I know the loss to the Rangers is still on fresh on the minds of everyone and won’t go away anytime soon. But we need to thank the players and reward them their performances and everything they accomplished during the season. So here are my post season awards to some of the Rays best players and a very special award for the worst player (here’s a hint, it’s a catcher).
Cy Young – David Price
Price was the Rays ace pitcher and one of the best in all of the majors. A club record 19 wins, starting the All Star game, and dominating any team he faced, Price was the best pitcher around. Price had a down 2009 season, his first full season as a starting pitcher, but this season he brought everything together and emerged as the Rays best pitcher. He dominates with a blistering fastball that hits 97 deep in the 7th inning and mixes in breaking pitches that leave hitters guessing and missing.
Comeback Player of the year – Joaquin Benoit
Released from Texas and coming off of arm surgery, not many teams were interested or wanted to risk signing Benoit, but the Rays took a chance and it paid off. Benoit returned in dramatic style, striking out the first 6 batters he faced in the season and became the 8th inning man, setting up for Soriano. Benoit has great command of his fast ball and makes the best pitches to get out of trouble. In the post season against Texas, he dominated and got the win in game 3.
Defensive MVP – Carl Crawford
Not a real award in the majors (Gold Glove instead), but Crawford was the man in the outfield for the Rays (never gave up on a fly ball like Upton). Crawford made great plays all season, showcasing his speed and range to snag flyballs, running into the wall to rob hitters, and ranging into the crowd to get the foul out. Even playing injured, Crawford was still out there every day, giving the pitcher the peace of mind that anything hit to left field would be caught.
Offensive MVP – Carl Crawford
A tough award to hand out, you could argue for Longoria, but Crawford was the consistent threat all season long. Hitting for power and average (over .300 all season), Crawford was a stable hitter in the middle of Rays lineup that was hot and cold every night. Crawford always battles at the plate and puts the ball in all fields. When on base, he is a big base stealer and own most of the Rays records in all offensive categories.
Rookie of the year – John Jaso
There are cases for Brignac and Rodriguez (even Hellickson), but Jaso had the biggest impact on the Rays. Jaso had a high batting average and became a solid leadoff hitter for the Rays, even a base stealer at times. He also became a great catcher, handling a talented staff that has different styles, not easy for a rookie to do, but Jaso excelled at it. Jaso truly does not have any talent at catcher around him to help teach him all of the finer details of playing catcher in the major league level, but he has emerged as the catcher of the future of the Rays.
Break out player of the year – Rafael Soriano
There are many candidates for this award, but Soriano had the biggest impact this season. A former starting pitcher and untested closer coming from the National League, not many expected the type of season Soriano had. Setting the club record in saves and telling everyone to go home early when he got onto the mound (All-Star too). Soriano gave the Rays something they haven’t had in years, a solid closer. Soriano has dominate (9 pitches, 3 strike outs in one outing), never backing away from a hitter and winning games for the Rays when they needed it the most.
Best performance of the season – Matt Garza
There were many great moments, but nothing better than the no-hitter thrown by Matt Garza. Garza has always been a good pitcher and the Rays had a long history of no-hitters thrown against them, so something had to give. Garza dominated and mixed his electric fastball along with his off speed pitches to shut down the Detroit Tigers. Garza made franchise history and finally put the Rays in the good side of the history books.
Moron Award – Kelly Shoppach
Maybe I am being a little too harsh on him, but his performance all season long and especially in the playoffs, Shoppach has earned this award. Hitting below .195, no power, no RBIs, pathetic at throwing out base runners and running the bases like a toad, he is a joke. The worst part is his contract runs through next year, so Po Boy Shoppach will be back. You never know, he may be up for this award again next year. Other candidates for Moron Award: Randy Choate, Chad Qualls, Dan Wheeler, B.J. Upton, Dioner Navarro, and Coach Maddon.
So what do you think? Like the award choices or do you think others should have won the awards, let me know!