Someone actually voted for candidates outside of Posey and Heyward for ROY

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey looks on during workouts in preparation for their Major League Baseball (MLB)'s World Series in San Francisco October 26, 2010. The Giants will face the Texas Rangers in the series opening game on Wednesday. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Whether it was Giants’ 23-year-old backstop or the Braves’ 21-year-old right fielder, the only two candidates that deserved to be considered for the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award were Buster Posey and Jason Heyward.

Yet three clowns actually voted for Jaime Garcia and Gaby Sanchez when it came down to handing out the award on Monday.

When the voting was completed, Posey beat out Heyward to win this year’s ROY award. Heyward bested Posey in runs scored (83 to 58), hits (144 to 124) and walks (91 to 30), but he also played 34 more games as the Giants kept Posey in the minors because they wanted to slow his arbitration clock.

Despite not playing a full year like Heyward, Posey hit just as many home runs (18) as the Atlanta outfielder and finished with a higher batting average (.305 to .277). He also caught a pitching staff that led the majors with a 3.36 ERA and helped San Francisco win its first ever World Series while batting cleanup for most of the postseason.

Personally, I think Posey deserved the award based on the fact that he helped the Giants win playoff games while Hewyard struggled mightily in the NLDS. Posey also plays a more demanding position and may have doubled his output had he been given the opportunity to play a full year.

But whether you thought it should have been Posey or Heyward, I think most of us would agree that the award didn’t belong to Garcia or Sanchez, who each received three first-place votes. (Posey finished with 20, Heyward had nine, Sanchez had two and Garcia had one.) That’s not to say that Garcia or Sanchez didn’t have good years because they did. But are you kidding me? Did the writers who voted for those two see Posey or Heyward play this season?

Posey and Heyward played vital roles in the success that their teams had this year and put together some of the finest seasons of any rookies over the past couple decades. Garcia and Sanchez were nice players, but they didn’t hold a candle to what Posey and Heyward did for their teams. I would expect Cardinals and Marlins fans to argue that claim, but I would suggest they put on some tape to see what Posey and Heyward accomplished this year. Again, I’m not trying to take anything away from Garcia and Sanchez but come on. Two votes? Gabby Sanchez received two first-place votes? Over Buster Posey? Dear, Barbara.

At the end of the day, who received first-place votes doesn’t matter. Posey won by a landslide and I think it was well deserved. All four of these players should go on to have solid careers, although I only see two potential superstars in the bunch and neither of them plays in St. Louis or Florida.

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MLB Roundup: The Doc, the Panda & the Tiger

Phillies 2, Astros 1
It’s about time Roy Halladay produced a shutout – I mean, it’s been two games for crib’s sake. The “Doc” gave up just one run on seven innings while striking out eight in nine innings on Sunday to help the Phillies beat the Astros, 2-1. Houston’s feeble offense once again mustered very little run support for Roy Oswalt, who dropped to 0-2 on the season after losing earlier last week to Tim Lincecum. The Astros are now 0-6 on the year under new manager Don’t-worry-about-his-name-because-it-won’t-matter-soon-anyway.

Tigers 9, Indians 8
Justin Verlander looked like feces again for a second straight outing, allowing six runs on six hits and surrendering a grand slam to somebody named Luis Valbuena. (I checked, he’s actually on Cleveland’s roster.) Even when Verlander did settle down, he still only struck out three batters and wasn’t his usual dominant self. But it’s still early, so Tiger fans have nothing to worry about yet. Detroit overcame a 7-3 deficit in the sixth inning by scratching across six runs in the final three frames to improve to 5-1 on the year. Chris Perez played the goat for the Tribe by throwing a wild pitch to give up the go-ahead run in the bottom of the ninth. He gave up three runs on three hits in his one inning of relief.

Giants 6, Braves 3
Somebody woke up the Kung Fu Panda on Sunday. Pablo Sandoval, who hasn’t looked sharp at the plate or in the field to start the season, went 3-for-4 with two RBI, three runs scored and one mammoth two-run homer (his first of the year). He also made a great catch on a foul play hit by Jason Heyward earlier in the game where he almost tumbled over the railing of the Giants’ dugout. Sandoval bailed out Tim Lincecum, who only struck out 10 batters in seven innings to rack up his second win of the year.

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MLB Report: Heyward homers in first AB, Pujols, Lincecum dazzle

Braves 16, Cubs 5
Rookie Jason Heyward had a picture-perfect start to his MLB career when he belted a three-run home run off Carlos Zambrano in his first at bat on Monday. Heyward finished the day with two hits, four RBI and two runs scored to lead Atlanta in the rout. Zambrano had a nightmarish debut, allowing eight runs on six hits in just 1.1 innings of work.

Cardinals 11, Reds 6
MLB might as well start the engraving process for the MVP award, because Albert Pujols is already making a claim that he deserves the honor. The best hitter in baseball went 4-for-5 with three RBI and two home runs in the Cards’ 11-6 victory over the Reds.

Giants 5, Astros 2
Concerns about Tim Lincecum after his so-so spring were put to rest on Monday in Houston after the two-time Cy Young winner blanked the Stros over seven innings. Lincecum held a weak Houston lineup to four hits and no runs, while also striking out seven. Outside of a small jam in the sixth inning, he was nearly flawless.

Phillies 11, Nationals 1
It didn’t take long for Roy Halladay to impress his new teammates. He pitched seven innings against the Nationals on Monday, allowing one run on just six hits while striking out nine. The lone run actually scored in the first inning, but Washington looked overmatched after that point.

Rangers 5, Blue Jays 4
Shaun Marcum had a no hitter through six innings on Monday before the Rangers finally got to him in the seventh. Texas erased a 3-0 and 4-3 deficit to win 5-4 with two runs in the ninth. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia came through in the clutch, delivering a bases-loaded, walk-off single to win it for the Rangers.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

MLB Opening Week: 10 Things to Watch

While nothing beats the opening weekend in football, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the start of a new baseball season. With a sense of a new beginning, the opening week of baseball brings hope and excitement to fans across the country.

Then you realize that you’re favorite team is the Pirates, Royals or Nationals and all that hope gets crushed. It’s an ugly realization, but it is what it is.

As baseball is set to kick off a new season, here are 10 things to keep an eye on this week.

1. Roy Halladay makes his Philles debut
Fans will have to wait until next weekend to see Halladay make his Philadelphia debut, but they probably won’t have to wait long to see him dominate in red and white. Halladay will start against the Nationals on Opening Day and then at Houston five days later, which means he gets tune ups against two of the weaker teams in the National League. He shouldn’t have any issues making the early-season transition to the NL – outside of hitting, of course. Unless he succumbs to the pressure of pitching in Philadelphia, Halladay will likely have plenty of success throughout the entire season.

2. Jason Heyward’s MLB debut
The top position player prospect in baseball will enter the 2010 season as the Braves’ starting right fielder. The former 2007 first round pick hit .323 with 17 homers and 63 RBI between three stops in the minor leagues last season and might be the difference between the Braves finishing in the middle of the pack in the National League, or securing a postseason berth. Heyward doesn’t have one breakout skill, but he’s a five-tool player who takes a patient approach to the plate and exhibits good bat speed. He’s also a solid defender, with above-average speed and can play multiple outfield positions. If Heyward turns out to be the real deal, then so too will the Braves.

3. Can Jon Rauch fill Joe Nathan’s shoes?
After Nathan decided to have Tommy John surgery and therefore miss the entire 2010 season, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that the club would employ a closer-by-committee situation with their bullpen. But Gardenhire quickly went back on that decision, instead choosing to go with Rauch as his full-time closer. The question now becomes: Will Rauch be the same reliable pitcher he was last year in Minnesota or the one that struggled in Arizona in the first half? Rauch isn’t the long-term solution, but he doesn’t have to be either. He just has to be dependable this season to help bridge the gap until Nathan returns to full health in 2011.

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Five new playoff contenders for the 2010 MLB season

While some enthusiasts will argue otherwise, there’s usually not a lot of change from one year to the next in baseball. Most pundits expect the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels, Cardinals, Twins, Dodgers and Rockies (all eight teams that made the playoffs in 2009) to be good again this year. MLB isn’t like the NFL where teams make unexpected playoff runs every year.

That said, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of sleepers to watch out for in 2010. Below are five clubs that didn’t make the postseason last year that have the best odds (in my estimation) of making the playoffs this season.

1. Chicago White Sox
If you read the 2010 MLB season preview, you’re not surprised to see the White Sox at the top of this list. As long as Jake Peavy stays healthy, Chicago arguably has the best starting rotation one through five in the American League. (Boston fans may argue otherwise, but Boston fans can also shove off…just kidding…although not really.) But the key to the Chi Sox’s success this season lies in their offense. Yes, I’m banking on veterans Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios, Mark Teahen, Paul Konerko and Mark Kotsay to have productive years and yes, that may be asking a lot. But Gordon Beckham looks like a star in the making and the addition of Juan Pierre gives the Sox a solid leadoff hitter. I’m well aware that Chicago could finish third in a three-team race in the AL Central, but their pitching is going to keep them competitive all season and I’m willing to bet that their offense won’t be as bad as many believe.

2. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners have all the pieces in place to not only compete for the AL Wild Card, but also unseat the Angels in the AL West. Along with Felix Hernandez, the acquisition of Cliff Lee now gives Seattle the best 1-2 punch in the American League outside of Boston’s Josh Beckett and John Lackey. The problem is that the lineup lacks major punch. Chone Figgins and Ichiro give the M’s quality bats at the top of the order, but can this team score enough runs on a nightly basis? The club has been built on pitching and defense but if they want to make the postseason, the Mariners will have to prove that they can overcome a powerless lineup.

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