Thursday, January 4, 2007

Season Ending Power Rankings

Season Ending Power Rankings
Great American Pastime
Thursday January 4th
Season 2

The playoffs are upon us, and as Season 2 of the GAP comes to a close, we take a look back on a season that has provided a couple of surprises, yet ended up somewhat predictable. For this final ranking, MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards for each team will be examined. Good luck in the playoffs guys! (Hope to see you there next year...)

FYI - Just to clear things up, the MVP for these rankings is solely an offensive MVP, so I can clearly designate the best of each lineup and pitching staff through the MVP and Cy Young. Not to say there aren't pitchers who are the most valuable player on their team (such as the entire Mets staff).

1. Oakland A's (110-52) LW (1)
(MVP) OSCAR NUNNALLY - The scary thing about Nunnally is that he has yet to play close to a full 162 game season. There were many options here, namely C.C. Hutton, Allan Hamilton and Clyde Valentin, but Oscar takes the cake, mainly due to his .359 BA and 1.141 OPS.

(Cy Young) EUGENE PARKINSON - On a team dominated by a bruising offense, the pitching sometimes is overlooked. Few noticed the excellent season put together by the 30 year old out of Colorado. Everyone expected Oakland's starters to win games, then again, a 15 win season could be had with a 5.50 ERA. Parkinson was a little better than that, going 18-6 with a 3.02 ERA and an impressive WHIP of 1.13.

(ROY) PASCUAL SAMUEL - Just an FYI, this spot (and perhaps the two spots above it) are reserved for the day Victor Palacios hits the big leagues. But for now, Pascual Samuel takes the cake. The 22 year old Dominican Fireballer may be the best pitching prospect not named Palacios in the entire GAP. After giving up 5 ER in .2 innings in his December 15th debut, Samuel did not have another bad outing, going 4-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 43 Ks in 47 IP.

2. San Francisco Giants (105-57) LW (4)
(MVP) MILTON JAMESON - A tough pick between Jameson and Ivan Bechler, Jameson gets the slight edge due to his run-creating ability. Only playing in 127 games due to injury, Jameson made the most of his opportunity, scoring 103 runs and collecting 170 hits in his limited ABs. Bechler and Magglio Gomez may provide the punch, but Jameson holds the lineup together and has provided just what the Giants need at the top of the order.

(Cy Young) CLARENCE COOKE - And he's only 24! The young righty out of Jersey has simply dominated in season 2, posting 21 wins and an ERA of 3.27 and allowing an opposing average of only .251. Cooke has been everything and more for the Giants, leading the team in nearly every pitching category (39 GS, 266 IP, 193 Ks). The scary thing is, he hasn't even hit his prime yet.

(ROY) ALBERT RAMIREZ - A leader for league ROY as well, the 22 year old Mexico native has been nothing short of stellar in 30 starts since being brought up early in the season. An ERA over 5 in AAA didn't worry Giants management, as he was brought up with confidence and has returned amazing numbers since (17-10 / 3.27 ERA in 30 GS). Alongside Clarence Cooke, this Giants staff should be stacked for years to come.

3. New York Mets (101-61) LW (6)
(MVP) NIPSEY MORRIS - Really the only consistent offensive threat for the Mets, Morris is only 28 and is definitely in the prime of his career. My thoughts have always been that Morris could be the best leadoff guy in the GAP, and he is only proving he belongs with the best after a terrific season of part-time production in New York.

(Cy Young) BOSCO JEFFERSON - Oh how it hurts to write this! Bosco has been nothing short of spectacular for the Metropolitans in season 2. After missing some time with injury, Jefferson has rebounded to start 30 games, winning 16 and losing only 3, and posting an ERA just a shade above 2. It's hard for this writer to admit it, but Bosco has been the most dominating pitcher in the entire GAP this season. At least Eugene Hackman won a gold glove...

JASON RAY - Filling out the end of the rotation for the Mets this year, Ray has not been dominant, but he has done just enough to win games for the best team in the Big Apple. Ray doesn't have amazing stuff, but he knows how to locate his pitches and simply doesn't make mistakes.

4. Cleveland Indians (101-61) LW (4)
(MVP) LATROY FRANCO - The powerhouse in a very productive lineup, Franco may have regressed a little from Season 1, but his production was nonetheless outstanding. Not only did the 30 year old Texan smash 50 dingers and drive in 155, he also scored 136 runs and swiped 22 bases.

(Cy Young) GREG STEWART - Near the top of the AL in nearly every pitching category, Montana's native son has proved he deserves to be in the limelight. After going 25-4 in 38 GS with and ERA of 2.90 and 237 Ks, Stewart now has the challenge of taking down the best in the AL as he faces Texas in hopes of advancing to the Season 2 World Series. No one short of Bosco Jefferson has been as dominating as this 29 year old righty.

(ROY) TROT MCENROE - He may not have the most impressive numbers, due to his lack of experience, but McEnroe may be the most important rook this season. With stellar closer Yorrick Brand out for nearly 5 months after elbow surgery, McEnroe has stepped in to fill the void quite impressively. If anything, he is proving his worth as a premier setup man going into season 3.

5. Seattle Mariners (99-63) LW (3)
(MVP) JUAN TORREALBA - There really isn't an offensive threat on the Mariners balanced offense that stands out atop the others, but Torrealba is as close as it comes. In an offense relying on top-to-bottom efficiency, Torrealba is brings a little punch to the table, hitting .304 with 35 HRs and 102 RBI.

(Cy Young)
WES WHITE - Fireman of the Year hardly does justice to the season this midwestern boy has put together. Setting a GAP record with 58 saves in 63 chances, White has been unbelievable in Season 2. Even more impressive, he has given up only 19 runs in nearly 62 innings pitched. Even being a reliever, White should challenge for not only the FOY, but the AL Cy Young as well.

(ROY) KERRY KIESCHNICK - There aren't too many rooks on this veteran-laden M's club, but Kieschnick did provide some much needed help in the field at 3B. This defensive dynamo should be a vacuum at the hot corner for years to come.

6. Texas Rangers (96-66) LW (5)
(MVP) WALLY HUNTER - What a season! After smashing 61 homers in Season 1, few critics thought this southern slugger would match, let alone improve himself in Season 2. Hunter has proven himself as the top power hitter in the league, hammering 70 dingers with 164 RBI. If only his success could carry into the postseason...

(Cy Young) GARRETT KNIGHT - There weren't too many bright spots on the Texas staff this year, but Knight was definitely one of them. With a juggernaut offense to back him, this Denver native is relishing in the Texas heat, ending with a Season 2 record of 16-4 with an impressive ERA of 3.70 in one of the GAP's biggest hitters parks.

(ROY) JEFF PARK/KYLE MILTON - It was a very tough decision between the two, so it had to come down to Co-ROYs. Park was a spark for the Rangers high powered offense, hitting .335 with 22 homers and 102 RBI with 117 runs scored. Milton, however, was the other bright spot on the otherwise dismal Rangers pitching staff. Leading the team in ERA at 3.56, Milton won 10 games in 45 GP (19 GS) and lost only 4. Both should be rocks for this organization for years to come.

7. Atlanta Braves (94-68) LW (8)
(MVP) JOE LINDEN - Linden was simply an all-around stud in Season 2, and the scary thing is, he's just entering his prime. The only Brit in the GAP powered the Braves to the top wild card spot, hitting .303 with 30 HRs and 115 RBI to go along with 118 runs scored and an impressive 37 SBs. Watch out for Linden and Mark Moore in the years to come, as the Braves are building a powerhouse to counter the impressive Mets pitching.

(Cy Young) MALACHI CARSON - Flying a little bit under the radar this season, Carson was overshadowed by Linden and Moore, but may have been more important than both. Carson started 31 games in Season 2, going 16-7 with a spectacular 2.62 ERA. If only he could stay 32 forever...

(ROY) VICTOR MERCADO - So I don't think he really counts as a rook, but the Braves don't really have a true ROY candidate, so Mercado is the closest to fit the bill. He pitched 39 innings last year, but his breakout season really came in Season 2. The soft-tossing Dominican started 30 games this year, going 13-8 with an ERA just a shade over 4. With young guns such as Mercado, Linden and Moore, this Braves team should be stacked for years to come.

8. Tampa Bay Rays (96-66) LW (7)
(MVP) TONY YOSHII - The "Fighting Fukuokan" as he's known by, well, one of his teammates who happens to love the word Fukuokan, has continued to blossom for resurgent Rays in Season 2. The 27 year old hit .308 with 26 jacks and 123 RBI to go along with 112 runs scored and 23 stolen bases. He is the key to the Rays success along with the guy mentioned immediately below.

(Cy Young) NICK ALEXANDER - "Big Nick" as he's commonly known around the league threw an amazing 286 innings in Season 2 was the key cog in the Rays playoff run. As a couple teams were a "Big Nick" away from a wild card spot, the Rays were a "Big Nick" ahead of the competition the entire season. After winning 21 games and throwing an eye-popping 16 complete games, Alexander proved himself to be one of the top and most durable pitchers in the GAP.

(ROY) ENRIQUE GUILLEN - Guillen along with Rich Allen have provided the Rays a couple of future top of the rotation guys who really flourished in Season 2. While Allen isn't truly a rookie, Guillen is, and while only winning 1 game, he started 7 and pitched 67 innings with a decent ERA of 3.90. He may just be the best Venezuelan to hit the GAP in the first couple seasons, and has an extremely bright future ahead of him.

9. Milwaukee Brewers
(90-72) LW (9)
(MVP) JIMMIE IGLESIAS - Iglesias barely won the award over Carlos Campos due to his extreme overachieving. Campos lived up to his Season 1 NL MVP billing, and while his Season 2 numbers weren't quite as impressive, he still hit his stride from day one. Iglesias, however, broke out with 50 HRs, 128 RBI and 104 runs scored. For a man known by critics as a "free swinger" and to have "no coordination" he definitely surprised some people.

(Cy Young) LORENZO TABAKA - After all that retirement talk following Season 1, Tabaka silenced the same critics judging Jimmie Iglesias. "Carefree" as his teammates know him, started 31 games, going 17-6 with an ERA of only 3.35. Here's to another season or two!

(ROY) REID RIVERS - Although his 5.10 ERA isn't too impressive, Rivers was an innings eater and a decent end of the rotation guy for the Brewers. He started 19 games, going 10-11 and holding opponents to a .257 average. With great control and a couple of plus pitches, Rivers should be a stalwart in the Brewers rotation for years to come.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74) LW (NR)
(MVP) DEAN SWANN - Many would say from his 42 dingers and 127 RBI that Chris Baker would be the runaway favorite for the Pirates team MVP, but Swann would have to say otherwise. Swann is the kind of all-around talent any team would kill for. With a line that reads .301/.392/.538/.930 with 22 HRs, 101 RBI, 114 runs scored, 44 doubles and 13 three-baggers, Swann seems to do everything right.

(Cy Young) THOMAS AGUILERA - The rubber-armed wonder only gets better with age. The prize of the Cliff Simms trade for the Pirates, Aguilera has been lights out as Pittsburgh's closer, saving 28 of 29 games with an ERA just above 2.00. With two good pitches and equal strengths against righties and lefties, Aguilera could still dominate for a couple more years to come.

(ROY) DAN AUSMUS - The New York native has been strong at the end of the rotation for the Pirates, going 7-5 in 20 starts with an ERA a shade under 4.00. His exceptional combination of control and velocity make up for his lack of a plus pitch and should keep his career steady for years to come.

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