Frost is on the pumpkin--which can only mean one thing: It's time to hand out some awards based on MLB's 2011 regular season.
*The STAY AT FIRST Award: Goes to Martin Prado of the Atlanta Braves. Attempting to steal on 12 occasions this season, Prado was thrown out EIGHT times--a SB success rate of just 33%. Rumor has it that the Atlanta first base coach will have a lasso in his back pocket next year should Prado decide to run--but that couldn't be confirmed as of press time.
*The PETE ROSE/GEORGE BRETT HONORARY THROWBACK PLAYER Award: Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. The man played the entire year with a SCREW in his left foot and stole 26 bases while garnering 195 hits. In addition, does this guy EVER go home with a clean uniform? Pedroia should be the #1 spokesperson for OxiClean, Shout, or Spray 'n' Wash--or ALL THREE.
*The TONY BENNETT/BEST YEARS BEHIND HIM Award: Matt Stairs of the Washington Nationals. At age 43, Stairs went 10-for-65 this year and drove in TWO runs. Yes, Matt, after 19 seasons, it's TIME; PLEASE don't try for a 20th. Jason Giambi of the Rockies finished high in this category--appearing in 64 games and hitting just .260 in the thin air of Coors Field.
*The LITTLE BUCKS/BIG NUMBERS Award: A "no-brainer"--Ian Kennedy of the D'Backs. Kennedy went 21-4 and pitched to an ERA of 2.88. His 2011 salary? $423,000. Yes--that's almost a better bargain than any Christmas Tree Shops store can offer. NY's David Robertson (1.08 ERA, 460 grand) finished high in this category--as well as Alex Avila of the Tigers.
*The BONNIE AND CLYDE/HIGHWAY ROBBERY Award (for stealing large sums of money): No doubt--goes to Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. Injuries aside, A-ROID appeared in just 99 games and hit 16 home runs. His salary? $32,000,000--or $2 million for each four-bagger he hit. Let's put that into perspective: If you COMBINED the ridiculous contracts of under-achieving Crawford and Lackey of Boston, that duo STILL earned less than Rodriguez in 2011. Jayson Worth of the Nats received many votes here--compiling a .232 average after signing a $126 million deal last December.
*The BLACKSTONE/HOUDINI DISAPPEARING ACT Award: Goes to Alex Rios of the Chicago White Sox. One of the more highly-prized players just a few years back, he's done VERY little since earning REAL money. In fact, his pitiful total of 44 RBI's this season was HALF of his 2010 total. Oh, yeah--he hit .227 in 2011. OUCH. And you wonder WHY Ozzie's in Florida?
*The PITIFULLY PUNCHLESS Award (for lack of offense): For the second year in a row, this goes to the Seattle Mariners--who hit an anemic .233 as a team in 2011. Of the 30 MLB teams, Seattle finished last in BA, runs, hits, total bases, slugging %, on-base %--yeah, you get the picture.
*The ARSONIST OF THE YEAR Award: We'll give this to reliever Jason Berken of the Orioles. In 47 innings out of the 'pen, he gave up 63 hits (including 10 HR's) and pitched to an ERA of 5.36. "Wild Bill" Hagy just groaned from his grave.
*The BUM OF THE YEAR Award: A "no-brainer"--Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs. After giving up a bunch of HR's to the Braves during an August game, the guy then throws at Chipper Jones (a future Hall of Famer) and proceeds to clean out his locker; he said he was "retiring" at age 30--then changed his mind. Many words come to mind: quitter, coward, punk, idiot; let's just call him an outright BUM for such ridiculous antics.
*The third annual EARL WEAVER/FULL PACK Award (causing managers to smoke too much and/or develop ulcers): Matt Maloney of the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched only 18 2/3 innings this year, but drove manager Dusty Baker CRAZY. He allowed 36 hits and 19 earned runs (ERA of 9.16); opponents hit .409 against him. If Dusty hasn't swallowed a toothpick yet while watching THIS guy pitch, it's a safe bet that he NEVER will.
*The HIT OR MISS Award: Mark Reynolds of the Orioles wins this for the FOURTH year in a row; yes, next year, it will formerly become known as the "Mark Reynolds/Hit Or Miss Award." The man hit 37 homers but also struck out 196 times--hitting .221. Almost 1/3 of his hits were homers.
*The MAYTAG/DEPENDABILITY Award: As I've stated in the past, Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki receives this award YEARLY as long as he's breathing. No--he didn't win a batting title this year and surely isn't the "old" Ichiro. But he DID play in 161 games--garnering 184 hits and stealing 40 bases at the age of 37. Yes, a down year for this legend--but he remains the ARCHITECT of this award. The man shows up DAILY, folks.
*The AVERSION TO WALKING Award: Vernon Wells of the L.A. Angels. In 505 at-bats, Wells walked just 20 times--about once-per-every 26 at-bats. I swear--this guy walks only when solar eclipses are about to take place.
*The GERITOL/AGE DOESN'T MATTER Award: Mariano Rivera of the Yanks wins for the THIRD year in a row. At the age of 41, he saved 44 games and pitched to an ERA of 1.91. In addition, he walked eight batters all season long and allowed just three home runs. "Cabernet Sauvignon" would be a better nickname for this guy due to his ability to age so well; I just think they call him "Mo" because it's easier to pronounce.
*The RODNEY DANGERFIELD/LACK OF RESPECT Award: This year, it goes to Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero. I'm not sure if it was due to his club's disappointing year or the fact that he was overshadowed by teammate Jose Bautista--but did anyone notice his #'s in 2011? Quietly, Romero won 15 games and gave up just 176 hits in 225 innings; his ERA--pitching for an AL East team--was a sparkling 2.92. If you ask the average fan about the top pitchers in the league, his name is probably NOT in the conversation--but perhaps it SHOULD be at this juncture.
*Finally, the DOLLY THE SHEEP/REASON TO CLONE Award: Roy Halladay of the Phillies. For the sixth year in a row, he pitched more than 220 innings. And fathom THIS: In each season from 2008-2011, his ERA has been under 2.80, he's walked less than 40 batters, and he's struck out more than 200 hitters. It's almost BORING watching Halladay take the mound at this juncture--he's THAT consistent.
Enjoy the rest of the postseason, everyone.