With the Giants winning their second World's Championship in three years, now we can get down to the serious business of choosing the most valuable player in this year's postseason.
Last week in this space, I proposed a brand-new award for the best player in the whole postseason -- the Babe Ruth Award! -- only to discover that this exact award already existed!
But the winner of the actual award won't be announced for a few weeks, so we can take this chance to off our (ahem) guidance to the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Unfortunately, there probably won't be much drama this time around.
We should start by stipulating that while the winner shouldn't necessarily hail from the team that wins the World Series, he should almost always play for a team that was actually in the World Series. If only because of the sample sizes. It's certainly possible to imagine a good candidate from a team that played in a dozen or so games without reaching the World Series.
This year, for example, among the postseason players with at least 50 plate appearances, Carlos Beltrán tops the OPS list with an 1154 OPS.
Ah, but as impressive as Beltrán was -- and by the way, he didn't play in one of the Cardinals' games, because of a minor knee injury -- his counting statistics pale next to those of the No. 2 player on the OPS list. More about him in a moment, though.
First let's consider the pitchers ... and then discard them. There was a time when starting pitchers would occasionally win three games in one World Series. This year? Nobody won four games in the entire postseason. The most effective starting pitchers this year were Ryan Vogelsong and Justin Verlander, both of whom started four games and won three of them; Vogelsong gave up only three runs in 24⅔ innings, while Verlander -- thanks to that Game 1 drubbing by the Giants -- gave up seven runs in 28⅓ innings. If Vogelsong had won all four of his starts, or recorded a second victory in the World Series ... well, then we could talk. But he didn't, so we really can't.
Relief pitchers? Sergio Romo pitched brilliantly in the postseason, but finished with only four saves. True, he did protect slim leads in each of the Giants' last three World Series victories. But it would probably take more than that for him to get more than a cursory glance from the Babe Ruth Award voters.
And that goes double for Phil Coke. Like Romo, Coke finished the postseason with a 0.84 ERA in 10⅔ innings. And he probably gets extra credit for taking over from Jose Valverde as Jim Leyland's favorite fireman. But whatever extra credit he gets for that, he loses for ... well, for losing the decisive Game 4. It's one thing to give up a little flare to Ryan Theriot, but that game-losing fastball to Marco Scutaro ...
Speaking of whom, Scutaro looked like a solid Babe Ruth Award candidate a week ago, on the heels of his record-setting performance in the NLCS. And after doing very little in the first three World Series games, he did rap the game-winning hit in Game 4. Is he the top candidate, though?
Pablo Sandoval hit six home runs in the postseason; nobody else hit more than three. Sandoval drove in 13 runs in the postseason; nobody else drove in more than nine. Sandoval led everyone with 24 hits, three more than Scutaro. Oh, and he made some impressive plays at third base.
Scutaro does have his gritty charms, though. So I'll let you choose our nominee, which will be forwarded to the authorities for their rapt consideration. Promise.
Who was the most outstanding player in this year's postseason?
Marco Scutaro (gritty, NLCS MVP) (75 votes)
Pablo "Panda" Sandoval (.364-6-13, W.S. MVP) (255 votes)
Ryan Vogelsong (3-0, 1.09) (85 votes)
Sergio Romo (3 Saves in World Series) (12 votes)
427 total votes