Well, we've had a month to nominate, vote, ruminate and compile ... and the list of 10 pre-season nominees for the prestigious first annual Batter's Box Andujar Award -- the ceremony soon to be recognized worldwide as the "YouNeverKnows" -- is now complete.
Here's the click-for-more teaser: A Jay finished second. The 10 nominees play for 10 different teams; six hitters, four pitchers. Eight different players received first-place votes, but nobody received more than one first-place vote. Oh, and you'll find a much-requested rules clarification.
Okay, first the rules clarification. Originally, the extremely fuzzy and poorly-defined rules said this: To be eligible for pre-season Andujar consideration, a player must have signed as a free agent -- either a major or minor league contract is acceptable -- with a new team in the off-season; players who have been traded are not eligible. No player who has been a legitimate All-Star -- paving the way for dozens of former Brewers, Pirates, Devil Rays and Royals to still be considered -- can ever win an Andujar.
The new, clarified (we hope) rules now read: To win an Andujar, a player must have signed as a free agent -- either a major or minor league contract is acceptable -- with a new team in the previous off-season. Players who have been traded are not eligible. A player shall not be eligible for an Andujar if he (A) has ever been named to a major league All-Star Game roster; or (B) has never appeared in a major league game prior to his free agent signing.
Unfortunately, six players who received votes in this year's pre-season balloting were retroactively disqualified. Those removed under exception (A) were Colorado SS Jose Hernandez, Atlanta 1B Robert Fick and Pittsburgh SP Rolando Arrojo. Those removed under exception (B) were Oakland OF Rontrez Johnson, Toronto RP Aquilino Lopez and Baltimore RP Mike Garcia.
Now, your 2003 Pre-Season Andujar Nominees:
The Top 10
Point totals in parentheses
1. John Halama (19), SP/RP Oakland
2. Frank Catalanotto (12), OF/DH/2B Toronto
3T. Greg Colbrunn (10), DH-type Seattle
3T. David Ortiz (10), 1B/DH Boston
3T. Todd Ritchie (10), SP Milwaukee
3T. Jeff Suppan (10), SP Pittsburgh
7T. Tyler Houston (7), Util. Philadelphia
7T. Shane Spencer (7), OF Cleveland
7T. John Thomson (7), SP Texas
10. Desi Relaford (6), Util. Kansas City
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Chad Fox (5); John VanderWal (3); Brian Daubach (2); Dave Burba (1).
As mentioned at the outset, eight different players received first-place ballots. Only two players -- Halama and Relaford -- were named on more than three ballots overall.
We will revisit the YouNeverKnows for a mid-season update over the All-Star Break. Any player on the current ballot who actually makes an All-Star roster will receive an automatic bye onto the post-season ballot.
Your further comments are, of course, welcome.