Today is the Annual First 50-Game Awards Day, presented by AJS, inc.
Richard Hidalgo Early-Season MVP Award
1. Lance Berkman – ‘Nuff said.
2. Miguel Tejada – Steroids, schmeroids. Age, schmage. The fastest-aging man in America has quietly been on pace for a 16 HR, 113 RBI, .335 campaign. While trading partner Baltimore Orioles have gotten quality work from Dennis Sarfate, Matt Albers, and Luuuuuuuuke Scott, it’s hard to say how different this lineup is with a dynamic hitter like Tejada.
3. Shawn Chacon – this “bargain-bin” pickup is beginning to look like one of Ed Wade’s smartest, as the 2nd-best Alaskan pitcher of this decade (after Curt Schilling) has been the ‘Stros most consistent pitcher, logging a team high 7 quality starts, with only a 1-0 record to show for it.
Cliff Lee Fast Start Pitching Award
1. Jose Valverde – Another under-the-radar Astro, quietly leading the NL in saves. After a rough start, he’s brought his ERA down over 7 points while recording a lengthy scoreless streak. Did I mention he took one off the face and still recorded a save?
2. Shawn Chacon – see above.
3. Geoff Geary – Before going on the DL, the forgotten member of the “Lidge for Bourn trade” had become Cooper’s favorite 7th inning go-to guy, having earned the spot with some clutch pitching and awesome teeth.
Who is this kid? Rookie of April/May
1. Michael Bourn – Houston native Bourn literally flew through April and the beginning stages of May, managing to get caught only twice (a third time remains disputed…) while swiping 21 bases, establishing himself as Houston’s first premier base-stealer since the days of Tony Eusebio…just kidding.
2. Wesley Wright – the 12-year old Wright – whats that? he’s 23!?!!?!?! – the baby-faced Rule V draft pick from L.A. has officially made a successful jump from AA to the Bigs. Despite a few bumps, Wright has been superb first as a lefty specialist and more recently, as Coop’s seventh-inning guy du jour.
3. J.R. Towles – only in the running because he’s a rookie. Rough times have found the young backstop, and his 8-RBI performance last September in St. Louis is looking more and more like a fluke everyday. Thank god for the offensive prowess of Brad “What’s up dude?” Ausmus. Also makes you thank your lucky stars that former 1st-round draft pick catcher Max Sapp is…struggling still in Class A ball three years removed from hearing his name called. Ouch.
Other award winners:
The Shane Reynolds Struggling Ace Award: Roy Oswalt
Toughest Guy Award: Jose Valverde
Best Song Played When Gets a Hit Award: Miguel Tejada
*The song is called Track 11 and unfortunately cannot be purchased anywhere
Coolest Joint Defensive Play Award: Tim Byrdak and Kaz Matsui