rockies’ Jimenez in rare air
pitcher nearly unbeatable despite playing at coors Field
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The best pitcher in the 2010 season makes his home in Denver, working in thin air and open spaces at Coors Field.
He admits he enjoys road games because then he has a better idea where his 98-and 99-mph fastballs are going.
“It’s harder to control the ball in Denver,” said Ubaldo Jimenez, who started Tuesday night’s All-Star game for the National League. “When I go on the road, I know right away how my pitches are going to move. It makes it easier to have command on the inner and outer parts of the plate.”
Jimenez has done all right in home games, too. He’s 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA over his first 18 starts for the Rockies, holding hitters to a .198 average. Hit- ters marvel about the movement on his fastball, and Jimenez has ironed out issues with control. He’s an easy choice to head our look at midseason awards.
Midseason ballot for National League Cy Young: Jimenez, Adam Wainwright, Roy Halladay.
The other awards:
AL cy Young: david price
The Tampa Bay lefty earned his spot as the All-Star starter by being
tied for the AL lead in wins (12) and leading in ERA (2.42), which remains one of the truest stats in sports (although it can be manipulated by official scorers). He was the Rays’ No. 4 starter entering the season but has been the best starter in the one rotation to use only five guys all season. This is what was expected of him when he was hurried to the big leagues so he could pitch out of the bullpen in the 2008 playoffs. But this race could still be won by any of maybe 10 pitchers, with the 2009 postseason and attention from three trades in a year giving Cliff Lee an edge if he pitches well with Texas.
Midseason ballot: Price, Jon Lester, CC Sabathia.
NL MVP: Scott Rolen
There are other guys with bigger stats, but none who have meant more to a first-place team than the Cincinnati third baseman whom St. Louis shipped to Toronto after a running feud with Tony La Russa. He has played a huge role in transforming the Reds into a strong fielding team — first baseman Joey Votto worked on his glove work over the winter, a development Dusty Baker credits for Rolen setting the tone — and he’s made it easier for Votto, Jonny Gomes and Brandon Phillips to hit.
Midseason ballot: Rolen, Adrian Gonzalez, Votto, Jimenez, David Wright, Martin Prado, Carlos Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Corey Hart, Albert Pujols.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
No hitter is having a better season than Miggy, who has kept an otherwise underwhelming Detroit team in the AL Central race. Cabrera could pose a threat for the Triple Crown. He leads the batting race by 22 points and has the lead in RBIs by two over Vladimir Guerrero. At 22 home runs, he’s within two of Jose Bautista. Chipper Jones recently said Cabrera has officially joined Pujols as one of the two best hitters in the game, and he’s right. He does seem to have grown up since the binge drinking with White Sox buddies that might have cost the Tigers a playoff spot in 2009.
Midseason ballot: Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Paul Konerko, Guerrero, Kevin Youkilis, Bautista, Carl Crawford, Justin Morneau, David Ortiz, Alex Rios.
NL rookie: Jaime Garcia
There are productive rookies everywhere you look. But Garcia’s 2.17 ERA over 17 starts for St. Louis sets him apart. Along with Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, Garcia forms the toughest 1-2-3 set of starters in the majors. La Russa has done a good job managing Garcia’s innings, so there’s no reason he can’t continue for a full season. His chance to actually win this award will depend on how Stephen Strasburg finishes his season.
Midseason ballot: Garcia, Ike Davis, Jason Heyward.
AL rookie: Brennan Boesch
Some guys surprise even their own teams. That has been the case for Boesch, who has turned a quick look into a permanent assignment in the Detroit outfield. He’s hitting .342 with 12 home runs. His .990 OPS is sixth in the majors among hitters with enough at-bats to qualify for a batting title — pretty good for a guy Baseball America never trumpeted.
Midseason ballot: Boesch, Neftali Feliz, Austin Jackson.
NL manager: Bud Black
Once Mike Scioscia’s pitching coach, Black has become a very good manager. It’s no surprise his team is winning on the strength of its pitching staff (and Petco Park). Can the Padres keep it up? They’re in for a fight in a tight division, but teams built around pitching have the best chance to last.
AL manager: Ozzie Guillen
After a dreadful start, the White Sox threaten to ride the momentum of a 25-5 run to a third AL Central title in six years.