A look at the major award winners in the NL and who I thought deserved to win them. Vote totals are in parentheses.
Most Valuable Player
1. Osvaldo Johnson, Arizona (17)
2. Ignacio Diaz, Norfolk (5)
3. Reid Colbert, Cincinnati (4)
Leo Miller, Houston (4)
5. Eddie Greer, Arizona (2)
My pick: Johnson.
Analysis: Led the NL in runs (139), was 2nd in home runs (53), was tied for 5th in RBIs (128), was 9th in average (.316), and stole 28 bases. He walks almost as much as he strikes out and helped lead a disappointing team from season 1 to a division title. Most GMs agreed, as Johnson won with 17 votes; the next closest was Diaz with 5
Javier Henriquez, Fargo (20)
Jim Arnold, Fargo (5)
Matty Eusebio, Houston (4)
Kane Grahe, Arizona (2)
Bert Price, Fargo (1)
My pick: Henriquez
Analysis: Must be nice to be a Fargo fan right now, huh? When you have a pitcher who goes 24-5 for your team with a 2.53 ERA and can't come close to beating out his own teammate for the Cy Young Award, life is good. Arnold's season was great; Henriquez's was special. He went 22-6(how did he lose 6 times?) with a 1.79 ERA and 265 strikeouts, so Arnold's two extra wins cost Henriquez the Triple Crown. He had a 0.95 WHIP and the league hit .176 off him, both of which also led the league. And it's not like these stats are in a small sample size: his 246 1/3 inning was 2nd in the NL, only 1/3 inning behind Cincinnati's Bernard Robinson. In most seasons Arnold would easily win the Cy Young, but Henriquez is truly deserving.
Rookie of the Year
1. Sean Simpson, Chicago (12)
2. Alex Sanchez, Atlanta (11)
3. Stan O'Brien, Philadelphia (5)
4. Ray Cepicky, New Orleans (2)
William Farr, Chicago (2)
My pick: Simpson
Analysis: This was probably the toughest one in both leagues to pick. Besides the fact that it's tough to compare pitchers to hitters, Simpson (.322-31-111) and Sanchez (17-10, 3.27) were both huge pieces in taking their teams from also-rans in season 1 to the playoffs this season. So why did I go with Simpson over Sanchez? I think Simpson was just so far and beyond the production of his teammates. Sanchez led the team in wins, strikeouts, and innings, but others on his team were close in categories like ERA and WHIP. Simpson drove in 20 more runs than any of his teammates, some of whom played in 20-25 more games. I felt Simpson was just so important in what his team did this season; not that Sanchez wasn't, but I felt Simpson was more so. You could argue this one back and forth with legitimate arguments for both players.
Fireman of the Year
Candidates: Dude Huskey (MEM), Tex Howell (HOU), Bert Price (FAR), Vic Trevino (ARI), Trevor Watson (ATL).
My pick: Price
Again, I disagree with the SIM on the fireman winner. I wrote in this space last season that I felt Huskey should have won last season over my own closer, Justin Beverlin. Huskey wins due to his gaudy save totals (52 to Price's 38), but if you look at other stats, I'd think you'd have to take Price. Which stats, you ask? How about blown saves (3 to Huskey's 7), WHIP (.89 to Huskey's 1.21), ERA (2.22 to Huskey's 3.81), opponent's average (.184 to Huskey's .278), and innings (81 to Huskey's 54 1/3)? So, in other words, Price gave up 4 fewer hits than Huskey in 26 2/3 more innings. Price was 7-6; Huskey was 0-5. Price finished 5th in the Cy Young voting; Huskey wasn't even nominated. Now I understand that saves are an important part of a closer's job, but it's not the whole story. If I had a vote, I'd ask myself the following question: if I had a one run lead in the bottom of the 9th in game 7 of a postseason series and I needed 3 outs to advance (or win the whole thing) and I could put either of these guys out on the mound for the last 3 outs, who would I take? If I had these stats in front of me, I'd run Price out there without a second thought.