Wednesday, November 19, 2008


For once, I was pretty pleased with the way the MLB awards were handed out this year. Normally, the writers make at least one terrible call based on won-lost record or RBIs or - even worse - team performance. They had a great opportunity to do that again with NL MVP, with Phillie Ryan Howard a mile ahead in HR and RBI, but wisely gave the award to Albert Pujols instead, despite his team failing to make the playoffs. Sure, Johan Santana once again missed out on the Cy Young due to poor run support, but Tim Lincecum was clearly the next best choice, finishing in the top 3 in the NL in IP, K, ERA and, yes, W.

The Twins didn't pick up any of the big awards after Joe Mauer's batting title. Mauer also took home a Gold Glove, and he and Justin Morneau were given Silver Sluggers for being the best hitters at their respective positions (a little strange, considering Kevin Youkilis topped Morneau in BA, OBP, SLG% and HR). Despite missing out on the hardware, the Twins did get some pretty serious respect from the voters.

Ron Gardenhire came in 2nd in the Manager of the Year voting, the 4th time he's been runner-up for the award. I'll be the first to admit that he is often very slow to make personnel changes, and he pretty consistently makes some bad picks out of spring training. But the fundamentals of the team are always pretty strong, and by July, he's usually got things figured out. The Twins seem to outperform the projections every year, and Gardy's leadership is most likely a factor. His career win percentage is now .549 (average season: 89-73). He has his shortcomings, but I'm still glad to have him around through at least 2011.

Morneau came in 2nd for AL MVP and Mauer was 4th. Each of them received more than one first-place vote. Morneau might have come even closer had he managed one more big hit over the season's final 2 weeks - that might have brought him the RBI title and brought his team to the postseason. For him to finish ahead of Youkilis shows tremendous respect from the national writers. The same goes for Mauer, who drew a lot more votes than you'd expect for a big #3 hitter who had just 9 HR and 85 RBi. Clearly, the Twins have 2 elite players in the heart of their lineup, and don't need too much more around them to be a perennial force in the division. (Also, this wouldn't be a bad time to start thinking about an extension for Mauer - don't want to end up in the same situation they were in with Santana last year.)

It was also nice to see a couple of Twins rookies get some votes in the ROY balloting. Denard Span drew 3 3rd-place votes even though he spent almost half the season in the minors. Had the Twins wisely chosen to give him the CF job out of spring training, his numbers might have been better than those of the 3rd-place finisher, Jacoby Ellsbury. And Nick Blackburn got 1 point. His season was bookended by 1-0 losses, and in between he got 5 no-decisions after handing a lead to the bullpen. How many more votes would he have earned with 15 or so wins to go along with his 4.05 ERA and 193.1 IP?

The Twins have some very exciting players on the roster, and most of them are just entering their prime. They're all under team control for at least the next two years. We have a lot to look forward to.

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