2009 Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Awards
Starting Strong, Finishing Weak
by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
December 16, 2009


The nomenclature of Alex Gonzalez just got a little more complex.

The easiest way to tell apart the two Alex Gonzali was to denote one Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins and the other Alex Gonzalez of the Blue Jays.  Both shortstops spent a decade with their respective original organizations before finally departing into journeyman land, making it fairly easy to associate player and team.  But now the Blue Jays have gone and signed the other Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal with a club option, disregarding both journalistic ease and the fact that Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins really isn't very good.

Thankfully, the term Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins still works as the title of this award (which, by the way, goes to the player that collapses the most in the second half of the season after a fluke of a first half), as only one of the Alex Gonzali has played for the Fish.  The question becomes, what do we now call Alex S. Gonzalez?  Alex Gonzalez of the Blue Jays won't work for younger fans who don't remember that Alex S. Gonzalez was once grouped with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Nomar Garciaparra as up-and-coming shortstops by Sports Illustrated; they might associate Alex Non-S. Gonzalez with Toronto.  How about the Post-Bartman Alex Gonzalez instead?

Anyway, enough babble.  On to the good stuff.

American League Candidates

Luke Scott PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Pre-AS 263 18 51 .305 .384 .592
Post-AS 243 7 26 .208 .292 .375

Scott initially looks like a prime candidate, but he wasn't actually that good in the first half. He simply had an unreal month of May.  How does a 1.000 slugging average sound?  The craziest part is that he spent time on the disabled list that month.  Scott smashed eight homers and collected 18 RBI in his first 10 games back from the DL (extending into
June) for a 1.114 SLG in that span.

The rest of the season, Scott ranged from decent to bad, actually improving in September from lousy months of July and August.  I'm not sure what you call what Scott did - perhaps the Mike Benjamin Award - but he's no AGotM.

Jermaine Dye PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Pre-AS 328 20 55 .302 .375 .567
Post-AS 246 7 26 .179 .293 .297

Aaaand our long, exhaustive search is complete.  To Dye's credit, he was somehow able to draw exactly as many walks after the All-Star break as he did beforehand despite the fact that he lost all credibility at the plate.  I mean, how do you compete with this?  Dye was one of the bigger All-Star snubs of my lifetime, but you would never know it to look at his final stat line.  Dye runs away with this award.

Past AL AGotM Winners

Year Player Team
2005 Brian Roberts BAL
2006 Hank Blalock TEX
2007 Orlando Cabrera LAA
2008 J.D. Drew BOS
2009 Jermaine Dye CHW
 

But let's pause to give Kenny Williams credit on the way that he handled Jermaine Dye.  He signed the big right-fielder at age 31 at a bargain.  Dye then proceeded to help the Sox win their first World Series since World War I in 2005 and had one of the best offensive seasons by a Sox hitter not named Frank Thomas in 2006.  The following season, the entire Sox team fell apart, and Dye was among a host of Dave Kingman Award candidates from his own team.

But Dye was the anti-Alex Gonzalez of 2007.  He carried a .214/.271/.402 line into the All-Star break, then got hot for a month.  Kenny Williams shocked the baseball world by extending Dye's contract for two more years that August 18th.  What the baseball world didn't realize is that Dye would be very productive for another two years (he went .298/.368/.579 for the remainder of 2007 and .292/.344/.541 in 2008) before finally petering out.  Well-played, Kenny.

National League Candidates

Raul Ibanez PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Pre-AS 289 22 60 .309 .367 .649
Post-AS 276 12 33 .232 .326 .448

Ibanez' season was most amusing, because as soon as people began putting two and two together and suspecting Ibanez of possible performance-enhancer use, Ibanez issued the following statement:

You can have my urine, my hair, my blood, my stool anything you can test.  Ill give you back every dime Ive ever made [if the test is positive].

This was in mid-June, and Ibanez was hitting .322/.380/.622 at the end of a 13-game hitting streak on June 13th.  He went .225/.316/.434 the rest of the way, although he did get some big hits in the postseason.  It's certainly plausible that Ibanez stopped using whatever he was using as soon as he made his bodily excretion guarantee and that precipitated his decline.

Plausible, but hardly conclusive.  Ibanez actually only had one month with a sub-.850 OPS, and anyone who began the year the way he did would have suffered some decline.  Combined with the fact that Ibanez turned 37 on June 2nd, no longer had the benefit of a DH rule to rest games,  and may have been pressing due to the steroid scrutiny in a spotlight-heavy market, a precipitous decline was almost a guarantee.  Overall, Raul Ibanez still had one of the best seasons of his career by most statistical measurements and should not be seriously considered for the Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award unless there is a dearth of worthy candidates.

David Wright PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Pre-AS 378 5 44 .324 .410 .462
Post-AS 240 5 28 .279 .358 .423

Is Wright a worthy candidate?  He is if you just look at his batting average, but his power output held steady in the second half.  Furthermore, Wright went .239/.289/.367 after he got beaned in the helmet in August.  That is no way for someone to win an AGotM Award; Wright could have just sat out the rest of the season with the Mets playing for absolutely nothing.  If someone is going to snatch away this award from Ibanez, it won't be Wright.

Orlando Hudson PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Pre-AS 343 7 48 .283 .353 .426
Post-AS 208 2 14 .284 .363 .404

At first glance, O-Dog doesn't look like much of a candidate.  But when someone goes from being an All-Star to getting benched in favor of Ronnie Belliard in the postseason, it prompts a closer examination of the stats.  As it happens, Hudson had a line of .347/.420/.495 upon the completion of a three-game series in Coors Field.  Ah, but the Fountain of Coors was replaced by a Humidor, so he went just .248/.321/.375 the rest of the way.  Is that dropoff enough to make Hudson the third Dodgers middle infielder in five years to win the NL AGotM Award?

Freddy Sanchez PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Pre-AS 342 6 34 .316 .356 .478
Post-AS 147 1 7 .241 .255 .277

While Freddy Sanchez did miss time at the end of August and beginning of September with an injury, his swoon had already begun in earnest.  After batting .333 over the first two months of the season, Sanchez hit .282 in June, then .193 in July.  His power was completely sapped, as he doubled only twice in the second half after having done so 27 times before the break.  If you were puzzled as to why the San Francisco Giants would have traded a decent pitching prospect for this aging, expensive player to begin with, you must have been absolutely flummoxed when they signed him to a two-year extension after his miserable second-half performance. 

Past NL AGotM Winners

Year Player Team
2005 Cesar Izturis LAD
2006 Nomar Garciaparra LAD
2007 Johnny Estrada MIL
2008 Kosuke Fukudome CHC
2009 Freddy Sanchez Pit/SF
 

Don't buy into the "AT&T is a pitcher's park hype," either.  Last season, PNC depressed right-handed hitters' batting average and doubles while AT&T improved them.  Those are trends that have been consistent for years.  We should have expected a right-handed doubles-hitter like Sanchez to thrive with the Giants, but he did not.  Dodger infielders everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief and the NL East can stand proud as the only division never to have housed an Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award winner, ironically enough.  Sanchez is the man for 2009.

Also considered: Brad Hawpe and Mike Cameron




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.