For the second consecutive year (feels a bit strange that this blog has survived two seasons now), the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has asked members to submit a ballot for the annual BBA Awards. Just like last season, there are five awards up for grabs – one each for top rookie, manager, reliever, pitcher, and player. While some of the award winners should be dead obvious (hello Mr. Verlander), I’m sure there will be a lot of debate for others.
So without further ado, I present to you the 500 Level Fan BBA Award Ballot!
Connie Mack Award – Top Manager
1. Joe Maddon – Tampa Bay Rays
On September 3rd, Tampa Bay trailed Boston by 9 games for the AL Wild Card, and were seemingly playing out the string. But Maddon never lost faith in his troops, and guided them to a 17-8 finish including an incredible season finale to steal the Wild Card. Some could point that Boston’s collapse had more to do with it, but Tampa went 6-1 against the Red Sox in September – they were good. The fact that they were even in contention after losing Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano, Randy Choate, and Joaquin Benoit in the offseason is a huge credit to Maddon.
2. Jim Leyland – Detroit Tigers
Delivered a division title despite early season off-field distractions caused by Miguel Cabrera.
3. Manny Acta – Cleveland Indians
Cleveland was supposed to be terrible, but lead the Central for much of the season and were in the race until September.
1. Kirk Gibson – Arizona Diamondbacks
From 65 wins and a last place finish in 2010 to 94 wins and a division title in 2011, Gibson oversaw one of baseball’s great turnarounds. While many questioned the decision to hire him in the first place, he proved adept at handling the bullpen (Arizona’s pen was vastly improved), and seemed to push the right buttons with chronic underperformer Justin Upton.
2. Ron Roenicke – Milwaukee Brewers
He was under a lot of pressure as a rookie manager to win this year, and he did.
3. Charlie Manuel – Philadelphia Phillies
Sure he had a fantastic team built for him, but to win 102 games is an achievement regardless of the quality of personnel.
Willie Mays Award – Top Rookie
1. Eric Hosmer – Kansas City Royals
Made his debut on May 6th with a lot of hype and pressure (“the saviour of the Royals”), but Hosmer delivered. Of all AL rookies to appear in 100 games, he was 1st in OPS (.799), 2nd in slugging (.465), 1st in average (.297), 3rd in HR (19), and T2nd in RBI (78). He even threw 11 SB into the mix for good measure. Things are looking up in KC.
2. Ivan Nova – New York Yankees
Blossomed into a quality number 2 starter for the Yanks (16-4, 3.70 ERA, 98 K).
3. Mark Trumbo – LA Angels
29 HR and a .768 OPS for the first baseman helped the Angels contend despite terrible seasons from many veterans.
1. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
Set a rookie record (and tied for the NL lead) with 46 saves, Kimbrel was lights out in the Atlanta bullpen this year. In 77 IP he allowed only 18 earned runs, and only 48 hits for a miniscule 2.10 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Even more impressive was his ridiculous 127 strikeouts, a nonsensical 14.8 K/9 and 3.97 K/BB.
2. Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves
Overcame a slow start to finish with outstanding numbers: .282 average, .795 OPS, 21 HR, 32 2B.
3. Vance Worley – Philadelphia Phillies
Came from seemingly nowhere to replace the injured Joe Blanton and Roy Oswalt and ended up 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA and 119 K’s.
Goose Gossage Award – Top Reliever
1. Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees
Will this guy ever slow down? At 41 years of age Mo had one of his best seasons for the Yankees, finishing with 44 saves. For the 8th time in 9 years his ERA was below 2.00 (1.91) and his WHIP was well below 1.00 for the fourth straight season (0.897). The old man still has pinpoint control, evidenced by him surrending a mere eight (EIGHT!!!) walks in 61.1 IP. The best of all time.
2. Jose Valverde – Detroit Tigers
Was perfect in leading the AL in saves (49 for 49), but his peripheral stats were just a bit worse than Rivera’s.
3. Jordan Walden – LA Angels
Great season for the rookie who took over the closer’s role in early April: 32 saves, 2.98 ERA, 67 K.
1. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
Similar numbers to the man I placed second, but you can’t ignore that strikeout rate (127 in 77 IP) or the opponents batting average (.178). A dominant season.
2. John Axford – Milwaukee Brewers
Terrible start for the Canadian (imploded spectacularly on Opening Day), but he rebounded to tie Kimbrel with 46 saves, and posted a 1.95 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.
3. J.J. Putz – Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona had the worst bullpen in the majors in 2010, but Putz anchored an impressive turnaround in ’11, finishing with 45 saves, a 2.17 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP.
Walter Johnson Award – Top Pitcher
1. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
Probably the easiest choice of any award, maybe even ever. Verlander was unbelievably dominant in 2011, winning the AL pitching triple crown (24 wins, 2.40 ERA, 250 K). Though wins have become a fairly meaningless stat in recent times, his 24-5 record is still impressive, no matter the circumstances. Throw in the fact that he was the only AL starter with a sub-1.00 WHIP (0.92) and also lead (by a mile) in opponents batting average (.192), and it’s a no-brainer. Oh…did I mention he also threw a no-hitter?
2. Jered Weaver – LA Angels
His 18-8 record, 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 198 K’s would have been Cy Young worthy in any other year except this one.
3. James Shields – Tampa Bay Rays
A huge bounce back season for “Big Game James”. He lead the league with 11 complete games and 4 shutouts.
4. CC Sabathia – New York Yankees
While not quite as dominant as the top-3, Sabathia went 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA and 230 K’s to anchor a Yankee rotation that was in disarray all season long.
5. Ricky Romero – Toronto Blue Jays
Yes he may still walk a few too many batters (80 in ’11), but Romero’s 2.92 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in the tough AL East proves he has taken the next step towards “ace-hood”.
1. Roy Halladay – Philadelphia Phillies
He didn’t have to be as dominant this year, what with Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt to help carry the load, but Halladay went out and dominated anyways. His 2.35 ERA was a career best, and he lead the NL in complete games (8), BB/9 (1.3) and K/BB (6.29). Throw in a 19-6 record, 220 K, a 1.04 WHIP, and his 6th straight season with at least 220 IP, and you have the best pitcher in the game.
2. Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers
Kershaw did win the NL Triple Crown (21 wins, 2.28 ERA, 248 K), and his 0.98 WHIP and .207 opponents average were both better than Halladay. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that 27% of his starts came against the NL’s two worst offenses (San Francisco and San Diego).
3. Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies
A career high 238 strikeouts to complement a 2.40 ERA and 1.03 WHIP makes him – by far – the best #2 starter in the game.
4. Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies
And how about the best #3 starter? 14-9, 2.73 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 194 strikeouts – not too shabby.
5. Ian Kennedy – Arizona Diamondbacks
Blossomed into a staff ace in the desert, finishing with 21 wins and a 2.88 ERA, and likely making the Yankees regret trading him away.
Stan Musial Award – Top Player
1. Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays
The Stan Musial award, by definition, goes to the top player in each league – not the most valuable, which should go a long way in eliminating silly biases towards playoff and non-playoff teams. With the vagueness around the word valuable removed, there is really only one player who can possibly win this award – Jose Bautista. Called a fluke after his 54-HR breakout campaign in 2010, Bautista had an even better season in 2011. His HR total decreased by 11, but his other numbers increased dramatically, most noticeably his average (up from .260 to .302). Bautista lead the league in HR, walks (132), slugging (.608), OPS (1.056), and intentional walks (24), and was second in OBP (.447). He also played capable defense at two different positions, and was the hands down, undisputed leader of the Jays clubhouse. The slam dunk winner.
2. Jacoby Ellsbury – Boston Red Sox
After a disastrous 2010, he came back with a vengeance, ending up as Boston’s best player. .321 AVG, .928 OPS, 32 HR, 39 SB, and an outstanding defensive centrefielder.
3. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
Shook off some off-field issues in the spring to win the AL batting title and OBP crown, crush a 1.033 OPS and 30 HR, and lead the Tigers to the playoffs.
4. Curtis Granderson – New York Yankees
A breakout season that many expected last year, Granderson smacked 41 HR and lead the AL in runs by a mile. Held back a bit by a low average and a ton of strikeouts.
5. Adrian Gonzalez – Boston Red Sox
Was expected to destroy Fenway Park, and he did, tying for the AL lead in hits and tying for second in average.
6. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
7. Paul Konerko – Chicago White Sox
8. Ian Kinsler – Texas Rangers
9. Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays
10. Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals
1. Matt Kemp – LA Dodgers
A man who has been burdened by intense criticism his entire career, Kemp finally put it all together this year. He was extremely close to winning baseball’s first offensive triple crown since Carl Yastrzemski finishing 3rd in average (.324), 1st in HR (39), and 1st in RBI (126). Kemp also lead the league with 115 runs and 353 total bases, on his way to a .986 OPS and 10.0 WAR. He was an outstanding all around player, shown by his +9 Total Zone rating, and his 40 stolen bases. The fact that he was able to produce while playing in the lunacy that was the LA Dodgers in 2011 gives him a few bonus points.
2. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
The top OPS in the NL (.994), Braun did it all for the Brewers. With 33 SB and 33 HR he was a member of the 30/30 club and he also played above average defense for the first time in his career.
3. Prince Fielder – Milwaukee Brewers
If this really was his last year as a Brewer he went out with a bang – 38 HR, 120 RBI, .981 OPS, and part of the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball.
4. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
The defending NL MVP didn’t make many headlines with the Reds having a terrible season, but he still produced outstanding numbers, leading the NL with a .416 OBP and finishing with 29 HR and 103 RBI.
5. Lance Berkman – St. Louis Cardinals
A much criticized off-season signing, Berkman shut up all the critics by leading the Cardinals to the playoffs in an off year for Pujols, with a stat line of 31 HR, .301 AVG, and .959 OPS.
6. Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies
7. Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals
8. Jose Reyes – New York Mets
9. Roy Halladay – Philadelphia Phillies
10. Mike Stanton – Florida Marlins