Everybody who follows sports – and probably even a handful that don’t – know who Miguel Cabrera is.
Or David Ortiz.
Or Robinson Cano.
But, if we take the “obvious” choices out in terms of the year-end major league baseball awards, who should they go to?
What I mean is the player that is the most deserving of the award because of what they mean to their team; not just because of their salary, but considering only their efforts.
That doesn’t mean I feel as if Cabrera, or Cano or Ortiz are undeserving, they just don’t need the kind of awards.
Which awards you might ask?
The Unsung Hero awards.
Let’s get started in the American League where the Unsung Hero Most Valuable Player award goes out to Josh Donaldson.
Personally, I feel Donaldson has a name that is better suited for either a defensive end spot in the NFL or a power forward who comes off the bench in the NBA, but he is a third baseman for the Oakland A’s.
You know, that team built on “Moneyball” that nearly posted the best record in the AL.
Donaldson was a rock, hitting .300 with 24 homers and 93 RBI. He also played an excellent defense.
Those numbers aren’t mind-boggling until you consider that, prior to this year, Donaldson had 10 career homers and 37 RBI. Ten and 37!
Over in the NL, the Unsung award goes out to Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves.
Sure, the Dodgers have all the big names and the Cardinals are the better overall team, but Freeman quietly put together a strong season, blasting 23 homers, driving in 109 and batting almost .320.
If the Braves are going to knock off the Cards and Dodgers, they’ll need Freeman to produce like the MVP candidate he is.
The AL Unsung best pitcher is a name with plenty of vowels in Hisashi Iwakuma, as the youngster went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA and 185 strikeouts.
When you talk Seattle Mariners and pitchers, Felix Hernandez comes to mind. And pretty much only Felix Hernandez.
However, Iwakuma closed out his stellar year with back-to-back eight-inning shuouts, silencing playoff qualifier Detroit and contender Kansas City. Oh, and those two games came on the heels of a seven-inning performance vs. St. Louis – who had the NL’s best record.
His counterpart in the award category in the National League is Adam Wainwright. I’ll be honest, I kind of went with an easy choice on this one because Wainwright is a perennial Cy Young contender.
But, people seem to overlook Wainwright, especially with the insertion of youngers like Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey to the awards circuit.
All Wainwright does is pitch deep into games and anchor a staff littered with youth. He won 19 games, had an ERA under three and over 200 strikeouts – all norms for Mr. Wainwright.
Now that we’ve handed out those four awards, how about a little fun?
How about the players most deserving of handing back their salaries from this past season?
In the AL, we go with Toronto and pitcher Josh Johnson, who failed to do much of anything after being picked by many to contend for the Cy Young. Johnson was just part of a miserable season for the Blue Jays, who over-spent and failed to deliver.
He struck out countless times, and about the only time he wasn’t striking out was when he was injured.
All total, Upton posted a batting average under .190 and drove in just 26 runs. He was awarded a $75 million contract by Atlanta, and produced just 65 total RBI, runs and homers this year.
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