiz, Michael Young
THE JIM ROSS "HOSS" AWARD (NL): Dontrelle Willis
Willis led the league in shutouts (with 5) and tied with Carpenter for the CG lead (7). Oh, he was also damn good. Let's just hope his arm doesn't fall off at age 26 ...
Other candidates: Livan Hernandez, Aaron Heilman, Roy Oswalt
THE EYE-POPPER AWARD (AL): Carlos Silva's 9 BB
How can someone possibly throw 188.1 IP and allow 9 BB? Silva had as many wins as walks with a nice 3.44 ERA and 71 K (low number until you realize he allowed 9 freakin' walks). Yes, that is the modern record for a pitcher who qualified for the ERA title. Congratulations, Carlos, for bringing control to a whole new level.
Other candidates: Giambi's .440 OBP, Foulke's 5.91 ERA, Pudge's 11 BB and .290 OBP
THE EYE-POPPER AWARD (NL): Roger Clemens' 1.87 ERA
There really isn't any comparison here. Clemens posted a 1.87 ERA against a league average of 4.22. Compare that to Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA against a league average of 2.90. Hmm ...
Other candidates: Eric Milton's 6.47 ERA and 40 HR allowed, Russ Ortiz's 6.89 ERA and 65:46 BB:K ratio, Brian Giles' 119:64 BB:K ratio.
THE GREATEST SEASON NO ONE NOTICED (AL): Kevin Millwood
This of course goes along with the above entry about Millwood being hard-luck. People notice his 9-11 record and not his league-leading 2.86 ERA with 20 HR allowed and a 52:146 BB:K ratio in 192 IP. And Cliff Lee (3.79 ERA), who had an 18-5 record, got in the Cy Young discussion despite looking all-around worse.
Other candidates: Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Brian Roberts
THE GREATEST SEASON NO ONE NOTICED (NL): Brian Giles
No one noticed Giles' season, because his ballpark deflates his offensive numbers, people still don't look at OBP, and everone thought all the Padres sucked. But Giles hit 423/483/301. He was 3rd in the NL in OBP, despite playing in a desperate hitting environment. He hit 38 doubles and 15 HR in said environment. But the kicker is his league-leading 119 walks against just 64 strikeouts. I think he's the #3 player in the league, but he'll probably finish 18th in the voting.
Other candidates: Carlos Delgado, Andy Pettite, Jason Bay
THE OVERRATED AWARD (the player, not the award itself ) (AL): S. Podsednik
Dear God, he's going to finish in the top 10 in the MVP, I just know it. Yes, he stole 59 bases, but with 23 CS for a 72% success rate. This means that the CS almost totally outweight the stolen bases. So his value is as a decent defender who hits 351/349/290 in an AL hitter's haven?
Other candidates: Darin Erstad, Alfonso Soriano, Bob Wickman, Bartolo Colon
THE OVERRATED AWARD (the player, not the award itself ) (NL): Andruw Jones
We've had this discussion (see below if you missed it).
Other candidates: Jose Reyes, Jason Isringhausen, Ryan Dempster, Livan Hernandez
More to come later, kiddies ...