The offseason is just two weeks old for Cardinals, but I’m sure many of you are already tired of hearing about the disappointing season that was. The Cards couldn’t beat bad teams, Tony La Russa’s managing took some heat, and the clubhouse chemistry was in question much of the year. Watching the Phillies, Giants, Rangers, and Yankees square off in the playoffs is only a bitter reminder of this season that came up short. While it is important to look back at the problems of 2010, it is equally important to turn the page and make the necessary adjustments across the board for a fresh start in 2011.
By giving La Russa a one-year deal and beginning contract talks with Jake Westbrook, the Cards are wasting no time addressing their offseason needs. With that being said, I would like to hand out some individual awards as a way to recap the season in St. Louis.
Check out the best and worst performances of 2010 after the jump.
Stan Musial MVP Award
No surprise here. Not only is Albert Pujols the MVP for the Cards, he is quite possibly the MVP of the National League. With 42 homers, 118 RBIs, 103 walks, a .312 batting average, an OPS north of 1.000, and his typical outstanding defense, it goes without saying that the Cards would be a much different team without Pujols. Until “The Machine” shows any signs of slowing down, which I don’t anticipate happening anytime soon, he will be the MVP for this team every year. Just as Stan the Man did for 22 years with St. Louis, Pujols leads by example and makes everyone around him better.
Bob Gibson Pitcher of the Year Award
Adam Wainwright got snubbed in the Cy Young voting in 2009 and, thanks to Roy Halladay, it could very well happen once again this year. However, I will give him what he deserves. With a record of 20-11, an incredible ERA of 2.42, and 213 strikeouts (All team-leading stats), Wainwright had the best year of his career and gave the Cardinals an advantage going into every game in which he started. He further established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball and was half of one of the most dangerous one-two pitching punches in the game.
Ozzie Smith Defensive Standout Award
Since both had a great defensive season and I can’t decide between the two, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina share this award. With fielding percentages of .998 and .995 respectively, their consistency in the field anchors the team’s defense as a whole. In 1,619 total chances, Albert committed just 4 errors. He was also in on 146 double plays. Yadier Molina committed just 5 errors in 986 chances and caught 33 players stealing, a career high. It will be extremely hard for anyone to live up to the defensive abilities of “The Wizard of Oz,” but Pujols and Molina were the closest to doing so in 2010.
Surprise Player of the Year Award
If you would have told me in the beginning of the year that Jamie Garcia would finish the year with a 2.70 ERA (Fourth in the N.L.) and put up numbers comparable to Wainwright and Carpenter, I probably would have laughed at you. I don’t think anyone could have predicted 13 wins and 132 strikeouts from this impressive rookie. He pleasantly surprised all redbird fans this year, adding another dangerous weapon to this already feared pitching staff and sparking legitimate Rookie of the Year conversation.
Least Valuable Player of the Year Award
After some hard thought, it goes to starting pitcher Kyle Lohse, who should be thankful that he even got an award in the first place. After going 6-10 in 2009 with an ERA of 4.74, I didn’t think it could get much worse for the once 15-game winner. However, it did. The fourth man in the rotation this year, Lohse went 4-8 with a 6.55 ERA in 18 games. Sure, Lohse has had his share of injury problems recently, but he allowed more earned runs in 18 games than Wainwright did in 33 games. The Cardinals need much better production from their fourth starter, and Lohse was the main reason that they went out and got Westbrook.
Underachiever of the Year Award
Considering that the Cardinals mightily underachieved as a team this year, there are a number of players in the running for this unwanted award. Again, I have chosen co-winners for this award. Shortstop Brendan Ryan and second baseman Skip Schumaker were major disappointments for the Cardinals. Ryan hit just .223 and had an on base percentage of .279 to go along with 17 errors. Last season, he committed just eight errors, batted a promising .292, and had an OBP of .340. Schumaker wasn’t much better, finishing with a .265 batting average, 42 RBIs, and 16 errors. The year before, he hit .303 and scored 85 runs. Both players are capable of much more and they will need to turn things around in 2011 if the Redbirds hope to go far.