The IBA’s, Part II
Time for the National League to get some run
By Adam Hoff
By the time you read this, the
season will be over. Or will
it? Right now it is Saturday
morning and the Phillies still have a shot, the Yankees and Red Sox are tied,
and the Indians are sweating it out after losing to
NL MVP. I suppose a case can be made for Andruw Jones and his appealing 51 home runs and 128 RBI, but I won’t be the one to do it. I know he plays great D and I know the league-leading power numbers are nice and I know that he was a big part of the Braves winning yet another division title … but the man is hitting .263. I’m sorry, that just doesn’t cut it. (Plus, he has a horrendous average with runners in scoring position and he ranks only 10th in the league in OPS.) Which means that it comes down to Derrek Lee and Albert Pujols. Lee never did collapse like the naysayers predicted and he wound up with amazing numbers. He snagged a batting crown (.338 at the moment), led the majors in slugging percentage and OPS, and hit 46 home runs. Plus, he delivered in the clutch time and time again and manned first base with tremendous skill. However, he doesn’t get my vote.
I’m going with Albert Pujols for a variety of reasons,
but I’ll sum them up with this email I sent during an exchange with reader and
(Sorry, that was still kind of long. Crap.)
Apologies to: Derrek Lee.
NL Second Half MVP. To be honest, none of the big guns came down the stretch in scorching fashion. For that reason, the door is open for Carlos Delgado to collect some Insider hardware. He picked up the slack for a struggling lineup and hit .325 with a 1.089 OPS, 22 home runs, and 48 RBI to keep the suddenly dysfunctional Marlins in the playoff race until the final weeks of the season.
Apologies to: Pujols (still great
numbers), Lance Berkman (came alive when the Astros needed him most),
NL “Quietly Good Player” Award. If there is any place that one can
put up enormous numbers in absolute obscurity it is
Apologies to: Morgan Ensberg, Pat Burrell (other than the homers, his numbers are just as good if not better than those of Andruw Jones), David Wright, and Chase Utley (more on those last two guys in a minute).
NL Breakout Player Award. I was going to set up a big Tale of
the Tape debate to calculate whether to pick Chase Utley or David Wright for this one, but instead
decided to give it to them both. In
Utley’s case, he shrugged off an annoying platoon situation that cut into his
ABs for the first two months of the season, posted extraordinary numbers for a
second baseman (.292 average, .910 OPS, 28 home runs, 105 RBI, 16 stolen bases,
72 extra base hits), and was the most important bat in the Phillies lineup as
they battled for the Wild Card. As
for Wright, he quickly became
Apologies to: Bay (snubbed only
because he kind of already broke out last year AND because he already received
an award), Chad Tracy (.309 with 27 jacks), and Matt Holiday (.307 with 87 RBI
in two-thirds of a season, including a
NL Cy Young. This is a tough one. Roger Clemens had an amazing season at age 43 and makes a great case for his 29th Cy Young Award. Chris Carpenter faded terribly down the stretch but was Santana-esque from May through August for the best team in the league. Andy Pettitte was arguably the best pitcher in the league from June through September. Who to choose? They are all integral performers for playoff teams (probably, in the case of the ‘Stros), so lets just lay out the stats and see what happens (* denotes that they were in the top five in the NL in that category):
Clemens: 12-8, 1.89 ERA*, 1.00 WHIP*, .197 BAA*, 204 IP, 180 K’s, 25 QS*, 0 SO
Carpenter: 21-5*, 2.83*, 1.06 WHIP*, .231 BAA, 241 IP*, 213 K’s*, 27 QS*, 4 SO*
Pettitte: 17-9*, 2.39*, 1.03 WHIP*, .230 BAA, 222 IP, 171 K’s, 27 QS*, 0 SO
Clemens was in the top five in four categories, Carpenter in seven, and Pettitte in four. Therefore, my choice is Chris Carpenter. It wasn’t easy though.
Apologies to: Obviously Clemens and Pettitte, but also to Pedro Martinez (was a few blown saves away from a magical season), and Dontrelle Willis (proved me and a lot of other people wrong by staying strong to the end and going 22-10 with a 2.59 ERA.)
NL Second Half Cy Young. I’m glad we have this award, because if anyone deserves it, Andy Pettitte is the guy. He went 11-2 with a 1.72 ERA, .92 WHIP, and 85 strikeouts in a major league-leading 104 innings. He pitched the Astros through horrendous hitting slumps, Clemens’ back problems, and Roy Oswalt’s brief rough stretch. He’s also my vote for Comeback Player of the Year, over Griffey.
Apologies to: Billy Wagner (stud closer posted .55 ERA in second half), Noah Lowry (kept Giants in it with 2.43 ERA), and Derrick Turnbow (21 saves and a .93 ERA for the surprise closer of the year).
NL “Quietly Good Pitcher” Award. Hard to believe that Pedro Martinez can accomplish anything quietly, but the guy posted a major league best .95 WHIP and barely raised an eyebrow. He also finished in the top five in the NL in ERA, BAA, and strikeouts.
Apologies to: Roy Oswalt (steady
NL Breakout Pitcher Award. AJ Burnett took a run at it but imploded a few too many times, Chris Capuano has the W’s but not the other numbers, Noah Lowry certainly finished strong, and Brett Myers had flashes of brilliance, but ultimately, the only young gun that did it from start to finish was John Patterson of the Nationals. He posted a 2.90 ERA and 1.17 WHIP and struck out almost a better per inning, but never got the run support so his record is only 9-6. Looks like a star in the making though.
Apologies to: Lowry, Turnbow, and Myers.
NL Closer of the Year. It’s close, but I have to go with Chad Cordero for his 47 saves, 1.82 ERA, and .96 WHIP. 47 saves for a last place team is an amazing total.
Apologies to: Brad Lidge (incredible 102 K’s in 68 innings to go with 40 saves, but the ratios aren’t as sparkling this year), Billy Wagner, Trevor Hoffman, and Derrick Turnbow.
NL Rookie of the Year. I know that guys like Willie Tavarez
played all season, but for me it comes down to two half-season guys: Ryan Howard
of the Phillies and Jeff Francoeur.
In half a season, Howard hit .284 with a .558 slugging percentage, 21
home runs, 50 runs, and 58 RBI. How
would a full season have looked?
You do the math. More
importantly, he did most of his damage in clutch spots, hitting two game-winning
homers, eight blasts after the seventh inning of games, and 10 home runs in
September. Francoeur also played
about half a season and hit .306 with a .908 OPS, 14 home runs, and 45 RBI. Plus, he gunned down about 7,000
baserunners and provided
Apologies to: Francoeur.
Adam Hoff is a columnist for
WhatifSports.com and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers of