Hank Aaron Award nominees announced (and then picked apart)

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The Hank Aaron Award nominees were announced on Monday.  The award is meant to honor the best offensive performers in each league.  As always, there’s one nominee from every team and the winner will be selected by a fan vote in combination with a vote of select Hall of Fame players.

Here are the nominees:

American League
Baltimore: J.J. Hardy
Boston: Adrian Gonzalez
Chicago: Paul Konerko
Cleveland: Asdrubal Cabrera
Detroit: Miguel Cabrera
Kansas City: Alex Gordon
Los Angeles: Mark Trumbo
Minnesota: Michael Cuddyer
New York: Curtis Granderson
Oakland: Josh Willingham
Seattle: Dustin Ackley
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria
Texas: Michael Young
Toronto: Jose Bautista

Of course, with one player from every team nominated, the fans can vote for Ackley for AL offensive player of the year, but not Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz or Robinson Cano.

The pretty awful pick here was Trumbo over Howie Kendrick on the Angels. Of course Kendrick didn’t match the first baseman when it came to RBIs, but he hit .285/.338/.464 to Trumbo’s .254/.291/.477.

Young was the Rangers’ fourth best hitter, but he played in 159 games, while Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton played in 113, 124 and 121 respectively. Napoli still deserves the nod, though. He hit .320/.414/.631 to Young’s .338/.380/.474.

National League
Arizona: Justin Upton
Atlanta: Brian McCann
Chicago: Aramis Ramirez
Cincinnati: Joey Votto
Colorado: Troy Tulowitzki
Florida: Mike Stanton
Houston: Carlos Lee
Los Angeles: Matt Kemp
Milwaukee: Ryan Braun
New York: Jose Reyes
Philadelphia: Ryan Howard
Pittsburgh: Andrew McCutchen
St. Louis: Albert Pujols
San Diego: Cameron Maybin
San Francisco: Pablo Sandoval
Washington: Michael Morse

Things were cut-and-dry for a lot of NL teams. It’s a shame Hunter Pence couldn’t get a nomination, considering that he was better than Lee in Houston and Howard in Philadelphia. Shane Victorino probably should have been the Phillies’ selection, but… yeah, fat chance.

St. Louis was the one I’d most argue against. Lance Berkman hit .301/.412/.547 to Pujols’ .299/.366/.541. That nearly 50-point difference in OBP is very significant, and Berkman only played in two fewer games over the course of the season.

I’m not going to complain about Maybin (.716 OPS). Chase Headley (.773 OPS) and Nick Hundley (.824 OPS) were considerably better hitters, but they played in 113 and 82 games, respectively.

Five minor leaguers suspended for drug violations

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NEW YORK (AP) Five minor league pitchers have been suspended for drug violations.

The commissioner’s office announced the penalties Tuesday.

Three of the players are part of the Toronto system. Right-hander Juan Jimenez and left-hander Naswell Paulino were each suspended for 72 games, and righty Jol Concepcion was banned for 60 games. Jimenez, Paulino and Concepcion tested for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance.

Jimenez and Paulino are on the roster for the rookie-level Dominican Summer League Blue Jays, and Concepcion is on the roster of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Blue Jays.

Kansas City minor leaguer Travis Eckert and free-agent lefty Kevin Duchene each tested positive for a drug of abuse. Eckert was suspended for 50 games following a second positive test, and Duchene received a 100-game penalty following a third positive test.

Eckert is on the roster for Single-A Lexington of the South Atlantic League.

There have been 79 suspensions under the minor league drug program this year and five under the major league program.