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The 2006 Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award

by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
December 3, 2006

Alex Gonzalez had made us exceptionally happy here at BaseballEvolution.com.  After once again declining like a ski run this past year, Asher had more validation for making him the poster boy for second half tumbles.  His injury-plagued .695 OPS season made Tony happy since he's a Yankees fan, and it made me happy because there would be no way that a team would sign such a player to a multi-year deal, meaning that his Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award could keep its name.

What I wasn't counting on was the unrelenting idiocy of the Cincinnati Reds, who were apparently still dazzled by Alex's production during the first two months of 2003, and thus signed him to a three-year deal worth $14 million.  Can we still call it the Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award?

Despite what will be four straight seasons on a team with "Red" in its name (barring a trade), Alex spent eight years on the Marlins, and I'm confident that he'll go into Cooperstown wearing that turquoise fish logo... as a tourist someday.

American League Candidates

Alex Gonzalez (of the Red Sox)

Gonzalez At Bats HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
Pre-AS 243 5 27 .284 .327 .407
Post-AS 145 4 23 .207 .252 .379
Pre-August 178 8 34 .285 .330 .427
Post-July 87 1 14 .179 .265 .301

For those of you scoring at home, Alex Gonzalez is now a robust .225 career hitter after the break with a .214 mark after July.  Sure he declined in 2006, but it happened partly due to injury and seemed a somewhat gentle slope for the legend himself.  The trouble is that for him to win his award, he's going to need to put together another good first half at some point, and I'm not sure that he has it in him anymore.

Johnny Gomes

Gomes At Bats HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
Pre-AS 280 18 52 .250 .352 .511
Post-AS 105 2 7 .124 .254 .219
April 82 11 23 .305 .453 .732
Post-April 303 9 29 .191 .284 .350

It's not a terribly good sign when a player fails to win the AGotM Award because he couldn't sustain his success for a long enough period of time.  All we're asking for is two months, people!  Not to get all Splitsville here, but Johnny wound up hitting .187 against fellow right-handers this year, which explains a lot.  Before the season started, I predicted that Gomes' career path would mirror Ben Grieve's.  My apologies go out to the entire Grieve family for such a grievous effrontery.

Chris Shelton

Shelton At Bats HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
Pre-AS 301 16 42 .282 .348 .508
Post-AS 72 0 5 .236 .304 .292
April 92 10 20 .326 .404 .783
Post-April 303 9 29 .256 .317 .349

It's not a terribly good sign when Johnny Gomes Lite is an apt nickname for you.  At least Shelton's final numbers look solid.  Ten years from now, some kid's going to look at the back of his Chris Shelton and Sean Casey baseball cards and assume that Shelton got injured at the end of July.  "Why else would a playoff-bound team replace an .806 OPS first baseman with a .650 OPS one?" he'll ask.  That's right, OPS will be a standard statistic on baseball cards by the year 2017.  You heard it here first.

We'd consider coming out with a Shelton and Gomes Award for 2007, but I don't think we'll be seeing any other players with that good of Aprils fall so drastically for many years to come.

Nick Swisher

Swisher At Bats HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
Pre-AS 306 20 52 .258 .378 .510
Post-AS 250 15 43 .248 .364 .472
Pre-June 187 16 42 .305 .405 .783
Post-May 303 19 53 .228 .345 .423

Nick the Stick Jr. seemed like a lock to win this award at the end of August, as he had just completed a three-month stretch in which he had hit .211 with 12 homers.  But he proceeded to go .294/.450/.612 in September to prove that he could adjust to the league as well as the league could adjust to him.   

Hank Blalock

Blalock At Bats HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
Pre-AS 334 12 60 .287 .352 .443
Post-AS 257 4 29 .237 .289 .346
Pre-June 197 8 38 .310 .382 .492
Post-May 303 8 51 .244 .294 .354

The easy solution would have been to give Alex Gonzalez his own award, especially after Blalock had a decent month of August with a high, empty batting average.  But after examining the numbers more closely, we give Blalock the edge.  The Rangers' third baseman actually walked more often than he struck out during the first two months of the season, only to whiff nearly thrice as often as he walked thereafter.  He also followed his moderately successful August with one of the more dismal Septembers you'll ever see, as he hit .168 for the month.

Congratulations to Hank Blalock, the 2006 AL AGotM Award winner, and congratulations also to our own Richard Van Zandt, who picked Blalock before the season started.   

National League Winner

Nomar Garciaparra

Garciaparra At Bats HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
Pre-AS 268 11 53 .358 .426 .578
Post-AS 201 9 40 .229 .286 .408
Pre-July 233 10 47 .365 .424 .597
Post-June 236 10 46 .242 .295 .415

Over in the National League, there was no contest for the AGotM Award; Nomar ran away with it as Tony knew he would before the season even started.  This marks the second straight season that a Dodger came away with the hardware.  Time will tell whether Nomar's injury-riddled body simply cannot handle triple digits in games played, whether his second half was a fluke (his power and strikeout numbers remained constant), or whether he's begun a serious decline.  But even if he never has another good first half again, he can rest easy knowing that he won two major awards in 2006. 

Honorable Menchion

Mench At Bats HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
Rangers 320 12 50 .284 .338 .459
Brewers 126 1 18 .230 .248 .317
Pre-August 332 13 55 .286 .332 .488
Post-July 114 0 13 .219 .246 .289

I'm so clever.  While Kevin Mench's numbers speak for themselves, he can't take home the award because he spent time in both leagues, just as Bobby Abreu couldn't have won the MVP Award.  Moreover, we always expect a decline when a hitter leaves the Texas Rangers (Perhaps they should build a fountain of Arlington?), not that park factors explain zero homers in 121 post-July at bats.  He joins Matt Lawton in what is sure to be a long line of honorable mentions for the AGotM Award. 

 



Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at keith@baseballevolution.com.

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