With the considerable success of the St. Louis Cardinals team in 2009, it only stands to reason that a number of their players are in contention for individual National League awards. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most prominent ones and where the Cardinals players stand.
Most Valuable Player: Albert Pujols seems to have a comfortable lead in the public opinion vote at least, to take home his second consecutive award and third overall.
Cy Young Award: ESPN’s Cy Young Award Predictor has two Cardinals in the top three and three in the top five. Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Ryan Franklin are currently running numbers one, three and five. San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum is in second, just an eyelash ahead of Carp, the 2005 winner.
Rookie of the Year: Colby Rasmus seemed to have the lead at one point earlier in the season but has fallen back. Philadelphia’s J.A. Happ may have taken over as favorite along with Chicago’s Randy Wells, Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson and late-breaking Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh.
Rolaids Relief Man Award: Ryan Franklin is currently first, ahead of Heath Bell, Huston Street and Jonathan Broxton. I find it interesting that the Cy Young Predictor has Broxton fourth, yet he is only fourth in the relief category here.
Manager of the Year: It is easy to look at the five post-season contenders as the pool for this award. While Tony La Russa is deserving of his second NL manager nod, if the Colorado Rockies take the wild card for which they are leading today, Jim Tracy should win. After all, the former Dodgers and Pirates skipper took over a Rockies club left for dead and led them into contention.
Comeback Player of the Year: He won it in 2004. Is there any reason Carpenter can’t win it again? If so, he would join former Cardinals first baseman Andres Galarraga (1993 and 2000) as a two-time winner. (Unfortunately, in 1993, Galarraga was in Colorado, coming back from his only season with St. Louis. It was that bad.)
So, there you have it. If the season ended today, Cardinals would seemingly take four of these individual awards with Rasmus and La Russa remaining strong competitors for their respective honors, too.
That conclusion leaves me with questions, however. “Is that reasonable? Has one team ever taken so many of these awards in one season?”
That takes me to part two of this article.
A look back
Of these awards, the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year is the newest, having been established in 1983. So I went back and collected the National League winners in each of these six categories over the last 26 years and put them in the following table.
Here are some conclusions to be drawn from the data:
- Never in one season has representatives from one NL team taken even five of these awards, let alone all six.
- Only twice has members of a single team won four of the honors and neither time was recent. The 1991 Atlanta Braves took MVP, Comeback (former Cardinal Terry Pendleton), Cy Young (Tom Glavine) and Manager (Bobby Cox). It also occurred in 1988 with Los Angeles Dodgers winning the same four.
- No NL team has ever won the combination of the four awards in which the Cardinals apparently currently lead: MVP, Cy Young, Rolaids and Comeback.
- It is a bit sobering to note that since 1992, no single club has won more than two of the six awards in any given year and five times, six different teams were represented by the six winners.
Major individual awards, National League, 1983-2008 (team-leading totals on right)
|NL MVP||NL Cy Young||NL Rookie||NL Reliever||NL Manager||NL Comeback||Total|
|2008||Albert Pujols||STL||Tim Lincecum||SF||Geovany Soto||CHC||Brad Lidge||PHI||Lou Piniella||CHC||Brad Lidge||PHI||2008||CHC/PHI||2|
|2007||Jimmy Rollins||PHI||Jake Peavy||SD||Ryan Braun||MIL||Jose Valverde||ARI||Bob Melvin||ARI||Dmitri Young||WAS||2007||ARI||2|
|2006||Ryan Howard||PHI||Brandon Webb||ARI||Hanley Ramirez||FLA||Trevor Hoffman||SD||Joe Girardi||FLA||Nomar Garciaparra||LAD||2006|
|2005||Albert Pujols||STL||Chris Carpenter||STL||Ryan Howard||PHI||Chad Cordero||WAS||Bobby Cox||ATL||Ken Griffey Jr.||CIN||2005||STL||2|
|2004||Barry Bonds||SF||Roger Clemens||HOU||Jason Bay||PIT||Eric Gagné||LAD||Bobby Cox||ATL||Chris Carpenter||STL||2004|
|2003||Barry Bonds||SF||Éric Gagné||LAD||Dontrelle Willis||FLA||Eric Gagné||LAD||Jack McKeon||FLA||Javy López||ATL||2003||FLA||2|
|2002||Barry Bonds||SF||Randy Johnson||ARI||Jason Jennings||COL||John Smoltz||ATL||Tony La Russa||STL||Mike Lieberthal||PHI||2002|
|2001||Barry Bonds||SF||Randy Johnson||ARI||Albert Pujols||STL||Armando Benítez||NYM||Larry Bowa||PHI||Matt Morris||STL||2001||STL||2|
|2000||Jeff Kent||SF||Randy Johnson||ARI||Rafael Furcal||ATL||Antonio Alfonseca||FLA||Dusty Baker||SF||Andrés Galarraga||ATL||2000||ATL||2|
|1999||Chipper Jones||ATL||Randy Johnson||ARI||Scott Williamson||CIN||Billy Wagner||HOU||Jack McKeon||CIN||Rickey Henderson||NYM||1999|
|1998||Sammy Sosa||CHC||Tom Glavine||ATL||Kerry Wood||CHC||Trevor Hoffman||SD||Larry Dierker||HOU||Greg Vaughn||SD||1998||CHC/SD||2|
|1997||Larry Walker||COL||Pedro Martínez||MON||Scott Rolen||PHI||Jeff Shaw||CIN||Dusty Baker||SF||Darren Daulton||PHI/FLA||1997||PHI||1.5|
|1996||Ken Caminiti||SD||John Smoltz||ATL||Todd Hollandsworth||LAD||Jeff Brantley||CIN||Bruce Bochy||SD||Eric Davis||CIN||1996||SD/CIN||2|
|1995||Barry Larkin||CIN||Greg Maddux||ATL||Hideo Nomo||LAD||Tom Henke||STL||Don Baylor||COL||Ron Gant||CIN||1995||CIN||2|
|1994||Jeff Bagwell||HOU||Greg Maddux||ATL||Raúl Mondesí||LAD||Rod Beck||SF||Felipe Alou||MON||Tim Wallach||LAD||1994||LAD||2|
|1993||Barry Bonds||SF||Greg Maddux||ATL||Mike Piazza||LAD||Brett Myers||CHC||Dusty Baker||SF||Andrés Galarraga||COL||1993|
|1992||Barry Bonds||PIT||Greg Maddux||CHC||Eric Karros||LAD||Lee Smith||STL||Jim Leyland||PIT||Gary Sheffield||SD||1992||PIT||2|
|1991||Terry Pendleton||ATL||Tom Glavine||ATL||Jeff Bagwell||HOU||Lee Smith||STL||Bobby Cox||ATL||Terry Pendleton||ATL||1991||ATL||4|
|1990||Barry Bonds||PIT||Doug Drabek||PIT||David Justice||ATL||John Franco||NYM||Jim Leyland||PIT||John Tudor||STL||1990||PIT||3|
|1989||Kevin Mitchell||SF||Mark Davis||SD||Jerome Walton||CHC||Mark Davis||SD||Don Zimmer||CHC||Lonnie Smith||ATL||1989||SD||2|
|1988||Kirk Gibson||LAD||Orel Hershiser||LAD||Chris Sabo||CIN||John Franco||CIN||Tommy Lasorda||LAD||Tim Leary||LAD||1988||LAD||4+1|
|1987||Andre Dawson||CHC||Steve Bedrosian||PHI||Benito Santiago||SD||Steve Bedrosian||PHI||Buck Rodgers||MON||Rick Sutcliffe||CHC||1987||CHC||2|
|1986||Mike Schmidt||PHI||Mike Scott||HOU||Todd Worrell||STL||Todd Worrell||STL||Hal Lanier||HOU||Ray Knight||NYM||1986||STL||2|
|1985||Willie McGee||STL||Dwight Gooden||NYM||Vince Coleman||STL||Jeff Reardon||MON||Whitey Herzog||STL||Rick Reuschel||PIT||1985||STL||3|
|1984||Ryne Sandberg||CHC||Rick Sutcliffe||CHC||Dwight Gooden||NYM||Bruce Sutter||STL||Jim Frey||CHC||Joaquín Andújar||STL||1984||CHC||3+1|
|1983||Dale Murphy||ATL||John Denny||PHI||Darryl Strawberry||NYM||Al Holland||PHI||Tommy Lasorda||LAD||John Denny||PHI||1983||PHI||3|
There is a seventh award, Executive of the Year, for which Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak must be considered. However, because this award is given across Major League Baseball instead of just the National League, I did not list its winners above.
But in a way I did include them. Note the plus (+1) signs for 1988 and 1984. In those two years, those clubs’ executives also took the MLB award.
Therefore, the champion to date with four plus one major individual awards is the 1988 Dodgers with MVP Kirk Gibson, Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser, Manager Tommy Lasorda, Comeback Player Tim Leary and Executive Fred Claire.
MLB Executives of the Year, 1983-2008
We will know by November whether or not the 2009 St. Louis Cardinals can meet or exceed that 1988 Los Angeles club – both in terms of these individual awards as well as by their results on the field.
As baseball historians know, in the 1988 World Series, the Dodgers defeated the 104-win Oakland A’s four games to one. The losing club’s manager was none other than Tony La Russa.
It only seems right that if the 1988 Dodgers’ record is broken, La Russa and his men should be the ones to do it.