Prior to the completion of the 2010 regular season, I gave a quick run down of the main candidates for the major baseball awards in Early Award Returns. Never one to rest with a cursory look into any topic, I thought it would be a worthwhile venture to explore each of the major awards in a more in-depth manner. With that, here are my thoughts on the 2010 AL MVP.
To see the previous articles in the series click on the following link:
AL Rookie of the Year Discussion
Brennan Boesch: He was the best power bat amongst AL rookies this season with 14 homers and 67 RBI, but his production was all over the map. Boesch was hitting .342 with 12 homers and 49 RBI at the All-Star break when I pleaded with everyone to trade him. Hell, as early as the second week of June I was jumping off his bandwagon because he was, simply put, hitting in an extreme amount of luck (you can read my thoughts in BABIP: Hitters). I wasn’t surprised he slumped in the second half, but the drop was precipitous to say the least (.163-2-18 over 68 games).
Wade Davis: He was everything the Rays hoped he would be in his first full season in the big leagues. He won 12 games, against 10 loses, and despite some ups and down, in addition to some time on the DL, he still posted a solid 4.07 ERA over 168.1 innings. He didn’t strike out as many as hoped – his K/9 mark was a mere 6.05, well below his roughly one per inning pace in he minors – but he managed to keep his walks in check (3.32 BB/9). He really wasn’t much more than ordinary, but that is still pretty darn good for a rookie in the AL East.
Neftali Feliz: The question to start the year was whether or not he would start of pitch out of the bullpen? The Rangers obviously made the right choice. When Frank Francisco struggled to hold down the 9th, the Rangers gave the ball to Feliz, and he rewarded their faith with the most saves by a rookie in baseball history (40). He also struck out more than a batter per inning (9.22 K/9) while posting a 2.73 ERA and 0.88 WHIP for the AL West champs.
Austin Jackson: I’m still shocked. Jackson led the majors in BABIP at .396, a completely ridiculous mark (see BABIP: Finally Tally- Hitters). At the same time Jackson became the 4th rookie in baseball history – since 1901 anyway – to have a season of 100 runs, 25 steals, 30 doubles, 10 triples and 180 hits. You can read who the other three are at By the Numbers. He clearly was the most productive hitting rookie in the Junior Circuit, there is no debating that.
John Jaso: When you are a catcher for a team that leads the league in victories – the Rays won 96 games – people tend to take notice. Though his 5×5 numbers were ordinary (.263-5-44-57) it should be noted that he had only 339 at-bats. Because of his ability to control the strike zone – he had an excellent 1.51 BB/K mark leading to a .372 OBP – Jaso batted leadoff 45 times for the Rays.
Brian Matusz: He tossed 175.2 innings for the Orioles racking up 10 victories against 12 loses. He also had middling ratios – a 4.30 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP – for a team that was once again a bottom feeder. However, he really stepped up his game down the stretch and completely turned his game around after the All-Star break going 7-3 with a 3.63 ERA an a 1.19 WHIP over 14 starts. All in all, it was a wonderful rookie season filled with much promise thanks to his superlative finish.
Carlos Santana: A knee injury ruined what was shaping up to be a sublime rookie season. In a mere 150 at-bats Santana had six homers, 22 RBI and 23 runs scored, a 120 game pace that would equate to 16 homers, 57 RBI and 60 runs scored. He also posted a .401 OBP leading to an impressive .868 OPS thanks in no small part to his tremendous plate discipline (1.28 BB/K).
In the end, this is a two-man race. Do you favor the everyday player (Jackson) or the pitcher (Feliz)? After much internal wrangling I’m going to award the trophy to the Tigers’ everyday center fielder but that call was by the hair on my gray chinny-chin-chin.
7- Brennan Boesch
6- Carlos Santana
5- John Jaso
4- Brian Matusz
3- Wade Davis
2- Neftali Feliz
1- Austin Jackson
By Ray Flowers