Category Archives: Awards

Hall of Fame Announcement Reactions


Well, after all the posturing and writing about the ballots of the Hall of Fame, the BBWAA released their tallies this morning, and there really weren’t any surprises here. Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were both elected to the Hall this year, and will join Pat Gillick in the class of 2011. Below is the vote total, and how I voted on my BBA ballot:

Roberto Alomar 523 90.0% YES
Bert Blyleven 463 79.7% YES
Barry Larkin 361 62.1% YES
Jack Morris 311 53.5% NO
Lee Smith 263 45.3% NO
Jeff Bagwell 242 41.7% YES
Tim Raines 218 37.5% YES
Edgar Martinez 191 32.9% YES
Alan Trammell 141 24.3% YES
Larry Walker 118 20.3% YES
Mark McGwire 115 19.8% YES
Fred McGriff 104 17.9% YES
Dave Parker 89 15.3% NO
Don Mattingly 79 13.6% NO
Dale Murphy 73 12.6% YES
Rafael Palmeiro 64 11.0% YES
Juan Gonzalez 30 5.2% NO
Harold Baines 28 4.8% NO
John Franco 27 4.6% NO
Kevin Brown 12 2.1% NO

 

Analysis

I find it extremely interesting the year-over-year change for some of these players. Alomar was placed on 133 more ballots this year than last, which resulted in a jump of almost 17% of the total. What did the voters see this year that was missed by so many of them last year? While I think that there are a few among that group who refused to put him on the ballot on his first year because of that reason, that seems unlikely that even a majority of that group did that.

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Season Awards Review


As the final of the major BBWAA awards has been given out yesterday, I thought I’d take a look and see how my own votes compared to the actual awards. I calculated it based on the standard voting points, according to the information in the table below.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
MVP 14 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Cy Young 7 4 3 2 1          
ROY 5 3 1              
Mgr 5 3 1              

Each player that I got exactly right I gave myself the point total. If they were on my ballot and within the number of spots on my ballot (so top 10 for MVP, top 5 for Cy Young, etc.), but not in the right spot, I gave myself a point. So, the maximum score was 94 points per league for a total of 188. While I still believe my votes were the way to go for me, I am curious how close I am to the BBWAA membership. I also have included how these compare to the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance voting as well. With that, here’s my total, and how I got there:

American League:  56 out of 94 points (BBWAA), 70 out of 94 points (BBA)

 National League: 68 out of 94 points (BBWAA), 80 out of 94 points (BBA)

I am pleased that I ended up having my picks for the awards match all of the BBA’s award winners, and having 7 of my 8 choices match the BBWAA as well. I do find it interesting to see how I viewed places 2 through 10 for the MVPs and 2 through 5 for the Cy Young awards. Makes me wonder if my writings about fantasy have slightly biased myself, as players who were fantasy monsters seem to have been a little higher up on my ballot for MVP and Cy Young than the BBWAA would incline to put them.  It’s an interesting exercise if nothing else.

Overall, I am pretty happy with how the awards turned out. I find it extremely interesting just how much of an argument the victory of Felix Hernandez is causing. Clearly, it was a bit different having a pitcher who only won 13 games win the Cy Young or the Walter Johnson awards, but there seems to be a bit of a revolt out there about whether or not this is a victory for statheads. To me, the whole thing seems comical. The only one of the “old” statistics that Hernandez did not excel in was wins. But he finished first in ERA and innings pitched, second in WHIP and strikeouts. I’m honestly not sure what all the chatter is about.

What’s Next

As the offseason goes into full swing, there are 3 groups of topics I have planned to discuss over the months until pitchers and catchers report again.

  • Hall of Fame Ballot Reviews – Last year I reviewed the cases for selected Hall of Fame candidates, and I will do it again this year. For players I have already reviewed, I will be taking another look at the candidate, and seeing if my decision has changed since last season. I would hope there aren’t too many of those, but it’s always possible.
  • Prospect Reviews – At the start of the calendar year I reviewed a top prospect from each organization, and will be doing this again starting in 2011. I am looking for suggestions for prospects for certain organizations, so feel free to comment with names you want to see.
  • Transaction Reviews – As trades and free agent signings occur, I will be taking a look at some of the major ones to see what can be gleaned about them from what’s being written.

The NL Stan Musial Award


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Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Previously I have announced my votes for the Connie Mack awards (Best Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays awards (Top Rookie), the Goose Gossage awards (Top Reliever), and the Walter Johnson awards (Top Pitcher). Only one set of awards left to give out, and it’s the big one: The Stan Musial award, given to each league’s most valuable player.

Every season there seems to be a real debate as to what should be considered for the league’s most valuable player. It’s become pretty clear that there is (or at least should be) a difference between who is the best player and who was the most valuable to his team this season. Well, here’s my criteria (at least how I see it anyway):

Value to their Team

It becomes extremely hard for me to argue that a player who has a great season on a team with a lot of great players is more valuable than a player who has a great season on a team that doesn’t have a lot of good players on it. When I look at it, I start looking at how the team would perform without the player. If the player I am looking at were to miss extended time, would their team be able to easily replace what he does, or would they struggle until he returned to form?

The Complete Player

It becomes extremely important in my opinion, that for a player to be the most valuable player, they have to provide at least some value on both sides of the game. Clearly, there is value to a player who plays excellent defense in addition to a player who hits extremely well. To me, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a player needs to steal a lot of bases and hit a lot of home runs on the offensive side, but they should clearly be pretty close to elite for what they do. And in terms of players who are primarily designated hitters, to me they have to be far and away the most obvious candidate for them to get a lot of votes. While it is a position in the game, I think that it is important to find a way to offset the value they are not providing in the field.

Pitchers

I tend to view pitchers the same way as designated hitters in terms of the most valuable player. They would need to be unbelievably dominant to move ahead of top level position players.

The Big Stats

At this point, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore what the statistics tell us overall. It becomes hard to argue that there isn’t a judgment to be made when looking at value with regard to home runs, stolen bases, runs scored, runs batted in, and batting average, among many others. That said, it is something I look at, but it doesn’t become a spot where I just make a judgment based entirely on the statistics.

With all that (phew!), here’s my top candidates for the NL Stan Musial award. Players are listed from east to west, and my vote will be at the bottom. For this award, it’s a 10 person ballot. Also, when you’re talking about the best of anything, it invariably ends up a bit nit-picky when it comes to differentiating candidates. Everyone on this list had a great season, and it just comes down to trying to determine small ways in which one was better than the rest. There’s not a whole lot to say about each player as a result, and so instead here are the statistics that I looked at for each player, and then I’ll go into my logic for my decision.

Continue reading

The AL Stan Musial Award


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Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Previously I have announced my votes for the Connie Mack awards (Best Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays awards (Top Rookie), the Goose Gossage awards (Top Reliever), and the Walter Johnson awards (Top Pitcher). Only one set of awards left to give out, and it’s the big one: The Stan Musial award, given to each league’s most valuable player.

Every season there seems to be a real debate as to what should be considered for the league’s most valuable player. It’s become pretty clear that there is (or at least should be) a difference between who is the best player and who was the most valuable to his team this season. Well, here’s my criteria (at least how I see it anyway):

Value to their Team

It becomes extremely hard for me to argue that a player who has a great season on a team with a lot of great players is more valuable than a player who has a great season on a team that doesn’t have a lot of good players on it. When I look at it, I start looking at how the team would perform without the player. If the player I am looking at were to miss extended time, would their team be able to easily replace what he does, or would they struggle until he returned to form?

The Complete Player

It becomes extremely important in my opinion, that for a player to be the most valuable player, they have to provide at least some value on both sides of the game. Clearly, there is value to a player who plays excellent defense in addition to a player who hits extremely well. To me, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a player needs to steal a lot of bases and hit a lot of home runs on the offensive side, but they should clearly be pretty close to elite for what they do. And in terms of players who are primarily designated hitters, to me they have to be far and away the most obvious candidate for them to get a lot of votes. While it is a position in the game, I think that it is important to find a way to offset the value they are not providing in the field.

Pitchers

I tend to view pitchers the same way as designated hitters in terms of the most valuable player. They would need to be unbelievably dominant to move ahead of top level position players.

The Big Stats

At this point, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore what the statistics tell us overall. It becomes hard to argue that there isn’t a judgment to be made when looking at value with regard to home runs, stolen bases, runs scored, runs batted in, and batting average, among many others. That said, it is something I look at, but it doesn’t become a spot where I just make a judgment based entirely on the statistics.

With all that (phew!), here’s my top candidates for the AL Stan Musial award. Players are listed from east to west, and my vote will be at the bottom. For this award, it’s a 10 person ballot. Also, when you’re talking about the best of anything, it invariably ends up a bit nit-picky when it comes to differentiating candidates. Everyone on this list had a great season, and it just comes down to trying to determine small ways in which one was better than the rest. There’s not a whole lot to say about each player as a result, and so instead here are the statistics that I looked at for each player, and then I’ll go into my logic for my decision.

Continue reading

The NL Walter Johnson Award


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Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Previously I have announced my votes for the Connie Mack awards (Best Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays awards (Top Rookie), and the Goose Gossage awards (Top Reliever). Now we’re starting to get down to the big boys, as I take a look at my vote for the National League’s top pitcher, the Walter Johnson award recipient.

As good as the pitching was in the American League, the sheer quantity and quality of the candidates in the National League may be even better. So many excellent season out of the league’s top pitchers lead me to believe that there had definitely been a shift of the balance towards pitchers in the National League.  Before going into the candidates themselves, let’s go over a bit of what I think the top pitcher should represent:

Wins, Losses, and Run Support

The top pitcher doesn’t necessarily need to lead the league in wins, as they are pretty clearly not a great indicator of how a pitcher actually fared. That said, they aren’t worthless either, and I think that it’s important to acknowledge that the goal of the game is to win. But with the shift to specialists out of the bullpen, I think that a pitcher has less control than he has ever had over wins. While we as baseball analysts try to find a way to establish what a pitcher is truly responsible for and what he is not, it is impossible to ignore that run support given to a pitcher also plays a key piece of wins. A pitcher could throw a perfect game, but if the team doesn’t score any runs for him in the game, he won’t necessarily still earn himself a win.

ERA, WHIP, FIP, SIERA, and WAR

I’ve discussed before why ERA is a deceiving statistic, and I think it will definitely show itself to be true as we review the cases for the top pitchers. But coupled with advanced statistics like FIP, SIERA, and WAR, I think we start to get an idea of whether or not a pitcher was truly dominant, a bit lucky, or somewhere in between. They provide value to look at, but can’t be the end all of statistics to look at. WHIP falls a bit in the same category for me as well.

Strikeouts, Walks, and Innings Pitched

Strikeouts and walks are really two of the few things that a pitcher can really exert control over. More strikeouts generally are a good thing, and less walks are always a good thing. They are also taken into the picture by me and are given weight along with the other statistics. Innings pitched to me represent not only the trust that the manager of their team places in their ability to get out of jams, but also their ability to get outs.

Intangibles

There’s always a little bit of the human element to pitching, and I think it’s important to look at some of the things that aren’t necessarily measurable. These can include, but are definitely not limited to: whether the pitcher is in the playoff race, what kind of stories are occurring around the team, and even the role that the pitcher is being asked to fill.

With all that (phew!), here’s my top candidates for the NL Walter Johnson award. Players are listed from east to west, and my vote will be at the bottom. For this award, it’s a 5 person ballot. Also, when you’re talking about the best of anything, it invariably ends up a bit nit-picky when it comes to differentiating candidates. Everyone on this list had a great season, and it just comes down to trying to determine small ways in which one was better than the rest. There’s not a whole lot to say about each player as a result, and so instead here are the statistics that I looked at for each player, and then I’ll go into my logic for my decision.

Continue reading

The AL Walter Johnson Award


Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Previously I have announced my votes for the Connie Mack awards (Best Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays awards (Top Rookie), and the Goose Gossage awards (Top Reliever). Now we’re starting to get down to the big boys, as I take a look at my vote for the American League’s top pitcher, the Walter Johnson award recipient.

2010 was definitely a season for top tier pitching, and the American League definitely had its’ share of excellent pitchers. The hard part for me is that there is no clear cut pitcher who is head and shoulders above the rest of his counterparts. Before going into the candidates themselves, let’s go over a bit of what I think the top pitcher should represent:

Wins, Losses, and Run Support

The top pitcher doesn’t necessarily need to lead the league in wins, as they are pretty clearly not a great indicator of how a pitcher actually fared. That said, they aren’t worthless either, and I think that it’s important to acknowledge that the goal of the game is to win. But with the shift to specialists out of the bullpen, I think that a pitcher has less control than he has ever had over wins. While we as baseball analysts try to find a way to establish what a pitcher is truly responsible for and what he is not, it is impossible to ignore that run support given to a pitcher also plays a key piece of wins. A pitcher could throw a perfect game, but if the team doesn’t score any runs for him in the game, he won’t necessarily still earn himself a win.

ERA, WHIP, FIP, SIERA, and WAR

I’ve discussed before why ERA is a deceiving statistic, and I think it will definitely show itself to be true as we review the cases for the top pitchers. But coupled with advanced statistics like FIP, SIERA, and WAR, I think we start to get an idea of whether or not a pitcher was truly dominant, a bit lucky, or somewhere in between. They provide value to look at, but can’t be the end all of statistics to look at. WHIP falls a bit in the same category for me as well.

Strikeouts, Walks, and Innings Pitched

Strikeouts and walks are really two of the few things that a pitcher can really exert control over. More strikeouts generally are a good thing, and less walks are always a good thing. They are also taken into the picture by me and are given weight along with the other statistics. Innings pitched to me represent not only the trust that the manager of their team places in their ability to get out of jams, but also their ability to get outs.

Intangibles

There’s always a little bit of the human element to pitching, and I think it’s important to look at some of the things that aren’t necessarily measurable. These can include, but are definitely not limited to: whether the pitcher is in the playoff race, what kind of stories are occurring around the team, and even the role that the pitcher is being asked to fill.

With all that (phew!), here’s my top candidates for the AL Walter Johnson award. Players are listed from east to west, and my vote will be at the bottom. For this award, it’s a 5 person ballot. Also, when you’re talking about the best of anything, it invariably ends up a bit nit-picky when it comes to differentiating candidates. Everyone on this list had a great season, and it just comes down to trying to determine small ways in which one was better than the rest. There’s not a whole lot to say about each player as a result, and so instead here are the statistics that I looked at for each player, and then I’ll go into my logic for my decision.

Name Team W-L ERA WHIP K BB IP SIERA FIP WAR
Jon Lester BOS 19-9 3.25 1.20 225 83 208 3.20 3.13 5.6
C.C. Sabathia NYY 21-7 3.18 1.19 197 74 237 2/3 3.75 3.54 5.1
David Price TAM 19-6 2.72 1.19 188 79 208 2/3 3.82 3.42 4.3
Justin Verlander DET 18-9 3.37 1.16 219 71 224 2/3 3.43 2.97 6.3
Francisco Liriano MIN 14-10 3.62 1.26 201 58 191 2/3 3.02 2.66 6.0
Cliff Lee SEA/TEX 12-9 3.18 1.00 185 18 212 1/3 3.03 3.06 7.0
Trevor Cahill OAK 18-8 2.97 1.11 118 63 196 2/3 4.16 4.19 2.2
Jered Weaver LAA 13-12 3.01 1.07 233 54 224 1/3 2.97 3.06 5.9
Felix Hernandez SEA 13-12 2.27 1.06 232 70 249 2/3 3.19 3.04 6.2

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The NL Goose Gossage Award


Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Last week I posted my votes for the AL and NL Connie Mack awards, given to our managers of the year, and I wrote earlier in the week about the AL and NL Willie Mays awards, given to our top rookies in each league. Today’s vote is for the National League Goose Gossage Award, given to the top reliever in the past season.

The inherent nature of an award given to the best reliever implies automatically that it should be given to the best closer in the league for the past season. As a general rule, it makes sense on some level that the pitcher who has the most success at the end of the game is going to be the one who had the best season, but I actually considered some pitchers who weren’t necessarily closing games. As usual, these are in order from east to west, and I will have my vote at the bottom.

Tyler Clippard (WAS)

It was pretty clear coming into the season that the Nationals were going to need some good performances out of their bullpen with the lack of starting pitching depth out of Spring Training, and Clippard established himself as the jack-of-all-trades for the team. He finished the year with 11 wins, 1 save, 23 holds, a 3.07 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 112 strikeouts in 91 1/3 innings pitched. I included him because he honestly reminded me the most of how Gossage was used when he was pitching: any inning, any situation, as long as was needed.

Billy Wagner (ATL)

Wagner finished the season with 37 saves, a 1.43 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 7 relief wins for the Braves, and they clearly needed this performance at the back end of their bullpen. Wagner is retiring after the season, and he’ll definitely be missed by the team. 

Carlos Marmol (CHC)

Marmol finished the season finished 4th in saves with 38, an interesting accomplishment considering that the Cubs didn’t seem to be in enough games for him to record that number of saves. The more interesting number from Marmol has to be 138: the number of strikeouts he recorded this season out of the bullpen. This number was good enough for 34th among ALL pitchers in the National League, not just relievers. A 2.55 ERA and 1.18 WHIP don’t necessarily tell the whole story, as the games where he struggled seemed to be spectacularly bad, but definitely one of the more dominant seasons in recent memory.

John Axford (MIL)

I wrote about Axford in my NL Willie Mays award article, but the numbers really speak well of Axford. He was called on to fill in for the struggling Trevor Hoffman, and did so very well. He finished with 24 saves, a 2.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 76 strikeouts in just 58 2/3 innings. Looks like the Brewers have their closer of the future.

Brian Wilson (SF)

Wilson led the National League in saves (48), posted a 1.81 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, and had 93 strikeouts in his 74 2/3 innings pitched. He posted a career high in K/9 (11.21), and was also 11 for 12 in save opportunities in the month of September.

Hong-Chih Kuo (LAD)

Kuo was called upon later in the season to replace the struggling Jonathan Broxton, and did so extremely well. For the whole season, he had 12 saves, 21 holds, a 1.20 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and 73 strikeouts in 60 innings pitched.

Heath Bell (SD)

Bell was the stable end to the excellent Padres’ bullpen in 2010, finishing 2nd in the league with 47 saves, a 1.93 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, and 86 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings pitched. He also posted a 6-1 record out of the pen as well.

My Vote

  1. Brian Wilson (SF)
  2. Heath Bell (SD)
  3. Billy Wagner (ATL)

I found it extremely interesting how similar Wilson and Bell’s numbers were to each other. Both teams clearly relied on their closers, and both teams would definitely not have been where they were without the performances they received over the span of the season. To me, the difference really ended up being the performance in September as both teams made their push to take the NL West title. Wilson posted a 1.17 ERA and the 11 saves, Bell a 2.51 ERA and 10 saves. The fact that the Giants ended up making the playoffs, and the Padres didn’t, was really the only factor I was able to use to help differentiate the two closers.

Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance Announces Connie Mack Award Winner


I know I posted my specific votes for these awards last week, but I thought I’d mention how the final votes came down.

From the Press Release:

Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers and Bud Black of the San Diego Padres were named winners of the Connie Mack Award by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, noting them as the best managers in their respective leagues for 2010.

Washington, who weathered a drug controversy in spring training, led Texas to their fifth divisional title since 1994 and their first since 1999. While the voting was based on his regular season accomplishments, Washington also guided his team to their first ever postseason series victory when they eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays in five games in the American League Divisional Series.

Washington received ten first place votes in route to accumulating 74 total points. He edged out Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who received 67 points.

In the National League, Black’s guidance of a Padres team almost universally expected to finish last to first place most of the summer helped him edge Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds by the slimmest of margins. The fact that the Padres fell just short of the playoffs while the Reds won the NL Central helped lead to the tight race. Black garnered nine first place selections and 53 total points to Baker’s seven first place nods and 51 total points.

The complete voting results are as follows (first place votes in parenthesis):

American League

Ron Washington, Texas (10) 74
Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota (7) 67
Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay (4) 35
Terry Francona, Boston (3) 20
Cito Gaston, Toronto 9
Buck Showalter, Baltimore 9
Joe Girardi, New York 2

National League

Bud Black, San Diego (9) 53
Dusty Baker, Cincinnati (7) 51
Bobby Cox, Atlanta (2) 33
Bruce Bochy, San Francisco (3) 29
Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia (1) 27
Brad Mills, Houston 3
Mike Quade, Chicago 2

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 224 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.

The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

Chapters generally followed one of two methods when casting their ballot. Either representatives of the chapter were given the ballots for voting or a “group ballot” was posted, accounting for both of their votes.  Ballots are posted on the respective blogs and tabulated on a 5-3-1 point scale for first, second and third.

One of the things that we are trying to do to differentiate ourselves a bit at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance is to be transparent about our voting process, so included below are also links to the votes of each chapter for each award. My votes were counted as a part of the General Baseball Chapter, which was posted to the blog, Blogging from the Bleachers. Any chapter with an asterisk behind their name voted on the “group ballot” mentioned below.

American League
Camden Crazies (Baltimore)*
The Tribe Daily (Cleveland)*
One Royal Way (Kansas City)
Seth Speaks (Minnesota)
Contract Year (Oakland)
Rise of the Rays (Tampa Bay)
500 Level Fan (Toronto)
Misc. Baseball (History)*
National League
Prose and Ivy (Chicago)*
Astros County (Houston)
Feeling Dodger Blue (Los Angeles)
Bernie’s Crew (Milwaukee)*
Brewers Bar (Milwaukee)*
Dugger’s Corner (Philadelphia)
i70 Baseball (St. Louis)
The Outfield Ivy (St. Louis)
Friar Forecast (San Diego)*
Misc. Baseball (History)*
Prior Winners
2009: Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Jim Tracy, Colorado

The AL Goose Gossage Award


Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Last week I posted my votes for the AL and NL Connie Mack awards, given to our managers of the year, and I wrote earlier in the week about the AL and NL Willie Mays awards, given to our top rookies in each league. Today’s vote is for the American League Goose Gossage Award, given to the top reliever in the past season.

The inherent nature of an award given to the best reliever implies automatically that it should be given to the best closer in the league for the past season. As a general rule, it makes sense on some level that the pitcher who has the most success at the end of the game is going to be the one who had the best season, but I actually considered some pitchers who weren’t necessarily closing games. As usual, these are in order from east to west, and I will have my vote at the bottom.

Daniel Bard (BOS)

Bard brought some much needed stability to the 8th inning for the Red Sox. He recorded only 3 saves while filling in for Jonathan Papelbon, but did lead the American League in holds with 32. He also posted a 1.93 ERA and 1.00 WHIP to go with 76 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings pitched.

Mariano Rivera (NYY)

At some point, we’re going to remember that it isn’t as easy as Mariano Rivera makes it look every season. The numbers: 33 saves, 1.80 ERA, 0.83 WHIP. Not quite as dominant as he has been in the past, but I have to remind myself that he’s been doing this now for 14 seasons as the closer for the Yankees. This was also the third straight season he has posted a sub 2.00 ERA, and the 7th in the last 8 seasons.

Rafael Soriano (TAM)

Soriano was acquired by the Rays during the offseason to come in and take hold of the closer’s job, and he definitely did that. He finished the season with a league leading 45 saves, a 1.73 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. It was nice to see what Soriano can finally do when he stays healthy for a full season. The fact that he did it in the game’s toughest division (17 saves vs AL East) speaks to just how great his performance was.

Joaquin Benoit (TAM)

Joaquin was an epiphany for the bullpen of the Rays, as he wasn’t even expected to be a major portion of the pen at the start of the season. He became the trusted 8th inning pitcher for the playoff-bound Rays, posting 25 holds in 60 1/3 innings pitched. His ERA of 1.34 and WHIP of 0.68 were among the league leaders for relievers. He also struck out 75, a rate of over 11 per 9 innings pitched. He also stranded 95% of runners on base.

Matt Thornton (CHW)

Thornton made this list because of his ability to pitch anywhere from the 7th onward, and pitched excellently when called upon. He finished the season with 8 saves while filling in for the struggling Bobby Jenks, but also had 21 holds, and struck out 81 batters in just 60 2/3 innings. His 2.67 ERA was actually higher than his FIP, and also posted a WHIP of 1.01 on the season.

Joakim Soria (KC)

Soria had what would definitely be considered a quiet excellent season. Players tend to get overlooked in Kansas City as the team continues to struggle to perform, but Soria has been that good out there. He finished with 43 saves, 1.78 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and stranded 89% of runners. 

Neftali Feliz (TEX)

Feliz was my choice for the AL’s Willie Mays award, and deservedly so. He finished the season with 40 saves, 3 holds, a 2.73 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 71 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings pitched. He helped to solidify the end of the bullpen for the Rangers after closer Frank Francisco struggled mightily in the first week of the season.

My Vote

  1. Rafael Soriano (TAM)
  2. Joakim Soria (KC)
  3. Neftali Feliz (TEX)

The thing I kept coming back to was how vital the performance of Soriano was to the success of the Rays. The team had struggled in previous seasons with filling the closer’s role adequately, and Soriano owned that role and was as much of a lockdown closer as is possible. I just keep coming back to the fact that one of the biggest changes from last season for the Rays was Soriano, and the team had so much more success this year than last. Soria would probably win this award in nearly every other season, but he unfortunately gets punished slightly for playing in games that didn’t have the importance of the Rays games. But there has to be some distinction made when the performances are that good, and that’s the one I’ve chosen to use.

The NL Willie Mays Award


Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we will be voting over the coming weeks on our award winners for the regular season. Last week I posted my votes for the AL and NL Connie Mack awards, given to our managers of the year, and I wrote yesterday about my choice for the AL award.  I’ll be continuing on today with my choice for the National League’s top rookie, the Willie Mays award recipient.

I wrote about the overall rookie of the class over the weekend, and it is simply amazing just how good the National League’s rookie class is this season . These are in order from east to west (approximately), and I will have my final vote at the bottom.

Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

Strasburg was easily the most hyped prospect to come up all season, and probably would have won this award had he not gotten injured during the season. He finished the season with a 5-3 record with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched. Unfortunately, he missed the last 6 weeks of the season due to an elbow injury, and ended up having Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2011 season.

Jason Heyward (ATL)

Jason Heyward was widely viewed as the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award at the beginning of the season, and was indeed who I had selected during the preseason. All he did was perform to the level that was anticipated out of him and more, posting a .277/.393/.456 line with 18 home runs, 72 runs batted in, 83 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases. He was even voted in as an All-Star starter, but didn’t play due to injury.

Mike Stanton (FLA)

Mike Stanton was a surprise call up in June, and although he had never played above AA, still provided solid production in the 3 months he was up. He hit .259/.326/.507 with 22 home runs, 59 runs batted in, and 5 stolen bases.

Mike Leake (CIN)

Leake was a real surprise candidate, not just to be in this race but also to be on the roster since he had not actually pitched in the minor leagues. Leake started the season well, but ended up the season with an 8-4 record and a 4.23 ERA in 22 starts.

John Axford (MIL)

Axford established himself as the closer for the Brewers after Trevor Hoffman struggled mightily at the beginning of the season, and never really gave the job back. He finished the year with 24 saves and an 8-2 record to go with 76 strikeouts in just 58 innings pitched.

Starlin Castro (CHC)

Castro was another surprise call up, jumping from AA to the Majors in early May to help give the Cubs’ lineup a boost. He provided a .300 batting average with 10 stolen bases despite being just 20 years old. His fielding will need to improve, but that will definitely come with time.

Jaime Garcia (STL)

Garcia was a bit of an afterthought in the Cardinals’ rotation, and evolved into their 3rd most consistent starter behind aces Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Garcia went 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA in his 28 starts this season.

Buster Posey (SF)

Posey was most definitely the firestarter for the Giants upon his call to the Show in May. All he did from there was hit .305/.357/.505 with 18 home runs and 67 runs batted in. He is now the cleanup hitter for a team that was in desperate need of a big bat throughout the season.

My Vote

  1. Buster Posey (SF)
  2. Jason Heyward (ATL)
  3. Jaime Garcia (STL)

It’s actually pretty scary to me just how many rookies should have been up for consideration that were left off of this list. Players like Neil Walker and Jose Tabata of the Pirates, Travis Wood of the Reds and Madison Bumgarner of the Giants all had significant rookie seasons, and would probably have won the award in many other seasons. But this class is definitely something special, and Buster Posey to me is the clear cut winner of this award. Despite playing in 50+ games less than Heyward, he put up comparable or better numbers in nearly every offensive category, and did so at a premium defensive position. There’s no doubt in my mind that the best rookie in the National League this season was Buster Posey.