The First Annual Triple Steal Awards (National League)

<!-- Article Starts Here --!> We continue our coverage of the Triple Steal Awards, and assure you that our election process is far superior to Palm Beach County's...

MVP: Barry Bonds
It was a tight race between Bonds and his teammate, Jeff Kent, but Bonds prevailed due to two first place votes. He got on base to the tune of a .440 on-base percentage, and drove the runs home - his .688 slugging percentage trailed only Todd Helton's (complete with Coors-bias). He doesn't steal with anything close to the frequency he used to, but 11 steals in 14 chances is still productive. And don't forget how tough it was to hit in Pac Bell Park this year. In the end, it probably came down to defense, and while Bonds plays a much easier position than Kent, few play it better.

Vote Totals (first place votes in parentheses):
Barry Bonds - 35 (2)
Jeff Kent - 30 (1)
Jim Edmonds - 18
Vladimir Guerrero - 17
Mike Piazza - 17
Todd Helton - 10
Edgardo Alfonzo - 10
Randy Johnson - 9
Gary Sheffield - 8
Andruw Jones - 7
Brian Giles - 6
Richard Hidalgo - 6
Sammy Sosa - 3
Jeff Bagwell - 1

Cy Young: Randy Johnson
It's fun to watch Randy and Pedro, but it sure doesn't make the Cy Young races very exciting. Yet another unanimous Cy Young decision - ho hum. 347 strikeouts? We've seen it. 19-7 record? Boring. Come on - give us some variety! How about you bring back your control problems from early in your career - that would be fun to watch! You think people are scared in the batters box now...

We could have picked the four pitchers who got votes before the season started. Where are all the young pitchers?

Vote Totals (first place votes in parentheses):
Randy Johnson - 15 (3)
Greg Maddux - 7
Kevin Brown - 4
Tom Glavine - 1

Rookie of the Year: Rick Ankiel
We had a tie between Ankiel and Rafael Furcal, but gave the award to Ankiel because of his edge in first place votes (2-1). Ankiel was a real pleasure to watch (outside of the playoffs). For years we've heard rumblings of this kid in the Cardinals organization - "this kid Ankiel is something". He didn't disappoint - the Cardinals won 95 games, and Ankiel was their best regular season pitcher. His 11-7 record didn't really indicate how well he pitched - he finished ninth in the league with a 3.50 ERA. He finished seventh in strikeouts, striking out more than a batter an inning - off the six players with more strikeouts, only Randy Johnson managed more than one K per inning. If anything, he improved down the stretch - he went 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA in September, with 40 strikeouts in 22 innings! Even with his playoff mishap, there's no reason to think that he can't contend for the Cy Young next season.

Rafael Furcal, while not our winner, deserves a lot of praise (and since he won the real Rookie of the Year award, he has plenty to go around). He's the perfect leadoff hitter - a guy who gets on base and strikes fear in the hearts of the pitcher and catcher every time he runs. His arm is amazing - how a man that small can generate so much power is beyond me. And, along with that, he began to show a bit of power at the plate towards the end of a season. The Braves certainly have something here...

Vote Totals (first place votes in parentheses):
Rick Ankiel- 11 (2)
Rafael Furcal - 11 (1)
Mitch Meluskey - 4
Matt Herges - 1

Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker
Yes, we're entirely conventional. But what a second half - they completely dominated the league in every aspect of the game. Their young pitching staff suddenly learned how to pitch, and somehow the old guy hitters kept it going, too. Baker has been accused of running up high pitch counts on his young staff, but it all seemed to work out well this year. On July 1st, they were 6.5 games behind Arizona. They finished 12 games up. Enough said. <!-- Article Ends Here --!>

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