My Vote for the Year-End Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards
If you didn’t know, The Lunatic Fringe is part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. I know, I know, this is a blog? A few years ago, before this site, I would’ve fought the label ‘Blogger’ like it came with registering on some federal offender list. But, this is what I am, and who I am. And the Alliance requires vote. I give one disclaimer: in the rush of the playoffs I delivered this late. One day late. Oh, well. If they don’t take my votes, here’s what I would’ve voted.
Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)
N.L. – Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals
A.L. – Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
In the American League., there’s really only one choice here. Bob Melvin’s Athletics weren’t supposed this team. It’s not that they weren’t supposed to be good or try to be good. It’s that they were supposed to be led by young Jemile Weeks as a cornerstone. They were supposed to be trying to get performances out of fading stars Bartolo Colon and Manny Ramirez. Guess what? None of the three were on the postseason team. Ramirez was released, Colon was suspended, and Weeks was demoted. But Melvin pulled a division championship out of that team, over the two-time A.L. champions. It was an amazing job.
In the National League, there were two choices. Bruce Bochy took a team that lost its closer to injury, its best hitter from the end of last season to free agency, and in the middle of the season, its best hitter to suspension. And the Giants ended up as one of the safest division winners in the league. But Matheny took a team that lost its manager to retirement, the league’s top hitter to free agency, its second-best hitter and pitcher for most of the season to injury, and got them to the playoffs. So what was the tiebreaker? Bochy’s team had underachieving pitchers all season, and he was never able to get all of them on track, and most entered the postseason at bad times. For that reason, Matheny gets the nod.
Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year)
N.L. – Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
A.L. – Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Mike Trout. If I need to explain, you need to follow hockey.
Bryce Harper’s vote wasn’t as easy. Milwaukee’s Norichika Aoki had an excellent season. 43 walks to just 55 strikeouts, and 30 stolen bases, with a better batting average and on-base percentage than Harper. 37 doubles and 10 home runs weren’t bad, either. But Harper’s 22 home runs, 18 stolen bases while being caught less, and overall contribution to the N.L.’s winningest team, as well as a higher WAR (5.0 to 3.3, as calculated by ESPN), nudges him over the top.
Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)
N.L. – Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
A.L. – Fernando Rodney – Tampa Bay Rays
Rodney’s season was amazing. A 0.60 ERA with a 0.78 WHIP. The 76 strikeouts aren’t overly impressive in 74 2/3 innings, but those other numbers are. The Ray’s weren’t the best team in the A.L., but they didn’t have to worry about leads very much.
I’m going with Kimbrel over Chapman here, strictly for the numbers. Kimbrel was better. 1.01 ERA to Chapman’s 1.51, a 0.65 WHIP to Chapman’s 0.81. 42 saves with just three blown, and Chapman having 38 saves with five blown. Chapman had an amazing season, a nearly historic one. But Kimbrel was better.
Walter Johnson (Top Pitcher)
N.L. – Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
A.L. – Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Justin Verlander shouldn’t be a surprise here. He was nudged out for the A.L. ERA title by David Price, but the league-leading 239 strikeouts were still a down year for him. The Tigers weren’t as dominating a team as you should while having a couple of the best players in baseball, and Verlander’s 17-8 record belied a surprisingly weak team behind them, but Verlander is still one of the best in the game.
The N.L. had some amazing pitchers this season, and most of the Giants pitchers had down years. There’s a lot of worthy candidates. Matt Cain had a perfect game. Johnny Cueto was dominating for stretches. R.A. Dickey had a big year for the Mets, and it was amazing for a knuckleballer. But the knuckleballer gets no votes for being a knuckleballer. Kershaw had slightly better WHIP and ERA numbers. Dickey had 20 wins for a worse team, sure, while Kershaw had just 14, but I don’t go by wins. Kershaw by a nose.
Stan Musial Award (MVP)
N.L. – Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
A.L. – Mike Trout, Anaheim Angels
How is this not the Triple Crown winner here? The guy who got his team to the playoffs over the guy who didn’t? Pretty easily. Trout is one of the most well-rounded players I’ve ever seen, even with a ridiculous strikeout total. Cabrera was well-rounded in a way unseen in decades, but the Triple Crown doesn’t measure speed and defense. What Trout brings to a game is practically undefinable. And, when it comes to playoffs, just remember this: The Angels had a better record than Detroit did this year.
And Buster Posey is America. That’s all I have to say on that.
Okay, here’s a bit more, something more concrete. Forget coming back from injury. Posey picked up a team that was already good, but was reeling from losing one of their top players. And he put them on his back. Make no mistake, Posey was the legs for the San Francisco playoff run. Not that the others, like Angel Pagan or Marco Scutaro didn’t do a lot of hard work that were needed. But Posey led by example. And that example was being the best in the league. MVP is a vague thing: Is it the best hitter? Does it have to be a hitter? What is valuable? Is it WAR, or is it undefinable? But Posey was tops in all of those things.