It’s that time of year. Everywhere around us, the leaves are changing, Major League Baseball’s postseason is in full effect and throughout the land, thousands of pasty-faced sportswriters are sitting around their Smith Coronas, brows drenched in sweat, trying to determine who—WHO, DAMNIT?—deserves this year’s individual achievement awards.
And unless they have a vote, they’re simply trying to fill up column space by debating the merits of two guys who would have given them wedgies in middle school.
“Oh my! Is it Justin Verlander? He WAS 24-5 on the season, but take a close look at his VORP after night-games, adjusted for a divisional opponent’s park ratios, two days after shaving but three days removed from the last time he ate tropical fruit. In that case, you’ve gotta give it to Jacoby Ellsbury. He’s half Native American, after all.”
The point is, Verlander and Ellsbury had awesome seasons. So did Curtis Granderson and Jose Bautista. There are a million arguments to be made for a handful of those in consideration, so I won’t bore you by trying to convince you that the guy I picked is the best. I don’t have a vote, so it doesn’t matter.
In fact, I’m barely qualified to vote when they’re trying to decide a new M&M color.
Instead, I’d like to go a different route and tell you who shouldn’t win. Who absolutely, unequivocally should NEVER receive a vote this season. From anyone. Including their own mother.
Let’s start with the American League Un-VP.
Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox DH/1B: Look, I feel bad for the guy, really, I do. By all accounts, he’s a standup fella. Throughout his miserable goat-anus of a season, he said all the right things. He took responsibility. He listened to coaches. He worked on his swing and made adjustments.
But in the end, his season line looks like something from a movie about a baseball player who loses both of his legs and one of this arms trying to hop a train, and then comes back to play the following season: .159 avg, .292 on base, .569 on base slugging. Compare this to last year’s numbers, a year in which he placed 21st in MVP voting: .260/.356/.892. True, he’s never been a huge ‘hit-for-average’ kinda guy. But he’s never needed to be. He hit 40 or more homeruns in five straight years, and 38 in 2010. This year? 11. That’s right, ELEVEN. That’s an alarming drop off for a guy whose whole sole existence is dependent upon driving balls out of the park.
I won’t laugh at Adam Dunn. He’s obviously in a really bad place. The bright spot? The Chicago White Sox are on the hook for $44 mil over the next three years. Suck it, White Sox.
National League Un-VP:
Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals OF: Jayson Werth has all kinds of whimsical, frivolous facial hair. He makes splendid beards upon his face and grows his hair out and dyes it interesting colors. The problem is, his comical appearance was his greatest contribution to the baseball world in 2011. That’s an issue when you’re beginning a 7-year, $126 mil contract with a new team.
The baseball world scoffed when the Nationals—a spendthrift team with a brief history of nothing but losing—took on such an obnoxiously large contract for someone who had previously been, well, average at best. The Nats argued that they were simply playing like the big boys do, with fists stuffed with cash. Werth smiled, nodded, and proceeded to hit .232 with 58 RBI. Add to this his 160 strikeouts (most in his big league career) and 20 HRs (lowest total in four years), and you’ve got yourself a bonafide shitsucker. With funny facial hair.
Have fun with him until he’s 40, Washington!
The Cy Dung Award AL
Hiram Kyle Davies, Kansas City Royals SP (no longer with team): Davies, a fairly promising prospect within the Braves organization (and secret Jew? Who knew?!), was given a million and one chances in multiple major league stops. Unfortunately, he sucked in pretty much all of them. Because of his ‘occasional flashes of brilliance,’ no one seemed willing at accept the inevitable: Kyle Davies is a terrible pitcher. How terrible? No starting pitcher to ever throw over 700 innings in the majors has had a worse career ERA than his majestic 5.59.
In a particularly horrendous 2011 campaign, he went 1-9 with a 6.75 ERA. He gave up 84 hits in 61 innings and had a WHIP (walks hits per inning) of 1.793. Pretty awful. But his unheralded disgrace on the mound was only a part of his 2011 failings. After (finally, mercifully) being let go in August, it was reported that Hiram had been arrested for disorderly intoxication in Florida.
Shalom, Kyle. I hope you get the help you need and realize your full potential.
The Cy Dung Award NL
Derek Lowe, Atlanta Braves SP: This was a tough decision.
The Cincinnati Reds’ Bronson Arroyo had a bad year—12 losses, 5.07 ERA. He also makes his own music (never acceptable- I’m looking at you, Shaq Fu) and once rocked white-guy corn-rows. The thing is, Arroyo is an average pitcher with a career ERA of 4.28. So, while it certainly was an off year, it wasn’t a staggering drop off.
It was also difficult to bypass Houston’s J.A. Happ—6-15, 5.35 ERA—but come on, he plays for Houston. There wasn’t one redeeming thing about the Astros this year.
Our sinker-balling friend Derek Lowe, however, pitched for the Braves, a team that played above their heads and almost secured a playoff spot. And he’s always been a steady arm in whatever rotation he’s been a part of. In 15 seasons, he’s 20 games above .500 with a sub 4 ERA. That’s why his ‘11 looks like such a shit-smear on a bright, white nursery wall.
You want losses? He’s got losses. Boom– 17. Lofty ERA get your Willie wiggling? Boom– howsabouta’ 5.05? And here’s a curious stat: Despite 34 starts (second highest in his career) he pitched fewer innings than he had in his previous seven seasons. That’s called being ineffective, baseball fans. Oh, and in order to not be outdone by fellow Cy Dunger Kyle Davies, D. Lowe went out and got himself a DUI in April.
The You’re Not Fit to Manage a Captain D’s Award, NL
Brad Mills, Houston Astros: 56-106. 27th worst record in baseball history on a list that’s topped by 1899’s Cleveland Spiders. You know who was on that Spiders team? Neither do I, and that’s not the point. Point is, all of the blame can’t be placed on Mills. After all, he was a utility infielder for four years with the Expos in the early 80’s, and, before being hired to his current gig, bench coach for the Boston Red Sox. Said resume does not a skipper make. The real blame lies with general manager Ed Wade who has methodically destroyed this team with pricy free agent signings— think Clemens, Pettite, Carlos Lee—while failing to properly evaluate and draft amateur talent. But hey, we need a fall guy, and Mills is as good as anyone.
The You’re Not Fit to Manage a Captain D’s Award, NL
Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins: It’s hard to say anything negative about someone who has led his team to 6 divisional championships in 10 managerial seasons, but Christ-in-a-handcart were the Twins bad this year. Though they didn’t quite hit the century-mark in losses, they had a robust 99 of them, good for the second worst record in all of baseball.
And say what you will about bad luck—closer Joe Nathan’s failings and injuries, Mauer and Morneau combining for 151 total games, a porn-stached Carl Pavano disguising himself as an ‘ace’—the Twins have had this sort of nastiness in previous years. It’s just that ol’ Ron-Ron has always managed to pull his team through the funk before 2011. Not this year, though. But as a Royals fan? I truly hope the wheels have flown off of the goose.
So there you have it, an unflattering testimonial to the worst of the worst for the 2011 Major League Baseball season. Personally, I hope that there are all new ‘winners’ next year—nobody likes having to shoot a racehorse that grew long in the tooth… (well, except for Gardenhire. And Dunn. It’d really help the Royals if they kept sucking at such a high level. Keep up the great work, guys! )