In addition to the typical MVP/Cy Young/ROY award talks, let's go ahead and discuss some other stuff, shall we? The conversation has really dried up around here lately as teams fall from contention.
AL--Still up for grabs, IMO. If I had a vote, I'd give it to Santana, but that's just me. Harold Reynolds says it's Sheffield, I say Harold's on crack.
NL--Clemens has the edge here, since Schmidt has struggled recently with this groin injury, Sheets has fallen off since the break, and like the Unit, can't get run support. Pavano is a possibility if he has a couple more good outings. Oswalt fell out after tonight's tough loss, IMO. He needed a good game to have a chance, and got knocked around.
AL--I feel kind of bad for Schilling, because he's always putting up numbers, and someone is always a little better. Used to be Randy Johnson, this year Johan Santana is clearly the choice.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
NL--Jason Bay. Voting would be closer if Khalil Greene didn't get hurt. But he did, and Bay will (and should) win this in a Reagan-Mondale-esque landslide.
AL--Not sure. Frankly, I haven't paid too much attention to AL rookies. Crosby of the A's, maybe?
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
NL--Pretty much has to be LaRussa, mostly because he and his coaches have gotten a lot out of a pitching staff that didn't look that good in April.
AL--Tempting to give Buck Showalter the nod, getting the Rangers to play like he did. However, he insinuated that the lady who got hit in the face by the chair had it coming. Soscia (sp?) in Anaheim kept his team in the thick of it through injury after injury, I'll say him.
MOST IMPROVED WITH THE GLOVE
Aramis Ramirez, Cubs. 33 errors last year, 9 this season. You can credit Derrek Lee for saving some, but Ramirez also deserves some props for improving his footwork. He's rarely throwing off-balance now, since he gets into position to field the ball with his shoulders square. Tom Emanski would be proud.
MOST IMPROVED AT THE DISH
Jack Wilson, Pirates. Last year, he was the typical all-field, no-bat shortstop. Granted, he's no Barry Bonds right now, but he has across-the-board improvement. Significant increases in runs, hits, doubles, triples, and OBP. Batting average is up 50 points from last year, and slugging % over 100 points higher. Pitchers actually have to think about how to get him out now.
Randy Johnson has been dominant, but his team sucks. Hard. Since he had the chance to leave and didn't take it, I'm disqualifying him. Next up is Ben Sheets, whose 2.80 ERA and .213 BAA has yielded a record of 11-12. He's allowed more than 4 earned runs in a start only four times. Eight times he's gone 7+ IP with 2 ER or less, and not gotten a win. Team has been shut out in 5 of his starts. Poor guy.