Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Great 2007 Major League Season

While the 2007 season was a disappointing one for many Twins fans, baseball as a whole experienced one of the greatest years in recent memory. In case you tuned out of baseball after the Twinkies were eliminated from contention, here are just a few things you may have missed: Barry Bonds last game as a San Francisco Giant; the Boston Red Sox finally taking the American League East away from the New York Yankees; the New York Mets losing the N.L. East title to the Philadelphia Phillies and missing the playoffs after leading the division by seven games with seventeen left to play; and finally, the thirteen inning exhilarating Colorado Rockies-San Diego Padres one-game playoff to determine who won the N.L. Wildcard. The Rockies won the aforementioned game to reach the playoffs for the first time in twelve years, and only the second time in the history of the franchise. As one can see, even the final week of the major league season was packed with twists and turns, and that doesn’t even begin to describe the great stories from this year.

This season saw the most historical achievements than any other previous year. Three players, Alex Rodriguez, Frank Thomas, and Jim Thome, joined the 500 home run club, along with slugger Sammy Sosa joing the 600 home run club. Also, the hallowed all-time home run record of 755 home runs, set by Henry Aaron, was eclipsed by Barry Bonds. Other milestones reached this year included a 300 win pitcher (Tom Glavine) and 3,000 hits (Houston second baseman Craig Biggio). Finally, the man who took much of the heat for the San Diego Padres one-game playoff loss, Trevor Hoffman, became the all-time saves leader this season, and currently sits at 524 for his career.

So much happened just in personal milestones, it almost hides the fact that young hitters came up from the minors for one of the best rookie classes since, well, last year. But these past two seasons have produced some of the best rookies in a LONG time, with many either already or on the verge of becoming all-stars (Hanley Ramirez, Prince Fielder, David Wright). Here are my predictions for A.L and N.L. Rookie of the Year:

A.L. Rookie of the Year – Dustin Pedroia (2B, Boston Red Sox): Pedroia held down the second base position the entire season, and finished the season with a .317 batting average, good enough for tenth in the American League. Considering that he also helped Boston to the best record in baseball, Pedroia seems like a lock for the Rookie of the Year award. Other possibilities for this year’s award include Tampa Bay outfielder Delmon Young and Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

N.L Rookie of the Year– Troy Tulowitzki (SS, Colorado Rockies): Tulowitzki literally won this award at the last possible moment in my mind. Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Ryan Braun had this locked up, but in the end baseball is about offense AND defense. Braun, when called up from the minors, went on to hit 34 home runs with a .324 average, but his defense was terrible. He ended the season with 26 errors, and a .895 fielding percentage, both good enough for worst in the league. Insert Tulowitzki. He finished the season with a .291 average, 24 home runs, and had some spectacular defense down the stretch, leading the Rockies to win 13 of their last 14 games. He also went four for seven in the one game playoff for the wildcard, and scored the game tying run in the bottom of the thirteenth inning. To me, offensive and defensive stats, combined with a team’s performance, are what make a rookie of the year, and Tulowitzki had it all.

With that look at the year’s best rookies, all that is left are the Cy Young and MVP predictions. Two of the four have been decided since midseason, and the other two may have been decided in the last week of the season.

A.L. Cy Young – C.C. Sabathia (SP, Cleveland Indians): Sabathia finished well down the stretch, winning his final five decisions. Throw in the fact that he led the Indians to the playoffs and out dueled 2006 Cy Young winner Johan Santana three times this season, and he is the easy choice for the award.

N.L. Cy Young – Jake Peavy (SP, San Diego Padres): Peavy won the N.L. pitching triple crown (wins, strikeouts, and earned run average), much like Johan Santana last year. Peavy is a shoo-in.

A.L. MVP – Alex Rodriguez (3B, New York Yankees): It seems like A-Rod has had this award since the first day of the season. He has simply been the best offensive threat in the A.L. all season long. Combine the fact that he eclipsed 500 career home runs this year, and A-Rod is also a lock to win the award.

N.L. MVP – Matt Holliday (OF, Colorado Rockies): This award really could go to Holliday or any of the deserving Philadelphia Phillies (Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, or reigning MVP Ryan Howard), but Holliday I feel deserves this award because he is the only MVP candidate on his team. When you have a team like the Phillies that have that many players producing, you expect to win. Holliday took the Rockies on his back, and took them headfirst into the playoffs. Plus, he literally took them into the playoffs by scoring the winning run of their one-game playoff by diving head first into home plate, leaving a nice scrape right on his chin in the process. Holliday deserves this award this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes elsewhere.

That about does it for the 2007 season recap. Baseball fans across the nation tuned in this year to witness one of the best seasons ever, with seemingly new stories every night. It’s hard to imagine that the season could get any better, but remember this – there are still the playoffs. As Dane Cook puts it SO delicately in those postseason commercials, there is only one October! Go Rockies!

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