Welcome to the first annual Melon Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Baseball. Over the 2008 season we've seen some remarkable things. It's time to give them some recognition.
Cliff Lee deserves this, hands down. His team, the Cleveland Indians, finished the season with a record of exactly .500. Yet Lee won a league leading 22 games with a puny 2.54 Era, a 1.11 WHIP and 170 strikeouts. When you can win that many games on a team this is very average, you've had a hell of a season. And the numbers show that it wasn't a fluke. Cliff Lee really was that good this year.
Runner Up- Roy Halladay
20 Wins, a 2.78 ERA and a remarkable 246 innings. And 9 Complete Games! Who completes games anymore?
Impact Pitcher of the Year
This award is a little different from the Cy Young. This award is specifically for a pitcher who was a major factor in their team's success. Without them, they might not be in the playoffs.
There are a lot of guys who deserve this, but I give this award to James Shields. His 3.54 ERA is respectable, but it doesn't blow you away. Same with his 14 wins. But he was a horse for the Rays, pitching 215 innings and keeping runners off the bases with a 1.15 WHIP. Without a performance like this, it would have put a bigger strain on the Rays' bullpen and they may not have won the division.
Runner Up- Gavin Floyd
He managed to get his team 17 Wins and gave them 206 innings. With a lesser pitcher, the Twins are in the playoffs instead of the White Sox.
MVP- Melon's Valuable Player
This one goes out to Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox. It was a remarkable year from an up and coming star. Pedroia batted .326 (just .002 points shy of the league leader) with a .376 OBP. Not to mention he also drove in 83 RBIs and scored a league leading 118 Runs. He was a major catalyst for the Red Sox and backed it up with exceptional defense at Second Base. He shows why you don't need to be a big slugger to be a major offensive threat.
Runner Up- Josh Hamilton
Aside from being a great human interest story, considering his past battles with addiction and his redemption, Hamilton batted .304 this year with a .371 OBP. He also hit 32 HRs and lead the American League with 130 RBIs and came in just shy or 100 Runs scored with 98.
Impact Player Award
Kevin Youkilis just gets better and better every year. And nobody in the American League had a bigger impact on their team as Youk. Aside from being the definition of "gritty", he also managed to bat .312 with a very impressive .390 OBP. Then he hit 29 Home Runs, drove in 115 Runs and scored 91 Runs. Youk can hurt you with his bat in just about every way possible. And to top it off, just in case your Third Baseman gets injured, he can slide across the infield and play that position too.
Runner Up- Carlos Quentin
What Floyd did for the White Sox with his pitching, Quentin did with his bat. He was the major offensive force for the White Sox and without him, that lineup doesn't look so great.
"I F-ing rocked in late innings" Award
Joakim Soria gets this. Yes, I know he didn't lead the league in saves, but you can't fault a guy for not having as many opportunities. But in the innings where he was pitching, his numbers were phenomenal. He had a miniscule 1.60 ERA with 66 Strikeouts in 67 innings and an even more miniscule 0.86 WHIP. And with 42 Saves in 45 attempts, it's a pretty good sample size.
Runner Up- Francisco Rodriguez
He set a record for most saves in a season with 62. When you set a major league record, you deserve recognition.
"Everybody thought I'd suck, but I was pretty damn good" Award
Remember when Mike Mussina lost his job to Ian Kennedy at the end of 2007? Things worked out kind of funny there. Kennedy sucked and didn't seem to mind being sent to Triple-A while Mike Mussina blew away expectations by winning 20 games for the first time in his career and was, for all intents and purposes, the New York Yankees' Ace when the team struggled all season.
Runner Up- Cliff Lee
Yeah, he had a better year than Mussina and nobody expected it from him either. But I hate to double up on awards. Still, he should be recognized for his outstanding season.
"Hey, I'm new but I was awesome" Award
Evan Longoria wins this. He was a huge asset to the Tampa Bay Rays, batting .272 with a a .343 OBP. On top of that, he hit 27 Home Runs and drive in 85 RBIs. Not bad at all from a rookie who missed a few weeks with a bum wrist. Imagine how much better those numbers would have been if he wasn't limited to 122 games. And unlike some of the recent ROY winners, this one looks like he could be a legitimate super star in the future.
Runner Up- Joba Chamberlain
He was dominant as a set-up man and went on to be a damn fine starter, managing to strike out 118 batters in 100 innings. He's still rough around the edges, but if this is any indication of things to come, he'll have an outstanding career.