Top Players Of The Year

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance give its Stan Musial Award to the top player in each league. This is the last of the five post-season awards that I will be voting on. As was the case with the other awards, for a variety of reasons I like to discuss the career of the player for whom the award is named. For starters, some of my younger readers, as well as those who don’t know baseball but read my blog because they know me, may not have even heard of these players from the past. Another reason is that in writing about them I take some time to research their careers, frequently learning things I didn’t know from my previous reading. Another reason is purely ego driven. I want to hold my own with some of my fellow bloggers when I meet them, as I am positive that one day I will. A lot of my fellow BBA bloggers are sharp! So, on to Stan Musial.

The Early Years. The 1949 Bowman baseball card that you see on the left is representative of  the six years from 1942 to 1947 (Musial missed the 1945 season while serving in the Navy). I never saw this Stan Musial play. During these years he was the young, line drive machine who helped spark the St. Louis Cardinals to World Series appearances in 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1946. He led the National League in hitting doubles in three of those six years as well. The power numbers were low compared to what was to follow, as he averaged fourteen homers per season during this time. His batting averages went .315, .357, .347, .365 and .312.

Stan the Man: This middle period ran from 1948 to 1957. I didn’t see this Stan Musial, either, which I truly regret. Starting with the 1948 season, his power numbers surged, and during this ten-year period he averaged 31 home runs a year. He knocked in over 100 runs a year in all of those seasons but one. The doubles kept coming and in 1948, 1949, 1952, 1953 and 1954 he again was the league leader in that category. The batting averages remained high. This was Stan Musial in his prime, when he was universally regarded as one of the best players in the game.

A Great Career Winds Down: The years from 1958 to 1963 saw decreased production as Musial’s skills faded due to the aging process. He still had his moments, however, including the 1962 season, when at the age of 41, he hit .330. That’s the Stan Musial I saw. He wasn’t the same player, but he could still hit.

Solid Credentials: Many baseball guys like me already know Stan Musial won three National League Most Valuable Player Awards (1943, 1946 & 1948). What they may not know, and I didn’t, is that he came in second in the MVP balloting an additional four seasons (1949, 1950, 1951 & 1957). He was a National League All-Star in twenty seasons. He offered the St. Louis Cardinals great flexibility in the field, too, playing left field, center field, right field and first base. Stan Musial was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. On February 15, 2011, Stan Musial was awarded the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

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National League Stan Musial Award

1. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers: put up fantastic numbers, .324, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 10.0 WAR, for a club that had a great second half.

2. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers: one of the NL Central Championship team’s two best players.

3. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds: last year’s NL MVP had another stellar year; led the league in On Base Percentage (OBP).

4. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies: as complete a ball player as there is today, he is consistently among the best in the league in both offensive and defensive categories.

5. Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks: major contributor for a team that surprised everyone by winning the NL West Championship.

6. Jose Reyes, New York Mets: injuries undermined the latter portion of his season, but for two months this summer he was the best baseball player on the planet.

7. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals: had a slow start, warmed up at mid-season and was a monster down the stretch.

8. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers: Another of the Brewers two best players, but he is a free agent this year and may have played his last game as a Brewer. Home runs off his bat aren’t hit, they’re launched.

9. Hunter Pence, Philadelphia Phillies: Acquired in mid-season from the Astros, Pence solidified the Phillies lineup, giving them the right-handed batter they needed to complete their attack.

10. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates: a superb center fielder, his hitting cooled off as the season unfolded, but he is still a very complete player who was a huge part of the team’s great first half.

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American League Stan Musial Award

1. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays: incredible home run power and ability to get on base.

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox: a superb season both offensively and defensively.

3. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: an incredible offensive force.

4. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox: the 2008 AL MVP remains an inspired, talented, winning player with both the bat and glove.

5. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees: has quietly emerged as a key player for the Bronx Bombers.

6. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees: developed into the power hitter the Yankees thought they had acquired when they traded for him two years ago; a solid, consistent contributor.

7. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays: seems to get a key hit whenever his team needs it; talented in all aspects of the game.

8. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox: adjusted superbly to the AL in his first year for the Boston Red Sox; one of the best hitters in the game.

9. Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers: durable catcher for the AL Central Champions who hits for power, average and has a high OBP.

10. Michael Young, Texas Rangers: produces high offensive numbers with unerring consistency. In addition to his duties as a designated hitter, he played 1st, 2nd, 3rd & shortstop for the team this year.

Comments

One Comment on "Top Players Of The Year"

  1. Nancy Medbery says:

    Thanks for the updated tidbits onStan’s Musial’s 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom and the second place MVP votes in so many years. These nuggets, along with your amazing sense of detail, obscure knowledge and great writing are why you are my favorite baseball blog!


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