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It's that time once again ... vote for your choice to win the 2004 Andujar, the annual Batter's Box award, selected by Box readers, named in honor of the legendary and quotable pitcher Joaquin Andujar, who won 127 games in 13 seasons with the Astros, Cardinals and Athletics -- and who once said, "There is one word in baseball that says it all, and that word is 'youneverknow.'"

Voting is scheduled to conclude at noon on Dec. 23. For technical reasons, the poll is posted in a separate thread and is available from the Batter's Box home page.

Read more about the Andujar award, see the semifinal round's ballot results and read profiles of each of the finalists ... and feel free to influence your fellow voters by posting an explanation of your own vote.

Cast your Andujar ballot today!

"That ['youneverknow'] quote captures the spirit of this award," said Batter's Box founder Kent Williams in the announcement of last year's winner, Jays expatriate Esteban Loiaza. "We're honoring the players who, looking back, really make fans shake their heads and say 'Wow, in baseball, you really never do know what's going to happen.'"

In that same announcement of last year's Loaiza victory, Box General Manager Jordan Furlong added, "The Andujar -- we call them the 'youneverknows,' just like the Academy Awards are nicknamed Oscars -- goes to the player who is the epitome, in retrospect, of a low-risk, high-reward transaction.That the first one [went] to an ex-Jay [Esteban Loiaza] demonstrates the sophistication of Batter's Box readers as students of the game. It would have been easy to hold a hometown grudge."

Who's eligible to win an Andujar? 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 acquired via trade are not eligible. Players are also not eligible to win an Andujar if they have ever been named to a Major League All-Star Game roster or if they have never appeared in a major league game. Players signed as free agents from foreign professional leagues are also ineligible.

Each member of the Batter's Box Roster was asked to rank their top 10 of the 20 semi-finalists; the ballots were tabulated in an MVP-like 14-9-8-7-etc. format. The results are as follows. Write in votes were removed from the ballots for the purpose of awarding points, but they are noted here for the record. Of 23 invited voters, 14 opted to cast ballots.

A late flurry of support for the leader separated Cleveland All-Star infielder Ronnie Belliard from the pack a bit, but remember, as we move into the final voting, the below totals no longer matter and are presented here only for your information. The vote totals from the readership in the poll above will be the sole factor in determining who wins.

A few interesting notes:
- No player appeared on all 14 ballots cast.
- Five different players received first-place votes, including two who did not make the final six.
- Although Danys Baez appeared on as many ballots as fellow closer and sixth-place finisher Braden Looper -- indeed, he was on more ballots than fifth-place Jeff Suppan -- his point total left him out of the running in seventh place overall.
- Only three of the 20 semi-finalists appeared on one or fewer ballots each; it is surely a coincidence that they are the only three ex- or current Blue Jays on the expanded ballot.

CANDIDATE (1st place votes) Total Votes/Points
**Where point totals are tied, total votes determines placement.
Ronnie Belliard (9) 13/148
Glendon Rusch (2) 13/108
John Thomson 13/76
Brett Tomko (1) 12/65
Jeff Suppan 9/61
Braden Looper 10/57
Danys Baez 10/51
Rod Barajas 7/39
Orlando Hernandez (1) 6/37
Todd Walker 6/32
Royce Clayton 8/27
Marlon Anderson (1) 5/26
Matt Stairs 5/19
Henry Blanco 3/17
Todd Greene 3/14
Jay Payton 2/14
John Halama 3/11
Jose Cruz, Jr. 1/7
Miguel Batista 1/2
Brad Fullmer 0/0
Trever Miller 2/10
Cliff Politte 1/3
Miguel Cairo 1/2
Daryle Ward 1/1

Meet the Super Six: Your 2004 Andujar Finalists
Consider the candidates listed below, alphabetically with the exact unedited bio pitch posted with the earlier list of 20 semi-finalists -- and remember, the post-season can and does "count" toward the final vote, although that only applies to one finalist this year. Then vote in the poll; the winner will be finalized and announced publicly -- though if you vote, you'll get to see the results as they appear -- as always, on Dec. 26. Yep ... "Boxing" Day.

NOTE: biographical notes were written before the start of post-season play. Cast your Andujar ballot today!

Ronnie Belliard
2B, Cleveland Indians

2004 Salary: $1.1M
2004 Win Shares: 17
RONNIE BELLIARD was the only Andujar nominee to make it to the 2004 All-Star Game; if history repeats, that's a good omen for the .269 career hitter, who bettered himself all the way to .270 this season, as he could follow in the footsteps of inaugural Andujar winner Esteban Loaiza, who was the only 2003 nominee to appear in that year's mid-summer classic. Belliard also reached career highs in homers and RBI (12 and 70, respectively) -- one season after leaving Coors Field. Following an Ichiro-like .417 for April (when he actually had more hits than the new hit king, 35-26), his best month following was a .308 August; he fell to .141 in September.

Braden Looper
RP, New York Mets

2004 Salary: $2M
2004 Win Shares: 10

BRADEN LOOPER briefly separated himself from the other closer on the Andujar list, Baez, with a strong mid-season surge, but like the Mets team as a whole, fell apart in the late season as his September ERA of 4.61 was close to two full runs higher than his ERA any other month. Still, he saved 29 games in 34 chances, and while that didn't evoke memories of Franco, Myers or McGraw in Flushing, he did post a season ERA of 2.70 in 70 games. Of course, the guy he replaced, Armando Benitez, wrapped up 47 saves and posted an ERA of about halfLooper's -- albeit for about twice the price. If style points count, take appropriate note that Looper has survived a life with the middle name "LaVern."

Glendon Rusch
SP/RP, Chicago Cubs

2004 Salary: Not posted
2004 Win Shares: 9

GLENDON RUSCH was not originally a candidate for the Andujar, but as several Rusch fans -- call them dittoeheads -- complained, he probably should have been. So now he is. He made it into 32 gaems for the fall-apart Cubbies, starting half and relieving in half, posting a 6-2 mark with tw savesa and a 3.56 ERA (bettering his career mark by more than a run and a half) in about 130 innings. The Cubbie collapse can't be pinned on Glendon; he had a 2.49 ERA in August and followed that with a 2.63 September mark.

Jeff Suppan
SP, St. Louis Cardinals

2004 Salary: $1M
2004 Win Shares: 7

JEFF SUPPAN was one of the five or six luckiest pitchers in the National League in 2004 -- at least according to Baseball Prospectus -- as he managed to cobble together a career-best 16 wins despite a season ERA of 4.16; he was a stellar 10-4 starting July 4 weekend and for the season had a fairly typical 1.69 K/BB ratio; his career mark is 1.72. How will Red Sox fans feel if this former PawSox phenom gets a start in the World Series, especially if it's not at Fenway?

John Thomson
SP, Atlanta Braves

2004 Salary: $2.25M
2004 Win Shares: 11

JOHN THOMSON was 13-14 as an Andujar finalist for the 2003 Texas Rangers. Why is this relevant to the 2004 Andujars? because it seems likely that ifhe had replicated his 2004 (14-8, 3.72) mark for the Rangers, they'd be setting their playoff rotation right now. Instead, he plied his trade under the watchful eye of Leo Mazzone and had an arguably better season than Greg Maddux (16-8, 4+ ERA), the man he replaced in the vaunted Braves pitching lineup. Thomson started strong (2-1, 2.67 in April) but had to bounce back from a 5.06 May and 6.07 June. How about an August ERA of 3.08? Pish-posh. He put together a 1.36 ERA in five September starts as the Braves won their sixtieth consecutive division crown and Thomson landed on the Andujar ballot for the seond straight season.

Brett Tomko
SP, San Francisco Giants

2004 Salary: $1.2M
2004 Win Shares: 8

BRETT TOMKO was one Dustin Hermansen meltdown away from being remembered as the guy who pitched the Giants into the 2004 playoffs. A pre-season Andujar notable, Tomko started slowly and by the time he reached the end of July at 5-6 was completely off the Andujar radar (Radujar?) ... but as Jason Schmidt began to tire, Tomko stepped up to finish 6-1 down the stretch, compiling a season mark of 11-7 with a 4.04 ERA. In back-to-back late September starts, Tomko showed why the Mariners demanded he be part of the Griffey deal with the Reds, posting 17.2 IP, and allowing just eight hits and three runs in two big wins over the Brewers and Astros.

Now vote, already
... after all, youneverknow.
Joaq the Vote 2004: Meet the Finalists | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Jonny German - Wednesday, December 01 2004 @ 11:12 AM EST (#11823) #
I'd like to point out that Thomson, Looper, and Suppan are not the bargains they may appear to be by their 2004 salaries (listed here as $2.25M, $2M, and $1M). Each signed a 2-year contract last offseason, Thomson for $7M, Looper for $6.5M, and Suppan for $6M. The spirit of the award is youneverknow; as far as I'm concerned for these three themarketknew, which means youshouldaknown.
_Smirnoff - Wednesday, December 01 2004 @ 11:25 AM EST (#11824) #
I'm surprised El Duque didn't run away with this. Had I remembered to vote, he would have been the guy.
_Mick - Wednesday, December 01 2004 @ 12:08 PM EST (#11825) #
Smirnoff, fwiw, the first place vote he got was from me, so I agree with you. He was a late addition to the ballot, so that may have confused some people while voting, but even those he did vote for him generally placed him fifth or sixth or thereabouts.

What's interesting to me is how many Andujar candidates -- both years -- are pitchers.
_Chuck Van Den C - Wednesday, December 01 2004 @ 01:37 PM EST (#11826) #
Was Jose Lima acquired in a trade? Is this why he is ineligible?
_Jonny German - Wednesday, December 01 2004 @ 01:44 PM EST (#11827) #
Jose Lima was a deserving All-Star in 1999 with Houston. 246 IP, 3.58 ERA, 187-44 K/BB, 121 ERA+.
_Chuck Van Den C - Wednesday, December 01 2004 @ 01:50 PM EST (#11828) #
Jose Lima was a deserving All-Star in 1999 with Houston. 246 IP, 3.58 ERA, 187-44 K/BB, 121 ERA+.

Don't his 2000 season (6.56 ERA, 48 HR) and 2001 season (7.30 ERA) serve as enough of a countweight to freshly renew his candidacy? ;)
_Tassle - Thursday, December 02 2004 @ 11:33 AM EST (#11829) #
I'd just like to suggest that you guys somehow revise the rules to include someone like Jaret Wright, who would be the hands-down obvious choice if he hadn't played a bit for Atlanta last year.
Joaq the Vote 2004: Meet the Finalists | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.