The World Series has ended, the Fan Cave has ended, but we keep the news coming! Three Up, Three Down is back talking about the Giants, including a special visit from Fan Cave Winner, Ashley Chavez! We then talk about team options and the gold glove awards that should have been. Stay tuned for more baseball news!
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Moving along in our 3U3D Awards to Manager of the Year. Will these be the awards that we agree on the most? Let’s take a look.
Jeremy Dorn (@JamblinMan): Ventura has done a fantastic job in his first year on the Southside, but he was given a pretty decent offensive team, and you can mostly thank his pitching coaches for getting Jake Peavy back to his normal self. It’s a tight, two-horse race here between Bob Melvin and Buck Showalter, but I have to give the edge to Melvin. Yes, it was only a two-game difference in record, but he got his team all the way back from a huge deficit to actually win their division and absolutely shock the Texas Rangers. What a story.
Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Bob Melvin wins this award for leading his team to an AL West win. Rookies paved the way for Melvin’s A’s, recording an AL record number of wins. Buck Showalter would have taken this award home for me if it wasn’t for the A’s winning their division on the last day of the season. Buck had used 25 different starters and didn’t have a single player bat over .300.
Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): How can the guy who had the second lowest total payroll in baseball and won his division not win this award. The A’s finished first in AL West with a record of 93-69 beating the Texas Rangers on the last day of the season to take the division. Buck Showalter has dramatically increased his teams wins in his second year and this year’s Baltimore Orioles were no different finishing this season with a record of 93-69 after 2011’s 69-93 record. Robin Ventura had a very good rookie season as a manager although he was unable to win the division the Chicago White Sox led for a majority of the season. His team wilted down the stretch losing him his Manager of the Year award.
Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): You can’t throw away what Buck Showalter did for the Orioles. Making their first playoff appearance since 1997 and shocking the tyrants of the AL East. I loved watching it all season and seeing Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and JJ Hardy keep the birds in the air. Moneyball Part 2 can also not be overlooked. Bob Melvin and Billy Beane worked their magic again as it seems this haphazard group of misfits in Oakland got it done. Their team OBP is not great, they don’t lead in many categories, they strike out a lot, but boy do they bring the energy and win when it counts.
Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): Melvin and Showalter are on their own level for this award and I think that the actual vote will be closer than ours was. Melvin gets the slightest of edges for me for winning the AL West and finishing with the better record than the Orioles when both teams had low expectations. To win the AL West in a division with the back-to-back American League champions and a retooled, strong Angels team is amazing. The fact that Melvin did it while starting a rookie pitcher in more games than any other team in MLB history is even more amazing. Maddon gets my 3rd place vote, because I don’t think there is a manager that gets more out of his team and his strategy than the Rays skipper.
Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): Davey Johnson is the easy call here. The Nationals had the best season based on expectations. Johnson led the franchise to its first playoff appearance since 1982 and finished the season with the best record in the National League. Gonzalez gets my 2nd place vote as I wasn’t sure what could happen after the Braves collapse of 2011. They could have imploded and finished 69-92 like the Red Sox, but Gonzalez rallied the team to get the 1st Wild Card spot in 2012. Bochy is a close 3rd to me, just over Dusty Baker. I’m already second-guessing myself on that one, but I’m sticking with it.
Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): The Washington Nationals were bound to break out of their coccoon eventually, and an (almost) full season of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper helped Davey Johnson guide the ship out in Washington. Their pitching has been dominant, Ryan Zimmerman has put in his work at 3rd base for them, and Teddy actually got his first win!! Dusty Baker also gets a nod because the Reds just ran away with the NL Central. There’s no doubting they are the best team in that division and when Baker was out due to health issues, they still stayed energized and headed strong into the playoffs.
Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Davey Johnson has to win this award right? He led the Washington Nationals to their first playoff berth in franchise history leading the NL East for almost the whole season. Dusty Baker for all his short comings as a “manager” of his pitching staff was able to effectively use one of the best bullpens in baseball. Leading the Reds to the division title this season after finishing in third in 2011 with a record of 79-83. Im beginning to think that the St. Louis Cardinals are just a team that plays mediocre baseball for much of the season and then makes a push for the playoffs late in the season. This season under Mike Matheny was no different from last year than last year under Tony LaRussa but still not bad for a young rookie manager.
Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Davey Johnson is just a winner plain and simple. He won with a completely revamped team with a few key pieces from last year. Mike Matheny takes over the reins as Cards skipper and leads the defending World Champs to a playoff appearance that’s of the Wild Card variety.
Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): Well, come on. I’ve got to give my boy Donnie Baseball a little third-place love up in here! Sure, Mattingly did a great job in L.A., but it’s nothing compared to the magic that Hurdle and Johnson have twirled in Pittsburgh and Washington D.C., respectively. I probably would have given the nod to Hurdle if the Pirates had reached 81 wins. But, Johnson instead snuck in after leading the Nats to a 90-plus win season, the number one seed in the playoffs, and an NL East division title for the first time since they were…the Senators? No literally, since the only people in America were British senators. At least that’s what it seems like. Long live the Expos!
Congrats to the Atheltics Bob Melvin and Nationals Davey Johnson on winning the 3U3D Managers of the Year!
What are your thoughts on Manager of the Year? Let us know in the comments!
Next up in our awards series is the Cy Young. We’ve been saying all season that NL Cy Young was the most wide open awards race in the league, with 7-10 players having a legitimate case at the award. Only eight though, received votes from 3U3D, our apologies to Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, and Madison Bumgarner. Let’s take a look at the Cy Young race!
Our AL Cy Young Thoughts:
Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): How do you choose between those top four, honestly? King Felix doesn’t have quite the numbers of the others, but he did pitch an absolutely brilliant perfect game. Then again, Weaver has the numbers and a no-no to go with it. Price has been the quiet stud keeping Tampa Bay in the playoff race, and Verlander is being Verlander in Detroit, dominating all power categories on the stat sheet. I’m going with my gut here and giving Price his first career Cy Young award by a smidgen over the reigning winner in Detroit.
Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Justin Verlander repeats as AL CY Young because he remains the most dominant pitcher in the game. JV is 2nd in ERA (2.64) to Price (2.56), 2nd in WHIP (1.06) to Weaver’s (1.02). First in IP (238.1) by 6.1 innings and 1st in complete games with 6; the next closest pitcher had 4. Verlander also finished 1st in SO with 239. He was 3 wins off the AL lead with 17 but also didn’t have a favorable amount of run support. Not to mention he was within 1 out of his 3rd No Hitter.
Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Justin Verlander was the best pitcher in baseball last season and once again he proved to be the best this season. He led the AL in strikeouts and although Price’s ERA may have been slightly less Verlander had two more starts and pitched in 27.1 more innings. If Hernandez pitched for a better team he would have a better chance of winning this award this season. How can he not be considered though having more complete game shutouts than any other pitcher had complete games.
Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): You’ll see a theme in my Cy Young picks as I went with the two pitchers that won more games in each league, because winning games is what it’s all about. For Weaver to lead the league in wins, winning percentage, WHIP, and hits/9. This to me proves that he was the best pitcher in the American League in 2012. Verlander we know is great and is a strong #2. In the battle of great Rays pitchers this season, I’m giving the slight edge to Fernando Rodney, who really solidified Tampa’s bullpen when Kyle Farnsworth went down, while I think the Rays rotation would have been strong even without David Price.
Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): David Price did everything in his power to knock off the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP, but in the end it just wasn’t enough for me to put him at the top. Would you rather have a 2.64 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP over 238.1 innings or a 2.56 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP over 211 innings? I think it’s the first option clearly and that’s why Verlander is my Cy Young winner. He led the American League in pitcher WAR, strikeouts, complete games, and adjusted pitcher wins, while being 2nd in ERA and WHIP. It’s what we’ve come to expect from the best pitcher in the game. Rodney had one of the best reliever seasons and deserves serious consideration after posting the lowest ERA by a pitcher with 50 innings pitched in league history. At first glance, Sale over Weaver may look wrong, but to me it’s right. Sale was better than Weaver in WAR, adjusted ERA+, runs and wins.
Our NL Cy Young Thoughts:
Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): When we look back at the 2012 season, I believe there are going to be four things we truly remember, the World Series champion, Mike Trout’s historical rookie year, Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown, and R.A. Dickey. The 37-year old knuckleballer became the first Mets pitcher since 1990 to win 20 games, which is even more amazing when you factor in that the Mets only won 74 games total. Dickey’s 1.05 WHIP is incredible when you factor in he’s throwing a knuckler (Tim Wakefield’s career WHIP is 1.35). Plus, he led the league in strikeouts. He’s the best story and the best pitcher in the NL in 2012. Johnny Cueto gets my silver spot, as he was incredible when you factor in that he was pitching half the time in one of the biggest hitters havens in the Majors in Cincinnati. Cueto led the NL in adjusted ERA+ and was second in pitcher WAR. Kershaw’s numbers were great as he fell one strikeout short of winning the pitching Triple Crown. Kimbrel was the league’s best closer, striking out more than half the batter he faced and had one of the best slugging percentages against in league history. He’s near unhittable, but gets penalized for not throwing enough innings. Gonzalez and Medlen I couldn’t decide so I put them both. Medlen’s conversion to the Braves rotation may have saved them in the 2nd half. Gonzalez led the league in wins, but you could almost make a case Jordan Zimmermann was the most valuable pitcher on the Nationals this season.
Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): I gave the edge to Gonzalez again because he led the NL in wins and K/9. His dominance is what let him stay in games longer and pick up more wins. Gonzalez was the best pitcher on the best team in the National League and deserves the Cy Young. Medlen over Dickey is a controversial pick I’m sure, but Medlen put the Braves on his back in the 2nd half and got them to the playoffs. Dickey got to pitch in a relaxed environment in a pitchers park for a near-last place team. The knuckleball just seems like a fluky gimmick to me. I’m surprised that Matt Cain was only on my ballot, not sure why he remains so underrated. He only threw the 3rd most innings, while posting the 4th best ERA and 2nd best WHIP. He even threw one of the most dominant games in the history of baseball, what else does he need to do?
Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): R.A. Dickey won 20 games for the Mets. Let that sink in for a minute, 20 games for the Mets. I know Kershaw’s numbers were better but come on the kuckleballer had it working this season and anybody willing to throw something going that slow at a professional athlete deserves to be rewarded in some way. Kershaw had the best season statistically but he won the award last season and who knows if Dickey will ever get a chance to win it again. Johnny Cueto had a fantastic season for the NL Central Champions. Leading that rotation posting a career high in innings pitched and winning 19 games.
Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Kimbrel has had a season for the ages as a closer. He became the first pitcher ever to K HALF of the hitters he faced. He only allowed 26
hits all year, making his opponent’s BA a measly .123. Oh not to mention his stellar WHIP of 0.65. Kershaw showed dominance and so did Gio, winning 21 games.
Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): This is another close race, pitting a lot of very quality starting pitchers against each other for the league’s greatest honor at the position. This award has so much talent in the running that guys like Stephen Strasburg and Matt Cain and Kyle Lohse are left off my ballot completely. I’ve got to go with the fantastic story that is Dickey for 2012, as his numbers barely edge the others and he’s a KNUCKLEBALLER for heaven’s sake! How can you not love this guy? When I ran the numbers, I see that Kershaw led the Majors in ERA and WHIP this season, and fell one strikeout shy of the K title in the National League (behind Dickey). But the fact that Dickey has similar numbers, but a better record, on a much worse team and he primarily throws a knuckleball is enough for me to crown him. It’s not an award based on a cute story, it’s based on him being the best pitcher in the league for 2012.
Congrats to R.A. Dickey and Justin Verlander on winning the 3U3D Cy Young Awards!
Who makes your Cy Young ballot? Let us know in the comments! Love our personal ballots? Hate our personal ballots? Hit us up on Twitter, we want to hear from you! And tell us here who you think should be the Cy Young winner for each league:
It’s been a season for the ages, what with three perfect games (so far), five no-hitters, Mike Trout, a four-homer game, two cycles in one week, Mike Trout, crazy trades, Chipper’s farewell, and of course, Mike Trout.
But the ultimate pinnacle of 2012 will occur around Halloween hangover time, when an official World Series champion will be crowned. Shortly thereafter, we find out who a bunch of writers think were the best hitters, pitchers, rookies and managers in baseball this season.
And we all know who the big candidates are: Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Justin Verlander, Buck Showalter, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Davey Johnson, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Trout and Mike Trout.
Did I mention Mike Trout might win every award ever created for 2012?
Here’s how I expect it to go when the final tally comes across:
American League: Trout (MVP/Rookie of the Year), Felix Hernandez (Cy Young), Showalter (Manager of the Year)
National League: McCutchen (MVP), Wade Miley (Rookie of the Year), R.A. Dickey (Cy Young), Johnson (Manager of the Year)
Womp, womp. That’s fun. But how about the dark horse candidates in each league for each of these awards? The guys like “Brendan Conlon” (Joel Edgerton) from the movie Warrior (Side bar: if you haven’t seen it, go. Leave this blog immediately and Red Box that sh*taki right now.), who are up against all odds and turn in an incredible performance to take home the hardware? Someone you would never expect to have a chance?
Here is my list of three dark horse candidates for each major award in each league for the 2012 MLB season:
Leading candidates: Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano, Paul Konerko
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: Arguably the best story in all of baseball this season has been the resurgence of the Orioles. The catalyst in the offense is All-Star center fielder Jones. His slash line in 2012: .290/24/65/12 SB
Josh Willingham, OF, Twins: Normally I shy away from great players on losing teams (sorry, Edwin Encarnacion), but I can’t ignore what Willingham has brought to the Twins. This season: .258/31/91/.900 OPS
A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: An unlikely first place team led by an unlikely season from their catcher. Sure, Paul Konerko is pitching in, but look at the damage A.J. has inflicted on opposing pitchers: .293/23/70/.877 OPS
A.L. Cy Young:
Leading candidates: Verlander, Hernandez, Jered Weaver, Chris Sale, David Price
Jake Peavy, White Sox: He is only 9-9, but records really are out of a pitcher’s control. His peripherals are really good. And did I mention the White Sox are potentially playoff bound? Peavy’s numbers: 9-9/3.09/155/1.08
Matt Harrison, Rangers: Shame on you for not recognizing Harrison’s dominance. On one of the best teams in baseball, he’s been their most consistent starter, low strikeout numbers be damned: 15-7/3.04/101/1.22
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees: A big free agent signing for the Yankees has been fantastic this season in maintaining some sense of sanity in the messed up world that is the Bombers’ rotation: 12-9/2.98/131/1.10
A.L. Rookie of the Year:
Leading candidates: Trout, Yu Darvish, Brett Lawrie, Will Middlebrooks, Yoenis Cespedes, Jesus Montero
Quintin Berry, OF, Tigers: Berry came up as an injury replacement and forced his way into the everyday lineup. Average, speed, a little pop and great defense? What more could you ask for? His line: .272/2/24/17 SB (in 17 tries)
Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners: Mark my words – the Mariners are really heading in the right direction. One of the offensive cornerstones they will build around is this guy. Could be a big power hitter soon: .252/15/73/.725 OPS
Tommy Milone, SP, Athletics: Untouchable at home, but has had his share of growing pains. That being said, Milone looks like he has the potential to develop into a very special starter: 10-9/3.87/112/1.19
A.L. Manager of the Year:
Leading candidates: Showalter, Robin Ventura, Ron Washington, Joe Girardi, Jim Leyland
Bob Melvin, Athletics: Maybe he should have been considered a “leading candidate.” But he manages an Oakland ball club that has to have a movie made about them to get national attention. His team is 69-57. I honestly expected 100 losses.
Joe Maddon, Rays: A contender every year it seems, Maddon might not get a ton of recognition this year because people are used to him being a great manager. But the Rays are leading the Wild Card despite losing Evan Longoria to injury for most of the season.
Eric Wedge, Mariners: Again, props where props are due, people! Wedge has turned this exceptionally young, raw M’s team into a force to be reckoned with. With such a baby-faced team, they are only 5 games under .500, 8.5 back in the Wild Card.
Leading candidates: McCutchen, Buster Posey, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun, David Wright, Carlos Ruiz
Angel Pagan, OF, Giants: The Braves finally figured out how to tame the wild beast that was Angel Pagan yesterday, but before that he was hitting over .500 in his previous week’s worth of games. With Melky Cabrera suspended, Pagan could steal a potential MVP award from his teammate Posey if the Giants make the playoffs: .292/7/48/21 SB
Jason Heyward, OF, Braves: Speaking of the Braves, how about the ridiculous season Heyward is having? I guess the sophomore slump is real, because J-Hey is back going Yicketty and Mammo all day in a solid third season: .278/23/68/18 (please don’t remind me he’s 7 months younger than me…it hurts)
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals: Teammates Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are stealing the thunder in St. Louis these days, but I bet if you polled the clubhouse, Yadi would be the team MVP. If the Cards make another miracle run to the playoffs, this award could be his: .326/17/61/11 SB/.892 OPS (and we know about the defense)
N.L. Cy Young:
Leading candidates: Dickey, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, A.J. Burnett, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels, Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel
Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals: I’m a little bit offended that Zim’s fantastic season is going under the radar. Sure he’s overshadowed by two of his own teammates, but check this line: 9-7/2.48/119/1.11
Ryan Vogelsong, Giants: Speaking of being overshadowed by two of his teammates, Vogelsong is quietly having a career year. His peripheral stats are off the charts in 2012: 11-7/2.90/122/1.19
Kyle Lohse, Cardinals: Speaking of being over…wait. You mean to tell me KYLE LOHSE has been the best pitcher for the Cardinals this year? Undoubtedly, this has been the most anonymous Cy campaign of 2012: 13-2/2.61/104/1.08
N.L. Rookie of the Year:
Leading candidates: Miley, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rizzo, Zack Cozart, Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, Wilin Rosario
Mike Fiers, SP, Brewers: KP can attest to how incredibly good Fiers has been this year. When he shut down the Dodgers earlier this season I thought it was a fluke. His numbers in 2012 would beg to differ: 7-6/2.98/96/1.13
Norichika Aoki, OF, Brewers: Okay, maybe now I’m just sucking up to KP. Just kidding – there was no way to avoid putting Aoki on here with the type of spark he’s been for Milwaukee: .279/6/30/19 SB
Steve Lombardozzi, OF, Nationals: I went back and forth here between Lombardozzi, who has been just as good, if not better than his teammate Harper, and Colorado infielder Jordan Pacheco. Lombo gets the nod: .281/2/23/hitting leadoff for a 1st-place team
N.L. Manager of the Year:
Bud Black, Padres: “What! The Padres suck this year!” Au contraire, monsieur (for you who are Frenchly challenged, I believe that translates to YOU ARE WRONG, DUMMY)! How about 28-20 since the All-Star Break with a roster of nobodies?
Mike Matheny, Cardinals: Another guy not getting much credit for keeping his team in an extremely tough race is Matheny. He’s in his first year managing, has dealt with a plethora of injuries and the loss of Pujols. Still, the Cards are in line to win a Wild Card berth.
Terry Collins, Mets: I know the Mets are out of it, but is it still not an admirable job that Collins has done in the Big Apple? Besides David Wright and R.A. Dickey, the man has nothing to work with, yet the Mets were still a contender into mid-July.
*All statistics current as of start of play on Sunday, August 26th, 2012*
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Did you watch the ESPY’s yesterday? Yeah, me neither. Sorry, I have better things to do than watch a bunch of athletes dress nice and split hairs determining which player, coach, moment and team is just a tad bit more popular than the rest.
And thank god I didn’t have to see Brian Wilson and his more-attractive “date.”
Anyway, here at Three Up, Three Down, we watch a lot of sports. I mean…a LOT. But for all the football, basketball, hockey and soccer games we’ve taken in over the years, our baby is baseball.
So here’s my try at re-awarding every ESPY award that had baseball involved in it:
1. Best Male Athlete
MLB contender: Justin Verlander
ESPY winner: LeBron James
I love JV, but the voters got it right on this one. The other nominees for this award were Novak Djokovic and Aaron Rodgers. All four are incredible athletes and dominated their respective sports. But there is no human specimen on this planet more physically capable and immensely talented than LeBron. I truly believe LeBron could have been a power-hitting outfielder, Serena Williams clone (both in looks and tennis court presence…sorry, had to do it) or star tight end. I can’t say that any of the other three could make it in the other sports.
Jeremy’s winner: LeBron James
2. Best Championship Performance
MLB contender: David Freese
ESPY winner: LeBron James
It’s hard to argue against the voters again. But this category is definitely much more difficult. The other nominees were Eli Manning, Tony Stewart and Jonathan Quick. Because Manning had so many teammates making clutch plays around him, I’m going to back off on giving it to him. Stewart is a NASCAR driver; ’nuff said. Quick was absolutely incredible tending net for the Los Angeles Kings, but again it’s a sport where individual dominance seems more aided by your teammates than most. James and Freese both came through in hugely pressurized situation, but James did it against worse competition (by that I mean, he is so head and shoulders above other players that he SHOULD win, whereas Freese is a huge underdog). With that said, the St. Louis boy and his huge World Series performance get my vote. Perhaps the fact that the World Series occurred over 8 months ago played a role here?
Jeremy’s winner: David Freese
3. Best Record-Breaking Performance
MLB contender: Mariano Rivera
ESPY winner: Drew Brees
Okay, I get it. Brees threw for a billion yards. Very impressive, considering he had one of the most prolific offenses in recent memory around him. *Rolls eyes* Just kidding – I love Brees. But, there is no way he should have beaten out Rivera for this award. That being said, Coach K’s wins milestone is a very tough nomination (Lexi Thompson was the fourth and final nominee) to beat. Coaching is an underrated challenge, but nothing tops coming into a game in the ninth inning to secure a win in front of 40,000 people. Rivera should have gotten more respect here, and in turn, the ESPY.
Jeremy’s winner: Mariano Rivera
4. Best Game
MLB contender: Rangers vs. Cardinals, Game 6
ESPY winner: 49ers vs. Saints, NFC Divisional playoffs
I’m going to catch some heat for this. I will never forget game six. It was one of the most epic moments of my entire life as a sports fan, and I was just watching with a beer in hand and dogs at feet. I ran around the house yelling and cheering, because (as Jack Buck so aptly announced) I couldn’t believe what I just saw. BUT, I’m a 49ers fan, and our fan base was hurting for some success after finally returning to the playoffs. And with all the doubt placed on Alex Smith over the years, his throw at the end of that game made him a local hero – I’m sticking with the Red and Gold here. Please direct all hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeremy’s winner: 49ers vs. Saints, NFC Divisional playoffs
5. Best Moment
MLB contenders: Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit OR MLB season ends with dramatic final night
ESPY winner: Tebow to Thomas, sudden death TD
This is a freakin’ travesty. There’s no other way to put it. And it just makes me hate Tim Tebow. I know it’s not Tebow’s fault that football is now more popular than baseball in our country, but you’ve got to be kidding me. Derek Jeter is one of the all-time legendary athletes, not just baseball players, in American sports history. Achieving his 3,000th hit solidified his already-being-cleared-and-buffed spot in Cooperstown. Not okay, voters. Not okay. Oh, and Bubba Watson was another nominee or whatever.
Jeremy’s winner: Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit
6. Best Comeback Athlete
MLB contender: Johan Santana
ESPY winner: Matthew Stafford
What? Seriously? Football rules again. The other two nominees didn’t stand a chance (Maria Sharapova and Sidney Crosby – wow, there really was a shortage of good comeback stories, huh?), but Santana got snubbed. Both players came back from injury to have big seasons, but Stafford had the difficult role of dropping back and throwing a football in the general vicinity of Calvin Johnson. Santana had his arm ripped apart, repaired and stitched up. Upon returning, he no-hit one of the best offenses in baseball. Is there really an argument here?
Jeremy’s winner: Johan Santana
7. Best MLB Player
ESPY winner: Josh Hamilton
This is the Big Kahuna. I’m sure it was difficult enough to narrow this category down to five guys, but the committee went with Hamilton, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Ryan Braun and Justin Verlander. I’m hard pressed to say they were wrong, as much as my Dodger blue-bleedin’ heart wants to. Hamilton has been the best player in baseball at various points of the last few seasons. The only argument I feel could be legitimately made if we narrow it all the way down, is for Verlander. All of the other guys have great cases, but JV won the Cy Young AND MVP. It’s hard to top that. I’m okay with the selection of Hamilton though. Kid deserves all the respect in the world.
Jeremy’s winner: Josh Hamilton
8. Best Male College Athlete
NCAAB contender: Mike Zunino, Florida
ESPY winner: Robert Griffin III
It’s laughable that they even included Zunino and fellow nominee Jack Connolly (Minnesota-Duluth hockey player) in this category. Nobody watches college baseball OR hockey, so it was just to look like they cared. Well played, ESPN. The real competition was between Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Anthony Davis. Though I could have seen the unibrow or first overall NFL draft selection take it home, I’m not the least bit surprised it was Griffin III. He won the Heisman Trophy, the most prolific of college athletic awards, and led a team far less talented than Stanford football or Kentucky basketball to a huge season.
Jeremy’s winner: Robert Griffin III
9. Best Team of the Year
MLB contender: St. Louis Cardinals
ESPY winner: Miami Heat
The Cardinals were an awesome, incredible, inspiring team in 2011. Unfortunately, the voters got it right again. If this was Best Comeback or Best Cinderella Story or Most Likeable Team to Win a 2011 Championship, the Cards would likely win. But they had no chance in a category including the following nominees: Alabama football, Baylor women’s basketball, Kentucky men’s basketball, Los Angeles Kings, Miami Heat, and New York Giants. The real contenders here were Kentucky, the Heat and the Giants. But I think voters recognized that Kentucky can’t compete with the other two at the college level, and that if you take into account the consistency of dominance over the course of a season – it was always going to be the Heat. As it should have been.
Jeremy’s winner: Miami Heat
Don’t forget to comment below if you disagree! Give me your winners and what you think of the ESPY’s. Follow Three Up, Three Down @3u3d and LIKE us on Facebook.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)