Thursday, December 14, 2006

Four Yankees Take Home TYIB Awards

Derek Jeter and Chien-Ming Wang may have placed second in the American League's MVP and Cy Young vote, respectively, but the two Yankees topped the vote in's fifth annual This Year in Baseball Awards.
Jeter was named the top hitter in the Majors, beating out 11 of the game's top sluggers, including AL MVP Justin Morneau and NL MVP Ryan Howard.

Wang was voted the game's top starter, edging out Cy Young winners Johan Santana and Brandon Webb, as well as nine other starting pitchers.

Two other Yankees captured TYIB awards as well, as Mariano Rivera earned his third consecutive Closer of the Year Award and Melky Cabrera captured Play of the Year honors.

Jeter ranked second in the American League with a .343 batting average and 118 runs scored, fourth with a .417 on-base percentage and sixth with 34 stolen bases. Jeter also homered 14 times and drove in 97 runs out of the No. 2 spot in New York's lineup.

"To really appreciate the kind of work he does, you have to see him on a regular basis," Yankees manager Joe Torre said last month. "We've had players who have come over from different organizations, and after a month or so, they've come to me and said, 'I always knew he was a good player, but I never realized how good he was.'"

Wang tied Santana for the big-league lead with 19 victories and ranked among the league leaders in several other categories. His .760 winning percentage was third in the AL, his 218 innings pitched were fifth and his two complete games ranked sixth. Wang's 3.63 ERA was eighth in the league. The Yankees went 22-11 in Wang's 33 starts.

Although his strikeout totals paled in comparison to Santana's, Wang made up for it by inducing 33 double plays this season, the second-highest total in the AL behind Jake Westbrook's 36.

Rivera, who also earned the DHL Delivery Man of the Year Award last month, captured Closer of the Year honors for the third time in the three years it has been awarded. He beat out nine of the game's best closers, including Boston's Jonathan Papelbon, San Diego's Trevor Hoffman and Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels.

Rivera notched 34 saves in 37 opportunities, posting a 1.80 ERA. He struck out 55 batters over 75 innings pitched while allowing 61 hits.

Rivera also earned the save in the American League's 3-2 win in the 77th All-Star Game. The save was Rivera's third in the Midsummer Classic, tying him with Dennis Eckersley for the most in Major League history.

Rivera posted solid numbers both on the road and at Yankee Stadium, where he converted all 20 of his save chances with a miniscule 1.51 ERA in 32 games. In 31 games away from the Bronx, Rivera struck out 31 batters while walking just four.

Cabrera joins Jeter as a recipient of Play of the Year, as the shortstop won the award in 2004 for his dive into the stands.

Cabrera didn't go into the stands for his gem, but the rookie did leap over the wall in left-center field at Yankee Stadium, robbing Manny Ramirez of a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of a 2-1 win over the Red Sox on June 6.

VIDEO with a little extra footage including a Posada strike out and a Rivera save.

"Probably as good a catch as I've ever seen," said Bernie Williams. "Given the situation of the game and just how valuable his play was in the outcome of the game, it was as good as I've ever seen."

Other TYIB winners were Jim Leyland (Manager), Francisco Liriano (Rookie), Joel Zumaya (Setup Man), Albert Pujols (Single-Game Performance), Sean Casey (Blooper), Mike Lowell (Defense) and Endy Chavez (Postseason Moment).

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