So instead, Aisle 424 is proud to present our own individual post-season awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence. Winners get a free subscription to Tales From Aisle 424.
Position Player of the Year: Starlin Castro
Starlin won this running away as he quickly became the only watchable player on the team from the moment he got called up. He made some errors on the field and on the bases, but he is twenty freaking years old and I'm not concerned that he won't learn from his mistakes. He is simply doing it at the major league level instead of AA where he started the year. His adjustments at the plate made you forget his youth and I really loved watching him throw guys out from the hole like it's an easy thing to do.
When it is all said and done, the great players make baseball look easy and Starlin makes an awful lot of things on the baseball diamond look easy.
Pitcher of the Year: Carlos Marmol
Carlos was historically ridiculous this year. He destroyed Eric Gagne's pharmaceutically enhanced single-season record of strikeouts per nine innings. Marmol struck out 15.99 per nine innings to leave Gagne's 14.98 in 2003 in the dust. To give you an indication of how impressive it is to improve on the record by more than one strikeout per nine, Gagne broke the record held by Billy Wagner by beating his 1999 mark of 14.95.
Additionally, Len and Bob made a point in the last broadcast that he also destroyed the record for balls put in play over the season. Even in an era of increased strikeouts, most at-bats will end with a ball being put in play somewhere, whether it is a hit or an out. The league average for balls in play is 70%. In Pedro Martinez's best year, 56% of batters put the ball in play. Randy Johnson's best year was 51%. In Gagne's record-setting year, he only allowed 46% of batters to put the ball in play.
Marmol was at 40% this year. Forty freaking percent. That is just filthy. Sure, there are a lot of walks that make up the 60% that failed to touch him, but it also shows why so few of those walks ended up coming around to score. It's a damn shame he didn't have more leads to protect this season.
Best Defensive Play: Starlin Castro
This is what I'm talking about with Castro making ridiculous difficult baseball plays look easy. That is a full on headlong dive that pretty much saved the game against the Marlins.
Best Defensive Play That Had More to Do With Luck Than Anything Else: Marlon Byrd
There really isn't anything else that needs to be said that watching it won't explain:
Mark DeRosa Award for Causing Fan Angst Over Departure: Ted Lilly
We missed Ted at the beginning of the year, then he came back from his shoulder surgery and didn't seem to have his velocity anymore. Then he found his giant bag of awesome and started smacking other teams around with it. He was the price we had to pay to get someone to take Ryan Theriot and still get something of any value back at all. Sure, we all like DeWitt right now, and we agree he has more potential to improve than Theriot did, but as the Cubs flailed away, there was Ted out in Los Angeles kicking ass and taking names.
I know the reason the angst over his departure has been quelled by rumblings that the Cubs could sign him again as a free agent in the off-season, but get prepared for disappointment, Lilly fans. A new contract for Ted does not go along with Rickett's latest mantra of going younger (and cheaper).
Best Tirade: Carlos Zambrano
Again, not a lot of competition here. These Cubs didn't attack Gatorade machines on a regular basis, so when Zambrano went into the dugout screaming at everyone, it kind of stood out even though it really wasn't even among the three best Zambrano outbursts.
The best is still when he ejected the homeplate umpire last year, followed closely by when he kicked the crap out of Michael Barrett. I'd even put the time he drilled Jim Edmonds twice for showing him up on a homerun ahead of this year's tantrum because that could have hurt someone (even though it would only have been Jim Edmonds). When it came down to it, that was all this outburst was - a tantrum. But it was the best we got in 2010.
Best Head Up the Ass Moment: Koyie Hill and Justin Berg
We've seen it a million times by now as it really does capture the feeling of the entire season in one play, but if you really want to watch Koyie Hill tag out one runner and then walk away from another runner standing at third, who then takes off for home because Justin Berg is wandering around instead of covering the plate, well you can here. Maybe Berg was checking out some girls in the stands or something.
Notice that Xavier Nady managed to get all the way to the plate to take the throw before Berg seemed to even know what was going on. Well done, gentlemen.
Best Small Sample Size: Mike Quade
(photoshop courtesy of @plamorte)
Best Performer in a Comedy: Jim Hendry
(photoshop courtesy of @plamorte)
Injury of the Year: Tyler Colvin
What else could it have been? Aramis' hurt thumb certainly played a role in his playing like Aaron Miles in the first half and contributed heavily to the Cubs poor start. Carlos Silva had heart surgery, so that is a little weird, but it was already done by DeRosa a couple of years ago. Colvin got STABBED IN THE CHEST resulting in a collapsed lung. And he still scored on the play.
Best Sexy Stubble: Blake DeWitt
I could have gone with a number of Cubs for this category as they all seem to have discovered the key to Wrigleyville ladies' hearts is by ignoring a razor for a couple of days. Koyie Hill, Justin Berg, James Russell, Sean Marshall, and Xavier Nady all went with the stubbly look at some point this season. Hell, even Lou Piniella went with the sexy stubble look for awhile, but int he end, the sexy stubble look originated at second base with Todd Walker, was brought to God-like heights with DeRosa, and it should stay there with DeWitt.
Best Arsonist: John Grabow
In a bullpen full of firebugs that have a lifetime supply of kerosene and matches, John Grabow really set himself apart from the field. Not only did he burn leads in late-inning situations on a disturbingly consistent basis, he also might as well have set the $4.8 million he will make next year on fire for all the good it will do the Cubs.
Best Time Spent Reflecting On What He Did: Carlos Zambrano
Carlos staged a nutty, got sent to his room without dinner, journaled about it, and then came back to the rotation and pitched like he had found Ted Lilly's giant bag of awesome left behind in the locker room.
I have to think that the little renaissance period Zambrano experienced is probably being viewed internally as one of the worst things that could have happened. They want to trade him. It sounds like they are ready to eat a large percentage of his salary to be rid of him. His performance down the stretch might have made more teams more willing to take on Zambrano and his intense personality, but I doubt it moved how much they would risk financially on such a transaction.
So the Cubs might have an easier time trading him at pennies on the dollar, but now the fans all love Carlos again. Meanwhile, Carlos is talking about exercising his no-trade clause so his performance on the field makes it harder for the Cubs to smear him as they like to do when they are done with a traditional fan favorite player.
Carlos Zambrano should contact Dos Equis about endorsement possibilities since I think he is truly The Most Interesting Man in the World.
Best Ricketts: Pete Ricketts
You know who I never saw mentioned talking about Year One, A Way of Life, or urinal troughs? Pete Ricketts. You know who I never see signing autographs for balding, middle-aged men who ask for the ball to be personalized for their "son," Herbert? Pete Ricketts. You know who didn't go on a freaking reality television show? Pete Ricketts.
I really like Pete Ricketts.
That about covers it for the 2010 season. Don't forget to tip your waitress. Stay tuned for more Who Wants to Be Cubs Manager?