September 15 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin:
“AFTER RICH ASHBURN won his second batting title in 1958, the centerfielder asked Phillies general manager John Quinn for a raise. Quinn’s response was typical of the economic climate that prevailed before the inmates wrested control of the asylum from the owners.
“We finished last with you,” Quinn said, “and would have finished last without you.”
With frantic pennant races ongoing in the National League East and West and the American League East involving seven teams, that is a good concept to hold onto as the awards arguments begin.
This is one of those seasons where a player on an also-ran team probably won’t win MVP or Cy Young awards without off-the-chart numbers.
Sorry, Ubaldo. Sorry, Albert. You both are having great years. But they haven’t been great enough to rescue your floundering teams. That’s just the way it is in a year when the quality of the division races has overshadowed the high caliber of the award candidates.
The Texas Rangers, running away with the super-soft AL West, are dueling the Cincinnati Reds for Best Story of the Season. Josh Hamilton, my choice for AL MVP, went on the disabled list after crashing into a fence, something he does without fear. But if the season ended tomorrow, his numbers still would be MVP-worthy. It is hard to find a high-average hitter in this era who also churns out big power numbers. But his .361 accompanied by 31 homers and 97 RBI (with an OPS of 1.049) almost has an early-1930s feel to it, a Chuck Klein kind of year. But Klein was doing it for one of history’s worst teams, the Phillies of Boom Boom Beck and Co.
Miguel Cabrera has had a tremendous, MVP-level season, but the Tigers can’t win on the road and are an underachieving .500 team. Ditto the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista, a power anomaly in the year of the pitcher who is heading for 50-plus homers. But the Jays are just a punching bag in the mighty AL East.
The supporting cast of vote recipients should include the Twins’ Joe Mauer, the 2009 MVP, the Yankees’ Robinson Cano, the White Sox’ Paul Konerko and Rays stars Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria.
With just under 3 weeks left in the regular season, the NL MVP race is too close to call, thanks to Carlos Gonzalez and the surging Colorado Rockies. The outfielder is riding a .337, 32-homer, 101-RBI rocket through Coors Field’s thin air. I still consider tremendous Reds rightfielder Joey Votto the front-runner with his .321, 34, 103 onslaught. And breathing down their necks are hotly pursuing Adrian Gonzalez, spark plug of the pitching-tilted Padres’ one-cylinder engine, Pujols, Ryan Howard and Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
With instability at the back end of their rotation, the Yankees needed a big year from CC Sabathia and they are getting it. The enormous lefthander is closing on 20 victories and his 19-6 comes with a 3.03 ERA. He is a horse-and-a-half, so give him 1 1/2 Cy Youngs.”
But do not write off David Price, Tampa Bay’s spectacular young power lefty. He is 17-6 pitching in the dingy Tropicana Field theater of the absurd and his 2.75 ERA is amazing in a DH league.
Roy Halladay runs away with the NL Cy Young. He is 18-10 for a Phillies team that has scored him runs in clusters of one and none. Doc could easily be 23-5 and will be the franchise’s biggest winner since the glory years of Steve Carlton. In the Pitch Count Era, his 228 2/3 innings is an amazing number, as is a certain career high in strikeouts.
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