Thursday, October 18, 2012

The BBA Ballot: Awarding the AL's Best in Baseball


By
Image courtesy of LA Times
Unfortunately, things are pretty quiet in Blue Jays land this time of year. And once the playoffs are over, that's when the real fun begins in speculating which free agents and targets will go after in the offseason.

Until that time though, I guess the next best thing is to speculate how the awards season will shake down. And since those awards won't be announced until mid-November, here is my 2012 BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance) ballot for the American League Awards.

Connie Mack Award (Top Manager)

3.) Robin Ventura CHW
2.) Bob Melvin OAK
1.) Buck Showalter BAL

For me personally, this is always a tough award to guage. It seems like it should be renamed the "My Team Sucked Last Year, and this Year ... Not So Much" Award, because often times measuring past performance versus the most recent season is the way to go.

Yes, Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin took their respective clubs to the postseason when virtually nobody expected them to. In his maiden voyage as White Sox manager, Robin Ventura nearly made it to the playoffs as well.

I'll fully admit I don't know much about Showalter or Melvin's managerial strategies; all I know is their body of work as a whole in 2012 ... otherwise known as their respective team's records.

Willie Mayes Award (Top Rookie)

3.) Yoenis Cespedes OAK
2.) Yu Darvish TEX
1.) Mike Trout LAA

Is there really any explanation needed here? Mike Trout was head and shoulders the best the rookie in the American League this season ... so good in fact, that he may even be awarded the Most Valuable Player award as well.

Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)

3.) Greg Holland KCR
2.) Jim Johnson BAL
1.) Fernando Rodney TBR

His hat may have been askew all season long, but Fernando Rodney was anything but lopsided as the Rays closer. He blew the door off the competition this season and came out of nowhere to evolve the best reliever in the American League.

As Jeremy at 500 Level Fan noted, Rodney gave up 5 earned runs the entire season. Just 5 earned runs in 74.2 innings pitched during his 2012 campaign. So it was no surprise that Fernando Rodney set the new reliever ERA this year with the Rays.

It really is true to form of the Tampa Bay Rays model when building a bullpen; pick up some scrap heap arms, and transform them into fantastic relievers. Only to rinse and repeat over again next season.

Walter Johnson Award (Top Starting Pitcher)

5.) Chris Sale CHW
4.) Jered Weaver LAA
3.) Felix Hernandez SEA
2.) Justin Verlander DET
1.) David Price TBR


As a Toronto Blue Jays fan, I may have a strong dislike for David Price, but that's only because he manages to carve them up every time he faces them. And this year, he did nearly the exact same thing to every other team around the league.

The most impressive stat that stands out to me about David Price is against teams with better than .500 record, went 13-3 with a 2.27 ERA and held those opponents to a .211 batting average. As a comparison, Justin Verlander's stats against teams above and below .500 were nearly identical.

Stan Musial Award (Top Player)

10.) Prince Fielder DET
9.) Austin Jackson DET
8.) Alex Gordon KCR
7.) Ben Zobrist TBR
6.) Edwin Encarnacion TOR
5.) Josh Hamilton TEX
4.) Robinson Cano NYY
3.) Adrian Beltre TEX
2.) Miguel Cabrera DET
1.) Mike Trout LAA


For me, this was an easy decision; Mike Trout is clearly the Top Player in the American League. What I really like about the BBA Awards is that there's no confusion as to what the award is about.

Since the BBWAA's award is called the "Most Valuable Player", the voting tends to get bogged down with outside factors like the Triple Crown and whether that player's team made the playoffs or not.

Here though, it's very cut and dry. Mike Trout is simply just a better all around player; his rookie campaign was unprecedented and his defense in the outfield is something that saved a lot of runs this season for the Angels.

Statistically speaking, 2012 was actually not even one of Cabrera's best seasons. One could argue that 2011 was actually a slightly better campaign for Miguel Cabrera, but that he garnered much more attention this year due to the Triple Crown chase.

I feel like this award is something much bigger than just Trout vs. Cabrera; it really is drawing a line in the sand between old school of thought and the Sabermetricians. If you vote for Cabrera, you're an old school guy. If you vote for Trout, you're a stats geek.

Michael Smith of ESPN's "Numbers Never Lie" said something very profound on the Blogs with Balls panel about how the MVP vote will likely go down; "people vote for these awards with their heart based on emotion and tradition, not on logic".

The fact that Cabrera accomplished something that hasn't been done in 45 years is truly something special. However, the game has changed so much in the last 45 years. Player values are no longer solely based on batting average, home runs and RBI's.

That's not to say those stats aren't still important, but there is just so much more a "Most Valuable Player" than just those three statistics. Not only should offense be taken into account, but defense and baserunning as well.

Don't get me wrong ... what Miguel Cabrera accomplished in 2012 by capturing the Triple Crown this season was very admirable. But Mike Trout's unprecedented rookie campaign still gets my nod as having the top season in the American League.

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