Even though all but 12 teams have been virtually eliminated from playoff contention (including my own), the baseball season is entering into its most exciting part (this of course excludes spring training when the Mets promotional department fills my head with a bunch of “Next Year Is Now” crap, with the pre-designed plan of ripping my heart out in September). However, putting aside the wild card races and rooting against the Yankees (something everyone can enjoy) for just a second, one of the best parts of September baseball are the always debatable MVP and Cy Young Awards. This year is no exception.
NL MVP Award – Andruw Jones or Albert Pujols?
While my conscience is telling me to give the award to David Wright (.313, 21 homers, 88 RBIs – man I love this guy), this year’s recipient should be Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. This is a tough decision to make, based on my belief that RBIs are the most important statistic (Jones leads the league with 121 as compared to Pujols’ 108). However, Albert’s dominance in several other categories gives him the edge. Pujols is tied for first in the league in batting average (.338) – 63 points higher than Jones’ – first in on-base percentage (.435) – 76 points higher – and first in runs (117) – 28 more. The area that Jones has the most significant advantage is his play in center field, as he still remains an annual Gold Glove award winner, despite his obviously diminished range. However, defensive ability is not as heavily factored into the equation, which will keep the award on Albert’s mantelpiece. If it was highly considered, we might as well give the award to Derrek Lee. Speaking of Lee, I know a lot of Cubs fans will be crying foul over his exclusion in this debate, but the Cubs stink. He may be valuable, but on a team that’s under-.500. And he only has 99 RBIs.
NL Cy Young Award – Chris Carpenter or Roger Clemens?
It’s amazing that a pitcher with 11 wins in mid-September is being considered for the Cy Young Award. What’s also amazing is that Clemens has a 1.78 ERA in 29 starts – this coming from one of the few active players that is old enough to be my father (Julio Franco is entering grandpa status). While Carpenter does have an incredible 21-4 record and a 2.21 ERA, Clemens gets the nod this year. I just can’t punish someone for being on a team that is a 13th in the league in runs scored, while the Cardinals have racked up 717 runs, good enough for second behind only Cincinnati. Clemens has also had to pitch half of his games in Houston’s Minute Maid Park – a hitter’s paradise with a 315-foot porch down the left field line (not to mention a pole in center field, which has no bearing on this argument, but is by far the dumbest thing I have ever seen). Carpenter pitches at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, one of the better pitcher’s parks in the National League.
AL MVP Award – David Ortiz or Alex Rodriguez?
Ortiz may not receive consideration from a good portion of voters because of his lack of a defensive position, but his offensive numbers are hard to ignore. In 140 games, Ortiz leads the league in RBIs with 126 (16 more than Rodriguez) and is second in home runs with 40 (one less) – while maintaining a very respectable .295 average and a .395 on-base percentage. The latter two statistics are where Rodriguez makes his claim, posting a .319 batting average (third in the league) and a .418 OBP (second). He also has made fans forget that he isn’t really a third baseman and he should probably win the Gold Glove this year. However, despite many factors pointing in Rodriguez’s favor, Ortiz gets my vote because of his clutch hitting. It seems like every time I look up this guy is delivering in late-game situations, including last week’s walk-off blast against the Angels. He is nothing less than a machine under pressure.
AL Cy Young Award – Mark Buehrle or Bartolo Colon?
For all the talk about Chicago’s starters Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle early in the season, Colon has actually run away with the Cy Young without anyone noticing. He has separated himself from the rest of the field more than in any other race, thanks to his league-leading 19 wins and 3.23 earned-run average. Buehrle has just 15 victories, with a slightly lower ERA of 3.13. However, the statistic that separates Colon from his competitors is his performance after the All-Star break. With the Angels fending off the Athletics in the AL West, Colon has stepped up his game, posting an 8-1 record and a 2.92 ERA in the second half. Buehrle’s numbers have declined since the mid-summer classic, with an ERA over four. Colon’s home-and-away numbers have been much more consistent as well, while Buehrle has struggled at times away from U.S. Cellular Field.
Bryan Pepper is a Sun Assistant Sports Editor. Raising the Apple will appear every other Wednesday this semester.
Archived article by Bryan Pepper