The votes are in. Well, most of them anyway. The National League categories for Most Valuable Player and Cy Young were handed down this past week and the American League MVP was awarded, leaving just AL pitchers hanging in suspense for a little while longer.
The NL MVP winner finally went to St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols who is playing like the next Teddy Williams and Hank Aaron combined. He won the vote with 378 points, beating out Atlanta’s Andruw Jones who scored 351 points and the Cubs’ Derek Lee with 263. Pujols won with 18 first place votes and 14 second place votes with his .330 batting average, 41 homeruns and 117 runs batted in.
However, the most impressive feat during Pujols’ career in the majors has been his consistency. In his four years as Major League Baseball player, Pujols’ numbers in average, RBIs and homeruns rank in the top three of all other NL players.
He’s proven to fans that he can post a 40/130 season, clearly making him a valuable asset to his team. Furthermore, he’s demonstrated that he can be a candidate for the award year after year. I’d expect to see several more MVPs going to this man before he heads off to Cooperstown.
The NL CY Young Award began as a contentious battle early during the season and came down to the last few starts for the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter and the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis.
They both finished the season with CY Young caliber performances with Willis going 22-10 with a glowing 2.63 earned run average and Carpenter not far behind with a 21-5 record along with a 2.83 ERA.
Willis started the season hot, posting two complete-game shutout victories in his first two starts. He cruised through April undefeated and coasted along during the month of May, surrendering just two losses. He got through June, but ran into trouble right around the All-Star break. He suffered three losses and a daunting 7.13 ERA. He calmed down in August and throughout most of December.
Chris Carpenter’s season started off with a bumpy 4.01 ERA for the month of April, but his teammates helped him post four victories. It would only get better from there. Carpenter went on a roll, dropping his ERA a few points with every start he made. He was unbeatable between June 14 and Sept. 8, at which point he posted 13 straight wins.
While Willis and Carpenter each put up star-studded numbers, only one could walk away from the 2005 season with the CY Young title. Carpenter’s 137 points were just enough to beat out Willis’ 112. Carpenter secured 19 first place votes and 12 second place votes.
It’s very easy to argue a case for both Willis and Carpenter, and in my mind it’s still too close to call. But given the fact that Carpenter started poorly for a CY Young candidate and recovered with strong outings during the rest of the season, he proves he is deserving of the title. Even though Willis emerged as a CY Young contender early in the season, he stumbled midway through, thus damaging his chances.
Willis shouldn’t consider this his only opportunity. At the age of 23, he’ll have many more chances to pick up the title.
The AL MVP went to a player who had previously experienced the feeling of earning this prestigious award – twice actually. Yes, the award went to Alex Rodriguez – a man who passed Joe DiMaggio’s team franchise record of 46 homeruns hit in a single season by a right-handed player. But it wasn’t just surpassing a great Hall of Famer that earned Rodriguez his third title as a major leaguer.
It was the contribution to his team that earned him the award. His .321 batting average and 130 RBIs allowed him to beat out Boston’s David Ortiz who wasn’t too far behind Rodriguez with .300/46/148. Like Willis and Carpenter, Rodriguez narrowly defeated Ortiz by just 24 points. Given Ortiz’ resurgence with the Red Sox, I have no doubt we will see his name among future MVP candidates in years to come.
Serafini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.