The 2006 season without a doubt was a disappointing one for the Milwaukee Brewers, a season marred by key injuries and a team that couldn't buy a win on the road. The team did play very well in front of their hometown fans at Miller Park, but the Brewers clearly missed out on a huge opportunity to succeed since the division leading St. Louis Cardinals made the playoffs with only 83 victories.
Before the season the Brewerfan.net staff took a stab at naming some preseason award winners while tackling five burning questions that would determine the outcome of the 2006 season. Please visit that story to review those predictions:
Now it is time to name the Brewerfan.net Award Winners for the 2006 season. The awards were determined by the collective decision of the Brewerfan.net staff.
Player of the Year: Bill Hall
Not only did he have the highest OPS on the team, but he filled in tremendously for J.J. Hardy when he went down for the year. Bill Hall's the kind of luxury that every team wants. In hindsight, it is surprising that no one picked last year's Player of the Year, Bill Hall, to repeat as this year's award winner. Looking back, I think we still did not know what we had in Hall, and his playing time entering the year was somewhat in question since he still did not have a permanent position. Now, it is clear that the Brewers need to find a place for Bill Hall to play everyday, and at 27 years old when the team takes the field next spring, there is no reason to believe he can't improve on his impressive numbers (.270 batting average, .553 slugging percentage, 39 doubles, 35 home runs, 85 RBI) from this past season. He led all big-league shortstops in both home runs and slugging percentage, although he may find himself at third base or even centerfield next season with the expected return of J.J. Hardy, and even then, I don't think anyone has dismissed the possibility of Hall replacing Hardy as the everyday shortstop.
Pitcher of the Year: Chris Capuano
Ben Sheets was the popular pick for this award, and will continue to be the preseason favorite for the Milwaukee Brewers preseason pitcher of the year as long as he enters the season healthy and is a member of the organization. Capuano, like Hall, continued his success from the previous season. Due to a lack of run support that fellow starters Ben Sheets and Doug Davis know all too well, Cappy recorded only 11 wins this season, but enjoyed a very successful first half of the season that prompted him to be named to the All-Star team. Chris has proven that he could be a quality number two starter on pretty much any team, and number one guy on several teams. Perhaps even more importantly, he's shown that he's set his injury history aside for another full season. His presence gives the Brewers at least two very solid starting pitchers, and a nice foundation for the starting rotation, not only for 2007, but beyond.
Rookie of the Year: Prince Fielder
Fielder was a no-brainer for this award, and will be in contention for the National League Rookie of the Year, although it appears as though he will fall just short in a year loaded with talented rookies. He led all rookies with 28 home runs, and I think many expect his .271/.347/.483 line to be just the beginning of a very good and productive career. When Carlos Lee was traded, the Brewers felt comfortable enough inserting Fielder into the cleanup spot, and he also spent some time as the three-hole hitter, a tribute to his early success and maturity. He could very well have a Ryan Howard-type season before he's even arbitration eligible. Surrounding Fielder with decent talent in the order will hopefully keep him from over-swinging and realizing his true potential.
Jack Voigt Memorial Award (Unsung Hero): Gabe Gross
Dave Bush and Jeff Cirillo also received some votes for this award, but Gross did the most with the least amount of attention. Platoon players just don't seem to get a lot of love around the league, but Gabe Gross posted an OPS in excess of .900 against right-handed pitchers this year. Given the fact that he can play all three outfield positions at a bargain-basement price, you can't define