2014 Roberto Clemente Award: Paul Konerko, Jimmy Rollins are 1st ever co-winners

Photo Credt: Uane Burleson/Getty Images

Photo Credt: Uane Burleson/Getty Images

On Friday the winner – or winner in this case – for the prestigious and coveted Roberto Clemente Award were announced. 2014 marks the first year that there have ever been two co-winners of the award.

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Getty Images

The award is named for the the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. Clemente was better off the field than the spectacular player who wowed fans in the 1950’s and 1960’s, leading the Pirates to a World Series victory in 1960. He collected this 3,000 hit in what would be his last ever ballgame. 

Clemente was a humanitarian off the field, always personally assisting countries in need. He passed away in a plane crash, while delievering supplies and assistance to earthquake victim in his Nicaragua.

The award is given each year to the player that has expressed greatness on but especially those who show greatness out in their comunities and the worl, true humaitarians. 

This year the award was, for the first time, given to two players who equally deserved the award: Paul Konerk0, who recently retired from the Chicago White Sox, and Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Getty Images

Konerko, along with help from former teammates the retired Jim Thome and current Los Angeles Dodger Gordam Beckham, founded the “Bring Me Home Campaign,”which raised almost half a million dollars to help foster children in Illonois. 

Rollins has raise over a million dollars to help children in Philadelphia through fundraisining efforts. Rollin’s two main programs are J-Roll’s Aces, which help under priviledged childern have access to tickets to the Phillies’ games. His other program, J-Roll Reader’s, helps educate inner city students in Philly.

Both candidates are worthy of the Roberto Clemente Award and it’s always neat when there is a MLB first! Congrats to Paul Konerko and Jimmy Rollins for being the first ever co-recipients of the 2014 Roberto Clemente Award!!

Wainwright was not fine during postseason run, had surgery Friday

 

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The Cardinals kept saying he was fine, but Adam Wainwright had surgery on his pitching elbow Friday!

The St. Louis Cardinals and their star ace Adam Wainwright consistently said that he was just fine to play in the post season, even though it was suspecious that his numbers took a small dive in the second half of the season and he struggled some during the playofss, especially in the final game four of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner.

Wainwright was removed from the game early and talks began again about his “dead arm.” Still the Cardinals insisted that Wainwright was healthy and feeling good enough to play even during this very week, even though at one point during the season the right-hander had mentioned something about having irritation behind his right elbow.

But it still seems as though the Cardinals seem to have been hiding the truth from us baseball fans, although it isn’t clear why they did not come clean on Wainwright’s condition as soon as the NLCS had concluded. The team was out and it would have been no harm done.

As it turned out Wainwright underwent a surgical procedure on his elbow early Friday to have a ligament trimmed in his elbow according to Derrick Gold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. However there have been other reports have been saying it was not a ligament but catliedge that was trimmed.

According to the Cardinals who confirmed the the procedure had in fact take place, general manager John Mozeliak, said that Wainwright underwent an MRI earlier in the week and was prescribed rest.

Wainwright decided to get a second opinion, according to Gold, which is what prompted him to undergo the surgery. Apparently the ace pitcher’s mechanics had been thrown off during a game in New York in June and as Gold writes,

“It’s not uncommon for a pitcher’s delivery to be compromised by one injury and have it lead to others because of the increased strain on other joints.”

That is quite a true statement. When one part of the delievery is out of whack, one issue can certainly lead to more.

*Check back on BBSTmlb for more as this story develops.*

Update: Joe Maddon leaving Rays effective immediately

Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/Getty Images

UPDATE: as of 3:30 pm ET

Well, here’s one rumor that has officially been squashed, that Mattingly’s job as the Dodgers’ skipper may be in jeopardy. Reported by Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Friedman reiterated today that Mattingly’s job is absolutely NOT in jeopardy!!

There’s also been more speculation within the past hour or so that the Chicago Cubs could be a possible landing spot for Maddon. FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal made clear that it is a possibility being that the Cubs have enough money to simply buy out the final 2 seasons of the contract of current manager, Rick Renteria, which would help complete the complete overhaul the Cubs have been working on of late.

As for my prior speculation that Maddon may have higher baseball aspirations than managing (he still could!) the have been quieted for now. Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero said he expects that Maddon will land a position managing in 2015 via Marc Topkin on Twitter,

**Check back here on BBSTmlb for all the latest updates on Joe Maddon, the Rays and everything else going on around MLB!**

Breaking News: Joe Maddon opts out of contract with Rays

Well, it’s news we were all thinking might happen when general manager Andrew Friedman left the Tampa Bay Rays to become the president of baseball operations with the Los Angeles Dodgers  but it’s breaking news either way: Joe Maddon has opted out of his contract as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays effective immediately, according to a Tweet by ESPN’s Buster Olney,

I did say we were all thinking it might happen especially at first but then Maddon told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune that he expected to sign an extension with the Rays and remain with the club for what would have been the foreseeable future.

That was 10 days ago. Maybe it was the fact that there was nothing already in the works? A statement released by team owner Stuart Sternberg confirmed the news that Maddon would be leaving even though his contract went through the 2015 season.  However, something must have been in the works because Sternberg also stated that the club 

“tried diligently and aggressively to sign [Maddon] to a third contract extension prior to his decision.”

Even though Maddon’s contract was through the 2015 season his opt-out clause vested with Friedman’s departure from the club, leading to the belief that I metioned, that he may leave the Rays and also that he may follow Friedman to the Dodgers.

Friedman has said since that he intends on hiring a general manager and keeping Don Mattingly as the Dodgers manager. Whether or not the second part of that intent still holds true remains to be seen.

There are other options out there for Maddon. As Sternberg said in his statement, Maddon has now,

“enabled himself to explore opportunities throughout Major League Baseball.”

Maddon apparently spoke to Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, who later tweeted,

There is still the opening for the Minnesota Twins managerial position but the team seems to have already narrowed down their list of candidates as former Twins’ player Paul Moliter has been through two interviews and others such as Cleveland Indians’ bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. have been eliminated as a potential successor to Twins’ former manager Ron Gardenhire.

Could Don Mattingly be on the hot seat with Maddon out there as a free agent? Or could Maddon be looking at becoming a general manager? (The Dodgers are hiring!)

For now all anyone can do is speculate on where Maddon will end up next. What is official is that Maddon will not be the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015 and that now the Twins are not the only team looking to hire a manager.

Sporting News 2014 All-Star Teams

The Sporting News announced its final award Thursday – Player of the Year. the question there becomes: Well,  we probably know who won out but was it the National League Pitcher or the American League outfielder?

Before I answer that question, on Wednesday the Sporting News announced their 2014 American League All-Star Team and their 2014 National League All-Star Team.

The teams are chosen by 11 Senior Circiut general managers and assistant general managers. Here are the lucky players who made the lists:

Photo Credit:  Bob Levey/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images

Starting with the American League:

  • Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

  • Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

  • First Base: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox

  • Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houtson Astros

  • Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers

  • Shortstop: Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

  • Outfielders:

    • Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

    • Micheal Brantly, Cleveland Indians

    • Jose Altuve, Toronto Blue Jays

  • DH: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers

  • Relief Pitcher: Dellin Betances, New York Yankees

Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

And the National League:

  • Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers

  • First Base: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

  • Second Base: Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Third Base: Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals

  • Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals

  • Outfielders:

    • Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

    • Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

    • Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves

  • Relief Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

Sporting News names Scioscia and Williams Mangers of the Year

Mike Scioscia and Matt Williams were named Managers of the Year by the Sporting News on Tuesday.

#SciosciaFace - meaning being displeased! haha! Getty Images

#SciosciaFace – meaning being displeased! haha! Getty Images

To be honest it is pretty great that I am writing this piece on my blog because I can flat out say that I do not think Mike Scioscia should ever win anything, ever. My mom and I call him “whiny baby” because he complains about every play or else gets a #SciosciaFace which shows that he is clearly displeased! Alright now that that is out of my system here’s the whole story for you!

This was Mike Scioscias third time being the recipient of the Sporting News‘ MOY award. He also was the winner of the award, that is voted on by 22 selected Major League managers,  in 2002 and 2009.

Scioscia is the manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This season he took his team to the American League Division Series where they were swept by the Kansas City Royals.

The Angels also got hot down the stretch, despite a string of injuries. Most notably they lost their ace pitcher Garrett Richards to a knee injury he sustained trying to run to first base during an interleague play (see, this is why I am all for the DH staying around and being implemented in the National League as well! lol)** but Josh Hamilton was also having a myriad of issues and Mike Trout got just one hit in the ALDS

Yet they were so hot (and the A’s were so awful) down the stretch that they came from behind and left the Oakland A’s in their dust as they ran away with the A.L. West – the most competitive division in the game. The Angels ended the year with the best record in all of baseball at 98-64. Even though they didn’t get past the ALDS Scioscia led them to the league’s best record, a team that underachieved in 2013 and still managed to win when faced with injuries down the stretch the next season.

He might show his “Scioscia Face” a little too much for my, and well, everyone’s taste (try Googling it! seriously!) but he’s a good manager who had actually almost been on the Hot Seat when the Angels failed to make the playoffs from 2011-2013. They took over the league in the second half of 2014 and got to play in October.

Not too shabby Mike. Not bad at all.

Photo Credit: Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The National League Manager of the Year according to the Sporting News was the man who led his team to the second best record in the Majors, Matt Williams, skipper of the Washington Nationals. Like the Angels, the Nationals underachieved in 2013 but turned it around to finish 17-games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the N.L. East in 2014.

In his first year as a big league manager Williams, according to outfielder  Jayson Werth,  did everything right. He took an already talented group of players and helped them play together as a whole entity that went on to win 96 games.

“I think more than anything, he kind of stayed out of our way and let us play,” right fielder Jayson Werth told The Washington Post last month. “He pushed all the right buttons and pulled all the right strings. He did a good job — first-year manager. He was given a good team, though, and he didn’t screw it up.”

 Sounds like he did well to me! Congrats to Mike Scioscia and Matt Williams!

**CORECTION** I saw the game that day Richards was injured and remember it cleary (NOW OF COURSE! LOL!) but I was reminded by a reader, Brad934, to who I am very grateful,that the injury happened at Fenway Park in Boston as Garrett was covering first, not during interleague play – so thanks to Brad934 for politely pointing out my mistake – we all make ‘em from time to time! – However this does NOTHING to change my stance on the DH.! LOL!**

 

 

John Hart to be Braves’ president of baseball operations

They still dont have a GM in Atlanta but the John Hart mystery has finally been solved!

Photo Credit: David Tulis/AP

Photo Credit: David Tulis/AP

Just a week ago there were reports that Atlanta Braves interim general manager John Hart,66, had declined the offer to be the GM of the Braves full-time.

However, after a little digging I found that team president John Schuerholz had written a scathing email to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution saying that the story, orginally reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, was just that – a story. It was not true and completely full of speculation.

Hart had hinted at the fact that he liked being in a less demanding advisory role and wasn’t sure if he would want all the pressure and responsibilities that come with being a full-time GM.

Still the Braves refuted the story and even I will admit it was difficult to see how he would actually say “yes” to the job when he could relax as an advisor.

But my gut feeling on this one was offbase because FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Braves did confirm Thursday morning  that John Hart will not be the GM of the team but he will have the big role and opportunity of becoming the Braves’ first the president of baseball operations.

The Braves  also disclosed some of the details of Hart’s new contract as president of baseball operations via Twitter,

That is a position that is fairly new in baseball. We’ve seen it in Chicago and will soon be seeing it in action in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. The position doesnt involve handling all the dy-to-day acpects of the general manager’s job but there is decision making involved as the GM reports directly to the president of baseball operations.

So half of the question has been answered and that was “How is John Hart going to fit somewhere in this organization?” But it still leaves us with the question of “Who is the GM going to be?”

Much like in Los Angeles the Braves now have the recently adopted poition that is above that of the GM but neither team has given any indication as to who they are looking into for general manger.

I guess that means we’ll still have to wait to know but at least the mystery of John Hart’s future has been solved.

.

Sporting News: AL and NL Comeback Players of the Year

Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

As noted in my pieces on the Sporting News’, AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu and NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, these awards differ from Major League Baseball’s version of these awards because they are not voted upon by the writers of the Baseball Writers Association of America(BBWAA), but of the players’ peers.

The Comeback Player of the Year awards were established by the Sporting News in 1965 and is voted on by the Sporting News editorial staff

There were 49 vote for the Seattle Mariners’ Chris Young, making him the clear winner. The runner up J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers got 22 votes and Oakland A’s southpaw Scott Kazmir ended up with 14 points.

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Getty Images

Young was out of baseball in 2013, playing in the Washington Nationals minor league system and trying to recover from thoraic outlet syndrome surgery. The same kinda of rare surgery that Josh Beckett had in 2013, only to throw a no-hitter, injure his hip and retire from basebal.

Young, 35, did quite the opposite. He signed a one-year deal with the Mariners after being released by Washington and in 2014 became a crucial part of a Mariners team that was one win away from making the playoffs in a differen league and /or division.

Young an All-Star in 2007 had all the potenital in the world but for over a year that world collapsed into surgeries and rehabilitation but he’s a tough guy and competor and he ade it all the way back to have a name for himself again in the big leagues.

Young was fantastic for the Mariners. He went 12-9 in 29 starts and posted a 3,65 ERA. Pitching coach Rich Waits said of Young,

“He worked tirelessly and stuck to his routine to keep himself healthy and on the mound throughout the season.”

Young an All-Star in 2007 had all the potenital in the world but for over a year that world collapsed into surgeries and rehabilitation but he’s a tough guy and competor and he ade it all the way back to have a name for himself again in the big leagues.

“Chris was a big part of our success in 2014, really solidifying our rotation,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told Sporting News. “To think he won as many games as he did, and made 29 starts, coming off the type of surgery and the injuries that he had, I think it’s just tremendous.

It was a tremendous season for Young making him very derserving of this honor.

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Getty Images

In the National League the Comeback Player of the Year was to me no surprise at al, however, the race was much closer than I thought it would be. 33-year-old Casey McGehee of the Miami Marlins wasn’t even playing baseball in the U.S. in 2013. He was playing in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPA) league.

After coming up fifth in the voting for MLB’s Rookie of the Year in 2005, hitting .301 0n the year with the Milwaukee Brewers thing just began to go down hill for McGehee.

By 2011 he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates who in turn traded him to the New York Yankees. With his batting average down to .217 in 2012 he found himself playing in Japan in 2013. The Marlins took a chance on the third baseman, signing him to a one-year, $1.1 million contract, and he absolutely delivered.

McGehee played stellar defesnse at the hot corner and his bat turned around looking almost as it had in the past. His slash line in 2014? .287/.355/.357. He isn’t the homerun hitter that he used to be but he puts the ball in play, can draw walks .

Marlins radio play-by-play announcer Glenn Geffner told Sporting News,

“I don’t think anyone knew what to expect fom Casey at the beginning of the season. Certainly he’d had a couple of productive seasons with the Brewers in 2009 and especially 2010, but as he’d be the first to tell you, his phone wasn’t exactly ringing off the hook with big league opportunities the last couple of winters.”

He played in all but two regular season games and I find it very difficult to see the Marlins not extenededing McGehee’s contract after the year he had.

Jacob deGrom named Sporting News’ NL Rookie of the Year

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Mets’ RHP Jacob deGrom had a spectacular and surprising season. Now he’s been named the Sporting News’ NL Rookie of the Year.

Monday the Sporting News named Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox for American League Rooke of the Year. New York Mets’ right-handed rookie Jacob deGrom the recieved the distiction for the National League. 

deGrom has come a long way and fought through some hardships and injuries in order to get where he is today.  deGrom played shortstop growing up. As a junior in college his coach decided that he should take to the mound. So he did.

Drafted by the Mets’ in 2010, deGrom found himself in need of Tommy John surgery by 2011. He spent part of 2012 doing well in low-A and high-A but he struggled in Triple-A in 2013, beginning the 2014 season there as well.

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Getty Images

Finally on May 15, the Mets made the call. They needed deGrom to pitch for them against the New York Yankees. He held the Yankees to just one run, four hits and two walks over seven innings while striking out six.

deGrom, despite a rough couple starts mid-season, was overall spectacular and he never left the big leagues of the starting rotation since that day in mid-May. During that string of poor outings deGrom’s ERA ballooned to 438 from a 1.83.

However, deGrom just continued to get better and better, lowering his ERA bit by bit and playing his best baseball in Setember. The Sporting News’ Ryan Fagan writes,

“On September 9, he threw eight shutout innings against the Rockies, allowing just three hits while striking out nine. In his next outing, deGrom struck out the first eight Marlins he faced, and he ended the game with 13 strikeouts in seven innings.”

Striking out the first eight batters in that game set a Mets’ franchise record and tied an MLB record. In his last start of the season he took a perfecct game into the fifth innings striking out eight of the first 12 batters he faced and ended the day with 13K’s.

At one point during the season it appeared that the Cincinnati Reds Billy Hamilton, who recieved 27 votes to deGroms’s 31. Hamilton batted .250 on the year and stole 56 bases. That wasn’t enough to conviince everyone that he had done better than deGrom however.

Others who recieved votes were St. Louis Cardinals’ Kolten Wong, San Francisco Giants Joe Panik and Ender Inciarte from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

 

Philadelphia Phillies extend Jerome Williams’ contract

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Getty Images

It’s been an extraordinarily long road for Jerome Williams from a good rookie season in 2003 to being out of baseball from 2008-2011 until now. You can read about the whole saga here on Bullpen, Baseball & Sock Talk.

The Philadelphia Phillies’ have decided that they would like to keep right hander Jerome Williams around for a while, at least much longer than some of the other teams he played for in 2014. It was announced by the club today that they’ve signed Williams to a one-year, $2 million contract extension.

According to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish via Twitter, the contract includes incentive that could raise the value of the one-year deal all the way up to $4 million.

This is an extremely good deal for the 32-year-old Williams who has had a very interesting albeit rough baseball career. In 2014 alone, Williams played for three different teams.

He signed a one-year contract with the Houston Astros in February and was released on July 8. Three days later he was signed by the Texas Rangers as a free agent.

Exactly a month to the day after he was released by the Astros, Williams was placed on waivers by the Rangers and picked up by the Phillies on August 10th.

Oddly enough Williams set a record and it wasn’t regarding the number of teams he played for. He became the first pitcher to defeat the same team three times in one season, the Oakland Athletics, while earning each win playing for a different ballclub.

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Getty Images

If you think that that makes Williams’ career interesting, then that is only the half of it. Williams came up in 2003 with the San Francisco Giants in 2003 and went 7-3 in 21 starts with a 3.30 ERA. After that his ERA continued to rise. In mid-2005 with an ERA well over 6.00 the Giants traded Williams to the Chicago Cubs. 

He excelle for the Cubs in the second half of the season, posting a 3.91 ERA but the next two seasons one with the Cubs and one with the Washington Nationals brought with them ERAs above the 7.00 mark. 

By May of 2007 Williams was playing in Nationals minor league system. They released him in August and he signed a minor league deal with the Twins. Needless to say, at least at this point, things did not go well and he was out of baseball by the time the 2008 season began.

He played for the Long Beach Armada of the Golden Baseball League until his contract was purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers in June and stayed in their minor league system until the end of the season.

In 2009 Williams spent the season with the Oakland A’s (now former) Triple-A afiliate Sacramento River Cats. He played winter ball with tthe Indios de Mayaguez in Puerto Rico in 2008–09 and ended up in Taiwan in 2010, playing for the Uni-President Lions o the CPBL.

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Getty Images

He signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2011 and later that season got his first big league win since 2005. He spent the entire 2012 season in the majors with the Angels despite a stint on the disabled list and working out of the bullpen. In 2013 Williams finished his season with the Angels with a decent 4.91 ERA but they let him go after the season.

Which brings us to his signing with the Astros. His ERA with Houston was 6.23 and it was even worse when he was picked up by the Rangers.

He finished the season off well with Philadelphia going 9-9 with a 3.14 ERA which apparently pleased them enough to keep he righty around for another year. 

As of now, that completes the long saga of Jerome Williams’ career thus far. Hopefully for him the Phillies will be a good fit but with the back and forth nature of his career thus far that is something that no one can predict.

Sporting News names Jose Abreu AL Rookie of the Year

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Getty Images

Most people aren’t aware of this fact but it is true. The Sporting News began giving out awards to Major League Baseball rookies who had exceptional seasons a year before MLB officially began handing out its own Rookie of the Year Award.

The awards handed out by the Sporting News are voted upon by the rookies’ fellow players in their respective leagues. At the beginning of season it would have been fairly easy to guess which two rookies it would have come down to in the American League.

By July, however, when New York Yankees’ rookie ace Masahiro Tanaka went down with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, it was pretty clear that as long as he kept up hitting the ball out of the yard at such a rapid rate that the Chicago White Sox Cuban phenom, first baseman Jose Abreu, would be the one to take home the Rookie of the Year honors regardless of which organization was handing them ou

Of course Major League Baseball, whose awards are voted on by the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), have yet to given out but the players of the American League have spoken and the Sporting News’ A.L. Rookie of the Year Award for 2014 has indeed gone to Abreu.

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In a landslide win Abreu recieved 149 votes. The runner up Los Angeles Angels’ starting pitcher Matt Shoemakerrecieved four votes. There was a tie for third between Tanaka and another Yankees’ pitcher reliever Dellin Betanceswho each got three votes a piece and another member of the White Sox, the multi-faceted infielder Marcus Semien got a single vote.

Abreu put up some incredible power numbers hitting 36 home runs and driving in 107 runs over the course of the season. Of course, no one really expected that on top of those numbers he would also hit .317 on the season with a .383 on-base percentage.

In essence he did not strike out as much as many power hitters are known to do. He hit the ball often whether it stayed in the yard or not and was able to draw walks when he needed to. Hitters who are that well-rounded do not come along very often.

As he learned to be more patient at the plate he became even more dangerous to his opponents being able to get on base, move the runners over or put the ball into play at any given time. He even spent a stint on the disabled list with an injured ankle and when he returned his numbers didn’t decline but got even stronger.

The vote may have been closer had Tanaka not ended up being out of the game from July until mid-September as he already had 12 wins before being forced onto the disabled list but even still, in my opinion, I think Abreu would have run away with the award anyway. The numbers don’t lie and his were out of this world.

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