Despite the fact that the A's have struggled mightily this season, they have had quite a few players who have put up individual performances worthy of honoring with awards like the Rookie of the Year or Cy Young.
First of all, the A's best candidate for winning an award this year is Danny Haren. He should be the frontrunner for the award right now (probably followed closely by Kelvim Escobar IMO), but alas, I'm guessing that it likely won't be happening. Why? Well, several reasons, including the categories that are weighed heavily as well as the typical East Coast media bias and the former award winner weight.
Josh Beckett has been the one that nearly all the print has talked about because of his Major League best 16 wins. The other major competitor in the AL Cy Young Award voting has to be considered Johan Santana. You know that voters have loved to give past winners the award and Santana has more name recognition. I also believe that most Cy Young voters take two stat categories in mind when they consider the Cy Young Award. Wins and ERA above all other categories. Wins, even though they shouldn't be weighted so heavily, are probably one of the biggest determining factors, so unless Haren gets his win total up, the fact that he's had one of the most consistent seasons in a long time as a starting pitcher (only gave up more than three earned runs twice in 28 starts) will probably be lost on the Cy Young voters. He's had an unbelievable 89 percent of his starts wind up as quality starts. Only Santana and Bedard have a better WHIP amongst starters in the AL and Haren's ERA is better than both of their ERAs. And just for comparison's sake, Santana has given up four or more runs six times this year in one less game started. Bedard and Beckett have both given up four or more runs five times. Haren's model for consistency in pitching this year has been unparalleled in the AL. Even my runner-up to Haren, Escobar, has given up more than three earned runs four times in three less games started.
The other candidate that should probably be thrown in there from the bullpen is J.J. Putz, but given that so many starters are having remarkable seasons, I don't think this year's Cy Young will go to a reliever. If I had to guess right now on August 27th, I would expect that it would go to either Beckett or Santana or maybe even Bedard (remember, East Coast factors in here). But if I had my choice the first and second place would probably be Haren then Escobar. A lot can change between now and the end of September, and one candidate could get five wins in a row and cement the award for himself by going on a ridiculous streak. But right now, it's looking like a really close race.
The other award that the A's used to have one of the leading candidates for is Rookie of the Year in the AL. If you'd asked me three weeks ago, I would've said that Travis Buck should be near the top of the list. But Buck's season has been marred by injuries so he has to be removed from the list at this point. It should probably go to Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia even though the media will probably push for Dice-K. Reggie Willits deserves to be in the conversation as well.
One award an A's player should win easily should be Mark Ellis and the gold glove for second basemen. He set a record for fielding percentage last year by a second baseman and got robbed of the award by Mark Grudzielanek of the Royals winning it, but his follow-up campaign to 2006 has been just as remarkable. Ellis has the second highest fielding percentage in the AL behind A's killer Placido Polanco's perfect season so far. But Ellis has ridiculous range compared to Polanco. Ellis has the highest zone rating of any second baseman in baseball. He's at .893 and the closest to him is Chase Utley at .878 and then behind that is Aaron Hill at .848. Ellis is clearly in a class by himself defensively at second base. And it's about time that he be recognized as such.
I also imagine that Eric Chavez's run at gold gloves is probably over because of his injury. Even though he still has the best fielding percentage of any AL third baseman, he's missed a ton of time. Then again, no AL third baseman has had a year like Mike Lowell and Joe Crede had last year, so maybe the voters pull a Rafael Palmeiro and hand it to Chavez any way. Maybe Brandon Inge takes it away? I don't know what's going to happen with the third base gold glove just because this is one instance where the past award winner comes into play and the fact that Chavy has strung together six of these will weigh into it. Should it? Probably not.
Any way, if I had my way right now, A's players would be getting the AL Cy Young and a gold glove for second base. But not the rookie of the year or gold glove for third. How do you see it, ANers?