Yes, its playoff time again, and with all the divisional series wrapped up and the Championship series about to start, I thought I'd look back at the Divisional playoffs and offer my "Are You Kidding Me?" Awards—Playoffs Edition.
Are You Kidding Me—I Have Heard of Fukudome, but Not Him Award
Akinori Iwamura—Tampa Bay Rays
2008 Regular Season .274 Avg.—6 HR
2008 Playoffs .389 Avg.—1 HR
In 152 at-bats this season Iwamura hit just six home runs. In just 18 this post season he was able to hit one. Much of the fanfare for foreign born players were directed towards Kosuke Fukudome and Daisuke Matsusaka. While Fukodome has struggled, Iwamura has emerged with not just his bat, but his defense and helped lead the Rays to the ALCS.
Are You Kidding Me—Boston Got Rid of Him, So He Can't Be That Good (But We All Knew He Was) Award
Manny Ramirez—Los Angeles Dodgers
2008 Regular Season (LA) .396 Avg.—17 HR
2008 Playoffs .500 Avg.—2 HR
When Manny Ramirez was traded from the Red Sox to the Dodgers, the only thing people questioned was Manny's heart, but he proved he had it.
In just 53 games with the Dodgers, Manny hit .396, 17 dingers, and drove in 53 runs. Coming in to the NLDS against the Cubs, it seemed common knowledge that you had to pitch around Manny, but while the Cubs' pitchers struggled to get the men out in front of him, they were forced to pitch to him and Manny took advantage.
He slugged out a towering home run from down near his ankles off of Sean Marshall and from that swing, I was convinced Manny is the most dangerous player in this years playoffs.
"Are You Kidding Me—I Thought He Was Their Third Starter" Award
Jon Lester—Boston Red Sox
2008 Regular Season 16-6 3.21 ERA
2008 Playoffs 1-0 0.00 ERA
Jon Lester has proven throughout the course of the whole year that he is a top of the line starter, but when you have Dice-K and Josh Beckett in your rotation, you tend to not get as much recognition. Lester has done everything right this year, including throwing a no-hitter. In 14 innings this postseason, he hasn't allowed a run, and just ten hits. He is quickly becoming the "new" Josh Beckett of the postseason.
"Are You Kidding Me—The Yankees Actually Let Him Go?" Award
Joe Torre—Los Angeles Dodgers
2008 Regular Season 84 -78 (W/L) National League West Champions
At the conclusion of the 2007 Regular Season, the New York Yankees decided that Joe Torre was not longer in their plans, and would have to let him go.
Joe settled in Los Angeles, with a team that wasn't expected to compete with Arizona and Colorado, and led them to a division championship (well so did Manny, but Joe sure helped!)
The Yankees were left as the odd men out in the AL East, a division they once dominated and saw the once lowly Rays take claim at the top spot of the division.
"Are You Kidding Me—There's Always Next Year, Not Again" Award
2008 Regular Season 97-64 (W/L) National League Central Champions
2008 Playoffs 0-3 (W/L)
All season long this Chicago Cubs team was pegged as being the team that would finally break the curse, on the 100 year anniversary of the last World Series championship.
Everything went the Cubs way this season, they picked up Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds from the scrap pile and had great seasons from both. Mark DeRosa showed why he is worth every penny of his contract and Geovany Soto emerged as one of the top catchers in baseball. Ace Carlos Zambrano even threw a no-hitter against the Astros.
But the typical Cubs had to do what they were best at, breaking the hearts of their fans. In three playoff games, the Cubs' offense was only able to manage six runs, and were sent packing earlier then anyone had thought.
For yet another year, Cubs fans will have to say, "There's always next year."
That's all the awards for now, look for the post NLCS and ALCS "Are You Kidding Me" Awards.