03 October 2005

The Season Ends...

Click ticket for a box score.

Here's what I saw this season, in person...

RED SOX record: 5-3
METS record: 2-1

Manny Ramirez (3)
Jason Varitek (2)
Johnny Damon
Kevin Millar
Bill Mueller (2)
Doug Mirabelli
John Olerud (GS)
Jacque Jones
Joe Mauer
Eric Byrnes
Chris Burke
Travis Hafner (3; GS)
Victor Martinez
Grady Sizemore
Cliff Floyd
Mike Lieberthal
Chase Utley (2)
Ryan Howard
Ramon Castro

Pitchers (Wins):
Bronson Arroyo (1)
Matt Clement
David Wells (1)
Wade Miller
Curt Schilling
Mike Timlin
Mike Myers
Keith Foulke (1)
Alan Embree
Manny Delcarmen
Matt Mantei (1)
John Halama
Chad Bradford
Jonathan Papelbon
Jaret Wright
Scott Proctor
Shawn Chacon
Wayne Franklin
Felix Rodriguez
Al Leiter
Pedro Martinez (1)
Carlos Silva
Jesse Crain
JC Romero
CC Sabathia
Cliff Lee
Matt Miller (1)
Bob Wickman
Rafael Betancourt
David Riske
Arthur Rhodes
Kevin Millwood (1)
Scott Sauerbeck
Bob Howry
Kirk Saarloos
Huston Street
Ricardo Rincon
Octavio Dotel
Roy Oswalt
Chad Qualls
Paul Byrd (1)
Scott Shields
Francisco Rodriguez
Kris Benson (1)
Roberto Hernandez
Braden Looper
Mark Redman
John Grabow
Heath Bell
Brett Myers (1)
Ugueth Urbina
Billy Wagner

Hard to believe that, over the course of eight Red Sox games this season, I didn't see one of David Ortiz' 47 HR, but I saw one of Kevin Millar's 9. I also never saw one of Tim Wakefield's 33 starts- 225.1 IP- but I did see one of Jonathan Papelbon's 34 IP, one of Roberto Petagine's 32 ABs, and one of Hanley Ramirez' two ABs (both of the latter being K's on 3 pitches). I saw a three pitch inning, two grand slams (Hafner and Olerud), and Manny Ramirez HR in three different uniforms. Crazy stuff.

The highlight of the season, obviously, were the back-to-back walkoff HRs on May 10th and 11th, and being there for both was insane. What dumbshit luck. Speaking of luck, I was also at the only two home shutout losses of the season- June 27th against Cleveland and September 8th against Los Angeles. No fun watching those.

Lastly, I finally got to see a Red Sox/ Yankees game at Fenway, and I saw the Sox clinch a postseason berth- the crowd reacting to the final score of the White Sox/ Indians game, which gave us the Wild Card, was a cool moment.

All in all, from the games I saw, the star of the season is undoubtedly Manny Ramirez. HRs off Barry Zito, CC Sabathia and Scott Proctor, some good defense and a whole lotta hair. Damn.

Not sure where Mike and I will go next season- Pac Bell? Kauffman Stadium? Dodger Stadium? Petco Park? We shall see...

So Mike and I set out Saturday night for the old standby of the Framing-ham Red Roof Inn, pulling in at about 1130 and being checked in by a very nice and somewhat hermaphroditic woman named, well, Pat (yes, I'm serious). After getting some drive thru and taking it back, we watched a little Bull Durham followed by some seriously fucked up special on mentally ill jailbirds that Michael insisted on watching, ending with Scream, a movie neither of us professed to like, yet ended up watching a significant portion of. I think it was because it was so believable, and because of Skeet (think he regrets that nickname now?) Ulrich and his Johnny Depp-ness.

Sunday was a really beautiful day, but too beautiful for us- after taking our seats in Section 37 at about 145, we were greeted by a dominating, brutalizing sun that just sat on top of our heads the entire game. We were positioned well enough that we were not looking directly into the sun, thank God, but it was like running five miles after sitting there for three innings- when I went down below for food, it was like receiving an adrenaline shot. It didn't help that the game was moving along s-l-o-w-l-y.

The good news was, the day started off well and pretty much stayed that way, results-wise. As soon as the game started, Chicago had a 2-0 lead (which they never relinquished), and on the first pitch of the game, Derek Jeter smacked a Schilling fastball off the wall, and Manny Yastrzemski played it beautifully, spinning and nailing Jeter at 2B. Mike was really fired up. It was awesome. So after working out of trouble there, Schill more or less cruised the rest of the way, and with everyone standing and cheering Manny at a full count, two runners on, Ramirez delivered with a hyyoooooj HR. He pointed to the crowd, and it was smooth sailing from then on in.

On the way to the Park though, we were crossing over to Boylston St. when this dude with earphones walked past us, stopped, and said, "Yo, if they don't win today... you guys gotta be... throwin' fuckin' bears at them mothafuckas..." I kept walking, and as I passed I sort of nodded and said, "oh, no doubt."

I caught up to Mike and I was like, "what the fuck was that?!" to which he replied, "what, you've never heard the expression throw bears at them motherfuckers?"

Also, when we were being foul trying to make each other laugh, the 14 year old girl started singing the National Anthem, which made me remark- "grass on the field... I'm playing ball." He looked disgusted, laughed, then looked at the Jumbotron. She smiled as she finished the song, and Mike said, "Eh, braces... that's a dealbreaker." I laughed so hard the annoying Yankee fan behind us was staring at me in between his "MVP!" chants for ARod that were nothing if not stupidly obnoxious.

We heckled no Yankee fans. Terrible job by us.

I also spotted a writer for Spin Magazine and Rolling Stone, Touré. I'm not his biggest fan, but I approached him, said hey, and he was really nice, despite his turd Yankee jersey (he's from Atlanta!).

Also, of note: when we were hanging around canvas alley before the game, Jonathan Papelbon was signing autographs for everyone- I'd say he was there for about 20 minutes working his way along the edge of the stands. Everyone loved him, and he seemed really nice, too- he got a huge kick out of this little girl that kept saying, "hello, Jonathan!" He kepy looking down at her and saying, "hey! Look who's back!" Seemed pretty cool.

Observing the bullpen guys (we had a solid look at them all game), Jeremi Gonzalez is a total goofball. He was screwing around in the bullpen, walking around talking to everyone, twisting his cap sideways, mugging for the stands. It was pretty unbelievable to see Mike Timlin spraying the hose into the crowd like he often does on hot days, and thinking- "wow, I'd love a shot of that. And it's October."

Good time though. On the ride back, how I didn't crash the car after sleeping for 12 straight minutes is a mystery. Didn't even get lost!

Also, I'm glad we won, because they got the East on a simple seeding technicality, and they're still finding something to whine about, though predictably, Brian Cashman is the only one with any sort of couth on the subject. Hey Torre, why don't you go cry some more. That was totally awesome and not pathetic at all.

Since I'm at work, and should probably be *doing* a little work, I'm going to post my 2005 season awards "ballot" now, and run through some explanation later, along with reposting my season predictions. Here it is:

  1. Eric Wedge, CLE
  2. Ken Macha, OAK

  3. John Gibbons, TOR

  4. Terry Francona, BOS

  5. Joe Torre, NYY

  1. Bobby Cox, ATL
  2. Ned Yost, MIL

  3. Phil Garner, HOU

  4. Bruce Bochy, SDP

  5. Charlie Manuel, PHI

  1. Huston Street, OAK
  2. Tadahito Iguchi, CHW

  3. Joe Blanton, OAK

  4. Robinson Cano, NYY

  5. Scott Kazmir, TBY

  1. Ryan Howard, PHI
  2. Jeff Francoeur, ATL

  3. Jeff Francis, COL

  4. Garret Atkins, COL

  5. Willy Taveras, HOU

  1. Johan Santana, MIN

  2. Bartolo Colon, LAA

  3. Mariano Rivera, NYY
  4. Mark Buehrle, CWS

  5. Tim Wakefield, BOS

  6. BJ Ryan, BAL

  7. Randy Johnson, NYY

  8. Cliff Lee, CLE

  9. Jon Garland, CWS

  10. Francisco Rodriguez, LAA

  1. Chris Carpenter, STL

  2. Dontrelle Willis, FLA

  3. Roger Clemens, HOU

  4. Pedro Martinez, NYM
  5. Roy Oswalt, HOU

  6. Jake Peavy, SDP

  7. Andy Pettitte, HOU

  8. Brad Lidge, HOU

  9. Livan Hernandez, WAS

  10. Doug Davis, MIL

  1. David Ortiz, BOS

  2. Alex Rodriguez, NYY

  3. Travis Hafner, CLE

  4. Manny Ramirez, BOS
  5. Brian Roberts, BAL

  6. Vladimir Guerrero, LAA

  7. Jhonny Peralta, CLE
  8. Mark Teixeira, TEX

  9. Paul Konerko, CWS

  10. Joe Mauer, MIN

  1. Albert Pujols, STL

  2. Andruw Jones, ATL

  3. Derrek Lee, CHC

  4. Miguel Cabrera, FLA
  5. Brian Giles, SDP

  6. Jason Bay, PIT

  7. Morgan Ensberg, HOU

  8. David Wright, NYM

  9. Jim Edmonds, STL

  10. Jeff Kent, LAD

I'll expand on these more later today, but yea, ultimately- since I couldn't decide- I picked the Red Sox over the Yankee.

Don't want to spend too much time on the Managers of the Year- it's a pretty subjective criteria, and I just felt like Wedge, though Cleveland sputtered at the last gasp, did a great job bringing them back from a rough start. Ditto that for Macha in Oakland, and Francona and Torre dealt with a lot of injuries and chaos. Plus, Torre had to deal with Buck Showalter's honor code-breaking the last day of the season. Must have been rough on the old man.

I'd just prefer give Bobby Cox the award in the NL every single year.

Now, for Rookie of the Year. One thing I've been noticing somewhat often recently is this extension of the MVP criteria bullshit- the 'he played well on a contender down the stretch' stuff- being extended to the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards. Simply put, this is absolute garbage. These awards are NOT meant to glorify the haves every season, they're a simple evaluation of rookies from every team- pretty easy. Who was the BEST rookie?

In other words, this year, that line of thinking has been used to pump up Robinson Cano who, while coming through on a good rookie year, only walked 16 times in 519 ABs. The batting average was solid (.295), as was the SLG (.457), but overall- I don't know how you can rate him higher than Tadhito Iguchi who, while batting with a lower average (.277), had an OBP almost 30 points higher, hit more HRs, had more RBIs, more BBs, SBs, and triples and played far superior defense.

Neither of them, though, beat Huston Street who, along with BJ Ryan, Mariano Rivera, and Francisco Rodriguez, was one of the AL's best relievers. In 78.2 IP, Street had a 1.72 ERA with 72 Ks, a 1.01 WHIP and only 3 HR allowed all season. He is easily the AL Rookie of the Year, and if this stupid rationalizing gives the award to someone like Cano, it will be disappointing. Not listed with great years though were Johnny Gomes, Nick Swisher and Dan Johnson.

The NL ROY was a bit tougher, however. Ultimately the award came down to two players- Francoeur and Howard- who had too few ABs to qualify for rate stat leaderboards, but were nonetheless, in the absence of a great NL rookie, the class of the field. Howard came up with a .921 OPS to Francoeur's .894, and 22 HR to Jeff's 14. Francoeur has him beat in BA (.286 Howard/ .302 Francoeur), but Howard wins out in nearly everything else- OBP, SLG, RBI, R, H, BB. The only rookie to really challenge the two was Colorado's Jeff Francis who, despite a 5.68 ERA, it was in Colorado, and he threw 183.2 IP while striking out 116 and winning 14 games for a team that finished with 95 losses.

The AL Cy Young Award is another that is devoid of a frontrunner- no one really seperated themselves from the pack and while writers usually default to wins as a way to judge the winner, it's obviously not the best way to pick the best pitcher. Not even close. ESPN.com keeps track of the Cy Young Predictor, a method of predicting the Cy Young ballot. Devised for the brilliant Neyer/ James Guide to Pitchers, here is the explanation of it's method:

Cy Young Predictor
In the The Neyer/James Guide To Pitchers -- co-authored by Bill James and ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer, and published this summer by Fireside -- James presents a method, based on past results, to predict Cy Young balloting. This page provides an in-season snapshot of the Cy Young "race," as figured by the following formula: Cy Young Points (CYP) = ((5*IP/9)-ER) + (SO/12) + (SV*2.5) + Shutouts + ((W*6)-(L*2)) + VB (see below) Victory Bonus (VB): A 12-point bonus awarded for leading your team to the division champsionship (pro-rated based on the current standings).

Here was the Cy Young Predictor for the AL as the season closed:

  1. Mariano Rivera, NYY

  2. Bartolo Colon, LAA

  3. Joe Nathan, MIN

  4. Mark Buehrle, CWS

  5. Jon Garland, CWS

  6. Johan Santana, MIN

  7. Francisco Rodriguez, LAA

  8. Danys Baez, TBY

  9. Randy Johnson, NYY

  10. John Lackey, LAA

Here's what made up my mind for me: Johan Santana was 2nd in the AL in ERA (2.92), 1st in Ks (229), 6th in IP (224.2), 1st in K/9IP (9.17), 1st in WHIP (0.98), 2nd in K/BB (5.33), 1st in DIPS ERA (2.92), most quality starts in the AL with 23, 1st in BAA (.212), 1st in OPSA (.600)... and tied for 7th in the league with 15 wins. Which means he'll probably finish 4th or so. But I don't see how you can beat him for best pitcher in the AL, 2005. The rest sort of slotted in there behind him.

Here's an interesting thought- who had the best season in relief in the AL?


Looks like it was Mo. Not surprising- but it easily COULD have been BJ Ryan, had a he allowed a few less baserunners. His and KRod's K rates trump Rivera's, and as relievers, that's incredibly important- but ultimately, Rivera was better everywhere else.

The NL Cy Young was ultimately a three horse race which, as has been documented, consisted of three guys that all seemed unable to really finish strong and snatch it away. Carpenter had an ERA over 5.50 in September, Roger was hampered by a sore hammy, and Dontrelle got lit up his alst few starts. Really, Carpenter, Clemens, Willis, Peavy, Martinez, Hernandez, Oswalt and Pettitte were all fairly well bunched in. I went with Carpenter because he had the best results stretched over the most (with the exception of Livan) innings pitcher (241.2). It's really a crapshoot after that, especially if you discount wins. Here's how the Cy Predictor saw the NL shaping up:

  1. Chris Carpenter, STL

  2. Dontrelle Willis, FLA

  3. Derek Turnbow, MIL

  4. Andy Pettitte, HOU

  5. Roy Oswalt, HOU

  6. Chad Cordero, WAS

  7. Roger Clemens, HOU

  8. Brad Lidge, HOU

  9. Billy Wagner, PHI

  10. John Smoltz, ATL

Here's a look at the NL relief cases:


These guys seem all pretty evenly matched here- Wagner and Lidge went above and beyond in hitter's parks, but Turnbow and Cordero were good enough that it appears their park may not have helped them too much. The sore-thumb number here looks like Lidge's k/9, so I'll give it to him.

My MVP picks came, in large part, from looking at 2005 VORP numbers and Total Win Shares. The Rodriguez/ Ortiz decision was extremely hard, but after looking at Tangotiger's Linear Weights with Men on Base, I gave the edge to Ortiz. He's been preternatural with men on, and the game on the line. Here's a compelling breakdown.

Finally- I just thought Albert had the better season, and I'm worried Andruw Jones will win the MVP though he's had an inferior year to Pujols. In fact, here are their respective ranks in NL Total Win Shares:

PUJOLS___1st (38)
FURCAL__15th (26)
GILES___21st (25)
JONES___25th (23)

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