Winner: Barry Bonds
Martin says: Bonds because he is having another monster year. So many Cards are doing well offensively and yet only a 46-43 record shows how valuable pitching is to them. Nonetheless, they are having great offensive years so I had to include them. Still, Bonds has best OPS in league and the Giants have the 2nd best record. Edmonds just edges out Gary Sheffield.
Sara says: The big guys presence is vital in the Giants line-up, no question, because of all the things he does described above and so much more. Eric Gagne is whats keeping the Dodgers from dropping to last place. Without him closing out those close games, the Dodgers would be giving up run after run and would not be able to come back because well, the Dodgers are lucky to score two runs in a game. Thats right, I picked a Brewer as one of my MVPs. I believe that an MVP is a player that when the team is without, the team falls apart. Well, Sexson is the lone bright spot for the Brewers. Whenever you hear something good about the Brewers, its Sexson. Oh, and lets give him some credit for playing on the Brewers.
Kevin says: As much as I'd like to pick Bonds for first, Pujols is giving his all for a triple crown shot, and his versatility on the field makes him just that much more valuable. Bonds is a very close second, after having taken the home run lead (there goes Pujols' triple crown bid, quite possibly) and powering the Giants to 7 wins in 9 games over the Cardinals and Diamondbacks. Sheffield has been incredible in Atlanta this year, and is possibly having the best year of a very good career, and he's earned this vote.
Winner: Carlos Delgado
Kevin says: Delgado has been a revelation for the Jays this year, and though Vernon Wells and Frank Catalnotto deserve some props, the only reason the AL East is a three team race is the league's leader in RBI's. For Seattle, it might be Ichiro who sets the table, but it's been Bret Boone who's been doing the dishes. Boone's middle of the order hitting has done well enough to capitalize on the speedy right fielder to keep Seattle in the hung. Ramirez's work in Boston, trying to keep them in the pennant race as the team seems desperate to lose games in any way possible, earns him the 3rd place vote over Garret Anderson of Anaheim, who is just on the edge of falling out of the race
Martin says: Delgado head and shoulders above everyone else in HR and RBI plus high OBP and Toronto is doing well too. Manny is doing it for Boston, just not as much. Boone edges out Vernon Wells and Ichiro: Bret's BA/OBP/SLG are all higher and his other stats are close enough or better than Wells and he's scored as much as Ichiro but driven in many more runs.
Sara says: Delgado was the favorite in the AL, and whod blame them? This guys having a great season, giving the Blue Jays hope and life in Toronto. Soriano has been the story for the Yankees... not Jeter or Giambi, but Soriano, and why not? Hes done it all, smack homeruns, get base hits, play good defense, steal bases... everything. Ichiro has played good defense and had another good offensive season with the Mariners. I am not a fan of Ichiro, but when it comes down to skills, hes one of the best.
NL Cy Young
Winner: Jason Schmidt
Sara says: Wow, wouldnt you want this to be part of your starting rotation? Well, the Giants were close, can you imagine having Schmidt, Rueter, Ortiz, Williams, and Ainsworth as your starting pitchers? Alright, lets not get too excited. Even though Brown is a Dodger and has been known as the Giant Killer, I still believe hes having a great season and is in worthy contention for the Cy Young.
Kevin says: Brown's been great, but Schmidt has been awesome. The defining stat has to be those CG's and Shutouts. As long as Brown relies on the bullpen, he's relying on someone else. Not that relying on Gagne is such a bad deal. The Gag is having a positively Eck-like year, and if the Dodgers can hand him some leads, they'll be back in the race.
Martin says: Schmidt has the 2nd best ERA, best WHIP, most complete games and shutouts. Brown has been either incredible (2 runs or less) or horrid but predominantly incredible. Prior has been very good, but just not as good as the others.
AL Cy Young
Winner: Mark Mulder
Martin says: Loaiza is among the top 1-3 in many categories, including best ERA by a significant margin. Mulder has 6 complete games and 2 shutouts in addition to 5th best ERA. Mussina edges out Tim Hudson and Pedro Martinez.
Sara says: Mulder has been carrying the As, and Zito was last years winner so he is unlikely to get it again but he has had another great first half performance. Moyer has been a good pitcher in the Seattle rotation.
Kevin says: The AL is a tough race, but I've got to go with Loaiza on top, mostly due to his ERA and strikeouts. Mulder gets the second nod because of 7 complete games and 2 shutouts, and being one of the few stabilizers on the A's. Ask Tim Hudson how it feels to give the ball the the bullpen. Then I have to give a vote to Moyer for being the underwhelming Rock of Gibralter in the Mariners rotation. You never expect him to win, but he does, a lot.
NL DIVISION THAT WILL OWN THE WILD CARD
Winner: NL West
Kevin says: The Diamondbacks comeback has impressed me, though they still aren't competing with the Giants. Still, with Schilling and Johnson healthy and those young kids coming up, they can keep up. And with the Dodgers getting Jeromy Burnitz, the West will again have some hot teams all year long. Houston, Chicago and Philly just don't compete.
AL DIVISION THAT WILL OWN THE WILD CARD
Winner: AL West
Martin says: A's and Angel's usually make late season dash and they both are close to the Red Sox, current leader for Wild Card spot. Red Sox have typically been chokers and I don't see any other team that look like they will rise up and compete strongly.
Midseason Pick to Win It All
Winner: San Francisco Giants
Sara says: Excuse me for sounding too positive and excited, but I do believe weve got what it takes this year. The Giants have everything, they just need a little dash of consistency and well have a championship winning team. Pitching has been great (give or take a Moss or Foppert or two), offense and defense has been solid, and players are coming out of their May/June slumps. Id put my money down for any of our guys against any other team in the league any day.
Best Free-Agent Pickup
Winner: Ray Durham
Martin says: Really tough one to pick. My short list was Durham, Jeff Kent, Ivan Rodriguez, Bill Mueller and Hidecki Matsui. I dropped Kent because of his indefinite stay on DL for his tendinitis and because I felt like it. IRod has made his team better but they look headed for the bottom of the division again. Matsui has done well but he has all that support there on the Yankees so the pressure not as high there. Bill Mueller really made it tough because his play allowed Boston to steal Kim away from the D-Backs but Ray is the sparkplug at the top of the Giants order that they've needed since Brett Butler left for L.A. and Butler's short stint on America's Funniest Video. Plus Durham has come into a situation where half the lineup is changed plus the manager and has done very well so far.
Winner: Kansas City Royals
Sara says: Alright, so they had a hot start and have not really continued it, but its the Royals. How often do you hear about the Royals winning? Not too often, and yet theyve been a pretty decent team this year. Theyre able to score runs and their pitching has also been decent. This team isnt at the top, but no one sure would have guessed that the Royals are anywhere near where theyre at right now. Theyre also sitting on top of the AL Central with a pretty comfortable four and a half game lead over the Twins.
Category: The Dave Kingman "Only a Big Fat Rat" Award
Winner: Randall Simon
Martin says: To celebrate man's inhumanity to man and inspired by Dave Kingman giving a rat in a box to a female sports reporter. Randall Simon wins for taking a swing of the bat at people parading in hot dog costumes and causing them to fall like bowling pins (appropriate for Milwaukee where the incident occurred) and hurt their "bratwurst".
Category: Manager Most Likely to Pop A Vein Before October
Winner: Grady Little
Kevin says: I almost gave this to Tampa Bay's Lou Pinella, but he had to know what he was getting into in Florida and took precautions. Little's Red Sox, however, seem to try to do anything they can to throw away games. The worst examples in fielding, hitting and pitching in clutch situations give us a very regular highlight on Sportscenter of Little shaking his head as he walks down towards the clubhouse.
Category: The Keystone Kops Award (or maybe "The Designated Driver Award"?)
Winner: Ruben Rivera
Martin says: Rivera wins for his wonderful reinactment of a classic Keystone Kop routine during his infamous run to try to score from 1B.
Category: Most Likely to be a Contestant on Friends or Foe
Winner: Sammy Sosa
Sara says: Come on, Sammy. You cant possibly think that everyone believes you didnt know you were using a corked bat. Who doesnt specifically label or know which bats they use in BP and which bats they use for games? You mean youve been playing all these years and you didnt know which bat was for BP and which was for games? And if youre going to come up with an excuse, come up with a better one. Wouldnt you be using a heavier bat in BP and not the lighter corked bat so when you actually do bat in a game the actual bat feels lighter? Just think about it, man. The league was soft on you only so your reputation wouldnt be scarred as much as it already is. Anyway, hed be a perfect contestant on this show, I wouldnt want him on my team though.
Category: The Boy in the Bubble Award
Winner: Kurt Ainsworth
Martin says: Ainsworth wins for having an injury so rare that the only instance of a case like that happening was decades ago in another sport.
Category: Manager of Excuses
Winner: Tony La Russa
Sara says: Come on, Tony. Just because your best offensive team in the league just got trampled by the Giants doesnt mean you can start acusing them of reading your signs. What kind of proof do you have anyway? Just because the Giants were seeing the ball better than your guys, it doesnt mean they were cheating. So you go around accusing every team of cheating when your team loses, is that right? Excuses, excuses... you just cant stand that the Giants ARE a better team than the Cardinals. And as J.T. said, We dont need to cheat, were ten games above .500. YOU GO J.T.!
Category: Inaugural Jeff Kent DIY Injury Award
Winner: Kazuhiro Sasaki
Martin says: In honor of Jeff Kent's alleged wrist injury while washing his truck, Kazuhiro Sasaki wins for injuring himself while carrying a suitcase up a flight of stairs at home. (ASIDE: Actually the Giant's have a rich history of such injuries, from Kent's mishap to Mike Ivie cutting a nerve in a finger while cleaning a hunting knife to Roger Metzger cutting off fingers while building a dollhouse for his daughter.)
Category: The Zelig Award (named after Woody Allen's movie where the main character, a nondescript man, always popped up at some historical event where he sticks out like a sore thumb)
Winner: Bud Selig
Martin says: Bud doesn't look like a baseball owner or that he even belongs in baseball - he looks like the car dealer that he is and all the downbeat images people have of car dealers - and yet many youngster's memories of indelible events of baseball over the past decade will involve Bud in some fashion: cancelled World Series, All-Star fiasco, MasterCard controversy with Pete Rose, All-Star game deciding home advantage, etc.
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