Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Handing out MLB awards

One of the distinct privileges of membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America is the opportunity to vote for baseball's biggest end-of-season awards: MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year.

Two BBWAA members representing each club vote for each award. So there are two NL MVP voters from the Baltimore-Washington chapter, two NL Cy Young voters, two NL Rookie of the Year voters and two NL Manager of the Year voters. (Because we have two teams in our chapter, we also get two voters a piece for each of the AL awards.)

In my 10 years as a BBWAA member, I've voted at least once for each of the awards, and I again had a vote for one of them this year. All votes had to be submitted by the end of play Sunday, and since the results aren't announced until mid-November, I'm sworn to secrecy and can't reveal who I voted for.

Here, though, are my picks for all eight BBWAA awards. You'll just have to wait another month to find out which one actually counted...

The Reds' 26-year-old first baseman did it all this year, smacking 37 homers, driving in 113 runs, batting .324 and leading the league in on-base percentage (.424), slugging (.600) and OPS (1.024). Throw in the fact he did it for the NL Central champs, anchoring Cincinnati's lineup all season, and he gets the nod over a deep field of candidates that perhaps featured four other players deserving of consideration: Carlos Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.
The vote: 1-Joey Votto, 2-Carlos Gonzalez, 3-Albert Pujols, 4-Adrian Gonzalez, 5-Troy Tulowitzki, 6-Roy Halladay, 7-Matt Holliday, 8-Ryan Zimmerman, 9-Aubrey Huff, 10-Martin Prado.

Yes, he missed most of September with two broken ribs, but Hamilton had already done the job through the season's first five months. He was spectacular for the Rangers at the plate and in the field, helping them pad such a huge lead in the AL West that his services weren't needed down the stretch. Hamilton led the league in batting (.359), slugging (.633) and OPS (1.044), and since he did it for a division winner, he gets the nod over Miguel Cabrera of the .500 Tigers.
The vote: 1-Josh Hamilton, 2-Miguel Cabrera, 3-Robinson Cano, 4-Jose Bautista, 5-Evan Longoria, 6-Joe Mauer, 7-Adrian Beltre, 8-Paul Konerko, 9-Shin-Soo Choo, 10-Carl Crawford.

There was a point in midseason when it appeared Ubaldo Jimenez had already wrapped this up. But the Rockies ace faded over the season's second half, to the point he may not even finish in the top three. Halladay, meanwhile, was exactly what the Phillies wanted when they acquired him: A dominant ace who wants to go the distance every time he gets the ball. His 250 2/3 innings pitched were the most in the majors since Livan Hernandez went 255 in 2004. His 2.44 ERA and 219-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio weren't too shabby, either.
The vote: 1-Roy Halladay, 2-Adam Wainwright, 3-Josh Johnson.

A couple of years ago, King Felix wouldn't have even gotten consideration for the Cy Young. How can you reward a guy with a 13-12 record? Thankfully, we've come a long way in the last few years, understanding a pitcher's record is by no means the best indicator of his performance. In every category that matters, Hernandez was the best. He led the AL with a 2.27 ERA, 249 2/3 innings pitched, 6.993 hits per nine innings and barely finished second to Jered Weaver with 232 strikeouts. And get this: He had 16 starts this year in which he went at least seven innings and allowed one earned run or less.
The vote: 1-Felix Hernandez, 2-David Price, 3-CC Sabathia

This is a tough one, because Jason Heyward played for the Braves the entire season and was a key to their reaching the postseason. But Posey, who wasn't called up until late-May, had an even more dramatic impact on the Giants' fortunes. His arrival coincided with their surge, helping them make up a 6 1/2-game deficit on the Padres to win the NL West. You can't go wrong with either guy, but I'm taking Posey by a nose over Heyward.
The vote: 1-Buster Posey, 2-Jason Heyward, 3-Jaime Garcia

Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson also had a really nice season as a rookie, but Feliz locked down the closer's job in Texas and was instrumental in the Rangers' division title. He saved 40 games, allowed a ridiculously low 5.6 hits per nine innings and posted a 71-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If the Rangers are going to make a deep run this month, Feliz has to be a big part of it.
The vote: 1-Neftali Feliz, 2-Austin Jackson, 3-Wade Davis

How many of you predicted the Padres would be in the pennant race until the season's final day? Liars. No one figured the team with the sport's lowest payroll would come within sniffing distance of the .500 mark, let alone 90 wins. Bobby Cox had a fabulous run during his final season in the dugout, and he'll still be there this week for the Division Series. But how can you not give this one to Black?
The vote: 1-Bud Black, 2-Bobby Cox, 3-Bruce Bochy

Did you know Gardenhire has been Twins manager for nine years now? And did you know during that tenure he's only finished with a losing record once? He's won six division titles, guiding a franchise that until it moved into Target Field this season never had a significant payroll. And he's never won Manager of the Year. It's time for that to change.
The vote: 1-Ron Gardenhire, 2-Terry Francona, 3-Ron Washington


Debbi Taylor said...

Mark, how grateful are you that the Washington Post has its inane policy of not letting its writers vote for awards and Hall of Fame, like as if there's some conflict of interest there? You've worked so hard and it must be so gratifying to you to see those extra opportunities pop up for you to actually vote, because we all know how hard it is to make a contribution when you're spending so much time on the bench. I know that once my own ten years of MASN blogging are up and I join the BBWAA, I'll be so very happy to vote for Pudge Rodriguez as MVP because of the way he mentored our young players in between his hip replacement surgeries. You must have been so very proud when you cast your ballot this year, but sad at the same time that you couldn't include any Nationals on it.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Mark... I agree with your selections although I'm going to be pleasantly suprised if Ron Gardenhire actually gets the nod over Ron Washington.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I must disagree with few of your choices.

NL MVP: Goes to Votto but I wouldn't consider CarGO as the second choice because I have seen his numbers at home and away. Not pretty. At home, he is 'God' and away he is just another average hitter. Call me crazy but I would put Ryan before CarGo. I know I am looking at just one stat but you can not deny that Coors is a hitters park. I will only appreciate one fact about CarGo that he kept Rockies in contention.

AL MVP: If this race is decided by simply who made it to playoffs, then Cy Young should also be decided by wins. What Miguel did in Detroit is much impressive than Josh with Guerrero and co around him. Cabby had Austin, Ordonez and Boesch around him while Josh had Young, Guerrero, and Cruz. Miguel is also among AL leaders in all offensive categories despite playing in pitcher friendly park.

Hard to disagree with your Cy young and ROY choices though. Buster has done an incredible job with Giants pitching. By far the best rookie in both leagues. Oh and I think as much as I hate him, Gaby deserves an honorary mention at least. As far as AL is concerned, it has sort of become a trend that closers take the award. Top of my head I know three: Neftali, Houston, and another A's closer. But Neftali is the clear winner. Had you asked me in July, it would have been Boesch.

NL Manager: For me, it is close between Bud and Bobby. I wasn't really expecting much from Braves and Padres, SD more than ATL. But Bobby sort of made a comeback after ATL were in last place in May. My third place vote goes to Dusty though.

AL Manager: Ron W. gets my vote because he was able to come over his personal issues and kept the team ahead of rest of the division throughout the season. Francona would be second for keeping Red Sox in contention for as long as they were despite many injuries to their key players. Ron G doesn't deserve as much recognition because he has played in a weaker division where the only competition they got was from ChiSox.

Section 222 said...

Just one crucial thing to add to "Debbi Taylor's" "question": Mark, what was your approach there?

What a year it's been. Maybe someday the Nats will have a starter like Halladay or King Felix who is not on the disabled list.

Faraz Shaikh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JD said...

My vote for AL manager of the year goes to Joe Maddon of the Rays; I heard him on the radio this morning and I thought; why can't we have a manager like this?

Out of the box thinking; throws out old stupid rules like 'never make the 1st or 3rd out at 3rd base', 'never put the winning run on base', 'always bat lefties against righties and vice versa'. Uses research to put his team in the best position to win. I was blown away.

He is also totally not concerned with the team's payroll budget; is not bitter about the potential loses of Crawford, Pena and his closer and expects to be in serious contention next year with a reduced budget; this is why his team was in the world series in 2008 with a 40 mil. payroll.

BTW for NL MVP I got Votto,Pujols, Tulo and Zim in that order with the Gonzales boys at 5 and 6.

Doc said...

Solid choices Mark! I would be particularly interested in Gardenhire getting some attention for Manager of the Year.

Like JD I also think that Joe Maddon is a real good choice--I like the way he communicates, and he's not afraid to bench a player for poor team play.

Joey Votto is also distinguished by his being one of the few Canadians to smack the big league ball with authority---pay attention Blue Jays!

Anonymous said...

Nah, if you're going to pretend to be Debbi Taylor, all your questions have to provide the answer.

Such as: "Adam, after seeing Livan struggle to get the win even though he's been pitching so well, it must be nice to provide some offense to get him the win, isn't it?"

Or: "Drew, it must be really great for you to be able to come into a close ballgame like this and be able to pitch to a future hall-of-famer like Pudge. He must really have a calming influence on you and provide confidence in what you're pitching, doesn't he?"

K.D. said...

Actually BQ; what Cabrera has done is even more remarkable since Magglio went on the DL with a broken ankle 10 weeks ago, and Carlos Guillen has also been out. Even Boesch has been pretty bad since the Allstar break after a great start to his season.

wick said...

If you steal the AL EAST from the Yankees and Sawx - then you are Manager of the Year.

natsfan1a said...

Identify the quote quiz: Ridicule is the first and last argument of a fool.

In other news, I'm also partial to Maddon and his Rays. Loved their run in 2008 and am enjoying this one as well.

Anonymous said...

Identify the quote quiz:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

Anonymous said...

Debbi Taylor - Keep in mind that 10 years from now when you are voting Pudge MVP, he'll be 48 and likely will be playing only about 100 games.

Steve M. said...

Thank goodness you got Posey right. That guy carried that team's offense. Are you sure he isn't 30 years old?

I agree with all your 1st place votes except off the top of my head for AL Manager of the Year I go with Ron Washington just because they were a big surprise and I expected the Twins to be there again and would have Buck Showalter 3rd and Maddon 4th and Francona 5th.

I agree with Ryan Zimmerman in the Top 10 of MVP voting and probably #7 as I am a homer!

Where do you see Desmond in the ROY voting? #6?

Souldrummer said...

King Felix is a really tough choice for me. I know the stats are good. How does Seattle's park compare to NYC and Tampa, though? It's not the win loss that makes it tough for me it's the possibility of park effects. But admittedly I don't research other team's guys as much as the Nats so I trust your judgment.

Jim Kurtzke said...

Buck Showalter would get my vote for Manager of the Year. I know he managed only one-third or so of the season. But what an impact: 32-73 pre-Buck and 34-23 afterwards. That's one serious turnaround.

Anonymous said...

How can be CarGO overvalued than Pujols? Look at adjusted stats.

Anonymous said...

Hernadez doesn't hold a candle to Sabathia or Price.

Once again writers prove most of them are unqualified to vote and that they use these platforms to tell people what they think matters. You've become like politicians who forget it's their job to do what the want not what they want. You ever hear the joke about what do you call a sportswriter ... a guy who'd be collecting welfare checks if he hadn't convinced his managing editor he knew nothing about sports.

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