Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The 2010 Yankee Awards

Best Player:
Always hated the "Most Valuable Player." Valuable could mean anything. Adam Kennedy was incredibly valuable to the 2002 Angels—was he their best player? Anyway, this is an easy one. Robinson Cano was moved up in the batting order and answered the bell. Cano had the highest batting average for the Yankees, the second highest OBP (.002 points behind Gardner), the highest slugging, the highest OPS, was tied for 3rd in HRs, the most doubles and was 2nd in RBI. All in all, an easy choice.

Most Disappointing Player:
Oooofff. Put 3/4 of the roster in a hat and take your pick. But the overall winner for most disappointing has to be A.J. Burnett. Burnett wasn't asked to be the ace, just a solid part of the rotation —16 wins or so. Instead, Burnett went out a pooped on the mound every 5 days. Posting the highest ERA of career, (by a longshot), Burnett also had the highest H/9 of his career, the highest HR/9 of his career, and had 50 less strikeouts than in 2009. Burnett lost 5 games in a row in June and then lost 7 out of 8 decisions in August and September. From the end of May until the end of the season, his ERA climbed 2 full points. However, the most disappointing thing about Burnett, possibly—the Yankees have 3 more years on his contract.

Best Impersonation of a Very Old Man:
Derek Jeter. It wasn't just his shrinking range at shortstop or 16 less steals or the 2nd highest GDP of his career. It was his lowest OBP since 1995; it was the highest amount of swinging at pitches outside the strike zone—again, by a longshot. It was that pitchers pitched the lowest amount of pitches inside the strike zone of his career, knowing that Jeter would swing at bad pitches. It was his flailing at the plate knowing that he couldn't get his bat around on the fastball. Want proof? In 2009 Jeter's wFB (this stat denotes runs above average against fastballs, with zero being average) was 27.8. In 2010, it was 0.9. Jeter didn't just get old. He got old in a hurry.

Best You Get What You Pay For Award:
Chan Ho Park could go here. But the winner is Curtis Granderson. When he was traded for, everyone in New York said that Granderson would improve by leaps and bounds. The new stadium was made for his swing, and Kevin Long will reverse his worsening batting trends. Well, no. Granderson duplicated his 2009 numbers in almost every respect. His batting average, his OPB, his power numbers—all virtually identical from 2009. The only thing different was his fielding which dipped in 2010. Last year Granderson was 3rd in Bill James' Fielding Bible for centerfielders; this season he was 8th. His WAR was 3.2 to 2.1 The Yankees magic wand didn't improve Granderson magically. He is exactly what they traded for.

Most Improved Player:
Nick Swisher. Nick Swisher didn't just improve his batting average 39 points, his slugging percentage to the highest of his career, and his WAR as well, Swisher improved his contact percentage to the highest number of his career and improved his BABIP dramatically from .272 to .335. Swisher made better contact and put the ball into play better. Hopefully, his work with Kevin Long will continue to improve his time at the plate.

The Wonder Which Guy Shows Up Today Award:
Joba "Mr. Schizophrenic" Chamberlain wins this award. At times dominating, at other times clueless, Chamberlain frustrated with his performance. Yes, Chamberlain improved in almost every category from 2009, and pitched better as the season went along, but he had more ups and downs than the Coney Island Cyclone. Chamberlain started the season with an ERA of 2.16 on May 15th, then ballooned it to a 5.95 ERA on July 25th. Chamberlain then chipped away at his ERA with steady performances in the second half of the season—indeed, his ERA in the 2nd half of the season was a mighty 2.88 ERA—until he ended the season with a respectable 4.40 ERA. However it wasn't just the ballooning and shrinking of the ERA that frustrated Yankee fans. It was that Chamberlain could strike out the side one night, then go to pot the next time out. If Chamberlain could improve his batter-to batter-focus, he could be valuable; however now, he's just Jekyll and Hyde in a pudgy body.

The What The Heck Happens If He Retires Award (aka: The Old Faithful Award):
Mariano Rivera. Every year, papers predict his doom when he actually gives up a home run. Every year, he proves his worth. In a supposed "shaky year", Rivera matched his ERA from last season, lowered his WHIP and lowered his HR/9. He also lowered his postseason ERA to a preposterous 0.79. The Yankees should sign him to whatever he wants this offseason—give him Staten Island, the Space Shuttle, whatever the man wants, give him. The Yankees need him still.

The Waiting For Godot Award:
The award for someone every Yankee fans pin their hopes on, despite his never having set foot in the Bronx. Montero is the next Prince of New York—if you believe Baseball America or any of the prospect scouting sites. Montero is a sure-fire prospect, a future big bat in the middle of the Yankee lineup and is on the lips and in the heart of every Yankee fan worldwide. He's the biggest Yankee prospect since Brian Taylor...and we all know how that turned out.

Best Disappearing Act:
Another tough one. Nick Johnson gets the silver medal, as does Mark Teixeira in the first half of the season, but the gold medal winner has to be pitching coach Dave Eiland. It wasn't just the complete no-shows of Burnett and Javier Vasquez, or the "never know what you're get from" Joba Chamberlain; it was the literal disappearance of Eiland from the scene for 29 days in June—which happened to coincide with Burnett's nosedive. Why was he absent—who knows? But Brian Cashman doesn't cotton to coaches abandoning the troops in the middle of a battle—so Eiland disappeared for good.

And there you have it—the 2010 Yankee Awards. Let's hope these awards are a damn sight better next year.

1 comment:

Pete S said...

Funny article and I agree with all your choices. Montero makes me nervous because there is no sure thing in baseball.