Tag Archives: Toronto Blue Jays

And the most valuable player in major league baseball, 2011, is ….

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance, of which I am a proud member, bestows its annual Stan Musial Award on the best player in baseball by a vote of the group’s members. This is my first year casting a ballot for what is the equivalent of the Major League Baseball most valuable player awards, and it’s a tall order.

How on earth does anyone decide who’s the best player in the game? I’m giving it a go here with equal parts direct observation at the ballpark, heavy doses of TV and radio broadcasts, reading, statistics, coin flips and gut-level calls.

1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers –  The leader of the Brew Crew, high average, monster slugging percentage,  33 home runs and 33 stolen bases. One heck of a year, edging out:

2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers – Best average in baseball, formidable power, 108 walks and the driving offensive force for the AL Central champs, edging out:

3. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers – This guy led the National League in homers and RBIs on a Dodger team with an otherwise anemic offense. Amazing.

4. Jose Reyes, New York Mets – Even in an injury-shortened season, this guy did his job getting on base, stealing and generally pestering the heck out of pitchers.

5. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays – Led the game in homers. Again.

6. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees – Best overall performance in pinstripes, just nudging out:

7. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees – A fine all-around year.

8. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox – Powerful season squandered by the team’s stretch drive collapse.

9. Michael Young, Texas Rangers – Great year at the plate.

10. Hunter Pence, Houston Astros/Philadelphia Phillies  – He made a big difference with the Phillies in the second half of the season.

Let the kvetching and bickering begin. I’m leaving off Albert Pujols, for goodness sake, all pitchers, Joey Votto and Alex Gordon and on and on.

 

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Adios, Carlos Delgado. Thanks for a great career.

Overcome by injuries, Carlos Delgado has retired from baseball. Even though he’s been inactive since early in the 2009 season, his departure still resonates. There’s a nice farewell piece on Carlos in the Globe and Mail that summarizes the man and his career.

Delgado piled up some impressive numbers on offense during his years with the Toronto Blue Jays and later with the Florida Marlins for one season and a few more with the New York Mets. From 1996 through 2008, he played in at least 138 games and hit 24 home runs or more – a remarkable string of productivity in a career that lasted 17 big league seasons.

Playing all those years in Canada, Delgado didn’t get the American media attention he surely would have received had he played on an American team. But he left his mark.

I always had a soft spot for Delgado, in large part because the only bobblehead I own is one of him that I got at a game at Skydome in Toronto. I went to the game with one of my good friends at The Canadian Press, and it’s the only ballgame I’ve seen outside the U.S.

Thanks for the memories, Carlos, and good luck.

Spike Lee sports a special Yankees championship cap

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Check out the slick New York Yankees cap that Spike Lee wore to the NBA All-Star game last night in Dallas. I hadn’t seen this one before. It celebrates the Yanks’ recent World Series triumph — the 27th in franchise history — and notes the years of all of them.

Of all the teams in major league baseball, only a few could carry something like this off. You have to have won a number of times for the cap to make any sense. Wikipedia’s entry on the World Series has a nifty chart noting how many times each franchise has won the championship, and it’s amazing how few titles many of them have claimed. For example, the Blue Jays, Cubs, Indians, Marlins, Mets and Phillies have won only two titles apiece. Particularly for fans of old-line teams in Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia, that represents a lot of “wait until next year” agony.

The Big Hurt hangs up the spikes

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Frank Thomas announced his retirement Friday after an outstanding career with the Chicago White Sox. He split his last few seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics, but in the public eye he was and always will be a member of the White Sox.

The Big Hurt was one of the most feared sluggers in the game for many years. His power numbers were awesome – 521 home runs, 1,704 runs batted in – and had a .301 career batting average.

As far as I know, he’s never been associated with the steroid scandal that has tarnished so many players of his era. Methinks Cooperstown will come calling for Mr. Thomas in five years.

Which cap for Rickey in the Hall of Fame?

Players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame no longer get to choose which cap they’ll be depicted wearing in the bronze plaque that enshrines them. There’s no question that Jim Rice, who played his entire career for Boston, will be wearing a Red Sox cap.

But what about Rickey Henderson? In a 25-year major league career, he played for the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Anaheim Angels, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers.

If there’s any debate, it’s between the A’s and the Yankees. He spent several years with each of those teams and only a season or two at most with the others. For me, there’s no question he should be enshrined as a member of the A’s, with whom he spent roughly half his career.

I think if you ask the average baseball fan what team Henderson played for, most fans would say “A’s” first.

I was fortunate to see Henderson tie Lou Brock’s single-season stolen base record at Milwaukee County Stadium in 1982. While I missed the next game, at which he broke the record, I got to cover a news conference he had the next morning.

While he always impressed me with his speed and hustle as a young player, I found him even more impressive in his 40s as he tried to hang on in the big leagues. He was playing Atlantic League ball for the Newark Bears when I last saw him on the field. It was in either 2003 or 2004 when I saw him get tossed out of a game against the Somerset Patriots for mouthing off to an ump.

For all his accomplishments, and his competitive fire, Rickey Henderson truly is a worthy member of the Hall of Fame.