Saturday, January 16, 2010

The 5th Annual Whiz Kid Awards

With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training within a month (YEEHA), it’s time for me to publish my final articles on the 2009 season.  If time permits, a team-by-team postmortem is forthcoming, but that may not be feasible.  So I thought I’d go ahead with the 5th Annual (!) Whiz Kid Awards.
The Whiz Kid Awards began back in 2005 as my contribution to the year-end awards discussion.  I also added in a few unique categories to add my own stamp to things.  I may be late to the party with this, but you’re never too late to stir the stool, so to speak.


The Mauer-for-MVP discussion was just the latest episode of the so-called Moneyball debate.  Mark Teixeira made an early bid for the AL honor by piling up HR and RBI on the AL Champions.  But on the same team, Derek Jeter was having one of the best seasons of his career.  This prompted many Jeter fan-boys to plead his case for the MVP as a “lifetime achievement” award.
I hate and despise lifetime achievement awards unless they are clearly labeled as such and nothing more.  It may be that they’ve never merited the award in any one season, but just deserve it based on their career.  Or they’re meant to honor someone who, for various reasons, didn’t get the honor when they should have … perhaps because somebody else was getting a lifetime achievement award.  That’s the crux of the matter; if we give Jeter a bogus MVP award this year, are we going to have to do the same for Mauer in ten years?  And which deserving young superstar will that screw over?
That aside, the biggest (and most substantive) objection to Mauer’s MVP case is that he lost about a month to injury at the start of the season.  The implication is that you can’t miss a month and be the MVP.  And I would usually agree with that.  It would take a phenomenal performance by a player to be the league’s best player with such a handicap.