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Blog Entry

Breakout of Year Awards: Ellsbury, Morse shine

Posted on: September 27, 2011 2:40 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 12:59 pm
 
Ellsbury, Morse

By Evan Brunell

There's been plenty of discussion recently on who should win the awards baseball will hand out after the postseason. There are no shortage of opinions on who should grab the MVP or the Cy Young Award, to say nothing of Rookie of the Years, Gold Gloves and Comeback Player of the Year. But where's the category that rewards players who broke out? There hasn't one ... until now. Here's a top three, followed by two others.

MLB Awards
  • MVP candidates: AL | NL
  • Cy Young Award: AL | NL
  • Rookie of the YearAL | NL 
  • Comeback players: AL | NL
  • Gold Gloves: AL | NL
  • Tin Gloves: AL | NL
  • Manager of the Year: AL | NL
Eye on Baseball will chronicle the five top candidates per league for the Breakout Player of the Year. It's important to keep in mind the separation between a breakout and a comeback. By its very name, to win the Comeback Player of the Year, you have to have "come back" from something. Breaking out has no such restrictions. Who had a season for the ages that has most adjusted a player's value for the better? Last season, Jose Bautista would have ran away with this award in the AL. Who takes the top spot this year?

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Surprised? Don't be. Ellsbury is by all accounts one of the three top candidates to win the AL MVP award alongside Bautista and Justin Verlander. Just a year ago, Ellsbury played in just 18 games, struggling with fractured ribs suffered in an early-April crash. His commitment and toughness were called into question, and the 28-year-old was entering a make-or-break year. Safe to say he made it, with a .323/.378/.552 line with 31 homers and 38 steals, becoming Boston's first-ever 30/30 man. By Wins Above Replacement, Ellsbury has more than doubled his previous best season of 2008, his first full season in the bigs.

2. Doug Fister, Tigers: Last season, I picked up Fister in a fantasy baseball league midway through the season. That's how poorly he was thought of -- he was an injury replacement halfway through the year, even though he finished the season with 28 starts and a 4.11 ERA. While Fister displayed strong command, he didn't strike out many batters and averaged 88-mph on his fastball without a true out pitch. He wasn't considered a pitcher worth caring about. Except this year, his fastball velocity has ticked up and his slider has developed into a weapon. Then, he got traded to Detroit where he's gone bananas, giving Fister a total season ERA of 2.83 in 216 1/3 innings. Now, Fister is Detroit's No. 2 starter in October and no one thinks that's odd. So, yeah: Breakout.

3. Alex Avila, Tigers
: Fister's new batterymate in Detroit had a season truly out of nowhere. At least Ellsbury was a former first-round pick dripping with talent while Fister had previous success in the majors. Avila, though, struggled to a .228/.316/.340 line in 333 plate appearances last season. Certainly lower than his minor-league average line of .280/.373/.424, but even that didn't portend what was coming. In 2011, Avila was one of the best catchers -- strike that, one of the best players -- with a .298/.391/.513 mark in 543 PA, banging 33 doubles and 19 HR.

Also deserving:

Alex Gordon, Royals: One compared to George Brett, it took Gordon five years and a position switch, but he's finally delivering on his promise with a .303/.376/.502 figure.

Brandon McCarthy, Ahtletics: McCarthy had one of the best seasons a pitcher could have, dodging his way through a couple bumps and bruises to post a 3.32 ERA in 25 starts, allowing just 1.5 walks per nine and striking out 6.5. That's Doug Fister-ian. And just like that, the A's have yet another good pitcher.



1. Michael Morse, Nationals: Morse followed in Jose Bautista's footsteps by hinting toward a breakout season, slamming 15 homers in part-time duty. But a 30-homer season? That was tough to envision, and yet the 29-year-old broke out this year with just that and added to it by hitting .303. Now the Nationals have a fearsome middle-of-the-order bat at minimal charge and the ability to play either first base or left field. Morse's development is for real, and his power is here to stay.

2. Ryan Vogelsong, Giants: You had to know Vogelsong would land on this list. And why not? Vogelsong didn't throw one major-league pitch for four years before casually throwing up a 2.71 ERA over 179 2/3 innings this season. From 2000-06, Vogelsong was nothing short of an awful pitcher, so this is absolutely a breakout in every sense of the word ... and he began the year as a 33-year-old. His peripherals are strong enough that you can expect the fun to continue next season.

3. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: The former Yankees top prospect has found a home in Arizona, following up a solid 2010 with a sublime 2011 that should get him some Cy Young Award votes. Kennedy's soaked up 222 innings, posted a 21-4 record and a pristine 2.88 ERA, striking out 198 while at it. That's a fantastic pitcher through and through. While Kennedy may not have been ready for the AL East when he was with the Yankees, he'd certainly do just fine anywhere the way he's come along.

Also deserving:

Cameron Maybin, Padres: Maybin struggled for consistent playing time for years in Florida and finally got his chance with San Diego. His overall numbers are depressed because he plays in Petco Park, but his defense more than makes up for it. To give you an idea of how good he has been offensively, here are his road numbers: .294/.349/.457. Safe to say the Pads picked the pocket of Florida here.

Yadier Molina, Cardinals: Molina is a great defender with a fantastic arm. We all know that. He's also, for the first time in his career, been a significant contributor on offense with a .306/.349/.469 line, punching 32 doubles and 14 homers. It's power never seen before from Yadier.

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Comments
hotmeuly
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 11:56 am
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peulouy
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 4:32 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 7, 2011 6:54 pm
 

Breakout of Year Awards: Ellsbury, Morse shine

It is primarily the kind of a extraordinary author resource you're going to be handing out and you just present it out there intended for very well 100 percent free.



Since: Nov 10, 2008
Posted on: September 28, 2011 11:48 pm
 

Breakout of Year Awards: Ellsbury, Morse shine

Why so much love for Alex Avila over Mike Napoli?

Napoli had a far better season in less at bats.
 



Since: Sep 5, 2008
Posted on: September 28, 2011 3:27 pm
 

Breakout of Year Awards: Ellsbury, Morse shine

Maybe not Breakout, but Elsbury's season should raise some eyebrows.  Kind of like ARods and Ortiz after certain things were found out.  I mean he hit 17 HR in TWO FULL seasons before last years injuries, and this year he hits 32, so were the last two years a fluke or is this like the Brady Anderson year of 50HRnever to be done again?  And besides the DH going to the National League, or college bats moving up to the pros, another worthless player award is the last thing baseball needs.  Besides, IF you had a breakout year award, wouldn't you also have to have a Not Playing Up to what Your Contract Is Paying You Award?  You win that first, then the Comeback Award, and then the Breakout Award in that order.



Since: Jan 31, 2007
Posted on: September 28, 2011 2:42 pm
 

Breakout of Year Awards: Ellsbury, Morse shine

Where is Emilo Bonifacio on this list?



Since: May 17, 2011
Posted on: September 28, 2011 10:44 am
 

Breakout of Year Awards: Ellsbury, Morse shine

The Yanks are out in the first round, they may have good players but, in a weak league.



Since: Dec 31, 2007
Posted on: September 28, 2011 10:08 am
 

Breakout of Year Awards: Ellsbury, Morse shine

You forgot the best set up man in baseball, David Robertson of the NY Yankees. A 1.09 ERA in 66 IP. In his fourth year in the bigs. Also, 13.5 SO per 9 innings.



Since: Dec 21, 2006
Posted on: September 28, 2011 8:42 am
 

Breakout of Year Awards: Ellsbury, Morse shine

how about asdrubal cabrera?



Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: September 28, 2011 4:03 am
 

Breakout of Year Awards: Ellsbury, Morse shine

yadier molina has been offensive competent for a while now. his OMP is lower then it was two years ago and equal to what it was three. yea last year was a down year, but he was never terrible with the stick. this is the first year hes really shown some power, but that didnt make him a bad hitter before. 


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