Monday, November 12, 2007

Baseball Bling

I love the end-of-season baseball awards. They usually surprise me. At least one (without fail) is downright shocking.

I'm going to sidebar a little bit here and say I've never been the sort of girl who loves a sports player because he's "so CUTE!" (insert glare at all the girlie Johnny Damon/Tom Brady/Tony Romo lovers here). I love guys who can doesn't really matter what they look like under their helmet or hat. That said...

I love Russell Martin. I love looking at him. I love watching him play. I love listening to him get interviewed. I was on vacation in Boston when they had Russell Martin bobblehead day at the stadium...and I made my mother go to the game so that I could put a miniature version of him on my bookshelf in my apartment (calm yourselves..I paid for her ticket).

I feel okay about all of this because damn, the kid can play. He was recognized this year with both the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger. Here are the lines (in only his second season) that earned him that distinction:

SS: AVG .293 HR 19 RBI 87 OBP .374 SLG .469

GG: GP 154 \ Attempts 123 \ % CS 33.3 \ Inn/SB 15.3 \ Fld % .988 \ Assists 83


No one was surprised that Dustin Pedroia took home the AL Rookie of the Year Award. There really wasn't another strong argument to be made. Despite a rough, below-the-Mendoza-line start in May, Pedroia finished the season with a .317 batting average - an all-time best for a rookie second baseman. He also lead all major league rookies in doubles, was second in on-base percentage and third in runs.

His heroics in the postseason - driving in 10 in 14 games and that lead off homer in Game 1 of the World Series are just a couple things worth mentioning here - are made even more impressive by the fact that the 24-year-old did it all with a broken hamate bone in his hand.

My Boston friends and I, after watching Pedroia come up clutch again and again, even started singing what became known as "The Pedroia Song" (sung to the tune of the chorus of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You"):

Dus-tin Pe-dro-ia

You are the love of my life

Dus-tin Pe-dro-ia

I'd let you &$@! my wife (or "ME!" if you're a woman)


I trust in you when you playyyyy

Congratulations to him.


In the NL, things were a bit more, surprising. General public opinion (and critical opinion) bestowed the NL Rookie of the Year on Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki. When the votes were counted, however, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun came out on top by a mere two points - the closest margin since the current voting system was implemented in 1980.

It's also a classic example of flash trumping substance.

Hitting Stats:

Fielding Stats:

In general, sports fans understand the value of a good defense, but it's a lot harder to see (and quantify) than home runs and extra bases. Braun trumps Tulowitzki in batting average, home runs and slugging percentage. He also committed 26 errors in 112 games (giving him the second-worst fielding percentage - .895 - among third baseman since 1910).

Tulowitzki was part of (arguably) THE best defense in the major leagues all year. His team made it to the World Series. His offensive numbers are incredibly impressive and definitely comparable to Braun's. How is it that a rookie with a hot bat but a questionable glove beats out another rookie who's got the whole package - an impressive bat AND a solid glove (and at shortstop to boot)? Are we really THAT blinded by the long ball?

Congrats to Ryan Braun for an incredibly impressive offensive debut. It's unfortunate that it was able to cast a shadow over Tulowitzki - without question the better "complete package" - and cost him the Rookie of the Year award.

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