The Todd Van Poppel Award
for biggest disappointment

First Place—Carlos Delgado

The past five years: 42, 33, 39, 41, and 44 HRs.
This year: 8 HRs. (Psst … that’s fewer than Hee Seop Choi.)

Delgado is a worst-case scenario for fantasy baseball owners. He’s too big of a talent to simply drop to the waiver wire, and forget about trading him (he’s got the value of Around the Way in 80 Days at the Hollywood stock exchange right now); but he’s also too big of a hindrance to warrant a starting spot. The only advice I can offer is stash him away on the bench and hope that he breaks out. Or you could wish upon a star for a season-ending injury; that way you can boot him from your roster with a clear conscience.

Second Place—Jose Vidro

He’s been one of the top second basemen in the past half-decade (a lifetime .300 hitter and a perennial All-Star), but during the first half, he’s been as ugly as those Britney-sans-makeup photos circulating the Internet. The horror!

The good news: he’s slowly coming around. Hold onto him. Like Mary-Kate Olsen, after working out a few kinks, he’ll be just fine.

Third Place—Morgan Ensberg

This one’s personal.

Why did you taunt me last year with 25 HRs in 385 at-bats? (For comparison, an average starter gets 500 to 600 at-bats a year.) And why did you then hit exactly ZERO HRs so far this year, after I wasted a high draft pick on you? And you play in the Minute Maid Park Launching Pad!

Morgan Ensberg, I hate you.

(However, if you do come around late, I will love you once again. I have a big heart. And a lot of duct tape to patch it up with.)

The Corleone Award
for best “whacking” brought about
by menacing nonverbal cues

During the Florida Marlins victory against the Chicago White Sox, ex-Marlins third-base coach and current Sox manager Ozzie Guillen stepped out of the dugout and peered into Marlins GM Larry Beinfest’s skybox suite. The two locked eyes. Guillen nodded. Beinfest reciprocated.

Hours later, Billy Koch was left behind as the White Sox charter flight took off, heading west toward Chicago.

The Lloyd McClendon Award
for best base

Second Base—Not a game goes by where he doesn’t take at least one spike-first stabbing slide into his side. And he never complains. What a tough bastard.

The Peter King Award
for worst SI-cover jinx

6/14/04—Ken Griffey Jr. on the cover
6/15/04 to present—Ken Griffey Jr. eerily uninjured

Come on, SI-Cover Jinx, what happened to you?

I remember a time when, after seeing Junior on your front page, showcasing his ability to elude injury all year (rubbing it in your glossy, 8-1/2-by-11 face), you would have immediately thrown The Kid into an outfield wall. A brick outfield wall. For such insolence, Junior’s punishment would have been another season-ending DL stint.

Now? Not even a small midgame sprain.

You used to be tough, SI. You pussy.

The Mike Mussina Award
for best perfect games thrown

Randy Johnson

The Oakland A’s Award
for second-half breakout potential

Loyal reader Guy Morris writes, “If nobody in your league has pitcher Zack Greinke, get him now. The kid is amazing.” Couldn’t agree more.

The kid might not have the strikeout numbers like last year’s rookie sleeper, Donatrello, but his ERA is right around 3.00, with very few walks. That usually translates into fantasy pitching success (see “Wells, David” or “Glavine, Tom”). One downside is that he’s pitching for the Royals, who have been described as “hapless,” “hopeless,” “a wacky bunch of misfits,” and “foolish nincompoops” in overheard conversations.

I’d also look at picking up or trading for Jo-el A. (as in “Agoraphobic”) Pineiro. In May and June, Pineiro put together a 1-6 record with an inflated ERA. But he was striking batters out.

Come June, however, the Mariners help him with a little run support, he stops walking people, and he pitches at least seven innings in four starts. Bam! Jo-el snags a 2-2 record, a 3.00 ERA, and continues to strike out plenty of people.

(And yes, both are on my team.)

(And yes, I’m obviously a genius. And once I get a satisfactory definition of “guru,” I might qualify as one of those as well.)

The Matt Clement Award
for player most desperately in need of growing a goatee as a means of gaining credibility

Jack Wilson

Here’s a SS having an All-Star-worthy season (hitting around .340 and playing some nice defense), but no one’s heard of him. Why? Because he’s more boring than Larry Brown’s post-NBA-championship celebratory speech.

When you get a chance, go to your favorite sports website, look up Wilson’s bio, and take a gander at his photo. Now, picture him with a goatee. Not bad, huh?

(Now, picture him with cornrows. His street cred in the ’Burgh would skyrocket.)

The Lyle Lovett Award
for player that inexplicably has an extremely attractive spouse

Jose Lima

If you’ve seen video of Lima singing the pregame national anthem accompanied by his lovely wife, then you know what I’m talking about.

If you haven’t, ignore this award and move on.

(Incidentally, if you are trying to scan the Internet for photos of Mrs. Lima: good luck. Originally, the Dodgers had decided to commemorate Jose’s vocal tones by posting a photo of the couple on their official website for all to see. However, after being flooded with massive amounts of Web traffic, much of which was decidedly not interested in Jose the Singing Sensation, the team decided to truncate her out of the photo. If that’s not a reason to root against the Dodgers, I don’t know what is.)

And Finally …
Can we please cease using the phrase “D-Train Derailed” in every headline related to a poor pitching performance by Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis?