Perhaps you will recall that on March 11, 2010, in a scrimmage game between Marin Catholic High School (Kentfield, CA) and visiting De La Salle High School (Concord, CA), a 16-year-old pitcher named Gunnar Sandberg was hit in the side of the head by a line drive off the aluminum bat of Zac Byers.
The ball was traveling at 100+ miles per hour when it slammed into Gunnar’s head. He was rushed to the hospital, a portion of his skull was removed to give the brain room to swell (decompressive craniectomy, for the medically minded among you), and he was placed into a medically induced coma to try to keep the swelling at a minimum. He spent months in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility while recovering from this life-threatening injury.
The previous month, University of San Francisco pitcher Matt Hiseman swung on a 3-1 scrimmage fastball sending a screaming comebacker that hit teammate Pete Lavin in the same part of the head as Sandberg. Lavin suffered only a severe concussion and a fracture of the temporal bone, but not the baseball-sized depression of the
skull that Sandberg received.
Both pitchers were luckier than 18-year-old pitcher Brandon Patch, who was killed in Miles City, Montana, in July of 2003, when he was drilled by a batted ball in an American Legion game. His family sued the bat manufacturer Louisville Slugger and was awarded $850,000. These and similar injuries have raised concerns about the safety of pitchers at all levels of baseball from little league through the majors.
A Pitcher’s Helmet Prototype: In March, with Gunnar Sandberg and his parents in attendance, Easton-Bell unveiled a prototype pitcher’s head protection device that fits over a standard baseball hat (ballplayers don’t refer to their headgear as “caps”).
It looks and feels like a bicycle helmet with the top removed, and weighs only 5½ ounces. It combines an outer shell of energy-absorbing plastic (expanded polystyrene) like that found in bike helmets, a wide adjustable elastic strap across the back like that on ski goggles, and an absorbent mesh liner such as that found inside football helmets.
At the announcement event at the company’s Scotts Valley Helmet Technology Center (which insiders call “the Dome”), Gunnar Sandberg slipped the device over his Marin Catholic baseball hat and pronounced it “comfortable,” later adding, “Wouldn’t you rather wear this than be in the
hospital for two months?” Anticipating criticism that it might not look cool, Bjorn Sandberg, Gunnar’s father, said, “Any excuse not to wear it is a weak excuse.” In my humble opinion, it looks like something from a sci-fi movie and is really cool.
Easton-Bell is to be commended for developing this device, which was in part motivated by Sandberg’s injury. ”One injury is too many,” said CEO Paul Harrington. The designers in the Dome studied film of more than 5,000 pitchers from delivery through follow-through to determine which parts of the head were most vulnerable to injury. They wanted to create something that was light weight, wouldn’t interfere with the pitcher’s windup and delivery, and wouldn’t be uncomfortably hot under the summer sun, hence the open top.
Also present that day was Stephen Keener, President and CEO of Little League Baseball and Softball, Inc. “This type of product needs to be introduced at the youngest level of youth baseball,” Keener said. “That’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time. What we’re talking about is saving kids’ lives. These injuries are rare. When they do happen, they are very traumatic, catastrophic.”
Marie Ishida, the Executive Director of the California Interscholastic Federation was also in attendance, says “I would suspect within a five-year period we’re going to see safety equipment [like this] mandated.”
Easton-Bell wouldn’t give a price range for the new pitcher’s helmet. Ongoing testing needs to be completed before a price can be finalized. It is anticipated that the helmets will become available to the public this fall.
The Aluminum Bat Controversy: Head protection isn’t the only issue troubling parents and those who coach ballplayers, especially young ones. Aluminum bats allow players to hit the ball farther and with greater speed than the wooden bats that professional baseball uses. (The latter have their own issues, such as the splintering of the popular maple bats, but that’s a topic for another article.)
It is said that balls hit with aluminum bats can travel at a speed in excess of 130 mph when they reach the pitcher’s mound, especially in the hands of high school and college players. This increased bat speed, and resulting ball speed, is due to the lightness of the bats, the larger “sweet spot,” and the “trampoline effect” of the aluminum material, all of which place pitchers in greater peril.
California has now mandated the use of deadened aluminum bats for high school and college baseball. They perform much like wooden bats, but are much more durable, eliminating the cost of replacing splintered bats. The Marin County Athletic League, in which Gunnar Sandberg plays, went to wooden bats right after his injury and they have continued to use them this season.
The NCAA has also mandated the use of the less-lively aluminum bats. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) noted a power outage after their players were required to use the deadened bats. Home runs are down by 50%, number of runs scored per game are down 20%, batting averages are lower, the average pitcher’s ERA has dropped from 4.04 to 3.17, and shutouts are way up.
LSU Coach Paul Mainieri said recently, “The bats have made an enormous difference. It’s changed the way you play. There’s more hit and runs, more stealing and more moving runners any way you can. The days of swinging for the fences on every pitch are finished.”
Miraculously, Gunnar Sandberg is back playing baseball for the Marin Catholic baseball team, using the prototype helmet that Easton-Bell designed in large part for him (see photo below).
He’s been restricted to playing first base or DH, but not because of his head injury. He has a torn right labrum in his throwing shoulder, which he sustained while sliding head first into second base in a winter league game in
December. (Sliding head first is also a topic for another article.) This injury will likely require surgery after the
baseball season. His only residual effects of the brain injury are problems with short-term memory and difficulty
concentrating in school, but he is expected to graduate with his class this spring.
Gunnar’s mother, Lisa Sandberg, perhaps summed up her son’s brush with death best. “Gunnar’s skull fracture was exactly in the shape of a baseball. Had it hit him [an inch or so further forward] in the temple, he would have been dead.”
Photo Credits: Tanya Koenker, nbcsports.com, http://www.internationalsport.com, sports.espn.go.com, AP Photo.
It’s been a while since I posted an article on this blog. Before I get kicked out of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I thought I’d give you an article about this-and-that about the A’s during the last couple of months, in no particular order.
Where I’ve Been: First, let me explain my absence from these pages. I needed to get my 120,000 word novel into final form with the help of my free-lance editor, Rick Hurd. Once that was done (Is it ever done?), I began last week the unenviable task of trying to find an agent to represent my novel Contract Year: A Story about Love and Baseball. I had to do a lot of research trying to find agents who like baseball, which is not easy to do. That’s not something they usually share in their agent profiles. So far, I have queried 3 agents and I have identified another who likes sports. So that’s why I have not posted an article in almost 2 months.
So on to News of the A’s:
A’s New Radio Station: During the off season, the A’s attempted to buy their flagship radio station KTRB, which had filed bankruptcy. A deal couldn’t be accomplished, so March 31st the A’s announced that they have a new flagship station, KBWF FM 95.7 “The Wolf,” a country and western station with perhaps the strongest FM signal in the Bay Area. Given the problems with reception in various places in the East Bay and elsewhere that we fans experienced in the last few years, this is very good news.
Apparently AM radio popularity is waning and FM is gaining in popularity rapidly, and is expected to take over the sports broadcasting market in the near future. The A’s are currently the only MLB team whose sole flagship station is in FM format, and the broadcast quality is vastly superior to AM. Several other teams have both AM and FM stations carrying the same braodcast.
On April 15th, only 2 weeks later, KBWF rebranded itself as Sports Radio 95.7, changing it’s format to full-time sports talk radio. This allows the A’s pregame show to expand to a full hour and Chris Townsend’s post-game call-in show to last at least an hour and sometimes longer. In short, this is a really good situation for the A’s and their fans and will continue through the 2014 season under the current contract. FYI, KBWF is also the flagship radio station for the San Jose Sharks.
A’s Organizational Changes:
Sacramento River Cats:The A’s extended their contract with the Sacramento River Cats, the A’s Triple-A affiliate since 2000, through the 2014 season.
In 2010, the Rivercats won their 9th Pacific Coast League Division title in 11 years, and the team has won 4 PCL Championships since they joined the A’s organization. They also led Minor League Baseball in attendance during 9 of the last 11 years.
A’s Shuffle Minor League Affiliates: The Burlington Bees of the Midwest League is now the Single-A affiliate of the A’s in the Midwest League, replacing the Kane County Cougars.
The Bees were the Single-A affiliate of the Kansas City A’s from 1963-1967 and continued as the A’s Single-A affiliate for 6 more years after the A’s moved to Oakland. FYI, this season so far, the Bees are 8-2, leading the Western Division with the league’s best W-L record. Kane county is in last place.
The Vermont Lake Monsters of the New York-Penn League has replaced Vancouver Canadiens of the Short Season Northwest League, as the A’s short season Single-A affiliate. Of the new teams, A’s GM Billy Beane said, “Both areas are steeped in rich baseball history and offer very supportive communities. It should be an exciting and mutually beneficial partnership for all parties involved.”
A’s Coaching Changes: Curt Young, who was the A’s pitching coach for the last 7 years, is now the pitching coach for the Red Sox. We are all sad to see him go but wish him the best of luck.
Ron Romanick, at left, the A’s bullpen coach for the last 3 seasons, was promoted to fill Curt Young’s shoes with the A’s. Before becoming the bullpen coach, Romanick spent 9 years as the A’s minor league roving pitching instructor, and was instrumental in developing pitchers Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden and others. The bullpen duties are now handled by Rick Rodriguez, who has been the pitching coach for the Sacramento River Cats for most of the last 10 years.
Also, Gerald Perry is back as A’s hitting coach, replacing Jim Skaalen, who held the position during the last two seasons. This is Perry’s second stint as A’s hitting coach (2006). In addition, Joel Skinner, who came over from the Cleveland Indians, has replaced Tye Waller as A’s bench coach, with Waller sliding over to first base coaching duties.
Trainers and Other Medical Changes: Steve Sayles is no longer the A’s head trainer. Nick Paparesta, who was the assistant trainer for the Tampa Bay Rays for the past three seasons, has assumed the reins. Walt Horn remains an assistant trainer along with Brian Schulman, who was a trainer at Cal Berkeley for the last 7 years.
In October of 2010, the A’s parted company with the Webster Orthopedic Group, shortly after Dallas Braden filed a medical malpractice suit against the group,
for the permanent nerve damage when they nicked a nerve during a cyst removal from his foot. He has no feeling in part of his foot, which affects his pitching delivery, his perfect game notwithstanding.
Ticket Sales up: A’s season ticket sales are up 50% this year. It validates the moves that Billy Beane made this offseason. (See previous post on this blog here.) The presence of Hideki Matsui probably accounts for much of the rise. Also, inspite of playing in a bad ballpark, threats of moving the team elsewhere, and some anti-fan moves (like the tarps and cancelling the annual FanFest), people still like the A’s a lot and remain loyal.
Facebook Study: The social media giant conducted a study of members who “like” their teams.
Phillies fans were found to be “most loyal”, St. Louis Cardinals are most beloved by women, but the Oakland A’s fans are the “most social,” meaning they have the most friends on Facebook. A’s fans are the only team-based community that averages over 500 “friends” per member. A’s fans are also the “most scattered around the country”, are “among the youngest”, “most likely to be single”, and “most male-centric in the major leagues.” You can read the report here.
Now to Leave Lou With Something Musical. One of my favorite baseball songs is entitled, “Somewhere between Old and New York” by Dave Grusin, Randy Goodrum and Dave Loggins, and sung by Phoebe Snow. Enjoy it here. Listen carefully to the lyrics. They are pure poetry.
As promised in my last blog article, Justine Siegal took the mound today and pitched BP at the Cleveland Indians Spring Training site. You can read about it and watch a video of her pitching here. On Wednesday she will pitch to A’s players in Phoenix. I’ll keep you posted from time to time on her progress.
Today on the MLBlogs.com’s home page, the featured blog is Justine’s Baseball Journey. Justine Siegal is the first woman ever to coach 1st base on a men’s professional baseball team (The Broxton Rox of the Canadian American League).
Justine is in her 31st season of playing baseball (make no mistake, we are talking baseball – hardball style).
Justine also founded Baseball for All, a non-profit that provides meaningful instruction and opportunities in baseball, especially for girls. Justine envisions a day when girls will have the same opportunities as boys to compete in baseball at every level of play.
She served as assistant baseball coach at Springfield College in Massachusetts from 2007-2010. She has coached and played baseball on 5 continents and has served as Technical Commissioner for the International Federation of Baseball, which is the worldwide governing body for the sport of baseball. She is presently working toward a Ph.D. in Sport and Excercise Psychology at Springfield College.
Justine also founded the “WBL Sparks,” a 12-and-under baseball team, which is the first all-girl team to compete in the national “boys” tournament at Dreamspark in Cooperstown, NY in 2009, site of the baseball Hall of Fame.
ESPN aired a documentary on the tournament entitled “The Girls of Summer.” Watch the Trailer. You’ll be very impressed.
Justine dreamed of playing in the Major Leagues but she had the misfortune of being born in the 1970′s, when the only real way for a girl to play ball was to play softball. Other than working in the front office or working the concessions, participating at any level of professional baseball was extremely rare at that time.
The other girl with a dream to play baseball was Christina-Taylor Green. Her name may be familiar to you as she was the 9-year-old girl who was gunned down with Congressman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson last month. Like Justine, Christina dreamed of becoming the first woman to play major league baseball, and was a star on her Canyon Del Oro Little League team.
Christina was also interested in politics which is why her neighbor brought her to a Tucson shopping center on that fateful day to meet her local congresswoman, Gabby Giffords. It was an unfortunate case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and our prayers go out to her family. By the way, the neighbor took 3 bullets trying to protect Christina.
You may not know that Christina had baseball in her blood. Her father, John Green, is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and before that for the Baltimore Orioles. Her more-famous grandfather was Dallas Green, a pitcher for the Phillies in the 1960′s. After his playing days ended, Green joined the Phillies front office. In 1979, he was appointed the manager of the Phillies, replacing Danny Ozark, and dispite his tough abrasive manner, led the team to the 1980 World Series title. Dallas is now a senior advisor to Phillies General Manager, Reuben Amaro, Jr.
Dallas Green was rocked when his granddaughter was killed. “You know I’m supposed to be a tough sucker,” he said last week, “but I’m not tough when it comes to this. She embodied what’s good about kids, and what’s good about growing up in the United States. She was a really special young lady, probably older than her years.”
Dallas is probably at spring training right now with the Phillies. He never considered skipping it this year. Most likely it will be a welcome diversion while he and his wife, Sylvia, try to cope with this awful tragedy.
To honor the memory of Christina, the Canyon Del Oro Little League has created a commemorative patch which all their players will wear on their uniforms this season.
You can obtain one or more of these patches from the league
On February 21st, all of the above will come together in one place. Justine Siegel will achieve another first by becoming the first woman to pitch batting practice to a Major League baseball club when she takes the mound in Goodyear, AZ, to pitch BP to the Cleveland Indians. Two days later she will throw BP at Phoenix Municipal Stadium to the Oakland A’s. As a tribute to Christina, she will wear the commemorative patch on her uniform.
How did Justine get the opportunity to pitch to major league teams? “It’s all in the ask,” she says. She approached quite a few teams about the possibility of pitching BP at spring training, and “there were only two teams that dared to dream with me.” The Indians and the A’s are special teams indeed.
P.S. I tried to find the picture of Christina that was all over the news after the massacre, but the photographer who took the picture threatened to sue any media outlets who aired or printed it, and the picture has all but disappeared from the internet. What goes around, comes around, and he is reportedly out of business because people were so appalled at his apparent greed in a time of sadness. How’d that work for you buddy?
It’s been a few months since I wrote a blog article, but as I did last year, I’d like to bring you up to date on the roster moves that Billy Beane and Co. made during the offseason.
Comings – New Faces Abound for 2011:
OF David DeJesus came over in a trade with the Kansas City Royals on Nov 10th for RHP Vin Mazzaro and LHP Justin Marks. DeJesus, 30, batted .318 with 5 HRs and 37 RBIs in 91 games with the Royals in 2010, but missed the last two months of the season after surgery on his right thumb. He played primarily in right field and has a 241-game errorless streak dating baci to Sept 15th, 2008.
RHP Brandon McCarthy signed as a free
agent on Dec 14th, (Texas Rangers),
recurring shoulder problems, $1Million 1-yr deal laden with performance incentives.
DH Hideki Matsui signed as a free agent on Dec 14th (LA Angels), $1.25M 1-yr deal, a pure hitter with 20-25 HRs/season potential and a career batting average of .290, should hit 3rd or 4th in lineup (a HUGE upgrade from Jack Cust!).
OF Josh Willingham came to the A’s in a trade with the Washington Nationals on Dec 16th for RHP Henry Rodriguez (100+mph) and OF prospect Corey Brown. Willingham, 32 in Feb, has 7 years in the majors, averaging 20 home runs and 66 RBIs over the past 5 seasons, and is another middle-of-the-order hitter.
He had surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee last August, but says he’s fully recovered. He made $4.5M last year and is going to arbitration unless a deal is made today (Jan 17th), and will probably earn more than $4.5M in 2011.
RHP Rich Harden signed as a free agent on Dec 21st (Texas Rangers), a 1-yr deal worth $1.5M+incentives. No stranger to the A’s (2003-08), he has been plagued by injuries most of his career, but has lights out stuff when he’s healthy. He’ll be vying for the 5th starter slot with Brandon McCarthy.
RHP Grant Balfour signed as a free agent on Jan 14th (Tampa Bay Rays), a 2-yr $8.1M deal with a club option for 2013, to bolster the bullpen.
LHP Brian Fuentes (Minnesota Twins) signed as a free agent on Jan 16th, a 2-yr deal expected to yield him $5M+/year (details not yet announced). Fuentes is a 4-time All-Star, who has averaged 31 saves over the past 6 seasons with the Rockies, Angels and the Twins. Last year he recorded 24 saves, a 2.81 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP*.
He will also have to pass a physical, most likely today or tomorrow. If Andrew Bailey is healthy, Bailey will probably still be the closer, but Fuentes gives Manager Bob Geren the option of going with a left-hander to close out a game.
Stayings: Some Familiar Faces Re-signed:
2B Mark Ellis: The club exercised it’s option for 2011 and will pay Mark $6M for the year. Ellie led the A’s in batting in 2010, hitting .291 in 124 games. He also has the 2nd-best fielding percentage (.990) among 2nd basemen with over 750 or more games. Always a fan favorite, he’ll be back in the lineup for one more year.
OF Coco Crisp: The A’s also excercised their club option for 2011, and will pay Coco $6M. When Coco was healthy in 2010, he hit .279 with 8 HR and 38 RBIs in 75 games, and stole a career-high 32 bases. To put it in perspective, he finished 2nd on the A’s in steals (to Rajai Davis), 3rd in triples (4), and 5th in homeruns, despite missing over half the season!
Goings: Chavez’ Option not Picked Up:
3B Eric Chavez, who spent his whole career in the Athletics organization, including 13 seasons with the A’s. He is a .267 career hitter with 230 HRs and 787 RBIs in 1,320 games, and holds numerous A’s records, ranking in the top 10 in nearly every category. He also won 6 consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 2001-06. He is reported to be working out with teams (Dodgers, for one) in hopes he can find a place to play in the majors in 2011.Contracts Not Tendered or Players Released: DH Jack Cust (now with the Mariners), OF Gabe Gross (still unsigned), OF Travis Buck (Indians), P Justin Duchscherrer (still unsigned, but Yankees showing interest), OF Jeremy Hermida (Reds), P Russ Wolf (Pirates), OF Jeff Larish (Phillies), P Boof Bonser (Mets), P Justin James (Brewers), P Brett Tomko (still unsigned), IF Dallas McPherson (White Sox), IF Corey Wimberly (Pirates), and 3B Akinori Iwamura (Rakuten, Japan).
Traded: OF Rajai Davis (Blue Jays for 2 pitching prospects), P Vin Mazzaro (Royals, in the DeJesus trade), P Henry Rodriguez (Nationals, in the Willingham trade). We will miss his hustle and that great smile. I hope he has the opportunity to play everyday in Toronto. He deserves it.
I haven’t mentioned that the A’s won the right to negotiate with Hisashi Iwakuma, for which they had to pay $19.1M. They had 30 days to negotiate with his current team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles (the same team that Akinori Iwamura will play for in 2011). Negotiations broke down over the salary that the A’s would pay him (in addition to the $19.1M!) and Iwakuma will return to Rakuten to finish out his contract year there. The $19.1M was returned to the A’s, under the Japanese negotiating rules.
Also, I didn’t mention that the A’s claimed Edwin Encarnacion on waivers from the Blue Jays in November, but released him back to the Jays in December.
That’s it for now. It looks like this will be an exiting year for the A’s and their fans. The new aquisitions, re-signings, and the players no longer on the team, have put the A’s in position to compete creditably for the AL West Division Title in 2011, if the injury bug doesn’t take a huge toll. Nevertheless, there is so much depth on this roster that very capable guys can step up and fill any holes if players go down. I can’t wait!
Upcoming Blog Post Topics:
A’s Coaching Staff Changes
A’s New Minor League Affiliates
Come back and visit often!
*Walks + Hits divided by Innings Pitched (anything close to 1.0 is very good)
The last BBA Award for 2010 is for the player who was most valuable to his team during the 2010 season, and there is no clear front runner. Here are my picks:
1st Place: Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers.
Josh Hamilton is the heart and soul of the Texas Rangers. He lead the league in 3 offensive categories (.359 BA, .633 Slug%, and 1.044 OPS) he hit 32 home runs, had 186 hits, and scored 95 runs. Defensively, he had an overall fielding percentage of .985 (1.000 in 40 games at CF). And he did all this while appearing in only119 games. It is clear to most that he is a large part of why the Texas Rangers are playing in the World Series.
2nd Place: Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. On a team that finished in the middle of the pack in the Central Division, Cabrera was the standout. He led the league in 3 offensive categories (126 RBI’s, .420 OBP, and 179 OPS+) and he was only .002 behind Hamilton in OPS. He batted.328 in 150 games. He hit 38 homers, 180 hits including 45 doubles, and walked 89 times. On a team that was going nowhere, he was the shining light.
3rd Place: Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees. In contrast to Cabrera, Cano was a star among stars. But Cano was the most consistent all-around player on the Yankees, especially when some of the other luminaries on the team were having a lackluster time. He played in all but 1 game this season, batted .319, had 200 hits, 109 RBI’s, 29 homers, and scoured 103 runs. In the field, he committed only 3 errors in 158 games for a fielding % of .996. He’s the consumate 5-tool player.
4th Place: Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins. He would have been higher, but he only played in 81 games. .345 BA, 1.055 OPS, 102 hits, 18 HR, .999 Fielding %.
5th Place: Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox. .312 BA, .997 OPS, 171 hits, 39 HR, .994 Fielding %.
6th Place: Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays. .294 BA, .879 OPS, 22 HR, 169 hits, 104 RBI’s, .996 Fielding %.
7th Place: Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. His standout stat is 54 HR which led the league. He also led the league with 351 total bases. .260 BA, .995 OPS, 148 hits, 124 RBI’s.
8th Place: Vladimir Guerrero of the Texas Rangers. .300 BA, .841 OPS, 29 HR, 178 hits, 115 RBI’s, mostly at DH.
9th Place: Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox. Only played in 102 games. .307 BA, .975 OPS, 19 HR, 111 hits, 62 RBI’s, .997 Fielding %.
10th Place: David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox. Big Poppy started out slowly but finished strong. .270 BA, .899 OPS, 32 HR, 140 Hits, 102 RBI’s, mostly at DH.
That’s my take on this and the previous awards posted recently. Now we wait until the MLB equivalent awards are announced to see if the BBA bloggers agree.
Today’s ballot is for the equivalent of the MLB Cy Young Award. Here are my picks, all of whom were All Stars in 2010:
1st Place: CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees.
Not only did he have 21 wins and only 7 losses, he pitched 237.2 innings, had an ERA of 3.18, 197 strikeouts and a low WHIP of 1.191. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the WHIP stat, it means walks and hits per inning pitched. It is one of the best ways to evaluate a pitcher. He’s the only one of the 5 listed here who won over 20 games. So, much as I hate the Yankees, he gets my nod for #1.
2nd Place: Cliff Lee of the Texas Rangers. Although he had a bit if a rough go after he was traded by Seattle to Texas, he deserves to be #2. I know, the Cy young doesn’t usually go to a pitcher unless he has at least 16 wins, but when Cliff (12-9) is on, he is completely dominant, and he’s on most of the time, and almost always lights out when it really counts. His ERA was 3.18, not the lowest by any means, but he gave up only .8 walks per 9 innings, his strikeout/walk ratio was 10.28, and his WHIP was a very low 1.003. On paper he may not look like he deserves second place, but I’d take him as the ace on my team anyday.
3rd Place: David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays. David (19-6) had a 2.72 ERA, Pitched 208.2 innings and had 188 strikeouts. So far, so good. But his WHIP was 1.193, he gave up 3.4 walks/9 innings, his SO/BB ratio was 8.1, all worse than Lee.
4th Place: Trevor Cahill of the Oakland Athletics.
You would be wrong if you thought this was strickly a sentimental pick, because if it were, Trevor (18-8) would be much higher up the list. He deserves considerable recognition for what he accomplished in 2010, especially since he started the year at AAA, and in the majors he pitched for a team with some of the lowest hitting stats in the league. He finished with an ERA of just 2.97, had 118 strikeouts, and his WHIP was 1.108, second lowest of the 5 listed here behind only Cliff Lee. His hits/9 innings was the lowest at 7.1.
5th Place: Jon Lester of the New York Yankees. Another Yankee, I know, but his stats alone warrant his consideration: W/L of 19-9, ERA 3.25, 208 innings pitched, 225 strikeouts, 1.202 WHIP, and 7.2 hits/9 innings.
There you have it.
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance is a group of about 235 bloggers who cover all 30 MLB teams, as well as some who write blogs of more general baseball interest and history of the game. If you are interested in reading blogs about teams other than the A’s, let me know which teams and I’ll hook you up with my fellow bloggers who cover that team.
Nest: The Stan Musial Award (akin to MLB’s Most Valuable Player award)
My next Baseball Bloggers Alliance ballot is for the Goose Gossage Award for the best relief pitcher in the American League. My choices are:
1st Place: Rafael Soriano of the Tampa Bay Rays. He had a 1.73 ERA and gave the Rays’ bullpen what they needed to take the AL East.
2nd Place: Joakim Soria of the Kansas City Royals. His 1.78 ERA was the bright spot in a dismal team this year. He saved 43 of the Royals 67 wins, out of 46 save opportunities (93%).
3rd Place: Naftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers. He had an ERA of 2.73 and 71 strikeouts, as well as 40 saves and he’s only 22 years old.
Next up: The Walter Johnson Award (Cy Young Award equivalent.
P.S. Sorry no pictures but my computer is screwed up and incredibly slow, so it would take 5 minutes to upload a picture and about 10 minutes to find one. It runs at about the speed of my Kaypro in the early 80′s. Anyone remember them?
The baseball Bloggers Alliance’s second award for 2010 is the Willie Mays Award for the Rookie of the Year. Since I write about the A’s (actually I’m the only blogger in the BBA writing about the A’s), I get to vote for the American League ROY. Here are my picks:
1st Place: Naftali Feliz, P, of the Texas Rangers.
During the regular season, Feliz dazzled as the Rangers closer at the ripe old age of 21! His 2.73 ERA, 71 strike outs in 69.1 innings, and his 40 saves are enough for the top spot IMHO. Let’s not forget he made the American League All Star Team.
2nd Place: Austin Jackson, CF,of the Detroit Tigers. Jackson is the complete player. His .293 batting average, .345 on-base percentage and .400 slugging percentage, coupled with a .985 fielding percentage, puts him way up the list as a legitimate 5-tool player.
3rd Place: Danny Valencia, 3B, of the Minnesota Twins. This may be a bit of a long shot, but this kid batted .311, with a .448 slugging percentage and had an on-base percentage of .799! Okay, so he only appeared 85 games, but he hit 7 Home runs and drove in 40 runners. Not bad for half a season. His defense at the hot corner is stellar with a .973 fielding perentage with only 6 errors. If he’d been able to play the whole season at this level, he might have taken the top. spot.
Next up: The Goose Gossage Award for the best relief pitcher.
As the sole Oakland A’s blogger in the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I am required to submit a ballot for the BBA’s post-season awards. Today’s is for the Connie Mack Award for the Best Manager of the 2010 baeball season. Here are my choices:
1st Place: Ron Gardenhire of the Minnesota Twins. Since Gardenhire took the reins in Minnesota, the twins have one six out of nine division titles. Despite having fewer resources (read that money) than other teams they have beaten, he led the team to 94 wins. Only the Rays (96) and the Yankees (95) had more. And the team was without the services of Justin Morneau, the 2007 MVP, for the last half of the season, and Mauer was down for a while as well. The Twins went 47-21 without Morneau. That, and winning the AL Central Division, says a lot about Gardenhire’s ability to win without one of his best run producers. He get’s my nod.
2nd Place: Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers. The Rangers greatly exceeded expectations this year, and pretty much abled into first place inthe ALWestern Division with the huge lead they had built up early in the season. Like Gardenhire, Wash was without the services of Josh Hamilton for a significant part of the season, but he found a way to get his team to win. I would have put him in first place, if they Rangers hadn’t faltered coming down the stretch (.500 winning percentage in Aug and Sept). But they had such a huge lead that it didn’t matter.
3rd Place: Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays. [Under Construction.}