Many analysts will include preseason picks for Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year along with their predictions of each division winner and each leagues wild card team. As a Rays fan, it isn't hard to put a member of the Rays at the top of each one of these post-season awards.
Evan Longoria is coming off a year in which he led the majors in rWAR (7.7) and is only 25 years old. Like Evan Longoria, David Price is only 25 years old and is coming off a season which he compiled a 19-7 record with a 2.72 ERA (3.99 xFIP) and gave the Rays 208.2 IP. Finally, Jeremy Hellickson who will only be turning 24 shortly after opening day is coming off a season in AAA where he went 12-3 with a 2.45 ERA and an impressive K/9 rate of 9.4 before receiving a call up to the Rays where he appeared in 10 games (4 starts) and went 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA and a K/9 rate of 8.2.
Could the Rays pull off the trifecta and if so, what would this mean for the Rays?
Understanding the data skew that occurs because traditionally, the MVP and CY Young Awards are given to players contributing to a winning team, I wanted to look at the data of teams that had their players take home at least two of the three awards. Looking over the winners of the MVP, CY Young, and Rookie of the Year Awards going back to 1967, the first year the CY Young was given to the best pitcher in each league, I found 28 teams which have had a winner in two of three categories. 17 of those teams were from the American League and 11 from the National League.
- Five of the AL teams had one player win two of the awards (Eckersly MVP/CY in 1992, Clemens MVP/CY in 1986, Willie Hernandez MVP/CY in 1984, Rollie Fingers MVP/CY in 1981, and Fred Lynn ROY/MVP in 1975).
- The AL Teams had a combined record of 1627-1065 for a winning percentage of .604.
- Only one team faild to make the post-season (1974 Texas Rangers).
- Eight AL teams went on to go to the World Series but were only able to win 1 title (84 Tigers)
- Two of the NL Teams had one player win two of the Awards (Bob Gibson MVP/CY 1968 and Fernando Valenzuela ROY/CY 1981).
- The NL Teams had a combined record of 1023-706 for a winning percentage of .592.
- All 11 NL teams made the post-season.
- Seven of the 11 NL teams went on to go to the World Series and were able to win three championships (1988 Dodgers, 1981 Dodgers, and the 1980 Phillies).
I would be more than happy if the 2011 Rays were added to the list. The Rays also have a leading candidate for Comeback Player of the Year Award in Manny Ramirez. If we were to believe the national media, Manny had slipped in L.A. in 2010 and by the time he arrived in Chicago he was no longer able to get around on a fastball. Add to the narrative that Manny signed to play with the Rays, a team that had lost over half of its roster, for only 2-million dollars and the thought going into the season is that Manny is in the twilight of his career. Watching Manny this spring or more importantly listening to him since his press conference, it is obvious that Manny is serious about proving himself a dominate right handed bat who isn't looking at his career to sunset in St. Petersburg. Are you wondering how Manny Ramirez, coming off a year where he put up a slash line of .298/.409/.460 (an OPS of .860), can even mentioned as a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year? I've placed this nomination here to point out how absurd the national media has been in its downgrading of Manny Ramirez and how far he "slipped" in 2010.
It could only be a positive outcome if the Rays find themselves receiving outstanding performances from 2 of their starters in David Price and Jeremy Hellickson along with the meat of the order in Evan Longoria and Manny Ramirez. Based on all the doom and gloom talk about the losses to Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Soriano among others and trading Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza, I have to ask myself if the Rays do win the division or the wild card in 2011 shouldn't Joe Maddon get the Manager of the Year Award and Andrew Friedman the Executive of the Year Award? The Rays would gladly trade any of the aforementioned awards for a World Series Victory but as a fan I am a little greedy and want the whole enchilada.