With the World Series set to begin on Wednesday, it is once again time to unveil my picks for baseball’s best. The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has asked members to submit a ballot for the annual BBA Awards, which are a little bit different from the traditional ones. There are five awards up for grabs – one each for top rookie, manager, reliever, pitcher, and player (notice the award is for TOP player, not most VALUABLE player). While some of the awards are brutally obvious (Mr. Kershaw for best pitcher?), the others are very, very tight.
So without further ado, I present to you the 2013 500 Level Fan BBA Award Ballot!
Connie Mack Award – Top Manager
1. Terry Francona – Cleveland Indians
Both Francona and (begrudgingly) John Farrell deserve this award, but I give the nod to Tito. Although Boston finished last in 2012, they had better players in pretty much every position than what Francona inherited with the Indians. Plus fans in Cleveland expect to lose, so the 24-win improvement seems much better than it actually was.
2. John Farrell – Boston Red Sox
Credit where it’s due. After screwing up the Jays for two seasons, Farrell turned around the Red Sox, leading them to an AL best 97 wins. Most pundits, including me, pegged them to finish last.
3. Bob Melvin – Oakland Athletics
Melvin proved that 2012 was no fluke, leading the A’s to another AL West crown with a team stocked with no-names.
1. Clint Hurdle – Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh’s recent history is not only full of losing – it is full of awful losing. Pathetic, terrible teams that routinely became the laughingstock of baseball – until this year. Hurdle guided the Pirates not only to the team’s first winning season in 20 years, but to a playoff spot. This is an easy choice.
2. Don Mattingly – Los Angeles Dodgers
It’s not easy being the man in charge of a team that is expected to contend. After throwing money around in the offseason, the Dodgers were supposed to dominate, but got off to such a terrible start that it looked like Mattingly wouldn’t survive. He stuck to his plan, however, and with a little help from a Cuban named Puig, turned things around in a big way.
3. Mike Matheny – St. Louis Cardinals
First they lost Pujols, then they lost Chris Carpenter. Ho-hum, just another 97 win season and NL Central crown.
Willie Mays Award – Top Rookie
1. Wil Myers – Tampa Bay Rays
Myers finished 3rd out of all AL rookies in average at .293, 2nd in HR with 13, and first (by a mile) in OPS at .831. He also did it all in the thick of a pennant race for the Rays. Not bad for a guy who didn’t even debut until June 18.
2. Jose Iglesias – Boston / Detroit
Dynamite in the field, Iglesias also surprised many by topping the .300 mark, which was a nice added bonus. After a mid-season trade to Detroit, he has the rare ability to claim a role in the success of two playoff teams in 2013.
3. Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays
Made 23 starts for the Rays, and put up a very impressive 1.13 WHIP and 3.22 ERA.
1. Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins
In a very good year for NL rookies, Fernandez was the best of the bunch. In 172.2 IP, Fernandez struck out 187 batters, and put up a 12-6 record, 0.98 WHIP, a 2.19 ERA, and allowed a league low 5.8 hits per 9 innings. And he did it all as a 20 year old playing for the NL’s worst team. Very impressive.
2. Yasiel Puig – Los Angeles Dodgers
If Puig would have played the entire year, he very easily could have won this award. Still, even after spending the first two months in the minors, Puig’s numbers were awesome: .319 AVG, .391 OBP, .925 OPS, 19 HR, 11 SB, 8 outfield assists, and a 5.0 WAR. Also re-ignited the Dodgers playoff drive.
3. Shelby Miller – St. Louis Cardinals
A pitching line of 15-9, 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, and 3.4 WAR might have been good enough for top rookie in any other year but this one.
Goose Gossage Award – Top Reliever
1. Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox
Koji took over as Red Sox closer mid-way through the season, and put up absolutely mind boggling numbers. Overall he pitched 74.1 innings with a 1.09 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 101 strikeouts, 12.2 K/9, and a mind-blowing 11.22 K/BB. He had a stretch from August 21 – September 13 where he retired 36 consecutive hitters. Dominant.
2. Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals
The Royals returned to relevance in 2013, and one of the main reasons for that was their bullpen. Closer Holland was fantastic: 47 saves, 1.21 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 103 K: 18 BB.
3. Joe Nathan – Texas Rangers
At 38 years of age Nathan is showing no signs of slowing down. The Rangers closer finished with 43 saves, and the second best ERA of his career: 1.39.
1. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
Kimbrel takes this award for the third straight year on my ballot after leading the NL in saves for the third year in a row. This year he earned 50 saves to go along with his 1.21 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 98 strikeouts. Simply put, he is the best closer in baseball.
2. Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
Jansen struck out a ridiculous 111 batters in only 76.2 IP. He might be developing into the best closer not named Kimbrel.
3. Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
The Reds made the decision to keep Chapman in the bullpen to begin the year, and once again he rewarded them with a fantastic season, earning an All-Star appearance for the second straight year.
Walter Johnson Award – Top Pitcher
1. Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers
For the third straight year this award goes to a member of the Detroit Tigers, though this time his name isn’t Verlander. After years of coming close, Scherzer finally put it all together in 2013 and put up one of the best seasons by a pitcher in recent memory. He topped the AL in wins (21), OPS against (.583), and WHIP (0.97), and finished in the top-5 in WAR (6.7), ERA (2.90), H/9 (6.4), K/9 (10.1), IP (214.1), and strikeouts (240).
2. Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers
Led the league with 277 strikeouts and allowed only a .194 average and .611 OPS against. His 2.83 ERA and 1.07 WHIP were also at the top of the leaderboards.
3. Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox
This should tell you all you need to know about the White Sox offense in 2013: despite finishing second in the AL with a 6.9 WAR, and putting up a 3.07 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and a 9.49 K/9 ratio, Sale had a losing record of 11-14. Just brutal.
4. Hisashi Iwakuma – Seattle Mariners
Put your hand up if you predicted the best starter on the Mariners this year would not be King Felix. In his second season in the majors, Iwakuma eclipsed the 200 IP mark, and put up an ERA of 2.66 and a WHIP of 1.01.
5. Anibal Sanchez – Detroit Tigers
Debunked the myth of NL pitchers struggling in the AL. In his first full season in the American League Sanchez won the ERA title.
1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
The easiest award of the bunch. Topped the NL in WAR (7.9), ERA (1.83), WHIP (0.92), and Strikeouts (232). His ERA+ 194 of was the highest in the National League since 2005. He might have played in a weak division, but the numbers are just too good to ignore. He wins in a landslide.
2. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
After missing the entire 2011 season, Wainwright proved that he is indeed fully back. Led the league with 241.2 IP, 5 complete games, 2 shutouts, 19 wins, and 956 batters faced.
3. Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies
Even playing meaningless games for a losing team, Lee still gets it done. Led the league in BB/9 (1.29), and put up a 2.87 ERA and 1.01 WHIP on the way to a 7.3 WAR.
4. Matt Harvey – New York Mets
A 2.27 ERA and a 5.2 WAR for the Mets youngster until he hurt his arm. Sadly, Tommy John will rob him of his 2014 season, but expect to see him back on this list in 2015.
5. Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins
I think you can expect him to be on this list for many years to come.
Stan Musial Award – Top Player
1. Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels
The main reason why I like the Baseball Bloggers Alliance awards, is because this award is for the top player, not the most valuable. There is no need to argue what the term “valuable” means, no need to give bonus points based on making the playoffs. No – this is to straight up recognize the best player in the league. And this year, that is an obvious choice. Mike Trout led the league with a 9.2 WAR, and a ridiculous 10.1 offensive WAR. He was 3rd in average (.323), 2nd in OBP (.432), 3rd in OPS (.988), 1st in runs (109), 7th in doubles (39), 2nd in triples (9), 1st in walks (110), and 8th in stolen bases (33). In short, he produced an unbelievable season in 2012, and somehow got better in 2013.
2. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
If not for a September injury to his abdominal area, Cabrera might have won back-to-back Triple Crowns. As it is, he won the AL batting crown with a .348 average, and finished second in both HR and RBI. He remains the most feared hitter in the game.
3. Josh Donaldson – Oakland Athletics
A 27-year old with 306 career AB coming into this season, it’s safe to say that Donaldson came out of nowhere. With 24 HR, 93 RBI, .883 OPS, 8.0 WAR, and a +12 defensive runs saved metric, Donaldson was the main reason the A’s defended their AL West title.
4. Chris Davis – Baltimore Orioles
Speaking of coming out of nowhere. Davis always had the power but finally was able to put it all together in 2013, leading all of baseball with 53 HR and 138 RBI.
5. Robinson Cano – New York Yankees
When 27 HR, 107 RBI, and an .899 OPS might be considered your worst offensive season in five years, you know you are good. Cano is set to become a very, very rich man.
6. Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays
7. Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles
8. Edwin Encarnacion – Toronto Blue Jays
9. Dustin Pedroia – Boston Red Sox
10. David Ortiz – Boston Red Sox
1. Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates
He didn’t lead the league in any offensive categories, but had the best all around offensive season in the National League. With a slash line of .317 / .404 / .508 / .911, to go along with 21 HR, 84 RBI, 27 SB, outstanding defense, and an 8.2 WAR, McCutchen was the key reason the Pirates made the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
2. Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks
Tied for the NL lead in HR, and topped the league in RBI and OPS. Goldschmidt was a force for the D-Backs in 2013.
3. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
Votto led the NL in OBP for the fourth consecutive year, and also put up a .926 OPS despite having a “down year” with only 24 HR. Many complained about his low RBI total, but the fact that he managed 73 RBI while hitting behind players who rarely reached base is very impressive.
4. Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves
Atlanta’s 1B came into his own in 2013, hitting 23 HR, driving in 109 runs, and putting up a WAR of 5.4.
5. Michael Cuddyer – Colorado Rockies
In his second year in the NL, Cuddyer exploded, winning the batting title with a .331 average, and putting up 20 HR and a career best .919 OPS.
6. Carlos Gomez – Milwaukee Brewers
7. Jayson Werth – Washington Nationals
8. Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals
9. Andrelton Simmons – Atlanta Braves
10. Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies