2006 Division Series Awards
NLDS Pitching MVP
Chris Carpenter (Cardinals)
He has been the best pitcher in the NL for the last three years. Carpenter defined the term "Ace" with his performances in Game 1 and Game 4 of the NLDS vs the Padres. For a team considered to have the worst pitching of any of the playoff contenders, Carpenter led a Cardinals’ staff that had a Division Series best 1.50 ERA. In his two games pitched, Carpenter went 2-0 with 2.03 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He allowed 3 ER in 13.3 IP while striking out 12 and walking 4 men.
NLDS Hitting MVP
Carlos Delgado (Mets)
No hit was more important than Carlos Delgado’s lead-off home run to dead center in the bottom of
the 4th inning of Game 1 against Derek Lowe. The Mets were losing 1-0 at the time until Delgado flashed the power that makes the Mets the most dangerous lineup in the NL. In the 6th inning Delgado singled and scored a run to help the Mets tack on two important runs. And then in the 7th inning after the Dodgers had tied it, Delgado changed the momentum of the entire series with a single to right off of Brad Penny to put the Mets back ahead for good. In the four games, Delgado hit .429 (6-14) with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 3 Runs and proved that sometimes good things happen for those who wait (Delgado had gone the longest of any active player, 1711 games, without a playoff appearance until last Tuesday).
Jeff Kent (Dodgers)
La La Palooza went down in flames, but it certainly wasn’t because of Jeff Kent. Kent hit in every game and gave the Dodgers one last shot with his two-run home run to tie Game 3. Overall, Kent was the best hitter in the NLDS with a .615 Avg (8-13).
ALDS Pitching MVP
Kenny Rogers (Tigers)
The Yankees were certainly not welcomed to Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. The old man pitched the game of his life in Game 3. No one showed more grit and passion than the oldest pitcher (41 years old) left in the playoffs. Kenny’s determination was the perfect personification of the fire behind an incredibly motivated Tigers’ team. His face throughout the game was also a photographer’s dream. Rogers grimmaced and snorted his way through seven plus innings, and all you had to do to gauge how bad Rogers wanted this one was to read his lips. Everytime Pudge Rodriguez hesitated, even a moment, before throwing the ball back to the mound, Rogers’ roared "Gimme The Ball!". Now the Tigers are roaring their way to the ALCS. Rogers line against the Yanks- 7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K’s.
Joel Zumaya (Tigers)
He only pitched two innings, but Zumaya’s entrance in the pivotal Game 2 changed the momentum of the series. Zumaya came into the game in the 7th with the Tigers up by one run and proceeded to dominate the 2006 version of "Murderers’ Row". With one out in the 7th, Zumaya blew Derek Jeter away and got Bobby Abreu to tap out. Then in the 8th inning, hitting a sonic 103 mph on the radar gun, Zumaya extinguished the heart of the Yankees lineup as if he were facing little leaguers. Gary Sheffield actually got his bat on the ball, but Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez might as well have been swinging at air. This intimidating performance was the beginning of the end for the best club money could buy.
ALDS Hitting MVP
Frank Thomas (Athletics)
Carlos Guillen gets an honorable mention for his standout performance,
.571 Avg (8-14), 1 HR and 2 RBI, but Frank Thomas almost singlehandedly
won the most important game of the Athletics/Twins series. When Frank
Thomas took the best pitcher in baseball, Johan Sanatana, deep in the
2nd inning of Game 1, he gave the Athletics a lead they would never
relinquish. His second blast in the ninth off Jesse Crain proved to be
the difference maker in a 3-2 victory that would propel the Athletics
for the rest of the series. Overall, Mr. Thomas hit .500 (5-10) with 2 BB and his two lengthy home runs.
Best Managerial Move
Willie Randolph (Mets)
Willie actually is going to make both the best and worst moves list. In
Game 1 Willie used his bullpen almost flawlessly, exploiting one of
the Mets’ greatest strengths as the Mets held on for a 6-5 victory.
Replacing a very effective John Maine with Pedro Feliciano and Chad
Bradford in the 5th inning, with two men on and one out, showed the
great instincts Willie has and gave the bullpen the confidence it
needed to carry the Mets through the series. Feliciano struck out Kenny
Lofton, and Bradford got the dangerous Nomar Garciaparra to bounce out
Worst Managerial Moves
Willie Randolph (Mets)
Remember, I said Willie used his bullpen ALMOST flawlessly. In the same
game I just commended Randolph for, he made a potentially deadly error.
In the bottom of the 6th of Game 1, with the Mets up 4-1 and the bases
loaded with two outs, Willie let reliever Guillermo Mota hit even
though he had Julio Franco and Ramon Castro on the bench with a lefty
on the mound. You never leave runs on the field, especially when Aaron
Heilman and Roberto Hernandez are still available to pitch. The move
almost cost the Mets as Mota, with the help of Jose Valentin’s throwing
error, let the Dodgers tie the game up in the top of the 7th. Another highly
questionable decision was in Game 3 when with a man on base Willie let
lefty Darren Oliver face hot-hitting and lefty-killer Jeff Kent. Kent
proceeded to smoke one over the left field wall to tie the game up as
the Dodgers briefly took the lead later that inning. With three lefties
and all your righties still available in the bullpen, what was Willie
pitching ace Jake Peavy, on normal rest, in an elimination game is
unforgivable. Bochy has been fantastic pulling the strings most of the
year, but saying he wanted to save Peavy for a Game 5 that will now
never happen is just plain stupid! The Padres will have to go into the
offseason knowing that they lost with their best pitcher sitting on the