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2006 SBN Awards: MVP Awards

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Introduction

Recently, we here at all of the SportsBlogs Nation baseball blogs voted for the very first time in the network end-of-season awards for baseball. The idea was brought up in August or September to have an awards series where each team's blog would be given two ballots, and the bloggers would, on these ballots, cast their choices for the awards that the BBWAA gives out at the end of every year, MVP, Cy Young, ROY, and MOY. We didn't do the Gold Gloves or Silver Sluggers, because that would have been too complicated, but the four core award categories were voted upon in late September and early October by the network bloggers, before the start of baseball's playoffs. Each voter was given three choices for ROY, MOY, and Cy Young, and ten for the MVP, and based on how they ranked their choices for those categories, the player or manager would receive a the number of points exactly opposite how they were ranked on that scale. For example, if you put Derek Jeter number one on the ballot, that would count as ten points for him. Just the same, a 10th place vote would count as one point.

Jacob and I represented DRaysBay in these highly successful first awards, casting our ballots for the AL choices. The overlying rule was that AL Bloggers cast ballots for AL choices; NL bloggers did so for NL choices. Once the votes were tabulated, the results were released internally, at which point the individual sites could decide when to publish the results. I chose later than most, because I wanted to compare my choices and Jacob's, as well as the network's, to the actual award winners. And starting now allows me to get the actual choices in the same piece. This piece will run as part of a series (famous last words from me, I know), that will include all four SBN awards categories and their results. The last part of the series, which runs through Tuesday, will be devoted to our own awards here at the Bay, the DRaysBay Awards. I hope you enjoy the work of SBN's collective brain trust, and special thanks must go out to Martin Gandy of Talking Chop, who organized the whole thing, kept on us about getting our votes in, and tabulated the results. He really was excellent through the whole process. This will be the final installment in the series.

Series
Nov. 16-Managers of the Year
Nov. 18-Rookies of the Year
Nov. 21-Cy Young Awards
Nov. 23-DRB Awards
Today-MVP Awards

MVP Awards

In the final installment of the SBN Awards series, we take a look at the most high-profile and most controversial of the postseason awards, the Most Valuable Player honor. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the BBWAA's selections for National League and American League MVP, and for the first time in the series, the SBN choices differed from that of the official awards, appropriately so in my opinion.

Whereas Ryan Howard of the Phillies captured the National League award this year, the SBN bloggers choice St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols in a runaway for the top spot. Likewise, both sides chose a Minnesota Twin as the American League Most Valuable Player, but they differed on which one to choose. The BBWAA chose Twins 1B Justin Morneau to be AL MVP, while the SBN'ers chose Catcher Joe Mauer. I differed from both, but that is another story altogether.

Pujols won the NL MVP by a fairly large margin, with Howard coming in a distant second. Carlos Beltran of the Mets, Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins, and Lance Berkman of the Astros were neck and neck for third place in the voting, with Beltran winning out.

In the American League, Mauer won a much closer contest, though was still ahead of Yankees SS Derek Jeter by a pretty good margin. Coming in third was Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. The BBWAA winner, Morneau, was barely the fifth place finisher, just ahead of Johan Santana of the Twins and Travis Hafner of the Indians.

SBN Postseason Awards Winners
SBN AL BBWAA AL Patrick (AL) Jake (AL) SBN NL BBWAA NL
Manager of the Year Jim Leyland DET Jim Leyland DET Jim Leyland DET Jim Leyland DET Joe Girardi FLA Joe Girardi FLA
Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander DET Justin Verlander DET Francisco Liriano MIN Justin Verlander DET Hanley Ramirez FLA Hanley Ramirez FLA
Cy Young Award Johan Santana MIN Johan Santana MIN Johan Santana MIN Johan Santana MIN Brandon Webb AZ Brandon Webb AZ
MVP Award Joe Mauer MIN Justin Morneau MIN Travis Hanfer CLE Joe Mauer MIN Albert Pujols STL Ryan Howard PHI

For more on the Cy Young choices, the SBN voting, and expanded comments on Jacob and myself's choices, please follow the jump.

American League MVP Award

In one of the most wide open MVP races in years, a record-setting year from Twins backstop Joe Mauer was enough to push him over the top, as he won out over Yankees SS Derek Jeter to be the SBN bloggers' choice as MVP. The BBWAA felt otherwise, naming Justin Morneau (who finished in fifth place in the SBN voting by a slim margin) as the AL MVP. Jacob went with the majority in naming Mauer as the MVP, while I went with Indians DH Travis Hafner, casting the lone first place vote in his favor.

However in the end, voters thought Mauer's contributions to the Twins to be more valuable than either Morneau's or sixth place finisher Johan Santana's. Mauer set a major league record for catchers by finishing with a .347 batting average. Though his power never came through as expected, he finished with a .936 OPS, largely of the heels of a .429 OBP.

Mauer helped guide the Twins, along with Morneau, Santana, Francisco Liriano, and Torii Hunter, to a first place finish with a rally over the final two-thirds of the season. Not only did he guide the Twins with the bat, but he also was an excellent presence defensively, and helped carry young ace Liriano to stardom before he went down with a shoulder injury. He also worked with repeat Cy Young winner Johan Santana and caught a Minnesota staff that finished second in the American League with a 3.95 team ERA. With Mauer's acumen behind the plate, both on offense and defense as well as chemistry-wise, he will be without doubt be a key member of the Minnesota Twins for years to come.

Because 10 members appeared on each member's ballot, ranked, there were 26 players in the American League getting votes, including Carl Crawford of the Rays who finished 17th with one ballot cast for him (I swear to you that it wasn't me). Other than Mauer, the Top 10 finishers, in order, were Derek Jeter (New York), David Ortiz (Boston), Jermaine Dye (Chicago), Justin Morneau (Minnesota), Johan Santana (Minnesota), Travis Hafner (Cleveland), Grady Sizemore (Cleveland), Frank Thomas (Oakland), and Vladimir Guerrero (Anaheim). For more on the American League voting, please see the (exceptionally long) table below.

Jacob Says-Mauer won the batting title as a catcher, which is saying alot because catchers usually don't play enough/get enough ABs to qualify. He was the personal catcher for Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano, 2 of the years' best pitchers.

Patrick Says-Travis Hafner was an absolute beast. He dominated the American League as its best hitter, and despite a disappointing year for Cleveland, he did more for his team in their struggles than anyone else did for theirs in the winning seasons.

SBN Most Valuable Player Voting-AL
Player 1st Place Votes No. of Ballots On Total Points
Joe Mauer, MIN 8 17 175
Derek Jeter, NYY 3 18 152
David Ortiz, BOS 2 18 127
Jermaine Dye, CWS 1 17 98
Justin Morneau, MIN 0 15 81
Johan Santana, MIN 1 13 80
Travis Hafner, CLE 1 14 75
Grady Sizemore, CLE 1 10 62
Frank Thomas, OAK 1 8 54
Vladimir Guerrero, ANA 0 10 33
Carlos Guillen, DET 0 8 27
Manny Ramirez, BOS 0 7 24
Miguel Tejada, BAL 0 6 22
Vernon Wells, TOR 0 4 10
Ivan Rodriguez, DET 0 2 8
Jim Thome, CWS 0 1 6
Carl Crawford, RAYS 0 1 5
Jason Giambi, NYY 0 1 4
Nick Swisher, OAK 0 1 4
Alex Rodriguez, NYY 0 2 3
A.J. Pierzynski, CWS 0 1 3
Roy Halladay, TOR 0 2 2
Paul Konerko, CWS 0 1 2
Francisco Rodriguez, ANA 0 1 2
Magglio Ordonez, DET 0 1 2
Justin Verlander, DET 0 1 1
18 Total Ballots Cast

National League MVP Award

In a decision that provoked a lot of debate around Major League Baseball for most of the final two months of the season, and soon after the announcement was made, the BBWAA voted 1B Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies to be the National League's Most Valuable Player for the 2006 season, over St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols. Among SBN bloggers, a different conclusion was reached, and it wasn't even close.

Albert Pujols absolutely ran away with the SBN vote, racking up 416 total points on 28 ballots to Howard's 264. Voters in the SBN group ignored Howard's skyscraper-tall home run totals for Pujols' rate production , and voted for Pujols even thought the slugger missed a chunk of games in midseason. Finishing a close 3,4, and 5 were Carlos Beltran of the Mets, Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins, and Lance Berkman of the Astros.

Pujols was denied of back to back MVPs from the BBWAA, but his stat line of .331/.431/.671 easily won over the SBN crowd. Pujols carried the St. Louis offense all season long, as the battered Cardinals barely escaped a late challenge from the Houston Astros to win the NL Central division crown and later the World Series title. Voters were also impressed by his stellar defense at first base.

Lacking the helpful contributions from Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds as he had been accustomed to in years past, Pujols continued to have a monster year nonetheless. With a lifetime OPS of 1.047 to this point, Pujols is well on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats, and St. Louis will always be a threat as long as he keeps on this track.

On the 28 total NL ballots, votes were cast for 36 different players. You can see them all on the (even more exceptionally long) chart below. Rounding out the Top Ten were Howard (Philadelphia), Beltran (New York), Cabrera (Florida), Berkman (Houston), Chase Utley (Philadelphia), Alfonso Soriano (Washington), David Wright (New York), Jose Reyes (New York), and Brandon Webb (Arizona).

SBN Most Valuable Player Voting-NL
Player 1st Place Votes No. of Ballots on Total Points
Albert Pujols, STL 17 28 416
Ryan Howard, PHI 8 28 264
Carlos Beltran, NYM 2 24 190
Miguel Cabrera, FLA 0 28 185
Lance Berkman, HOU 0 28 172
Chase Utley, PHI 0 19 84
Alfonso Soriano, WSH 1 17 77
David Wright, NYM 0 12 47
Jose Reyes, NYM 0 10 43
Brandon Webb, AZ 0 7 27
Garrett Atkins, COL 0 8 26
Jason Bay, PIT 0 8 22
Roy Oswalt, HOU 0 7 21
Matt Holliday, COL 0 6 16
Brian McCann, ATL 0 5 15
Nomar Garciaparra, LA 0 4 14
Trevor Hoffman, SD 0 5 12
Cla Meredith, SD 0 2 11
J.D. Drew, LA 0 2 10
Andruw Jones, ATL 0 4 10
Nick Johnson, WSH 0 3 9
Chris Carpenter, STL 0 3 9
Adrian Gonzalez, SD 0 1 7
Barry Bonds, SF 0 2 7
John Smoltz, ATL 0 2 7
Bronson Arroyo, CIN 0 2 7
Freddy Sanchez, PIT 0 2 6
Aramis Ramirez, CHC 0 2 5
Hanley Ramirez, FLA 0 2 4
Chipper Jones, ATL 0 2 4
Ray Durham, SF 0 1 3
Bill Hall, MIL 0 2 3
Jimmy Rollins, PHI 0 1 2
Mike Cameron, NYM 0 1 1
Derek Lowe, LA 0 1 1
Ryan Freel, CIN 0 1 1
28 Total Ballots Cast