Monday, October 10, 2011
The BBA Ballot: Awarding the Year's Best in Baseball
By Ian Hunter
As a quick aside, why is BBWAA the acronym for the Baseball Writers' Association of America? Shouldn't it just be BWAA? Since when did baseball become two separate words like "base ball"?
Anyway, the winners of these awards won't be announced until mid-November, but in the meantime the Baseball Bloggers Alliance is collecting ballots for their own end of season awards which will be announced in the coming weeks.
The following is my ballot for the BBA's end of season awards:
Connie Mack Award (Top Manager)
3.) Jim Leyland
2.) Ron Washington
1.) Joe Maddon
I don't know whether it was his hipster glasses, his quasi-silver fox mullet, or his affinity for having the team dress up on road trips, but there's something about Joe Maddon that's very likable as a manager. And luckily he has a great track record too.
Even if the Rays didn't squeak into the playoffs at the last possible second, I likely would've voted for Joe Maddon anyway just because he managed to squeeze every single ounce of productiveness out of his 25-man roster.
Willie Mayes Award (Top Rookie)
3.) Eric Hosmer
2.) Jeremy Hellickson
1.) Mark Trumbo
It seems like for the past few years, it's been a newly-crowned closer that has taken the Rookie of the Year honours. While closing is a high-pressure environment, it must pale in comparison to the daily grind of playing a position day-in and day-out.
This year's cast of rookies was very impressive, including a couple of late-season additions in Brett Lawrie and Desmond Jennings. But ultimately, I think the best freshman in the American League this season was Mark Trumbo.
With the absence of Kendrys Morales, Trumbo stepped in and became the everyday first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels. He also settled in nicely as the Angels number five hitter and picked up the slack left by Vernon Wells in the lineup.
Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)
3.) Jonathan Papelbon
2.) David Robertson
1.) Mariano Rivera
As much as it pains me to write down the names of a couple of Yankees and a member of the Boston Red Sox, I have to tip my cap to Rivera, Robertson and Papelbon. They all pitch on two of the brightest stages in all of baseball, and to put together seasons like they all did is pretty incredible.
Once again though, it's the Sandman that takes the top spot among relievers in the American League. Coupled together with David Robertson, Mariano Rivera and Robertson were among one of the best 1-2 bullpen punches in all of baseball.
Walter Johnson Award (Top Starting Pitcher)
5.) Jered Weaver
4.) Dan Haren
3.) James Shields
2.) CC Sabathia
1.) Justin Verlander
I can't imagine Justin Verlander wouldn't win the American League Cy Young Award by a landside, but for a pitcher being touted as the best in the league (and possibly even MVP as well), he certainly wasn't far and away the best pitcher in the league.
CC Sabathia very quietly put together another CC-esque season with the Yankees, but all the "Verlander for MVP" talk overshadowed Sabathia's equally impressive 2011 campaign. In the end, I'm awarding my first place vote to Justin Verlander ... but not by much.
Stan Musial Award (Top Player)
10.) Ben Zobrist
9.) Alex Gordon
8.) Ian Kinsler
7.) Adrian Gonzalez
6.) Evan Longoria
5.) Dustin Pedroia
4.) Curtis Granderson
3.) Miguel Cabrera
2.) Jacoby Ellsbury
1.) Jose Bautista
If you read my final plea for Jose Bautista as AL MVP (and not Justin Verlander, Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson), then this ballot should come as no surprise. Call me a homer, but I believe Jose Bautista was the MVP.
History has shown these past few years that most voters are hip to Sabermetrics and don't judge a player's season by your traditional triple crown statistics. The past two AL Cy Young Award votes clearly demonstrate a movement away from the conventional measures of a player's worth.
Nobody deserves to benefit more from this movement than Jose Bautista. He led the league in home runs (43), slugging percentage (.608), and finished a mere hair behind Miguel Cabrera for the highest on base percentage (.447).
Forget that prerequisite that some people say the MVP most come from a playoff-bound team, forget momentum from the second half, forget whether certain players come from New York or Boston.
The best player in the league is the best player in the league bar none; there should be no outside factors swaying votes or determining who finishes where in the voting. All those outside factors cast aside, Jose Bautista should be the best player in the American League in 2011.