Seedlings to Stars is dedicated to the minor leagues, prospects and the draft. However, that doesn’t mean we’re prohibited from letting our voice be heard when it comes to the Post-Season Awards voting at the major league level.
This ballot will count toward the results in both FanSided MLB’s post-season awards and also those of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Since Nathaniel is an A’s fan at heart, James follows the Tigers most closely and I split my allegiance between the Twins and the Royals our league of choice for our ballot is naturally the American League.
On the FanSided portion of the voting, each writer is allowed to cast their own ballot so this is just my own personal ballot in that regard. However, on the BBA side of the equation, my ballot is being cast on behalf of not just myself but James and Nathaniel as well. That said, please note that the votes, rankings and logic presented here are mine alone.
Top Manager Award (BBA: Connie Mack Award)
1. Joe Maddon – Tampa Bay Rays
2. John Farrell – Toronto Blue Jays
3. Ron Washington – Texas Rangers
Voting for managerial awards has to be the most subjective process. After all it’s hard to quantify the impact a manager had on their team, and even if you watch games featuring all 30 MLB teams each week, how often do you really think about a manager’s performance in the course of those games?
I don’t think many reasonable folks will take issue with Washington or Maddon being listed on my ballot. Both are easy selections and both are squarely among the best managers in the game whether we’re talking about AL, NL or both. Farrell on the other hand is perhaps a reach on my part, but there is something to be said for his ability to lead the Blue Jays to a 0.500 season in the absolutely loaded AL East.
Reliever of the Year Award (BBA: Goose Gossage Award)
Not a lot of explanation needed here. Papelbon, Rivera and Holland finished 1, 3 and 4 respectively in AL WAR for relief pitchers. I bumped David Robertson (2.8 WAR) from my ballot because I can’t bring myself to vote for a guy who walked almost 5 batters per 9 innings – 4.73 BB.9 to be exact. I also felt that Greg Holland deserved a nod given his rookie status and the role he played in a very young and inexperienced – but very effective – Royals bullpen.
Top Rookie Award (BBA: Willie Mays Award)
1. Eric Hosmer – Kansas City Royals (563 PA, 1.6 WAR, 0.293/.334/.465, 27 2B, 19 HR, 11 SB)
2. Desmond Jennings – Tampa Bay Rays (287 PA, 2.4 WAR, 0.259/.356/.449, 23 XBH, 20 SB)
10 rookies – 5 pitchers and 5 hitters – racked up 2.0 or more WAR in 2011 so there were no shortage of candidates just on that basis alone. In addition to those 10, Jeremy Hellickson (1.4 WAR) is going to bring in his share of votes, but I left him off my ballot due to his weak SO/BB. His 4.44 FIP also makes his 2.95 ERA look a lot less impressive.
Of course you will notice that Hosmer’s WAR is also below 2.0 and yet he takes the top spot on my ballot. The reasoning is rather simple and goes beyond the fact that I am a Royals fan. Hosmer, more than any other rookie this season was thrust into a situation where he had to stabilize a lineup, emerge as a team leader and essentially be a franchise “savior.” He did these things rather flawlessly for a 21-year old and energized the Kansas City fan base like no player has in a very long time. While these things don’t show up in the numbers, I think this context needs to be factored in. His WAR of “just” 1.6 is held back by the positional adjustment as well as the fact that the fielding metrics rate him as substandard. On the latter, this is a case for me where the stats tell me and my eyes are telling me are two entirely different things. Make no mistake, Eric Hosmer is a wonderful defensive 1B.
Pitcher of the Year (BBA: Walter Johnson Award)
2. Jered Weaver – LA Angels (235.2 IP, 5.6 WAR, 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9)
3. C.J. Wilson – Texas Rangers (223.1 IP, 5.9 WAR, 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9 and 8.3 SO/9)
4. C.C. Sabathia – New York Yankees (237.1 IP, 7.1 WAR, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9 and 8.7 SO/9)
5. Brandon McCarthy – Oakland A’s (170.2 IP, 4.7 WAR, 3.32 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 1.3 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9)
When the 2011 season kicked off if you would have told me I’d be putting an A’s starter on my Pitcher of the Year ballot, I would have probably responded, “well duh!” However, I would have never guessed in a million years that McCarthy – and not Cahill, Anderson or Gonzalez – would be that guy. While he’s not in the class of Verlander, Sabathia and others, he’s certainly deserving of some recognition.
Putting together the rest of the list was a breeze. You can make a case for Weaver, Wilson and Sabathia finishing in any order but Verlander outclassed them all and should be a unanimous selection for this award.
Player of the Year (BBA: Stan Musial Award)
1. Jacoby Ellsbury – Boston Red Sox (9.4 WAR, 15.6 Fld, 1.2 Bsr, 83 XBH, 39 SB)
2. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers (see stats above)
3. Dustin Pedroia – Boston Red Sox (8.0 WAR, 17.9 Fld, -0.9 Bsr, 61 XBH, 26 SB)
4. Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays (8.3 WAR, -4.8 Fld, 2.7 Bsr, 69 XBH, 9 SB)
5. Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals (6.9 WAR, 9.6 Fld, 4.5 Bsr, 72 XBH, 17 SB, 20 OF A)
6. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers (7.3 WAR, -3.8 Fld, -2.8 Bsr, 78 XBH, 2 SB)
7. Adrian Gonzalez – Boston Red Sox (6.5 WAR, 10.7 Fld, -8.2 Bsr, 75 XBH, 1 SB)
8. Adrian Beltre – Texas Rangers (5.7 WAR, 11.2 Fld, 1.8 Bsr, 65 XBH, 1 SB)
10. Curtis Granderson – New York Yankees (7.0 WAR, -5.1 Fld, 5.9 Bsr, 77 XBH, 25 SB)
Let’s get the elephant out of the room right off the bat. Miguel Cabrera trailed only Jose Bautista in the AL in both wOBA and wRC+ and there is a significant separation between the two of them and everyone else. They are the two best hitters in the AL right now.
However playing baseball is about more than being just a great hitter. There are other aspects of the game that a player should excel at, or at least be league average/competent in, to be considered the Player of the Year. My vote will always go to the player that had the most complete and will not be based simply on the best offensive performance. Even if I did vote solely on offensive numbers, Bautista – and not Miggy – would have been my selection.
That explains why he’s not in my top few spots and why he’s not ahead of Bautista, but you’re probably wondering how he winds up down at 6th on my ballot. Again we come back to being a complete player and an asset in all phases of the game. Jacoby Ellsbury is such a player with positive marks in fielding and baserunning on top of his superb offensive performance. Cabrera on the other hand is the only player in the AL Top-12 (sorting by WAR) that had a negative in both his fielding and baserunning data. That’s a red flag for me when it comes to my standards.
It probably goes without saying based on the way I ranked guys on my ballot but I will state it anyway. I have never, do not, and will never, believe that a team’s overall win-loss record should play any part in the voting of an individual award. Wins and losses occur as a team. A great player on a crappy team can contribute just as much or more to his teams victories than a great player on a good team. People who vote otherwise are acting in a completely illogical way. That’s the way I see it anyway.