The Sporting News published its annual Baseball Awards issue this week covering the 2009 regular season. A few Phillies players were recognized according to a vote taken from players, managers and front office executives.
J.A. Happ was recognized as the National League's Rookie of the Year based on his 12-4 record and 2.93 ERA. Some notable players that he topped included the Brave's Tommy Hansen, the Marlin's Chris Coghlan and the Pirate's tandem of Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones.
Although he was attempting to praise him, comments by a former Phillies scout who now works for the Orioles was quoted saying that Happ was able to do this despite throwing mostly in the 86-88 mph range. This may be why this particular scout is no longer with the Phillies as he must have been watching Jay Happ rather than J.A. I agree with his comments about Happ having good location, arm slot, composure, etc, but the guy I watched all season was consistently in the low 90's and hit 94 when needing to reach back.
In addition to Happ, both Chase Utley and Jayson Werth were included on TSN's year-end NL All-Star Team. The former is not a surprise since Utley is widely recognized as not only the best second basemen in baseball, but also one of the top players, period. TSN sited Utley for stealing 23 bases after off season hip surgery and his fourth consecutive 100 run season. Chase finished the regular season with a .282 Batting Average, 31 HR's, 93 RBI's and a .397 On Base Percentage.
Werth built upon last year's break out season as he became an everyday player after platooning for a good portion of 2008. They sited his 36 home runs, 98 runs, 99 RBI's and .879 OPS. It was pleasing to see Werth be recognized by his peers and leaders around the league. In Philadelphia, we have been able to track his emergence as a star and see his five tool capabilities up close, but with a cast of all-star teammates, his contributions can fly under the radar a bit.
Albert Pujols was recognized as both the NL All-Star first basemen and the NL Player of the Year having hit .327 with 47 home runs and 135 RBI's. It is hard to argue with this selection, but it tends to occlude a great season by the Phillies Ryan Howard. Pujols did most of his damage in the first half of the season, banging out 2/3 of his home runs before the All-Star break. Howard's power numbers were balanced, but hit .305 after the break to end at .279, 45 home runs and a major league leading 141 RBI. Howard has averaged 50 HR's and 143 RBI's over his first four full seasons.
The Phillies have an impressive array of talent as evidenced by their entire outfield, Howard and Utley all being selected to the 2009 NL All-Star team. And, a notable omission from that group is Jimmy Rollins, who won the NL MVP award in 2007 and is still in the prime of his career. The team also boasts other recent All-Stars in Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge.
None of this is breaking news, but it is great to see that perceptions around the league are matching up to what Philadelphia sports fans already know. It is no accident that the Phillies are heading back to their second consecutive World Series with the goal of defending their 2008 championship. Most would agree, the talent is there to do it.