Players voted for Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder -- who each reached the 50-home run plateau this season -- as the outstanding players in their respective leagues in Players Choice Awards balloting, which is being announced this week.
10/24/2007 10:10 AM ET
Players acknowledge A-Rod, Fielder
The pair of sluggers join C.C. Sabathia and Jake Peavy, who were voted the outstanding pitchers in their respective leagues this season.
As winners of the 2007 Players Choice Awards, each player will recommend the charity of his choice to receive a grant from the Major League Baseball Players Trust. Since 1992, the Players Trust has contributed more than $3 million to charities around the world in honor of Players Choice Award winners.
The Players Choice Awards announcements are being made this week in a series of short-format shows on Yahoo! Sports. The show featuring Sabathia and Peavy was posted on Tuesday and is available for on-demand play. The Outstanding Player Web cast was posted on Wednesday.
The outstanding rookies in each league will be announced Thursday and the comeback players on Friday. The shows culminate on Saturday with the announcement of the Player of the Year and the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award.
Rodriguez won his Players Choice Award over fellow AL finalists Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez, while Fielder edged out NL finalists Matt Holliday and David Wright.
This marks a record seventh Players Choice Award for Rodriguez, who helped steer the Yankees to their 12th consecutive postseason appearance. A-Rod led all Major Leaguers in homers (54), RBIs (156), runs (143), slugging percentage (.645) and finished seventh in on-base percentage (.422).
A certain Hall of Famer, A-Rod became the youngest player in Major League history to reach 500 home runs, when he belted a three-run homer at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 4 against the Royals.
In just his second full season, Fielder, 23, led the NL with 50 home runs and .618 slugging percentage, as he helped power the Brewers to a second-place finish in the NL Central Division, just two games behind the Cubs.
Fielder, who also placed third in the NL with 119 RBIs, led the Brewers' power surge this season. The club led all NL teams in home runs (231), finished second in total bases (2532) and slugging percentage (.456) and fourth in RBIs (774.)
In 2007, Peavy established career highs in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. He finished the season ranked first among all MLB pitchers in ERA and strikeouts and tied for second overall in wins by going 19-6, with a 2.54 ERA and 240 strikeouts.
Sabathia, posted a career-best ERA and also established career highs in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. He helped lead the Indians to the AL Central Division championship, by finishing with a record of 19-7, a 3.21 ERA and 209 strikeouts.
Balloting from all Major League players for the Players Choice Awards was conducted in September under the supervision of accounting firm KPMG.
The 2007 Players Choice Awards finalists[winners in bold]:
Player of the Year: Matt Holliday (Colorado), Magglio Ordonez (Detroit), Alex Rodriguez (NY Yankees)
Marvin Miller Man of the Year: Tom Glavine (NY Mets), Torii Hunter (Minnesota), Jake Peavy (San Diego)
Outstanding Player: Curtis Granderson (Detroit), Magglio Ordonez (Detroit), Alex Rodriguez (NY Yankees)
Outstanding Pitcher: Josh Beckett (Boston), C.C. Sabathia (Cleveland), Chien-Ming Wang (NY Yankees)
Outstanding Rookie: Brian Bannister (Kansas City), Dustin Pedroia (Boston), Delmon Young (Tampa Bay)
Comeback Player of the Year: Jon Lester (Boston), Carlos Pena (Tampa Bay), Sammy Sosa (Texas)
Outstanding Player: Prince Fielder (Milwaukee), Matt Holliday (Colorado), David Wright (NY Mets)
Outstanding Pitcher: Jeff Francis (Colorado), Jake Peavy (San Diego), Brandon Webb (Arizona)
Outstanding Rookie: Ryan Braun (Milwaukee), Hunter Pence (Houston), Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado)
Comeback Player of the Year: Rick Ankiel (St. Louis), Josh Hamilton (Cincinnati), Dmitri Young (Washington)
Affeldt has had Ortiz's number: It seems no pitcher has been able to get David Ortiz out this postseason. But one pitcher for the Colorado Rockies just may have the edge on Big Papi. That pitcher is Jeremy Affeldt.
"I've done fairly well against him in my career," Affeldt told the Denver Post.
Fairly well is an understatement when it comes to Affeldt's success against Ortiz. The Boston designated hitter is only 1-for-13 lifetime against Affeldt with four strikeouts. Don't expect Affeldt to reveal how he has succeeded against Ortiz and what he plans to do should the face each other in the World Series.
"I can't really reveal what I'm going to do to him, because I'd rather not give him the edge," Affeldt said. "He's an at-bat I remember quite a bit. I've got to change it up on him. I didn't execute a pitch earlier this year that he got me on. I plan to execute my pitch this time around."
Despite his success against one of Boston's best hitters, Affeldt is taking anything for granted against Ortiz.
"You can't deny he's a presence," he said. "He takes up the whole box. He's a very big man. I'm going to give him the best shot I've got, and I believe I can beat him. And I'm sure he's going to step in the box and believe he can beat me. So it's going to be fun to see what happens."
Helton could have been on the other side: Colorado first baseman is appearing in his first World Series. Helton is ecstatic do be wearing a Rockies uniform for his first trip to the game's biggest stage, but he could easily be wearing a Boston uniform right now if a possible trade during the offseason didn't fall through.
"It was a done deal, and if someone tells you otherwise, they are lying," Helton told the Rocky Mountain News. Helton was approached about the deal because he has veto power to any trade and said he would only have accepted a trade to Boston.
But the deal never was completed. Boston wouldn't agree to deal one of its three top prospects -- center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, right-handed starter Clay Buchholz or right-handed reliever Manny Delcarmen.
"It's not like I ever wanted to leave Colorado, but if I was going to go, (Boston) is a place I said I'd be willing to go," said Helton, who lives year-round in the Denver area with his family.
Helton's teammates are also glad the trade never materialized.
"You know what they say about sometimes the best trade is the one you didn't make?" said right-hander Josh Fogg. "Well this is one where the best trade was the one we didn't make."
Ortiz gearing up for games at first base: Every year, the Boston Red Sox face a dilemma -- what to do with David Ortiz when the club is playing in a National League park. Ortiz has played first base seven times this season, but he is known more for his hitting, not fielding.
So when Boston travels to Colorado for Games 3 and 4, at a minimum, of the World Series, Ortiz may be in the lineup as a first baseman for the Red Sox.
"He's done it in the past. Obviously he's a little more banged up now, but our medical staff is on it and we fully expect him to be able to deal with it," general manager Theo Epstein told the Boston Herald.
However, Ortiz hasn't had to deal with an ailing right knee much in the past. The injury will limit Ortiz's range and it will force him to stay on his feet more, which may aggravate the injury and affect him at the plate.
"He has good hands, and he can throw, which you saw in the (2004) World Series," said Epstein. "It's just that we're not going to expect a ton out of him range-wise."
If there is a silver lining, it is that Ortiz will be helped by the fact that the Rockies' infield has the tallest infield grass in Major League Baseball.
"He's going to be helped out greatly by the infield. It is the slowest, by far. It's almost as bad as the Cubs used to have it in the Ron Cey days when they were trying to protect him at third base," said Dodgers bench coach Dave Jauss, who witnessed Ortiz first hand while managing the slugger in the Dominican League. "That helps a lot. It's really, really thick. In the National League, it's definitely the best fit (for Ortiz)."
Cook back in rotation for Rockies: After being left off the National League Division and Championship Series rosters, Aaron Cook will be eligible to play for the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. Cook is scheduled to start Game 4 against Boston, manager Clint Hurdle announced.
Cook is being inserted into the starting rotation in place of rookie Franklin Morales, who has been starting for the Rockies during the final month of the season. Morales will now pitch out of the bullpen.
Hurdle was more than pleased to announce Cook is joining the rotation for the World Series. The veteran has been out since Aug. 10 with a strained oblique.
"He's a man who has worked so hard for us and been through so much, but he never got down and was always a professional," Hurdle told the Denver Post.
'Electric' Ellsbury surviving just fine in Boston: Jacoby Ellsbury is quickly becoming a cult hero in Boston. But his turn as favorite son started early in the season when he scored from second base on a wild pitch.
"He's electric," Oregon State coach Pat Casey, who coached Ellsbury in college, told the Boston Globe. "He does things across the board that make you win."
Everyone in Boston has noticed the way Ellsbury plays the game, which is all out, all the time.
"Allard Baird [assistant to the GM] said it best," notes Terry Francona. "Allard says, 'He's got survival skills. He's not just here to be here. He comes to win.' That's very evident by the way he plays the game."
On the night he scored on the wild pitch, Ellsbury was 2-for-2 with two walks, a stolen base and a run scored. This occurred during his first week as a Major League Baseball player.
His stint with Boston didn't last long, as he was up and down between the Red Sox and Triple-A throughout the year. He finally stuck for good after Sept. 1 and was a key contributor down the stretch, hitting .361 during the month with six doubles, a triple, three home runs, 17 RBIs, 16 runs scored and eight steals in eight attempts.
Tulowitzki brings out the flavor in Rockies: Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is trying to become the first rookie shortstop since Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees in 1996 to win a World Series ring. If Tulowitzki does win a ring, his comparisons to Jeter may only grow.
The Colorado rookie wears No. 2 because of Jeter. He also has the same burning desire to that Jeter has.
"He's not the leader of the clubhouse yet, because we won't let him. Eventually, he will be," pitcher Josh Fogg told the Denver Post. "He has that kind of personality where people gravitate toward him. He still has the enthusiasm of a Little Leaguer. A really good Little Leaguer who wants to win every game."
Tulowitzki has gravitated to the really great players during his time. He grew up watching Cal Ripken Jr. and plays shortstop today because of him. He also has watched Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra, trying to learn from them and see what made them winners.
"That's why you play, right?" Tulowitzki said.
Todd Helton calls Tulowitzki the "team catalyst," while manager Clint Hurdle called him "the extra-special sauce that brought the flavor out in everything."
Garko all class in defeat: For the Cleveland Indians' Ryan Garko, falling in Game 7 of the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox was a bitter pill to swallow. But, he says, credit should be given to the Red Sox for getting the job done.
"It's over. We left it all on the field. That's all you can say about it," he wrote in his blog on MLBlogs.com. "If you're an athlete, all you ever want to do is leave it all out on the field. This series didn't turn out like we would have liked it to. That's a good team over there. The Red Sox have a lot of classy players. They just beat us on the field. I give them a lot of credit."
Next up for him is the preparing for 2008 -- something he will do as early as this week.
"I'm going to take three or four days off, then get back to the weight room and start getting ready for next year," he said. "I'm excited about having a whole offseason where I won't have to go to the Arizona Fall League or play winter ball or anything. This will motivate me, and it should motivate all of us."
Teahen gives thumbs-up to Hillman hiring: When the Kansas City Royals hired Trey Hillman as their manager last week, many in baseball circles may not have known who he was. But the Royals are finding out who he is very quickly After managing for several years in Japan, Hillman has brought a sense of order and discipline to the team. Mark Teahen, for one, is glad to see that.
"He seems to really know the game, and is humble about it," Teahen told the Kansas City Star. "But he's also hungry to do what we need to do to win championships.
"In my three years here, there has been a lot of instability. It's nice to see (general manager) Dayton (Moore) got the man he wants. It feels like Dayton is going to be here a long time. Trey Hillman is going to be here a long time.
"It's nice to know who is going to be around and we are all on the same plan."
As for getting past last year, Teahen thought there were some bright spots for the team.
"I was excited the way the season went for the most part," he said. "I know we didn't finish strong, but we were also trying out some new parts at the end. It's exciting to see our young core come together like it did this year. Now we are adding a new manager who is going to be around for a while. It's an exciting time to be apart of the Royals."
Sabathia unable to overcome emotional surge: C.C. Sabathia was, for lack of a better word, disappointed with how he pitched in the ALCS against Boston. It was a heavy does of emotion, he said, that caused him some problems.
"I wanted to win so badly, I got real emotional, real competitive," Sabathia told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It took me over. That hasn't happened to me in a couple of years."
After going 0-2 in the ALCS with a 10.45 ERA, Sabathia never thought it would go that way for him -- or for teammate Fausto Carmona, who also struggled.
"I would have bet my paycheck that Fausto and I wouldn't have done that," he said. "I'll take the blame on that. Fausto is still a young guy. This was his first full season in the big leagues."
But even when the pair of Indians aces did struggle, he said, the team never gave up.
"We all felt like we were going to win it," said Sabathia. "I felt like I had to throw perfect pitches and shutouts. That's not me."
Borowski has been here before: Cleveland Indians closer Joe Borowski keeps getting within inches of a World Series -- but he keeps falling just short, too. Over the weekend, Borowski and the Indians were eliminated by Boston after leading the series three-games-to-one -- not unlike what happened back in 2003.
Back then, Borowski was the closer for the Chicago Cubs, another team that had a three-games-to-one lead in the Championship Series. The Cubs, who were within outs of defeating the Marlins in Game 6, fell apart after Moises Alou was unable to catch a foul ball that was deflected in the stands by the now infamous Steve Bartman.
"At least, with the Cubs, you knew there was one definitive mark that decided the series," Borowski told MLB.com. "I'm not saying the Bartman thing, but it was that inning."
That, though, was an easier thing to accept than this year's disappointment. "This was a little bit tougher," he said. "I thought we had a great opportunity to advance. It will be a bitter pill to swallow, but time heals."
Buck ready to return to fundamentals focus: In Kansas City, you can count catcher Joe Buck among those who are glad to see Trey Hillman take over as manager and bring a new outlook after spending several years managing in Japan.
"I'll tell you my priorities," Hillman told the The Wichita Eagle. "That's pitch it. Catch it. And we'll figure out a way to score runs. You have to be able to eliminate your infrastructure of ego to plate runs when you don't have certain pieces you'd like to have in a perfect world."
So Buck and Royals can count on a lot of extra work this spring. "I'm not going to keep these guys on the field as long as the typical Japanese player is used to staying on the field in Spring Training," said Hillman. "But suffice it to say, we're going to work. And we're going to play some catch."
For Buck, that sounds just fine. "If it gets us in the playoffs, why not?" he said. "If it gets us in the playoffs, I'm more than willing to do anything.
"Look, when we went through that stretch of winning games, we were playing catch. We were keeping people from scoring, we were doing fundamental things. We were almost flawless fundamentally, and that's what we have to do."
-- Red Line Editorial