Bonds and Guerrero rose above the rest this season
Okay, Sox fans, I'll just go ahead and say it: As many of you around campus have let me know, you were right and I was wrong. Who would've thought that every Cards hitter except Larry Walker and Albert Pujols would go MIA in the Series? Or that Tony LaRussa would make decisions that would make even Jimy Williams scratch his head? Or that Jeff Suppan would become, well Jeff Suppan? Anyway, congrats Sox fans, you certainly have something to celebrate.
Apparently, though, there was a 162-game season before the playoffs even started, so now that everything has been wrapped up, it would be appropriate to reflect on some of the highlights of the 2004 MLB season and hand out some postseason hardware.
Barry Bonds, LF San Francisco Giants
Albert Pujols, 1B St. Louis Cardinals
Adrian Beltre, 3B Los Angeles Dodgers.
I didn't want to give this award to Bonds, especially in light of the new developments in the BALCO Labs steroid scandal. However, his amazing on-base percentage (a single-season record .609) and his production (.362, 45 HR, 101 RBI) despite having only 373 official at-bats in an otherwise weak lineup give Bonds the nod for an unprecedented fourth consecutive MVP Award.
Pujols continues to play the bridesmaid to Bonds' bride, though without the random hookup with some groomsman at the reception. Also, though by no fault of his own, Pujols' supporting cast of MVP candidates Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen can help to almost explain away his own amazing numbers (.341, 46 HR, 123 RBI, .415 OBP). And while Beltre was the offensive behemoth for an otherwise production-deficient Dodgers team, he really has no chance while both Pujols and Bonds are in the league.
Vladimir Guerrero, RF Anaheim Angels
Gary Sheffield, RF New York Yankees
Manny Ramirez, LF Boston Red Sox
When I first sat down to write this column, I thought for sure that after weighing everything, this would come down to Sheffield or Manny. However, all things considered, Vlad proved to be worth every penny of the five-year, $70 million contract he signed with the Angels in the off-season. He hit for average (.337), power (39 HR), and added in run production (124 runs, 126 RBI) and a dash of speed, to boot (15 SB).
Sheffield gets the nod over Manny for second place due to his penchant for timely hits and his ability to carry an otherwise sluggish Yankees team through the third quarter of the season. Manny had great metrics, but he also was protected by the best DH in the American League in David "Papi" Ortiz, an MVP candidate in his own right, and thus can be considered not as "valuable" as Sheffield.
NL Cy Young
Randy Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks
Roger Clemens, Houston Astros
Jason Schmidt, San Francisco Giants
Unlike the MVP, the Cy Young does not penalize pitchers for playing on a bad team aside from low win totals. And despite pitching for a team that only won 51 games, Johnson still went 16-14. Combine this with a 2.60 ERA and MLB-best 290 strikeouts and Johnson is the clear winner in the National League.
Clemens took home the award, and while I always shed a single tear when hearing about how he "unselfishly" agreed to play with Houston this year so that he could be closer to his family, we aren't making a CBS movie-of-the-week here. His strikeout numbers were down, and his ERA (2.98), while good, is nearly a half run higher than Johnson's. Does his 18-4 record carry enough weight to displace Johnson from atop my list? Not even close.
Schmidt had the award wrapped up at the end of July, but a horrific end to the season destroyed his (and the Giants') hopes for postseason recognition.
AL Cy Young
Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins
Curt Schilling, Boston Red Sox
Pedro Martinez, Boston Red Sox
In the AL, the top two candidates are fairly clear-cut. While Schilling was certainly great, Santana rattled off win after win in an impressive campaign for the Twins (20-6, 2.61 ERA). His nasty sinker-slider combo accounted for a league-high 265 strikeouts and helped the Twins fight off a brief challenge from the Cleveland Indians late in the year.
Schilling gave the Sox everything they hoped for and then some when GM Theo Epstein convinced him to play for Boston over Thanksgiving dinner. The workmanlike Schilling (21-6, 3.26 ERA, 203 Ks) was the ace for the World Champs, and could always be counted on for a solid effort. Though not taken into account in this analysis, his gutsy performance in the playoffs is testament to his toughness and make-up.
The third place finisher is less clear. Mark Mulder was in the running before his year derailed like the homecoming weekends of so many Dartmouth students. I'll give the nod to Martinez, though, because of his high strikeout total (227) and otherwise good numbers (16-9, 3.90 ERA).