The Nationals Are Born
The spanking new mascot "Screech" popped out of his shell to announce that the Montreal Expos were gone in 2005, replaced by the Washington Nationals. With some surprising performances in close games, the formerly woeful franchise was actually in first place on June 5, making it the first Washington ballclub to achieve that feat in 72 years. Under manager Frank Robinson, the Nationals finished at 81-81.
Bartolo Colon Leads Angels to American League West Title
Trying to attract a greater fan base, the former Anaheim Angels changed their name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in time for the 2005 season. (They were previously known as the Los Angeles Angels and California Angels.) LAA of A became the first American League team to clinch its division in 2005, then upset the Yankees in five games in the ALDS. Bartolo Colon was a difference maker. Going 21-8, he won three more games than any other American League pitcher and won his first Cy Young Award.
Albert Pujols Wins Overdue MVP Award
Albert Pujols hit .330-41-117 en route to his first National League MVP Award. It was his fifth season in the majors, and he had finished in the top four in MVP voting each year. He had also topped .300-30-100 and 100 runs every season. By the end of 2005, he had hit 201 career homers and was still only 25 years old.
Andruw Jones Eclipses 50 Homers
Andruw Jones of the Braves had been a powerful hitter and superb outfielder since he came to the majors at age 19. But in 2005, he took his batting to a whole new level. Supposedly acting on a recommendation from Willie Mays, Jones clubbed 51 home runs to lead all of baseball. His 128 RBI topped the National League, and he won his eighth straight Gold Glove Award.
Chris Carpenter Cops the Cy
Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter's selection as 2004 Comeback Player of the Year after arm surgery was well deserved. But no one could have predicted what came next -- a totally dominating season in which he led the league in wins (21-5) and complete games (seven) and posted a 2.83 ERA. He was a big reason why his Cards sported the best record in baseball with 100 victories.
Bobby Cox Again Named Top Skipper
Under Bobby Cox in 2005, the Braves continued their sensational string of division titles -- 14 in a row, including six 100-win seasons. As a result of his 2005 success, Cox was chosen Manager of the Year for the fourth time (three with the Braves, once with the Blue Jays). He won Sporting News Manager of the Year honors for a record eighth time.
Pinstriped Alex Rodriguez Slugs Way to MVP
Alex Rodriguez, baseball's highest-paid player, lit up the lights as a New York Yankee in 2005, winning his second Most Valuable Player Award. His 48 homers not only led the league, but they were the most ever by a Yankee right-handed hitter. The 47 he hit while playing third base set a league record, too. He also topped all ALers in runs (124) and slugging (.610).
Glory and Shame for Rafael Palmeiro
Rafael Palmeiro becomes the fourth player in history to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Two weeks later, he was suspended for ten days for testing positive for the steroid stanozolol. When he returned, he had to wear earplugs to drown out the boos he heard. Many questioned his chances for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
Jimmy Rollins Hits in 36 Straight
With a ninth-inning double against the Giants' Brian Cooper on August 23, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins took off on a batting streak that continued through the last game of the season. He hit in 36 straight games, plus two more to begin the 2006 season. The 38-game skein was the ninth longest in history. Rollins finished 2005 with a modest .290 average, although he did rank third in the league with 196 hits.
Check out more headlines from the 2005 baseball season on the next page.
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