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   Alfredo Despaigne Named as Cuban League MVP for Second Straight Season
 
   Published on: May 11, 2010
 
Boasting his second consecutive home run title and barely missing a rare and coveted “triple-crown” season, Granma outfielder Alfredo Despaigne has walked off with repeat Cuban League MVP honors and thus joined Wilfredo Sánchez and Yulieski Gourriel as the only back-to-back outstanding player honorees in league history. The Granma slugger (also the outstanding player of last fall’s European World Cup) easily outdistancing both Gourriel and José Dariel Abreu by comfortable margins in the official Cuban press ballot announced earlier today. Despaigne this winter enjoyed one of the most complete offensive performances in National Series annals, missing his previous year’s record home run mark by only a single four bagger, hitting over .400 to overhaul both Gourriel and Abreu down the stretch run of the individual batting race, and trailing only Gourriel in the RBI department. Other noteworthy features of this year’s post-season awards include a tie for manager of the year honors, three unanimous all-star selections, and a number of surprising new faces among Cuba’s most celebrated players.

The official post-season awards are selected by a 22-member Cuban baseball media panel which now includes both this writer and www.BaseballdeCuba.com colleague Ray Otero. In the polling results released this morning, Despaigne heads up a National Series all-star squad that features three unanimous selections (Despaigne, Gourriel and Abreu) as well as a number of newcomers to such post-season honors (Abreu, as well as trio of prospects from a Las Tunas ballclub that failed to reach post-season play). Claiming their first all-star credentials are Las Tunas catcher Yosvani Alarcón (a 25-year-old national team prospect who batted .318, blasted 26 round-trippers, and also knocked home 76 runs) and a talented Magos (Magicians) middle-infield combo of fast-developing shortstop Alex Guerrero (at 23, the league’s number 20 ranked hitter with a .343 mark plus 19 homers and 87 RBIs) and veteran 33-year-old second baseman Danel Castro. Castro (who at decade back played for Team Cuba in the 1999 Baltimore exhibition contest versus the big-league Orioles) enjoyed a remarkable career revival this season with the league’s eleventh-best batting mark (.354). Alacrón (who failed to smash a single home run in 2008-09) clubbed the highest number of homers in a single National Series season ever posted by a full-time backstop.

One noteworthy feature of this year’s ballot is the fact that neither the mythical all-star squad nor the annual “Gold Glove” “all-defensive” team features a single ballplayer from surprise league champion Industriales. But the Blues do boast this year’s post-season MVP selection in veteran slugging first baseman Alex Malleta. And the Blue Lions also laid claim to half of the top manager honors when skipper Germán Mesa and Villa Clara bench boss Eduardo Martin split the 22 ballots right down the middle. Rookie of the year honors go to young Metros outfielder Yusef Amador whose sparkling debut included a .334 batting mark alongside 13 homers and an impressive 63 RBIs for the league’s worst team. Given the past practice of switching top Metros prospects to the cross-city Industriales roster, it is a very safe bet that Yusel Amador with be chasing fly balls next winter for the league’s more popular capital city team managed by Germán Mesa.

Amador’s only serious rival for top “novice” honors was hard-throwing Villa Clara southpaw Yasmani Hernández. Hernández failed to garner a single first-place ballot for regular-season honors, but did take home the playoff-round top rookie trophy. The league’s all-defensive team in turn featured three Sancti Spíritus players (not surprising from the team with the season’s best overall record), including third baseman Yulieski Gourriel. The Gallos star was thus the only athlete featured on both all-star squads (the all-around roster plus the all-defensive team).

Cuban League 2010 National Series All-Star Team

Catcher: Yosvani Alarcón (Las Tunas), 20 votes
Others: Ariel Pestano, Villa Clara (2)
First Base: José Dariel Abreu (Cienfuegos), Unanimous Selection
Others: None
Second Base: Danel Castro (Las Tunas), 16 votes
Others: Ramón Tamayo, Granma (4), Yoilan Cerce, Guantánamo (1)
Third Base: Yulieski Gourriel (Sancti Spíritus), Unanimous Section
Others: None
Shortstop: Alexander Guerrero (Las Tunas), 21 votes
Others: Luis Miguel Navas, Santiago de Cuba (1)
Outfield: Alfredo Despaigne (Granma), Unanimous Selection
Outfield: Alexei Bell (Santiago de Cuba), 18 votes
Outfield: Federich Cepeda (Sancti Spíritus), 13 votes
Others: Henry Urrutia, Las Tunas (10), Yoennis Céspedes, Granma (2), Kennen Baily, Guantánamo (1)
DH: Rolando Meriño (Santiago de Cuba), 19 votes
Others: Isaac Martínez, Ciego de Avila (2), Yoandy Garlobo, Matanzas (1)
Utility: Raúl González (Ciego de Avila), 13 votes
Others: Rudy Reyes, Industriales (5), Urmaris Guerra, Granma (2), Leonys Martin (Villa Clara (1), Rolando Meriño, Santiago de Cuba (1)
Right-Handed Pitcher: Vladimir García (Ciego de Avila), 18 votes
Others: Angel Peña, Sancti Spíritus (4)
Left-Handed Pitcher: Yulieski González (Habana Province), 19 votes
Others: Maikel Folich, Ciego de Avila (2), Norberto González, Cienfuegos (1)
Relief Pitcher: Dunier Ibarra (Cienfuegos), 18 votes
Others: Yoandry Portal, Industriales (4)

All-Defensive Team (2010 Golden Glove Selections)

Catcher: Eriel Sánchez (Sancti Spíritus), 14 votes
Others: Osvaldo Arias, Cienfuegos (5), Yaimel Alberro, Matanzas (1), Ariel Pestano, Villa Clara (1), Frank Camilo Morejón, Industriales (1)
First Base: Yunier Mendoza (Sancti Spíritus), 21 votes
Others: José Dariel Abreu, Cienfuegos (1)
Second Base: Mario Vega (Ciego de Avila), 21 votes
Others: Héctor Olivera, Santiago de Cuba (1)
Third Base: Yulieski Gourriel (Sancti Spíritus), Unanimous Section
Others: None
Shortstop: Michel González (Habana Province), 13 votes
Others: Yorbis Borroto, Ciego de Avila (7), Luis Miguel Navas, Santiago de Cuba (2)
Outfield: Jorge Johnson (Las Tunas), 21 votes
Outfield: Denis Laza (Habana Province), 16 votes
Outfield: Juan Miguel Soriano (Cienfuegos), 15 votes
Others: Yunieski Gourriel, Sancti Spíritus (6), Yoanis Pérez, Isla de la Juventud (3), Ricardo Bordón, Ciego de Avila (2), Alexei Bell, Santiago de Cuba (1), Leonys Martin, Villa Clara (1), Frederich Cépeda, Sancti Spíritus (1)
Pitcher: Yoelkiz Cruz (Las Tunas), 12 votes
Others: Jonder Martínez, Habana Province (9), Yulieski González, Habana Province (1)

Additional Post-Season Awards

Most Valuable Player

First Place: Alfredo Despaigne (Granma), 63 points (20 First Place votes)
Second Place: Yulieski Gourriel (Sancti Spíritus), 37 points
Third Place: José Dariel Abreu (Cienfuegos), 31 points

Rookie of the Year

First Place: Yusel Amador (Metros), 66 points (Unanimous with 22 First Place votes)
Second Place: Yasmani Hernández (Villa Clara), 34 points
Third Place: Dunier Ruíz (Metros), 16 points

Post-Season Most Valuable Player

Alexander Malleta (Industriales), 18 votes

Post-Season Rookie of the Year

Yasmani Hernández (Villa Clara), 20 votes*
*Two votes cast for ineligibles (non-rookies) were disqualified

Manager of the Year

Eduado Martin (Villa Clara), 11 votes
Germán Mesa (Industriales), 11 votes

For those readers wishing a refresher on past Cuban League MVPs, below is the entire listing of National Series and Playoff “Most Valuable” selections from all earlier seasons. Previous back-to-back winners of these awards are shown here in boldface type.

Cuban League National Series Most Valuable Players (1962-2010)

Year NSeries # Player Team Position
1962 I Erwin Walters Occidentales Outfield
1963 II Modesto Verdura Azucareros Pitcher
1964 III Pedro Chávez Occidentales Outfield (First Base)
1965 IV Urbano González Industriales Second Base
1966 V Lino Betancourt Henequeneros First Base
1967 VI Pedro Chávez Industriales Outfield (First Base)
1968 VII Eulogio Osorio Habana Outfield
1969 VIII Wilfredo Sánchez Henequeneros Outfield
1970 IX Wilfredo Sánchez Henequeneros Outfield
1971 X Antonio Jiménez Industriales Pitcher
1972 XI Agustín Marquetti Industriales First Base
1973 XII Armando Capiró Habana Outfield
1974 XIII Antonio Muñoz Azucareros First Base
1975 XIV Walfrido Ruíz Agricultores Pitcher
1976 XV Omar Carrero Ganaderos Pitcher
1977 XVI Isidro Pérez Azucareros Pitcher
1978 XVII Fernándo Sánchez Henequeneros Outfield
1979 XVIII Wilfredo Sánchez Citricultores Outfield
1980 XIX Pedro José Rodríguez Cienfuegos Third Base
1981 XX Rogelio García Vegueros Pitcher
1982 XXI Fernándo Hernández Vegueros Outfield
1983 XXII Lázaro Junco Citricultores Outfield
1984 XXIII Luis Giraldo Casanova Vegueros Outfield
1985 XXIV Omar Linares Vegueros Third Base
1986 XXV Lázaro Vargas Industriales Third Base
1987 XXVI Javier Méndez Industriales Outfield
1988 XXVII Pedro Luis Rodríguez Habana Catcher
1989 XXVIII Orestes Kindelán Santiago de Cuba Outfield (Catcher)
1990 XXIX Omar Linares Vegueros Third Base
1991 XXX Lázaro Madera Vegueros Outfield
1992 XXXI Jorge Luis Valdés Henequeneros Pitcher
1993 XXXII Omar Linares Pinar Del Río Third Base
1994 XXXIII Lourdes Gourriel Sancti Spíritus Outfield (First Base)
1995 XXXIV Amado Zamora Villa Clara Outfield
1996 XXXV Jorge Fumero Industriales Pitcher
1997 XXXVI José Estrada Matanzas Outfield
1998 XXXVII Oscar Machado Villa Clara Outfield
1999 XXXVIII Michel Enríquez Isla de La Juventud Third Base
2000 XXXIX Norge Luis Vera Santiago de Cuba Pitcher
2001 XL Maels Rodríguez Sancti Spíritus Pitcher
2002 XLI Michel Abreu Matanzas First Base
2003 XLII Javier Méndez Industriales Outfield
2004 XLIII Osmani Urrutia Las Tunas Outfield
2005 XLIV Yulieski Gourriel Sancti Spíritus Third Base
2006 XLV Yulieski Gourriel Sancti Spíritus Third Base
2007 XLVI Osmani Urrutia Las Tunas Outfield
2008 XLVII Alexei Bell Santiago de Cuba Outfield
2009 XLVIII Alfredo Despaigne Granma Outfield
2010 XLIX Alfredo Despaigne Granma Outfield

Notes: Outfielders have now won this award 25 times or slightly over half of the 49 selections. Despaigne is the third back-to-back MVP, following Wilfredo Sánchez at the end of the 1960s and Yulieski Gourriel in the current decade. Sánchez and Omar Linares remain the only three-time winners of the coveted honor.

Cuban League Post-Season Most Valuable Players (1986-2010)

Year NSeries # Player Team Position
1986 XXV Agustín Marquetti Industriales First Base
1987 XXVI Rogelio García Vegueros Pitcher
1988 XXVII Omar Ajete Vegueros Pitcher
1989 XXVIII Ariel Cutiño Santiago de Cuba Pitcher
1990 XXIX Jorge Luis Valdés Henequeneros Pitcher
1991 XXX Jorge Luis Valdés Henequeneros Pitcher
1992 XXXI Leonardo Tamayo Industriales Pitcher
1993 XXXII Victor Mesa Villa Clara Outfield
1994 XXXIII Rolando Arrojo Villa Clara Pitcher
1995 XXXIV Jorge Luis Toca Villa Clara First Base
1996 XXXV Lázaro Valle Industriales Pitcher
1997 XXXVI Pedro Luis Lazo Pinar del Río Pitcher
1998 XXXVII José Ariel Contreras Pinar del Río Pitcher
1999 XXXVIII Norge Luis Vera Santiago de Cuba Pitcher
2000 XXXIX Fausto Alvarez Santiago de Cuba Outfield (DH)
2001 XL Norge Luis Vera Santiago de Cuba Pitcher
2002 XLI Oscar Gil Holguín Pitcher
2003 XLII Antonio Scull Industriales First Base
2004 XLIII Enríque Díaz Industriales Second Base
2005 XLIV Ormari Romero Santiago de Cuba Pitcher
2006 XLV Alexander Malleta Industriales First Base
2007 XLVI Alexei Bell Santiago de Cuba Outfield
2008 XLVII Rolando Meriño Santiago de Cuba Catcher
2009 XLVIII Miguel Alfredo González Habana Province Pitcher
2010 XLIX Alexander Malleta Industriales First Base

Notes: Alexander Malleta is now one of three repeat winners, along with pitchers Norge Luis Vera and Jorge Luis Valdés (the only back-to-back honoree). Malleta also becomes the third Industriales first sacker to gain post-season MVP honors in the current decade. As might be expected for a short-series playoff round, pitchers have claimed this award on 15 occasions (exactly 60 % of the time). Malleta is the seventh Industriales winner (tying Santiago de Cuba for the top spot among league teams with the most post-season MVP trophy winners).
 
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