As I saunter through the newsroom, I often walk past the desk of Journal-World entertainment editor Jon Niccum.
Every now and then Niccum, who is a bit of a closet sports fan, will ask me a question about the Royals or the Chiefs or the Jayhawks.
This time he wondered if I thought Zack Greinke would win the American League Cy Young Award. I told him I didn’t think so.
Who would I vote for, Niccum queried, looking a bit surprised. My answer was Justin Verlander. Why? Verlander tied for the league lead in wins and led the league in strikeouts. He’s the horse the Tigers rode to a share of the AL Central pennant.
Yes, I know Greinke won 16 games for a dreadful team and that he led the major leagues in earned run average. But Greinke missed his chance to lock up the Cy Young on Saturday when he was only so-so against the Minnesota Twins.
Greinke was in the spotlight that day. The writers who vote on that award were paying particular attention. If Greinke had squashed the Twins, he would have been a cinch. But he didn’t and Verlander won, in my opinion, with his clutch performance in the Tigers’ Sunday win over the White Sox.
Obviously, Greinke will be voted the Royals’ pitcher of the year and first baseman Billy Butler, who hit .301 with 21 home runs and 93 RBIs, will be tapped player of the year.
On the flip side, here are some awards the Royals won’t be handing out:
Most Likely to Avoid First Base: Miguel Olivo. Sure, the veteran catcher led the club with 23 home runs, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio was atrocious. Olivo whiffed 126 times and walked just 19 times.
Most Likely to Leave Runners Stranded: Mark Teahen. Mr. Versatility can play just about anywhere. But he drove in a mere 50 runs. Leadoff hitter David DeJesus played in the same number of games and drove in 71.
Most Likely to Be a Starting Pitcher Nowhere Else: This is a tough call. Sidney Ponson was 1-7 with a 7.36 ERA before being pink-slipped. Bruce Chen was 1-6 with a 5.78 ERA. And the immortal Lenny DiNardo was 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA. I’ll go with Ponson.
Most Likely to Give Up a Key Hit in Middle Relief: Kyle Farnsworth. While decent in non-pressure situations, Farnsworth usually faltered when the game was on the line, as evidenced by his 1-5 record and only five holds.
Most Likely to Drive Trey Hillman Crazy: Luke Hochevar. Sometimes the Royals’ No. 1 draft pick in 2006 pitches like Cy Young, but more often he throws like Loretta Young (Those of you under 50 may have to Google that name).
Most Likely to Remain an Ongoing Mystery: Alex Gordon. This former minor league player of the year has morphed from being compared to George Brett to becoming the next Carlos Febles.
Most Likely to be Compared to Shane Costa: Mitch Maier. Given an opportunity because of injuries to Coco Crisp and Jose Guillen, Maier responded with a .243 batting average and three home runs.
Most Likely to Strike Out or Hit a Solo Homer: Mike Jacobs. One-dimensional player who had more than twice as many whiffs (132) as RBIs (61).