Day 4, The Ken Caminiti Cup

October 2, 2009
A recollection of Baseballs Golden Age, Ken Caminiti

A recollection of Baseball's Golden Age, Ken Caminiti

Here it is, day 4.  It seems the baseball season is almost over.  It’s funny how 162 games can go by so fast.  Well the stats have all been tabulated, but at Blue Duck, you need a certain “Je ne se quois” to take down a major award.  Especially one named after a baseball purist, and straight edge individual like Mr. Ken Caminiti.  The results are in, here are the best ballplayers from the 2009 season.

NL

Can the best player in baseball raise his hand?  Yes Albert, we see you.

Can the best player in baseball raise his hand? Yes Albert, we see you.

Boomer
Albert Pujols

As much as I’d love to name somebody, anybody else MVP, I must continue my Cardinal love and name Pujols the MVP.  He is hands down the best hitter in baseball.  He is one of the most consistent hitter in the league, except his standards are much higher than all others.  Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder can compete in the power categories (HR and RBI), but Pujols hits at least 30 points higher than each of them.  He’s also got 20 more runs on the season than both of them because he’s a smarter baserunner than most people realize.  Add in the OPS of 1.108 and Gold Glove defense at firstbase, and Phat Albert is the obvious MVP choice.

Carebear
Hanley Ramirez

Traded by the Sox for Beckett and Lowell, Id say both teams did well there, very rare in baseball trades.

Traded by the Sox for Beckett and Lowell, I'd say both teams did well there, very rare in baseball trades.

Yes, I know, I’m an idiot.  Pujols is the MVP, but everyone is going to pick him so I didn’t.  Hanley may be the best all around player in the NL right now, though.  That strictly refers to the fact that Hanley has a little speed and plays short.

Hanley is a complete hitter as well.  Hes hitting .341 right now with 24 homers, and 105 rbi’s.  He also has 26 steals.  Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki are really the last of the powerful shortstops that we got so used to in the mid-90’s/early 2000’s (ARod moved to 3b, Nomar broke in half, Tejada aged 7 years in the last 3 seasons, Renteria was never that powerful, and neither was Jeter).

Ramirez also plays a solid shortstop.  Only 10 errors this season make him one of the better guys up the middle especially when you consider his range.

More importantly, though, with the bat, .410 OBP, .952 OPS.  He’s 25 years old.  Gonna hang around a while, and could prevent a Pujols Triple Crown for years to come.

AL

Congrats Joe, tip your hat in honor of your Caminiti award.

Congrats Joe, tip your hat in honor of your Caminiti award.

Boomer
Joe Mauer

With two batting titles already to his name, Joe Mauer added the element of power to his game.  And did he ever, he hit 28 HR, 15 more than his previous career high.  As most hitters hit more homeruns, they sacrifice batting average.  Not Mauer, he hit 20 points over his career high.  He did this all while catching 100 games with Gold Glove defense.  He’s helped carry Minnesota to the final weekend of the season, still fighting for a playoff spot.  When you lead the league in OPS and batting AVG, you’re bound to be in the MVP race.  Adding power and great defense is just the icing on the cake.
Note from Carebear: Despite my sign stealing article, I love Joe Mauer, and I played with the stats a bit today.  Mauer and Pujols are two of four guys in the league with at least 70 walks who have more walks than k’s.  The other two are Todd Helton and Dustin Pedroia.  All Great hitters trying to contend in a category that Ty Cobb and Ted Williams would be proud of, the BB/SO ratio:  Pujols, 1.80. Mauer, 1.16.  Nicely done.

(Boomer’s honorable mention: Derek Jeter

Jeter has put together a great year in his age 35 season.  He’s always been a solid hitter and he had a down year last year, but he bounced back with a  big year.  Girardi put him at leadoff this year, and he responded by hitting .335 with an OBP of  .407 and 30 steals.  He’s also been knocked for his slipping defense recently.  He improved to league average defense this year too.  While a candidate for MVP til mid-August, his numbers don’t neccessarily compare with the Texieras, Cabreras, or Mauers.  But his importance cannot be underestimated.  Maybe this is my lifetime achievement award.  As much as I usually hate players being rewarded for career accomplishments, Jeter is the exception to the rule.  And all this is coming from a Sox fan.  Congrats Jeter, well done.)

Carebear

Miguel Cabrera

I hate to be that guy that just picks differently for the sake of picking differently, but I really just love Miguel Cabrera.  He may be the most underrated player in baseball.  Here’s some food for thought:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
1057 3985 695 1204 227 21 238 725 504 634 .302 .381 .549
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
1036 3905 629 1218 252 12 208 751 444 823 .312 .384 .542

Those are Ken Griffey’s numbers(Griffey’s numbers are the top set.) up to the age of 26 compared to Cabrera’s to that same age.  As you can see they are eerily similar.  I am not saying they are the same type of player, but very similar hitters, and that says a lot of Cabrera.

Best Righthanded Hitter in AL.

Best Righthanded Hitter in AL.

This season, the Venezuelan is hitting .329 with 33 HR’s and 101 RBI’s.  He is going to finish the season with 200 hits, and the same OPS as Hanley at .952.  His defense is really not terrible at first base either.  7 errors is not good for a first baseman, but manageable.

Miggy won the quadruple crown for the Tigers this year.  He also led the team in runs, hits, walks, and total bases (by 45).  He was the dominant leader on an otherwise weak offense that could win the AL central.

Cabrera is the best right handed hitter in the American League.

That wraps up our awards for 2009.  Stay Tuned for BlueDuck’s MLB preview and more baseball garbage.  Feel free to look back at the Comeback Player, Closer Award, and Cy Young Award from earlier in the week.  Thanks Baseball-reference.com for the stats.

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Blue Duck MLB Awards: Day One: Comeback Player

September 29, 2009

Brad Lidge has proven that MLB voters dont know anything.  Our picks will stand the test of time.

Brad Lidge has proven that MLB voters don't know anything. Our picks will stand the test of time.

At Blue Duck we love when fallen heroes return to their days of glory and regain abilities thought to be lost.  That is why we get all giddy when thinking about the Major League Comeback Player of the Year.  We probably wont find out who actually wins this award, but the Blue Duck version is slightly more appreciated by the players.

So here are Boomer and my picks for the AL and NL Return to Glory Award for 2009.

AL:
Boomer:
Victor Martinez

(C) Cle/Bos

Youre Welcome, Victor. You deserve it.

You're Welcome, Victor. You deserve it.

After missing half the season in ’08, Martinez has bounced back to his norm.  Currently sporting a .301 average, Martinez has also been clutch since arriving in Boston at the trade deadline.  His versatility has allowed him to contribute behind the plate (spelling the relic, Jason Veritek) while also playing above average defense at firstbase.  This has allowed the Sox to shift Kevin Youkilis to third, and keep Mike Lowell as healthy as possible following off-season hip surgery.

His arrival has coincided with a revival of sorts to the offensive game of David Ortiz.  Already having appeared in 150 games on the season, Martinez has not lost the power he displayed between the 04-07 seasons, hitting 22 homeruns.  He’s healthy, he’s producing, and he’s in the middle of the playoff race.  He’s officially back.

Well Done Justin

Well Done Justin

Carebear
Justin Verlander

The Tigers have almost become the team they were supposed to be last year in 2009.  Much of this is due to the reemergence of Justin Verlander.  Justin had a league leading 17 losses last season, and has come back with 17 wins in the ’09 campaign.  His 4.84 ERA last year reflected the fact that he lost his fastball, and lost control.

Verlander’s WHIP is down dramatically, and he has already pitched 20 more innings than last season.  Anyone who watched him pitch the last two years will tell you the difference is night and day.  He was topping out at about 94 MPH for much of the year, and in ’09 his free and easy motion producing 99MPH fastballs deep into games has wowed commentators and opposing hitters all season.
Verlander makes this team a big threat in the playoffs.
NL

Boomer:
Chris Carpenter
(P) StL

Way to not get injured again, Chris.

Way to not get injured again, Chris.

After being limited to 21 innings combined the last two seasons, Carpenter has proven he’s healthy and can still pitch.  His 2.30 ERA ranks him first in the National League.  Add in his 16 wins (behind only teammate Adam Wainwright) and it’s no wonder the Cardinals have clinched the NL’s Central Division.  The fact that he’s been able to throw over 180 innings in his first full season in two years it all a bonus for the Cards.

Even more astonishing than his win/loss total is that he’s only allowed 7 homeruns on the year in addition to a ridiculous 1.01 WHIP.  But he’s been able to pickup where he left off, just about matching his career average for K/9 while exceeding his career averages for ERA and WHIP.  He’ll be pitching one of the first two playoff games for St. Louis, which seemed unimaginable at this point last year.
Carebear:
Troy Tulowitzki
This is how excited Tulowitzki was after we called him about the award.

This is how excited Tulowitzki was after we called him about the award.

It may be ridiculous calling a 24 yr old the Comeback Player of the Year, but after his Rookie of the Year in 2007 many thought Troy was just a flash in the pan.  Tulowitzki proved everyone wrong this season.  A lot of his troubles were caused by injury in 2008, and returning to good health brought in some healthy numbers as well.

His 30 homers are first among MLB shortstops, and his 87 RBIs trail only Hanley Ramirez.  Troy is also having a solid year fielding the ball.  The Rocky has committed only 9 errors this year.  Most importantly, Troy has helped his team back into playoff contention.  Finishing 14 games below .500 last year without a healthy SS, Troy Tulowitzki has shown that he is an integral part of what should be the NL Wild Card team.

Tune in tomorrow for Blue Duck’s presentation of the John Rocker Award to the AL and NL’s best Closer.