Twins earn awards
November 30, 2006
Two weeks ago the Twins became the first team in 13 years to have both the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young award winners on the same team, and if Francisco Liriano had stayed healthy all year they would have had the Rookie of the Year as well.
On Nov. 14 Justin Morneau was announced as the American League MVP and on Nov. 16 Johan Santana was awarded the American League Cy Young, the award given to the best pitcher in each league. The feat was last accomplished by the 1993 Chicago White Sox when Frank Thomas won the MVP and Jack McDowell won the Cy Young.
Morneau was a fine choice for MVP, but he wasn’t a sure thing by any means. Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer, and David Ortiz all had a legitimate shot to win, and as it turned out Morneau barely beat out Jeter for the award.
For Santana though, it was different.
Awards are chosen by a group of 28 sportswriters across the country, and Santana received votes from every single one of them. It’s rare enough to unanimously win an award like that one time in your career, but for Santana it’s his second, pulling off the same feat in 2004. He should have won in 2005 as well, but was robbed by the Angels’ Bartolo Colon.
Santana was light years ahead of Colon in every statistic except wins, which tells more about the ability of a team than it does about the ability of a pitcher. Even with just the two he did win, he’s only the 14th pitcher in history to win the award twice.
With every passing year, Santana is making it clearer that he’s one of the best pitchers of his generation. In 2006 he won the pitching triple crown, in that he led the Major Leagues in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average (ERA). He also led the American League in statistics such as games started, innings pitched, average strikeouts per nine innings, and walks.
His career as a whole tells a similar story of dominance. In only three and a half years of being a starting pitcher, he spent 2000, 2001 and 2002, and part of 2003 in the bullpen. He’s racked up some impressive statistics. He has a lifetime ERA of 3.20 which is over a run less than the league average ERA in that time period, over 1,000 strikeouts, and a win-loss record of 78-31 (.716). For most pitchers that would be an outstanding career.
Not bad for someone who came to the Twins in a trade for some guy named Jared Camp. Camp never reached the Majors.
If he can stay relatively durable and keep the same pace that he’s on now, Santana will not only be one of the best pitchers of his generation, but one of the best pitchers of all time.
Ben Brewster is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the Student Voice during spring semester 2009.