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 Starting 11/16/09 biggest awards up for grabs

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PostSubject: Starting 11/16/09 biggest awards up for grabs   Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:12 am

Baseball's biggest honors up for grabs
Starting Monday, awards to roll out for top performances

By John Schlegel / MLB.com

11/14/09 5:40 PM EST

Already, dozens of pieces of hardware have been shipped out to baseball's best, with 18 Gold Gloves and 18 Silver Sluggers being distributed to the players voted as the top fielders and batters in each league.

But now it's a whole new ballgame. Now it's about the Big Eight.

Starting Monday, the annual awards presented by the Baseball Writers' Association of America will be announced, honoring each league's Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award winner, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year.

These are the awards most coveted by players. This is the stuff of history, dating back decades with lists littered with Hall of Fame names.

As usual, the honorees will tell the tale of the year they won the award. And with a mixed bag of no-brainers and hand-wrenching intrigue, this year's class of awards candidates offers a glimpse at the 2009 season.

• Zack Greinke owned April with his performance on the mound and courageous story of overcoming disabling anxiety, and even if the Royals weren't in the conversation down the stretch, he's leading the AL Cy Young discussion now.

• Mike Scioscia and his Angels faced unspeakable adversity in April, rose to play in the AL Championship Series in October, and his name is at the forefront as the Manager of the Year comes out this week.

• Albert Pujols got off to a huge start, was the man of the moment at the All-Star Game, and he still looks larger than life in the NL MVP race.

• The Yankees? Well, they got the most coveted shiny stuff already, but a few of their stars no doubt have collected some votes.

Of course, what the Yankees or anyone else did after the final day of the regular season doesn't matter. These awards are determined by members of the BBWAA, with two votes per chapter of the organization per award, creating pools of 32 votes in the NL and 28 in the AL. The MVP is a 10-player ballot, while the Cy Young, Manager and Rookie ballots have three spots, with all places on those ballots counting toward the overall vote.

Here's a brief rundown of the upcoming awards, with much more to come on MLB.com:

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
AL (Monday): Shortstop Elvis Andrus, so good the Rangers shifted All-Star Michael Young to third base, was pretty much as advertised. But Detroit's Rick Porcello won 14 games and was a stalwart starter on a playoff team at age 20. Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann, Oakland's Brett Anderson and Andrew Bailey all took to the Major League mound quite nicely. Gordon Beckham of the White Sox was the most powerful rookie, so the field is pretty wide.

NL (Monday): Also a pretty open field, with the much-ballyhooed arrival of Atlanta's Tommy Hanson showing his promise on the mound and a less-ballyhooed one by Florida's Chris Coghlan turning out the year's most impressive hitting performance. Phillies lefty J.A. Happ and Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen also made themselves very comfortable in the big leagues.

CY YOUNG AWARD
AL (Tuesday): Greinke overcame a lot to get to his career pinnacle in 2009, and this award might come down to the question of whether he can overcome the Royals' last-place finish in the NL Central. With CC Sabathia doing what he was paid to do for the Yankees and Seattle's Felix Hernandez and Detroit's Justin Verlander having superb seasons, it's hard to call it a runaway.

NL (Thursday): Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright both helped the Cardinals to the NL Central crown, and in the process made it difficult on the voters in this one. What would be the consequences of a split vote? There are other candidates in their midst. The Giants' Tim Lincecum actually lowered his ERA in an otherwise strikingly similar statistical season to his 2008 Cy Young campaign, and the Braves' Javier Vasquez elevated his team down the stretch.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR
AL (Wednesday): After suffering along with the rest of the Angels family the heartbreaking death of Nick Adenhart, Scioscia led his team to its fifth NL West title in six years. He did it through normal baseball adversity as well, including being without star Vladimir Guerrero for much of it. A couple of his AL West colleagues did well for their clubs as well, with rookie skipper Don Wakamatsu getting the Mariners on track and Ron Washington leading the Rangers into contention. Then there's the ringmaster, and second-year manager Joe Girardi, who did lead the Yankees to 103 wins.

NL (Wednesday): He only started managing the team in May but led them to great heights. That was Jack McKeon's road to the award in 2003, and Jim Tracy took the Rockies down a similar road this year. Usual suspects like the Cardinals' Tony La Russa, the Dodgers' Joe Torre and the Phillies' Charlie Manuel figure to get votes, as does up-and-comer Fredi Gonzalez of Florida.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
AL (Monday, Nov. 23): Entering September, a pretty good argument could be made for the MVP-caliber leadership of Derek Jeter, and the fact that his solid presence made everything work for the Yankees. He also put together one of the best seasons of his career. But as Joe Mauer continued to crush baseballs and make history as a catcher with the bat while the Twins extended the season to 163 games, the discussion certainly drifted northward. First basemen Mark Teixeira of the Yankees, Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and Kendry Morales of the Angels also excelled.

NL (Tuesday, Nov. 24): Perhaps the question isn't whether it'll be Pujols but whether Pujols will be the first unanimous pick in the NL since Barry Bonds in 2002. He led the Majors with 47 homers, finished third in RBIs behind MVP candidates Prince Fielder of the Brewers and Ryan Howard (141) with 135, adding an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.101 to lead the big leagues. Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez further established himself as an elite all-around talent in the game, too. It's just hard to get past Pujols this year -- ask any pitcher.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Starting 11/16/09 biggest awards up for grabs   Sun Nov 15, 2009 5:47 pm

Why don't they just announce all the awards the same day like in hockey? Do we really need to spend 3 weeks giving out awards? By the end of it nobody even cares anymore. Baseball is over for a month before the MVP is announced.


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PostSubject: Re: Starting 11/16/09 biggest awards up for grabs   Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:56 am




Porcello contending for rookie honors
Pitcher aims to become second Tigers winner in four years

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

11/15/09 8:50 PM EST

DETROIT -- For a 20-year-old thrust into the Major Leagues, Rick Porcello defied a lot of expectations this year to reach some lofty marks and earn mention in the same sentence with Dwight Gooden. Now it's time to see how he stacks up against the rest of the American League's rookie crop this season.

The bigger-name Major League awards start off Monday with the AL Rookie of the Year, and there's plenty of reason for Porcello to earn serious consideration for what would be Detroit's second winner in four years, joining Justin Verlander. What began as a long-shot experiment in Spring Training to jump the former first-round Draft pick from Class A ball, turned into a big league effort well beyond Porcello's age as the youngest player in the league.



His early-season success was a bonus to the front-line pitching that helped Detroit move in front in the division in May and stay there through the break. Once he encountered his midsummer struggles, his second-half adjustment from a sinkerballer to a little more of a power pitcher made him Detroit's most effective starter not named Verlander.

Without Porcello's 14 wins and 170 2/3 innings, the Tigers probably would've lost out in the AL Central race before the tiebreaker. And without his 5 2/3 innings with a lone earned run in that showdown against the Twins, the Tigers wouldn't have had a chance to take the tiebreaker into extra innings.

He was a unanimous pick as the Tigers Rookie of the Year a week and a half ago. In many years, he'd be in a select group of contenders for the AL honor, if not a favorite. It may be his lone piece of bad timing this year that his arrival came in the same year as White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham, Rays starter Jeff Niemann and A's All-Star closer Andrew Bailey.

All Niemann did was lead the defending AL champs in wins and ERA while more than making up for the loss of Edwin Jackson. Beckham drove in 63 runs in just 103 games while banging out 14 homers and 28 doubles. Bailey not only racked up 26 saves, but he dominated opponents in the process, scattering 49 hits over 83 1/3 innings with a 1.83 ERA and 91 strikeouts.

Great as those numbers are, none of those other candidates played as big of a role in a pennant race as Porcello did in Detroit. The stretch run of that race brought out some of the best in Porcello. He went 5-2 with a 3.07 ERA over his final 13 starts, allowing just 66 hits over 73 1/3 innings. Just 18 of those hits went for extra bases.

How Porcello finished surprised even him.

"This being my first year, I didn't know how I was going to feel coming down the stretch," Porcello said in the season's final week. "I can remember last year down the stretch, the last couple starts I had, feeling really good. And this year, I didn't know what I was going to feel like. I'm a little surprised. At the same time, I'm thankful for the rest that they've given me and the work that we've done."

Ultimately, Porcello's chances might rest on how late in the season members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America waited to vote. By rule, ballots were due at the start of the postseason, but the Tigers-Twins tiebreaker was technically a regular-season game. Voters who waited, wanting to watch Porcello in the biggest game of his young career, could've turned in their ballots that night or the next morning.

If several voters waited, they saw a 20-year-old commanding a game for five innings -- against a team that had worn him down two other times in the previous few weeks -- before giving up a big home run in the sixth, and they likely would've been impressed.

"A 20-year-old kid grew up in front of everybody's eyes today," catcher Gerald Laird said at the time. "He had all the excuses in the world. He was young, inexperienced. And he went out there and manned up. He didn't look like a rookie out there."

Porcello didn't take much solace in his season after the last game. But now he might be able to look back and get something out of it.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: Starting 11/16/09 biggest awards up for grabs   Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:48 pm

Bailey captures AL rookie award
Righty reliever recorded 26 saves to go with 1.84 ERA

OAKLAND -- A's right-hander Andrew Bailey got the call from New York at 12:30 p.m. ET on Monday and was told to "keep it under wraps."

He assumed, however, that it was safe to let his parents in on the secret: His rise from Minor League obscurity to Major League limelight turned historic when he was named the American League's 2009 Rookie of the Year.



"My dad couldn't believe it," Bailey told MLB.com by phone shortly after the announcement. "He had been reading all these articles about who had voted for who, and everyone kind of thought Elvis [Andrus of the Rangers] was going to win. So when I told him, he was like, 'No way. Are you kidding? Really?'

"When I called my mom, she just started laughing. And then she started crying."

Andrus, Texas' acrobatic 21-year-old shortstop, finished second in the voting, which was carried out by selected members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Bailey, 25, posted 26 saves -- no other AL rookie reliever had more than two -- with a 1.84 ERA, also the best among AL rookies. He was listed first on 13 ballots submitted by two writers in each AL city, second on six and third on five to score 88 points, based on a 5-3-1 tabulation system.

Andrus, who batted .267 and led AL rookies in hits (128), runs (72), triples (8), total bases (179) and stolen bases (33), placed first on eight ballots, second on six and third on seven for 65 points -- one point more than Tigers righty starter Rick Porcello (14-9, 3.96 ERA), who was first on seven ballots, second on eight and third on five for 64 points.

A's lefty starter Brett Anderson finished sixth in the voting, picking up one second-place vote and one third-place vote.

2009 AL roy voting

Player_______ 1st _2nd _3rd_Points
Andrew Bailey 13___ 6___ 5___ 88
Elvis Andrus 8 6 7 65
Rick Porcello 7 8 5 64
Jeff Niemann x 5 6 21
Gordon Beckham x 2 4 10
Brett Anderson x 1 1 4

"There were so many rookies who had great years, it's an amazing honor," Bailey said while scurrying to the airport for an afternoon flight to Oakland, where he'll be featured at a press conference Tuesday at 10 a.m. PT.

"And I think it's really cool that we had two guys in the mix, with Brett being kind of a darkhorse. He had an incredible year, too."

Bailey is the second Oakland closer to win in the past five elections; Huston Street won it in 2005. Other closers elected were Gregg Olson of the Orioles in 1989 and Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Mariners in '00. Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti was a starter when he won the award in '81.

"I kind of thought Andrus was going to win, too," Bailey said. "He was awesome, and he plays every day."

Including shortstop Bobby Crosby's honor in 2004, this marks the third time in six seasons that an A's player has won the rookie award and the eighth time overall, tying the Yankees for the most winners in the league.

The National League's Dodgers -- Brooklyn and Los Angeles -- hold all-time bragging rights with 16 ROYs.

Moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen at Double-A Midland at midseason in 2008, Bailey didn't just make a successful transition to relief work. He made the transition look like a breeze.

After dominating during the second half of the 2008 season at Midland, he following suit in the prestigious Arizona Fall League and did the same in his first trip to big league Spring Training.

Named to the 25-man roster in part because projected closer Joey Devine was out with an elbow injury that resulted in season-ending surgery, Bailey was handed a low-stress role in the season's first several weeks but steadily climbed the ladder of responsibility.

He picked up his first save in early May and eventually took over as the full-time closer, converting his final 21 save opportunities dating to June 17.

"We didn't give him the job," pitching coach Curt Young said in September. "He took it."

Named the Athletics' lone representative at the All-Star Game in St. Louis this summer, Bailey broke Street's Oakland rookie record for saves and posted a 6-3 record with a 0.88 WHIP and 91 strikeouts against 24 walks in 83 1/3 innings over 68 appearances. Opponents batted .167 against Bailey, who surrendered 47 hits

"Andrew," said A's catcher Kurt Suzuki, "was amazing."

Bailey, who is sharing an apartment with his fiancée, Amanda, in Hamden, Conn., this winter, said he was "shocked" when he got Monday's big news.

"It's kind of hard to believe still," he said. "It's crazy. There's about 100 people trying to get through on my phone right now, so everyone's pretty excited about it. I really tried not to think too much about it after the season because it was out of my hands. All you can do is put up your numbers and hope that's good enough.

"I guess this means it was. It's incredible. I'm still shaking."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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