Tag:2011 awards
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 8:48 pm
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Sizing up AL Comeback Player candidates

By Matt Snyder

We have officially moved past the two-week warning of this baseball season. In 13 days, it will be the final day of regular season baseball in 2011 and we'll move forward to the playoffs. So let's size up some of the players who have a shot at Major League Baseball's Comeback Player of the Year awards. Here we'll examine the American League, while the National League will be covered later Thursday.

The Comeback Player of the Year Award has been sanctioned by the MLB since 2005. It is voted upon by the 30 MLB.com beat writers (one per team). The criteria for the award is incredibly subjective and open to interpretation. Voters are asked to name a player in each League "who has re-emerged on the baseball field during the season."

OK, so that's easy (please note sarcasm). Re-emerged from what? An injury? Sometimes. A horrible season -- like Adam Dunn's 2011 campaign? Maybe. It could really be anything, so it's tough to predict.

Here are the past winners, to help guide us:

Fun With Awards
2005: Jason Giambi, Ken Griffey Jr.
2006: Jim Thome, Nomar Garciaparra
2007: Carlos Pena, Dmitri Young
2008: Cliff Lee, Brad Lidge
2009: Aaron Hill, Chris Carpenter
2010: Francisco Liriano, Tim Hudson

So we can see it's either a return from injury or futility. Sometimes it's a player who had already returned from injury but hadn't found his past form until a year or more later.

With all this in mind, I believe there are three frontrunners for this year's award. Below those three, I'll list seven others who might have a shot at garnering some support in the voting. Just remember this is pretty difficult to predict due to the incredibly vague and subjective criteria. Also remember I'm not necessarily saying who I'd vote for. I don't have a vote. I'm trying to predict who will win and who is in the running.

The Frontrunners

Josh Beckett, Red Sox
2010 numbers: 6-6, 5.78 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 21 starts
2011 numbers: 12-5, 2.49 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 27 starts
Why a "comeback?" Beckett battled a back injury in 2010 and then later in the season badly struggled -- he would go on to say he was overcompensating for his back not being fully recovered. He also had the worst year of his career by many measures. Now he's having his best season by many measures and made the All-Star team for the third time.

Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
2010 numbers: .276/.326/.346, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 39 R, 6 SB, 97 games
2011 numbers: .268/.328/.449, 22 HR, 82 RBI, 80 R, 17 SB, 142 games
Why a "comeback?" Cabrera fractured his forearm last season and missed a big chunk of time. This season, he would have been in the mix to win MVP at the halfway point. He started the All-Star Game and helped lead the Indians to a surprising first-place standing for a significant part of the season. The fact that both the Indians and Cabrera have tailed off might hurt, though.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
2010 numbers: .192/.241/.244 in just 18 games
2011 numbers: .320/.379/.544, 27 HR, 94 RBI, 109 R, 42 2B, 5 3B, 36 SB
Why a "comeback?" Two sets of broken ribs not only ruined Ellsbury's 2010 season, they also raised questions about Ellsbury's toughness amongst many fans. So much for that. He couldn't have possibly done more this season, even adding the home run to his arsenal. If I had to guess, I'd say Ellsbury runs away with this award, but I'll reiterate it's very difficult to predict.

The Others

Erik Bedard, Red Sox. Between July 25, 2009 and April 4, 2011, Bedard made zero starts because of a serious arm injury. He's now made 22 starts and been a quality pitcher this season (3.50 ERA, 1.22 WHIP).

Melky Cabrera, Royals. He was awful for the Braves last season and many mocked the Royals' acquisition of Melky last winter, but he's shown himself a productive offensive player, setting career highs in almost every major offensive category.

Bartolo Colon, Yankees. He hadn't been useful in long stretches since winning the Cy Young in 2005. Colon wasn't even in baseball in 2010. But he's been productive in several stretches for the Yankees this season.

J.J. Hardy, Orioles. He still hasn't completely shaken the injury bug, but Hardy's back to his 2007-08 power form, with 26 home runs (he had 17 in the past two seasons combined).

Joe Nathan, Twins. The long-time closer missed all of 2010 after having Tommy John surgery. He would have probably either won this award or been neck-and-neck with Ellsbury if he returned to form. Instead, Nathan struggled early and has only gathered 13 saves. That doesn't make his return any less impressive at age 36, though.

Jake Peavy, White Sox. The bulldog battled his way back from a rare medical procedure that re-attached his lat muscle to its insertion point in his shoulder area. He had several bright spots, including a shutout in his second outing back, but overall hasn't been good enough to win.

Carlos Santana, Indians. His rookie year was cut short by a bad knee injury on a play at home plate, but Santana has returned and swung a power bat this season.

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Posted on: September 14, 2011 2:13 pm
 

If Cy Young was decided like Manager of the Year

By Matt Snyder

As my esteemed colleague C. Trent Rosecrans pointed out Monday, the Manager of the Year award is unavailable for certain managers in any given season. For example, the Phillies and Red Sox were heavily predicted to make the World Series in 2011. The Yankees are the Yankees, and the Giants and Rangers went to the World Series last season. So right there, Charlie Manuel, Terry Francona, Joe Girardi, Bruce Bochy and Ron Washington are virtually eliminated from the chance at winning the Manager of the Year award in their respective leagues.

It's not necessarily wrong, but it's still fun to imagine if the other awards were decided in the same fashion. Tuesday, I took a look at the MVP with this twist. Now, we'll go with the Cy Young Award in each respective league. Remember, expectations disqualify people in Manager of the Year voting, so we're doing that here, just for fun. Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee and several others aren't in contention because they are already established studs.

Here are three candidates for the Cy Young Award of each league, if voters reacted as they did in the Manager of the Year voting -- along with who I think would win and why.

American League

Doug Fister, Tigers
2010 numbers: 6-14, 4.11 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 93 K, 171 IP
2011 numbers: 8-13, 3.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 130 K, 197 1/3 IP, 3 CG
Fister was already improved in 2010, but he's been lights out since joining the contending Tigers (2.28 ERA, 0.99 WHIP in eight starts) and helped them build up some incredible momentum in their race to win a division title for the first time since 1987. His deadline deal to the Tigers garnered modest fanfare, but it has ended up being a huge splash and he gives them a bona fide No. 2 behind Verlander in the playoffs.

Justin Masterson, Indians
2010 numbers: 6-13, 4.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 140 K, 180 IP, 1 CG, 1 SHO
2011 numbers: 11-10, 3.20 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 151 K, 205 1/3 IP, 1 CG
A question mark heading into the season, Masterson developed into the Indians' ace -- at least before the Ubaldo Jimenez trade -- as they stormed out of the gates and were in first place for a long time. He's faltered lately (5.85 ERA in his last five starts), but he's only 26 and has a big workload. Also give him major points for drastically lowering home run and walk rates.

James Shields, Rays
2010 numbers: 13-15, 5.18 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 187 K, 203 1/3 IP
2011 numbers: 15-10, 2.70 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 210 K, 226 1/3 IP, 11 CG, 4 SHO
So Shields nearly chopped his ERA in half while going from leading the majors in hits and earned runs allowed -- and the AL in home runs allowed -- to leading the AL in shutouts and the majors in complete games. He entered the season with just five complete games and two shutouts in his entire career (which was 151 starts). Just look at those numbers differences. It's utterly staggering.

And the winner is ... James Shields. Fister would likely get some late support and Masterson's growth has been great to watch, but Shields blows the rest of the field away here. He'd be the Kirk Gibson of this award.

National League

Johnny Cueto, Reds
2010 numbers: 12-7, 3.64 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 138 K, 185 2/3 IP, 1 CG, 1 SHO
2011 numbers: 9-5, 2.36 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 102 K, 152 1/3 IP, 3 CG, 1 SHO
Wow, look how he's trimmed that ERA. Cueto has been huge for the Reds this season as they struggled to get anywhere what they thought they would from some other starting pitchers, but he could only do so much on his own.

Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks
2010 numbers: 9-10, 3.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 168 K, 194 IP
2011 numbers: 19-4, 2.99 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 182 K, 208 IP, 1 CG, 1 SHO
Sure, the D-Backs being a vastly improved team this year helps the win-loss record, but Kennedy is one of the biggest reasons for the surprise season. He's grown into an ace far quicker than most predicted. In fact, most scouting outlets only had him pegged as a middle-of-the-rotation guy.

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
2010 numbers: 3-8, 4.81 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 110 K, 95 1/3 innings ... oh, and these were spread across Double-A and Triple-A.
2011 numbers: 10-7, 2.66 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 124 K, 162 1/3 IP, 1 CG, 1 SHO
From 2000-06, Vogelsong had a 5.26 ERA and 1.59 WHIP for the Giants and Pirates. He then played three years in Japan before returning for an uninspiring season in the minors last year (as you can see above). He the joined the Giants as a 33 year old and was thrown into the rotation due to injury issues in late April. By the All-Star break he was 6-1 with a 2.17 ERA and headed to Phoenix as an actual All-Star. He's one of the better stories in baseball this year.

And the winner is ... Ryan Vogelsong. You could make a great argument for any of the three, but I'm going with Vogelsong because he came from completely out of nowhere. Cueto and Kennedy at least had hope for big seasons, especially as they should be progressing with more age and experience. Vogelsong was barely even an afterthought entering the year, and no one expected him to ever be a meaningful major-league player.

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 4:08 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 5:22 pm
 

Clemente nominees revealed for all 30 teams

By Matt Snyder

Major League Baseball issued a press release Tuesday afternoon that revealed the one nominee from each team for the Roberto Clemente Award. The award has been given annually beginning in 1971 to the player "who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement."

The award was originally known as the Commissioner's Award, but was renamed in 1973 for Clemente. He was a 12-time All-Star when he died in a plane crash on his way to provide aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He's now a Hall of Famer and truly one of the game's biggest legends, for his work both on and off the field.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I thank this year’s nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award for their exceptional dedication to giving back to their communities,” commissioner Bud Selig said in the press release. “Roberto Clemente was a legendary baseball player, but what he accomplished off the field made him a true hero in his extraordinary life. Major League Baseball is proud that our players continue to follow in his footsteps, and we are honored to preserve his legacy of making a difference in our world through the game’s most prestigious off-field award.”

Here are the finalists for each ballclub:

Diamondbacks - Joe Saunders
Braves - Tim Hudson
Orioles - Adam Jones
Red Sox - David Ortiz
Cubs - Ryan Dempster
White Sox - Juan Pierre
Reds - Jay Bruce
Indians - Justin Masterson
Rockies - Troy Tulowitzki
Tigers - Justin Verlander
Marlins - Gaby Sanchez
Astros - Jason Bourgeois
Royals - Billy Butler
Angels - Torii Hunter
Dodgers - Clayton Kershaw
Brewers - LaTroy Hawkins
Twins - Michael Cuddyer
Mets - Mike Pelfrey
Yankees - CC Sabathia
Athletics - Josh Willingham
Phillies - Ryan Howard
Pirates - Jeff Karstens
Cardinals - Albert Pujols
Padres - Orlando Hudson
Giants - Jeremy Affeldt
Mariners - Felix Hernandez
Rays - James Shields
Rangers - Michael Young
Blue Jays - Ricky Romero
Nationals - Ian Desmond

Tim Wakfield of the Red Sox won last season (he's pictured above with his trophy). Other active players who have won the award before are Pujols, Derek Jeter and Jim Thome.

Fans get a vote in this thing -- click here and go cast your vote. The winner of fan vote gets one vote while nine other individuals -- including Selig and Clemente's widow -- also have a vote. Fan voting ends October 9.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 3:36 pm
 

MLB 'Man of the Year' finalists released

By Matt Snyder

The six finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award in Major League Baseball were revealed Wednesday. The award is given to a player "whose on-field and off-field performance most inspires others to higher levels of achievement by displaying as much passion to give back to others as he shows between the lines on the baseball diamond."

Here are the six finalists (via DenverPost.com):
Paul Konerko, White Sox
David Robertson, Yankees
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
David Wright, Mets
Michael Young, Rangers

The award is named after Marvin Miller, who was the executive director of the MLB Players Association from 1966 to 1982. Under his watch, it grew into one of the strongest unions in the country. The award is a "player's choice" award, which means what it says: The players vote on it.

The award started in 1997. Young won the award in 2008, so he could join John Smoltz and Jim Thome as the only two-time winners. Brandon Inge of the Tigers won last season -- the second consecutive Tigers' player to win it, as Curtis Granderson won in 2009, his last season in Detroit. Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols are the other active players who have won the award before.

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 12:29 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 12:46 pm
 

What if MVP was decided like Manager of the Year?



By Matt Snyder


As my esteemed colleague C. Trent Rosecrans pointed out Monday in a really creative and entertaining way, the Manager of the Year award is routinely roped off for certain managers. For example, heading into this season, the Phillies and Red Sox were heavily predicted to make the World Series. The Yankees are the Yankees, and the Giants and Rangers went to the World Series last season. So right there, Charlie Manuel, Terry Francona, Joe Girardi, Bruce Bochy and Ron Washington are virtually eliminated from the chance at winning the Manager of the Year award in their respective leagues.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, because managing is far different from playing. It's totally apples vs. oranges. But it's fun to imagine if the MVP awards were decided in the same fashion. Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez would have zero chance at winning. Former winners like Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton and Dustin Pedroia? Sorry. Heavily predicted 2011 winner Adrian Gonzalez? Cross him off. Sluggers Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Ryan Howard? Nope, you guys are supposed to hit for all that power.

Instead, the candidates would be guys having amazing seasons that we might not have expected. Like Kirk Gibson being the runaway NL winner over Manuel. For example, Jose Bautista would have easily won last season in the AL.

Here are four candidates for the MVP of each league, if voters reacted as they did in the Manager of the Year voting -- along with who I think would win and why.

American League

Alex Avila, Tigers
2010 numbers: .228/.316/.340, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 28 R, 12 2B
2011 numbers: .302/.392/.523, 18 HR, 74 RBI, 60 R, 31 2B
The best part about these numbers is they came from out of nowhere. Avila only hit .264 with an .814 OPS in his only season of Double-A. It's not awful, but those are hardly the type of numbers that scream future All-Star. And Avila's likely to get some real MVP votes this year (remember, each ballot gets 10 entries). Don't discount what kind of stamina he has to have to catch 120 games and still keep hitting like this, either. It's been an absolutely stellar campaign for Avila, and he's going to be a starting catcher in the playoffs.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
2010 numbers: Doesn't matter, it was a lost season due to injuries. He only played 10 games.
2011 numbers: .317/.376/.533, 26 HR, 91 RBI, 104 R, 36 SB, 41 2B, 4 3B
He's got a real shot at the real MVP, and it's all due to his power increase. The average, OBP, doubles, triples, runs and steals aren't surprising at all, if you go back to Ellsbury's numbers pre-2010, and he's only 28. So we knew he had a real shot to drastically improve -- but he's approaching 30 home runs and 100 RBI. No one would have predicted that.

Alex Gordon, Royals
2010 numbers: .215/.315/.355, 8 HR, 20 RBI, 34 R, 10 2B, 1 SB (only 74 games due to demotion to minors and injury)
2011 numbers: .299/.371/.500, 21 HR, 82 RBI, 95 R, 45 2B, 16 SB
This wouldn't have been surprising in 2007 ... or 2008 ... or 2009 ... or maybe even 2010. But after four relatively failed seasons in the face of lofty expectations, people kind of gave up on Gordon. He went from a No. 2 prospect in all of baseball to an afterthought. And just when people gave up on him completely, he broke through in a huge way. Those 45 doubles lead all of baseball and he's doing pretty much everything well.

J.J. Hardy, Orioles
2010 numbers: .268/.320/.394, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 44 R
2011 numbers: .264/.304/.483, 26 HR, 68 RBI, 65 R
This is a return to where Hardy was in 2007 and 2008, though his home run rate is the highest it has ever been. He worked his big season into a multi-year contract extension for the Orioles and has solidified the middle infield.

And the winner is ... Alex Avila. It's a really close call over Gordon. With Ellsbury, I believe we all knew the potential was in there and injuries killed him in 2010. The power increase is nice, but Avila and Gordon are more surprising. Hardy's done it before and he's not old. Plus, his numbers pale in comparison to these other three. Sure, Gordon has far exceeded expectations, but I think if you asked most people before the season who was more likely to impress this year between Gordon and Avila, Gordon would be the answer simply based upon minor-league pedigree. That kind of talent doesn't just abandon someone. Gordon starred -- albeit years ago -- but Avila had never hit enough to believe this kind of monster season was possible. I could easily be wrong on this decision, though, as this is total guesswork. To reiterate, it's really close.

National League

Lance Berkman, Cardinals
2010 numbers: .248/.368/.413, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 48 R
2011 numbers: .290/.405/.551, 30 HR, 86 RBI, 79 R
The newly slender "Fat Elvis" shed loads of pounds this past offseason as he was determined to revert back to vintage "Puma." He did. Many mocked the signing by the Cardinals, especially as Berkman had to return to right field. Well, he hasn't been good defensively, but he's swinging the bat like he did back in his prime and the protection he's provided to Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols has been instrumental in keeping the Cardinals in contention for much of the season.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers
2010 numbers: .249/.310/.450, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 82 R, 19 SB
2011 numbers: .318/.397/.566, 33 HR, 108 RBI, 97 R, 38 SB
If he doesn't win the real MVP award it won't be because he didn't do enough for his team. It will be because his team didn't do enough for him. Kemp has absolutely carried the Dodgers' offense this season in every facet. He has an outside shot at the triple crown and the 40/40 club, but he'd have to get scorching hot. Still, from a guy who didn't even hit .250 last season, this has been a rebirth. On the flip-side, we knew Kemp had this potential.

Pablo Sandoval, Giants
2010 numbers: .268/.323/.409, 13 HR, 63 RBI, 61 R
2011 numbers: .301/.345/.516, 19 HR, 60 RBI, 50 R
If the counting stats don't look overly impressive this year, that's because he's only played in 103 games. Last season it was 152. He was so disappointing in 2010 that he only started five playoff games -- just once in the World Series. It's been a huge bounce-back season for Sandoval, despite the fact that his team has regressed a bit.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
2010 numbers: .273/.356/.442, 17 HR, 69 RBI, 73 R, 27 2B, 18 SB
2011 numbers: .296/.378/.547, 30 HR, 86 RBI, 100 R, 38 3B, 21 SB
Here's another guy who will get real-life MVP consideration. While 2010 was a disappoining campaign, this is the Upton the D-Backs drafted first overall in 2005. Look at the number jumps across the board for Upton, and he's still only 24. And his team appears headed for the postseason. Like Kemp, however, we knew this was inside Upton.

And the winner is ... Lance Berkman. The other three players are young and have tons of potential, so their big turnarounds aren't entirely surprising, even if incredibly impressive. At least Upton, probably Kemp and maybe Sandoval were all predictable to have seasons like this. Kemp was definitely a bounce-back candidate, but not many would have envisioned him to be this huge in 2011. Berkman is 35 and many believed he was done as a productive major leaguer -- especially since the Cardinals were moving him back to the outfield. This one feels obvious, as opposed to the Avila/Gordon decision, which I'm still second-guessing ...

Wednesday: What if the Cy Young was decided with Manager of the Year criteria?

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 5:17 pm
 

How blockbusters explain Manager of the Year

Kirk Gibson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated came up with what he calls the "Movie Plus-Minus" -- it's a stat he uses to rank movies. It's simply this: how much he expected to like a movie versus how much he actually liked a movie. It's how a good movie can still be seen as bad, because expectations were too high -- or how a bad movie can actually be good. Anyway it's all about the expectations in judging the experience, if you don't expect much and it turns out to be good you have a more favorable impression than maybe a movie that you expect to be pretty good and turns out to be about what you expected, even if that movie is much better in a vacuum.

That's exactly how it seems that the Manager of the Year Award in baseball is awarded. Manager of the Year is usually an easy formula:

(Wins) - (Expected wins) = MoY total.

The highest number of MoY gives you the hardware.

Last year nobody expected anything out of the San Diego Padres, yet they nearly won their division. So little was expected that it didn't even matter that the Giants won the division or the Padres piddled away a lead at the end, they were in it and that was enough for the voters to make Bud Black the winner. In the American League, Terry Francona may have done his best managing in 2010, but because he finished third and the Red Sox are expected to make the playoffs every year, he finished fourth in the voting with no first-place votes. Instead it was Ron Gardenhire, followed by Ron Washington and Joe Maddon.

The likely winner in the National League this year? Well, that's easy. Kirk Gibson is going to be the overwhelming, perhaps unanimous, winner because nobody expected the Diamondbacks to contend, and here they are. Manny Acta and Maddon, whose teams were picked to make the playoffs by just about nobody, are frontrunners for this year's award in the American League.

So which managers scored high on the Movie Plus-Minus? Let's look at this summer's blockbusters and who their managerial equivalents:

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson as Rise of the Planet of the Apes: In April, it sounded ridiculous -- another Plaent of the Apes reboot? Didn't anyone see Tim Burton's attempt? This was a bad idea. A horrible idea. And that's what it looked like in Arizona, where the team started the season with Armando Galarraga and Barry Enright in the rotation. How about Russell Branyan and Melvin Mora. Geoff Blum? But like Gibson, Apes director Rupert Wyatt made all the right moves, making the ridiculous exciting and harnessing the energy and genius of his enigmatic star (James Franco and Justin Upton). While it may not be the best movie or take home either an Oscar or a World Series title, it certainly had the highest Movie Plus-Minus and Gibson will take home some hardware, even if his team doesn't.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke as X-Men: First Class: The franchise has had its hits, but stumbled in its last outing (X-Men: The Last Stand and 2010). Back with a new focus (the origin story for the movie and pitching for the Brewers), the movie not only lived up to tempered expectations, it exceeded them -- just like the Brewers. A thoroughly enjoyable season for the Brewers and a fun movie, both will be punished because there were decent expectations for the movie and the season, even if they delivered the goods. As a bonus, you can also use Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to link X-Men First Class and Roenicke -- Roenicke manages Ryan Braun, who was in one of the world's worst commercials with Marissa Miller, who was on Entourage with Kevin Connolly, who was in Beyond All Boundaries with Bacon, the bad guy in X-Men: First Class.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle as Green Lantern: Neither ended up being being good, but compared to expectations, it was an Oscar and a World Series. If you weren't scared off by the words "Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan", you certainly were when you heard about the CGI suit. Expectations were incredibly low, just as they were in Pittsburgh (and after 18 losing seasons, why not?). That said, there were some bright spots -- the suit wasn't anywhere near as bad as expected and there was a sort of tongue-in-cheek nod to superhero cliches in the movie, while Andrew McCutchen is a superhero himself. Both had a  decent quick start, but in the end, both suffered as time went on and some concepts (a ring given to some dude by an alien, or Kevin Correia as an All-Star), proved too ridiculous for anyone to fully get behind the movie -- or the Pirates. In the end, though, you'll remember it as "not that bad" even if the Pirates do record their 19th consecutive losing season, but Hurdle will likely have a positive MoY score.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi as Super 8: You figured it would be good -- it was from J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, there was plenty of money behind it. Expectations are always high for the Yankees and neither Spielberg nor Abrams are strangers to hype. A solid leading man (Kyle Chandler, Derek Jeter) and surprising performances from others thrust into lead roles (the kids in the movie and the not-quite-kids like Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia in the Yankees' rotation), made it a great summer. While some expectations can never be met, the Yankees and Super 8 got the job done. Of course, rarely are awards given for merely meeting expectations.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: Everyone knew the story coming in -- Harry would defeat Voldemort and the trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels would prove as unbeatable as the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and Cloak of Invisibility. It was great fun to watch, but the source material was handed to director David Yates by J.K. Rowling, just as Ruben Amaro Jr. and Pat Gillick gave Manuel this pitching and roster. Dismissed as just a press-button manager or director, the film succeeded, but those charged with doing so will have their role in making it so diminished because the perception is that it would be difficult to screw up the hand that was dealt.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy as Cowboys and Aliens: An excellent cast, a director with a good track record, beloved source material and, well, in the end it wasn't a hit.

Astros manager Brad Mills as The Smurfs: You expected it to be bad, but maybe not this bad.

Now, it'll just be interesting to see if Moneyball lives up to Art Howe's managing.

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Posted on: September 10, 2011 7:49 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 7:51 pm
 

Gold Glove rules change outfield eligibility

FrancouerBy Evan Brunell

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes that Gold Glove balloting will change this offseason in a long overdue move.

Instead of awarding a Gold Glove to three outfielders regardless of specific position, outfielders will now be broken down by which outfield spot a player plays in. That means a left fielder, center fielder and right fielder will all win the award, with candidates limited to those who play a specific amount of games at said position.

It's a great move to make, as the previous system was antiquated. Perhaps it made more sense in the olden days, when it was believed the best defenders in the outfield were always center fielders. In addition, defense was not as heavily prioritized as it has become the last few seasons due to a downturn of offense. Also helping matters is an increased understanding of the impact on defense each specific outfielder can have on the game. With multiple advanced defensive metrics easily available -- to varying degrees of effectiveness -- it's easier to figure out which defenders truly shone through as opposed to just handing the award to those who looked good in center.

The change in the award could potentially help Kansas City sweep the AL outfield Gold Gloves, as the three outfielders -- Alex Gordon in left, Melky Cabrera in center and Jeff Francouer (pictured) in right -- are currently on pace to be the first outfield trio since 1978 to rank first or second at his position in assists. (The Expos had their outfielders all finish first: Warren Cromartie, Andre Dawson and Ellis Valentine.) Unsurprisingly, K.C. leads the majors in outfield assists with 48, including an impressive 25 at home. Credit is being given to first-base coach Doug Sisson, who is in his first year on the coaching staff after previously serving as minor-league field coordinator for three seasons for K.C.

“We throw every three days to the bases,” Francoeur, the only Royal with a previous Gold Glove award (Braves, 2007), said. “And if we don’t do it right, Siss will hit another one. I give him a lot of credit for that. Siss has been a huge part of this team this year. He’s put us in position to make plays.”

Sisson believes throws should arrive on one hop, which helps outfielders not overthrow cutoff men, and passes credit onto the outfielders.

“It’s a product of putting in the time,” Sisson said, “making it important and throwing to the bases without cut-off men. That way, in their minds, they’re thinking about throwing guys out. Not hitting cutoff men.

“I’ve always believed the cutoff man’s job is to get in the way of the throw. It’s not an outfielder’s job to hit a cutoff man. If you’re trying to throw guys out, but your mind-set is to hit the cutoff man, then you’re not really trying to throw guys out.”

Clearly, that approach has worked to date. Combined with the rule changes, it could lead to the Royals being the first-ever team to sweep the outfield Gold Gloves. Two outfielders on the same team winning the award has happened multiple times, most recently in 2010 when Seattle's Franklin Gutierrez and Ichiro Suzuki achieved the honor. Seattle has accomplished the feat four times (1996, 2001, 2003, 2010), tops in the majors.

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Posted on: September 9, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 8:07 pm
 

Gibson easy frontrunner for NL Manager of Year



By Matt Snyder


During the week, Eye on Baseball has been profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. We close the week with the NL Manager of the Year

View contenders for the: AL MVP | NL MVP | AL Cy Young | NL Cy Young | AL Rookie of the Year | NL Rookie of the Year | AL Manager of the Year

As opposed to most of the other awards we've discussed this week, this one likely has little drama. Whether you agree or not, it seems rather obvious -- based upon how most BBWAA voters cast their ballots in any given season -- that Kirk Gibson of the Diamondbacks is going to win the NL Manager of the Year. There are some other very solid candidates, but it's been well established that a manager leading a division champion who most people expected to come in last place is an absolute shoo-in for the honor. Clint Hurdle was all set to challenge Gibson, but the Pirates fell apart in August. Terry Collins has also done a great job to have the Mets hovering around .500 considering all the issues they're dealing with. Still, he's not in contention for this award. Here is Gibson's case, along with three others who have an outside shot.

Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks
Record through 9/8: 83-61
2010 D-Backs record: 65-97

If you didn't think the Diamondbacks were going to finish last in the NL West before the season, you were likely predicting a fourth-place finish or fooling yourself. Instead, they've obliterated all expectations and Gibson's demeanor has set the tone for the turnaround of his upstart ballclub. Behind MVP candidate Justin Upton, Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy and a host of other difference-makers -- including a revamped bullpen -- the D-Backs are now the biggest surprise team in baseball for the 2011 season. Assuming there's no colossal meltdown that sees the D-Backs miss the playoffs -- they entered Friday with a 7 1/2 game lead and less than three weeks to play -- this award is as good as Gibby's.

Also in the Mix (listed alphabetically)

Fredi Gonzalez, Braves
Record through 9/8: 84-60
2010 Braves record: 91-71

His ballclub is performing mostly to expectations -- probably a tick higher -- but replacing a legend (Bobby Cox) is no insignificant task. Gonzalez has also had to juggle the lineup often due to key injuries and some underperformance. Plus, the development of so many young players -- save for Jason Heyward, who is one of the guys underperforming -- has to look good on Gonzalez.

Charlie Manuel, Phillies
Record through 9/8: 92-48
2010 Phillies record: 97-65

It's too bad that expectations virtually eliminate some managers from contention on this award -- more on that coming next week, by the way -- because Manuel definitely deserves a shot at this thing. He has his Phillies on pace to win 105 games, which would break the franchise record by four. Yes, he has a stacked starting pitching staff and a very good lineup, but there have been injury issues all season, many to All-Star caliber players. Yet it has never knocked the Phillies off course. That has to be a testament to Manuel. April 26 was the only day all season the Phils weren't in first, and they were a half-game out. But since the Phillies were picked by almost everyone to win the NL East, Manuel won't win the award.

Ron Roenicke, Brewers
Record though 9/8: 85-60
2010 Brewers record: 77-85

If not for the D-Backs' incredible turnaround, Roenicke would be on his way to winning this award. Yes, the Brewers did push all their proverbial chips to the center of the table this season, in acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to bulk up the pitching staff and possibly make one last run with Prince Fielder anchoring the lineup -- if they're unable to retain him via free agency after the season. So, yes, the Brewers have talent, but Roenicke has been a solid leader for this group. They weathered an 0-4 start and then a seven-game losing streak had them at 13-19. They played well for much of the rest of the way, but still were involved in a wide-open, four-team race at 54-49 in late July. Since then, the Brewers are 31-11 and have opened up a menacing eight-game lead in the NL Central. They're on pace for the most Brewers wins in a season since 1982 -- when Harvey's Wallbangers made the World Series. And Roenicke is a first-year manager, so that should earn him a few more bonus points. Expect him to finish second, which is only due to bad timing.

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