Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trout, McCutchen among my Baseball Bloggers Alliance Award Selections

The Baseball Stance is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Each year, the BBA membership votes on a series of regular season awards. Since this blog is part of the general chapter, I have the ability to vote for both the American League and National League awards and I will take advantage of the opportunity. Below is a roundup of my votes with a short explanation for my choices.

American League

Connie Mack Award – Top Manager
John Farrell – Boston Red Sox

Farrell, in his first season as Red Sox manager, completely changed the culture left behind by 2012’s manager Bobby Valentine. The team went from last to first in the incredibly tough AL East, increasing their win total from 69 to 97. Farrell helped to foster a winning attitude and kept the clubhouse focused on one thing, winning.

Willie Mays Award – Top Rookie
Wil Myers – Tampa Bay Rays

Myers, 22, received in the trade that sent James Shields to the Kansas City Royals, was called up in mid-June and made a significant impact with the club over the remainder of the season. In 88 games and 373 plate appearances, Myers clubbed 13 home runs and drove in 53 runs. His slash line .293/.354/.478 made him an important middle of the lineup contributor to the Rays as they reached the postseason for the fourth time in the last six seasons.

Goose Gossage Award – Top Reliever
Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox

Uehara, a 38-year-old Japanese veteran, was given the chance to close games after Boston lost Joel Hanrahan and then Andrew Bailey to injuries. Uehara never looked back. He posted an ERA of 1.09, a BAA of .129 and his WHIP was 0.57, the lowest qualified measure ever. Uehara recorded 101 strikeouts and walked just nine batters over 74.1 innings. These are video game numbers. He went on a streak of retiring 37 consecutive batters without allowing a baserunner. He was by far the most dominant reliever in the American League, if not the majors this season.

Walter Johnson Award – Top Pitcher
Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers

Listen, it’s not just about the wins, though Scherzer did lead the majors with 21. He also compiled 240 strikeouts, just 52 walks, recorded a 2.90 ERA, .198 BAA and a 0.97 WHIP in 214.1 innings. Those are pretty impressive numbers. Scherzer didn’t lose a game until July 13 and lost only three for the entire season. No matter which way you cut it, there is significant value in have 18 more wins than losses.

Stan Musial Award – Top Player
Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels

Thank goodness the BBA defines this as a “top player” award. No worries about whether the player’s performance was part of a team effort to reach the postseason. It's a factor for me but not a rule. That said, I’ll go with Trout over Miguel Cabrera in what has become an annual debate. Here’s what Trout did in his sophomore campaign – 157 G, 699 PA, 109 R, 39 doubles, 9 triples, 27 HR, 97 RBI and 33 SB. Add a better than average glove to that mix and Trout recorded WAR totals of 9.2 from Baseball-Reference and 10.4 from FanGraphs, both tops in the majors. If I’m given one offensive player pick to start a franchise with, Trout is at the top of my list.

National League

Connie Mack Award – Top Manager
Clint Hurdle – Pittsburgh Pirates

Hurdle will forever be remembered as the manager that pushed the Buccos to the postseason for the first time in 21 years. Once he took over the helm in Pittsburgh, the Pirates improved each season, and in 2013 they finally flourished, finishing with 94 wins. The players respect him and play hard for him. He doesn’t have a roster filled with the best players, but he kept his team in the hunt for the NL Central crown in the National League's toughest division until the final week of play.

Willie Mays Award – Top Rookie
Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins

This was a tough one, but I went with Fernandez over Yasiel Puig. Mainly it came down to Fernandez playing for a longer period of the season (which I realize is not much of an argument) and his amazing improvement throughout the season. He finished 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA, 187 Ks, 0.98 WHIP and ridiculous .182 BAA across 172.2 innings. After a slow start in April, Fernandez was fantastic and could have improved on his numbers if he had not been shutdown with a couple of weeks left in the season.

Goose Gossage Award – Top Reliever
Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves

Kimbrel is the premier closer in the majors. He tied for the MLB lead with 50 saves and did so in grand fashion. He had a measly 1.21 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, .166 BAA and 98 Ks in 67 innings. He blew just four save chances all season.

Walter Johnson Award – Top Pitcher
Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers

This one was not hard to choose. Kershaw is the best big league pitcher alive at the moment. He went 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and .195 BAA. He struck out 232 batters and walked only 52 in 236 innings. Kershaw gives length (7.15 IP per start) and doesn’t make many mistakes (just 11 homers allowed). My guess is he could win many Walter Johnson (and more importantly to him Cy Young) awards before his career comes to an end.

Stan Musial Award – Top Player
Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates

McCutchen does it all. He can hit for average and power, he’s fast, he can take a walk, plays above average in the field and he is a leader. McCutchen didn’t lead the league in any one category but he was among the leaders in many of the major metrics which taken together put him at the top of FanGraph's NL WAR listing with an 8.2.

So, there you have it. Each of these selections can surely be argued against, but that’s the beauty of voting for these types of awards. Everyone has an opinion and some good debate can come out of the different choices. Feel free to leave your comments below.

Photos courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work here, Chris is a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports. Connect with Chris on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.