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:
Who is the NL MVP?
Who is the AL MVP?
Who is the NL Cy Young?
Who is the AL Cy Young?
NL Rookie of the Year Discussion
John Axford: The best rookie closer in the NL. Still he only saved 24 games, and that total isn’t impressive enough to win the award in this loaded field. His ratios were solid – 2.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP – and his K-rate was sublime (11.79 per nine).
Madison Bumgarner: Pitching well beyond his 21 years of age, Bumgarner is a huge young man (6’4″, 215 lbs) who possess the demeanor of a champion (think Kevin Brown). He only made 18 starts so he had no shot at the award, but to go 7-6 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and a 3.31 K/BB mark in the heat of a pennant race when you are barely old enough to drink – this guy’s gonna be a big-time player.
Starlin Castro: The Cubs shortstop hit .300 with 10 steals over 125 games, but he also slumped at the end of the season hitting just .232 over his last 33 games. He also committed a whopping 27 errors. He was amazingly good for a guy who doesn’t turn 21 until March.
Ike Davis: Considering all the pressure he was under in New York, Davis had a pretty darn impressive first effort. He needs to work on making contact, his 138 Ks in 523 at-bats is a poor mark, but he hit a passable .264 while stroking 19 long balls with 71 RBI and 73 runs scored. That production was one more homer, and one fewer RBI, than a certain outfielder from the Braves that causes everyone to drool.
Jaime Garcia: The best rookie pitcher in the league because of his ability to do what the other didn’t, and that is to rack up innings. Garcia was shut down early when the Cardinals realized they had nothing to play for (he tossed 163.1 innings), but you cannot ignore a 13-8 record and a 2.70 ERA. His WHIP was a bit high at 1.32 and his K/BB was merely average at 2.06, but it was still a fine rookie campaign.
Gaby Sanchez: A lot better than you think he was, Sanchez may have slumped late to end the year at .273, but he still powered 19 homers while knocking in 85 runs. Sanchez also scored 72 times while slapping 37 doubles for the Marlins. He won’t win the award, but he had an excellent season.
Stephen Strasburg: Twelve of the best starts ever for any pitcher to begin his career. Unfortunately Tommy John surgery was needed to fix a bum elbow. Still, he went 5-3 with a 12.18 K/9 mark and a 5.41 K/BB rate. Toss in a 2.91 ERA an a 1.07 WHIP and you begin to understand just how historically good he was for a first year hurler.
But we all know this race is about two men: Jason Heyward and Buster Posey. Let’s just get right to the numbers.
B. Posey: .305/.357/..505
Most know that Posey had the better batting average, but how many realized he also had a better OPS (.862 to .849)?
Heyward: 18 homers, 72 RBI, 83 runs
B. Posey: 18 homers, 67 RBI, 58 runs
Heyward comes out ahead, but he also appeared in 34 more games. If Posey maintained his pace over the 520 at-bats that Heyward had he would have had 23 homers, 86 RBI and 74 runs.
Heyward: 6.47 RC/27, .175 ISO, .363 SECA
B. Posey: 6.18 RC/27, .200 ISO, .268 SECA
Heyward clearly has the advantage here.
Heyward: Right Field
B. Posey: Catcher
To me, the batting numbers are close enough between the top-2 options that the fact that Posey is a catcher makes all the difference. Don’t overlook the fact that Posey also batted cleanup for the Giants as the team was totally transformed from virtually the moment he was called up to the big leagues.
9- Madison Bumgarner
8- Stephen Strasburg
7- John Axford
6- Starlin Castro
5- Ike Davis
4- Gaby Sanchez
3- Jaime Garcia
2- Jason Heyward
1- Buster Posey
By Ray Flowers