It seems like just yesterday we were packing our bags to leave spring training and getting ready to pull the tarp off the 2007 baseball season. Now, the spring sheen has faded, and it's already time to look back, and reflect upon the season that is.
Ah, what a season it has been!
Since these season-in-review, season-going-forward articles are all about taking stock of the moment that was, let's prematurely hand out some awards.
First of all, there should be little surprise with my handing Felix Hernandez the AL Cy Young Award. Oh sure, he's only got one win, which would surely be a point of contention among the scotch-fueled scribes in short sleeve dress shirts that vote on these awards, but King Felix is coming off an opening day eight inning, 3 hits, 2 walks, 12 strike out performance. Sure, it's just one game, but a 13.5 K/9 and a 12.00 G/F ratio should garner at least a jaw drop. His DIPS ERA sits at 1.03. His numbers might not stay at those gaudy levels, but Felix the Great (or whatever his nickname is nowadays) easily possesses the ability to contend for a Cy Young this year, next year, and for years to come. Detractors among baseball's Philistines will point to his 8 innings of work, and fondly recall the "good old days" when pitchers completed their own games, pitched 300 innings in a season, and won 30 games.
(Speaking of that old chestnut, did anyone catch Murray Chass' tired 20 game winners/300 inning workers article in the NYT this Sunday? It certainly seemed like one last "fuck you" in his VORP dustup with the Prospectus crew earlier this spring. That MLB preview was little weak anyway, if only they'd covered the lead up to baseball season with the zeal of one Judy Miller.)
The NL Cy Young winner's a little tougher call. Ian Snell was certainly impressive against the Astros with 11 K and 1 BB through 6. In spite of two earned runs, his DIPS is a healthy 1.64 and his K/9 is a ridiculous 16.5. Even though he gave up the fly balls at a 3/5 ratio, his career G/F is a 1.11. If can continue to get outs with the K or the ground ball, he could be the next Pirate pitcher to leave for greener pastures when his contract expires at the end of this season. Jake Peavy had a nice debut, with his 2.29 DIPS and just three hits allowed, he's hoping to avoid the injury bug with Cy Young dreams this season. Ben Sheets surprised all with the NL's only complete game; Brewer fans hope he remembers to pace himself.
In the NL, it's looking like the season of the catcher...[ominous music]. The top ten players in runs created feature three backstops, Johnny Estrada (3.1), Brian McCann (3.0), and Josh Bard (2.6). The real story though is Adam Dunn, with 2 homers and 3.2 runs created in just one game. Not to be distracted by the long ball, Miggy Cabrera gets our MVP award. In two games, he's created 5.8 runs with 10 total bases (1 HR and 2 doubles) and 5 RBI. He's got an early lead in the VORP sweepstakes with a 5.2 mark.
Over the in junior circuit, Vlad Guerrero leads the MVP chase with a 5.0 VORP and a 4.3 runs created - nine total bases in 9 plate appearances, with a round tripper and a double. Ian Kinsler has rewarded those who wait in fantasy drafts with 2 HRs and a stolen base. It's a breakthrough season in just two games! Who the heck is Tony Pena Jr., besides being Tony Pena's son? His two triples and 2.8 runs created helped give the Royals a win over the Red Sox and spoil blowhard Curt Schilling's opening day - maybe if he'd had a fabricated bloody sock to rally the troops.
Well gang, it's been a fond look back at the 2007 season, and I already miss the endless list of spring renewal clichés that get tossed around with such abandon - and hackery - in early April, reminding us, as if we didn't already know, that we sure are happy to have baseball back, as well as apple pie from ConAgra and Xanax popping Mom. It's been a great season. Who knows what other surprises it's got in store.