"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 11/22/14
It's that time of the year again--time to hand out some MLB awards based on the 2014 season:
*The TONY BENNETT/BEST YEARS BEHIND HIM Award: Ryan Howard of the Phillies. He just turned 35, but the stats are telling: he struck out 190 times in 2014 (his most since 2008) and hit a pathetic .223. His health was OK in '14, but he's now hit a total of just 48 HR's over the past three years. This is a man, folks , who hit 58 HR's in ONE season--back in 2006. Reliever Joe Nathan--who just turned 40--also finished high in this category (see below).
*The BONNIE AND CLYDE/HIGHWAY ROBBERY Award (for stealing large sums of money): We could give this award to Ryan Howard, as well--but we'll give it to teammate Cliff Lee. They BOTH earned $25 million in 2014, but at least Howard played in most of his team's games. I know that injuries can't be avoided (and contracts are binding), but Lee--due to elbow problems--started just 13 games and won FOUR of them; opponents hit .304 vs. this former-stud pitcher. It now appears that too many 200+ inning seasons has caught up with Lee. Fathom this: $25 million for four wins translates to $6.25 million per victory, folks.
*The BLACKSTONE/HOUDINI DISAPPEARING ACT Award: Chris Davis of the Orioles. He hit 26 HR's and drove in 72 runs--not bad, right? WRONG. His numbers in both categories were about HALF of what they were in 2013. Oh, and he hit .196 this past season-- four points below the famed "Mendoza Line."
*The PETE ROSE/GEORGE BRETT HONORARY THROWBACK PLAYER Award: Brock Holt of the Boston Red Sox. Came to the ball park every day with the socks pulled high--ready to play ANYWHERE (and he almost DID play EVERY position). Hit a respectable .281 while making amazing plays in the field at WHEREVER the Red Sox placed him. Yes--he's a guy who could play in any era; if you don't like THIS overachiever, folks, you don't like BASEBALL. Period.
*The PITIFULLY PUNCHLESS Award (for lack of offense): The San Diego Padres. This pitiful squad hit .226 as a team. Just how bad is that? An anemic Cincinnati Reds offense had the next-lowest average in baseball--which was 12 points HIGHER than the Padres. San Diego's 535 runs scored was BY FAR the lowest in MLB.
*The STAY AT FIRST Award: Goes to Rockies second baseman DJ "Don't Run!" LeMahieu. This guy attempted to steal 20 bases and was thrown out TEN times--yes, a SB % of .500. Look--a number like that is acceptable when looking at NBA field goal %--or the percentage of women who you ask out on dates successfully--but it's horrific for a base runner. Has a study ever been done about the thin air of Denver affecting a manager's decision to send runners? In any case--STAY PUT, DJ.
*The LITTLE BUCKS/BIG NUMBERS Award: Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. He may be small in stature, but his stats WERE NOT. He led all of baseball with a .341 batting average and was the top base-stealer in the AL with 56. Oh--and he struck out just 53 times in 660 AB and played in 158 games. His salary for 2014? A modest $1.4 million.
*The BUM OF THE YEAR Award: A "no-brainer": A-ROID of the New York Yankees. If you have to ask WHY, then perhaps you shouldn't be reading this sports column. The guy's a "druggie", a cheat, a liar--and about TEN more negative nouns that I can't/won't mention in this forum. Let's just say that he will continue to win this award for as long as he's playing the game. Oh--and even though money is not an issue, many Yankee fans I know have a hard time stomaching THIS: the team still owes him at least $60-70 million through 2017.
*The ARSONIST OF THE YEAR Award: The aforementioned Joe Nathan of the Tigers. Counted on to add stability to an "iffy" bullpen in Detroit, Nathan blew 7 saves and pitched to a robust 4.81 ERA as the team's closer. Yes, easily could have won the "Tony Bennett" Award listed above, as well.
*The AVERSION TO WALKING Award: Goes to Jonathan Schoop of the Baltimore Orioles. In 481 plate appearances, this infielder walked just THIRTEEN TIMES; that's one walk per every 37 plate appearances. Rumor has it that Schoop tried to swing at a flying insect in the upper deck at Camden Yards during the season--mistaking it for a high strike--but that could not be confirmed before this column was published.
*The MAYTAG/DEPENDABILITY Award: An easy one: Greg Holland of the K.C. Royals. Saved 46 of 48 games (96%), gave up just 37 hits in 62 innings, and pitched to a 1.44 ERA. The P.A. system in KC should be playing "The Party's Over" (popularized by "Dandy" Don Meredith on the old MNF telecasts) every time Holland enters a game.
*The RODNEY DANGERFIELD/LACK OF RESPECT Award: Pedro Strop of the Chicago Cubs. WHO? Yes--Pedro Strop. Gave up just 40 hits in 61 innings of work for a bad team--allowing just two HR's--and pitched to a fine ERA of 2.21. I know--he's NOT the pitcher you think of when you mention the name "Pedro", but Strop definitely deserves mention after an impressive season.
*The GERITOL/AGE DOESN'T MATTER Award: Just like last year, this award goes to Rockies reliever LaTroy Hawkins. He'll turn 42 in a few weeks and just finished his 20th season in the "bigs." Get this: He saved 23 games and pitched to a 3.31 ERA in the thin air of Colorado. In '14, Hawkins became one of 16 pitchers in MLB history to appear in 1,000 games--and he's moving up the list QUICKLY. Must be good genes; he'll pitch again in 2015.
*The EARL WEAVER/FULL PACK AWARD (causing managers to smoke too much and/or develop ulcers): We'll give this to Rex Brothers of the Colorado Rockies. Each time he entered the game, manager Walt Weiss was reaching for TUMS due to these #'s: 56 IP, 39 walks, 7 HR's allowed, 5.59 ERA. How did this guy actually appear in 74 games? I have no answer.
*The FRANK SINATRA "ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL" Award: For the second year in a row, this goes to Chris Carter of the Houston Astros. Had only 115 hits, struck out 182 times, hit a pitiful .227, but slugged 37 home runs (second in the AL). Again, it's hit or miss with this guy--there's no in-between.
*Finally, the DOLLY THE SHEEP/REASON TO CLONE Award: Another "no-brainer": Derek Jeter. His career with the Yankees may have come to a close, but his legacy is cemented. Stats aside, he was the "anti-AROID" throughout his career: classy, humble, and ALL about winning. Cooperstown awaits, Derek; thanks for the memories.