My friend Jeff Gillenkirk (author of the novel Home Away about a ballplayer/dad and his struggles trying to do both) has a new blog up entitled “Dads at Bat“, focusing on “the fertile interface of fatherhood and baseball.” Check it out HERE. I think you’ll really enjoy it, even if you’re not a dad. You can also read a nice interview with him HERE.
And check out his novel, Home Away. You can also get it on Amazon. It is available as an ebook in Kindle, Nook, and IPad formats.
Before giving the Oakland A’s BBA Stan Musial award ballot, a comment or 2 are in order. While the overwhelming number prior winners have been non-pitchers, hurlers have won this award. For instance, Dennis Eckersley (RHP, Closer, Oakland Athletics) won both the Cy Young and the MVP in 1992, and Roger Clemmons (RHP, Starter, Boston Red Sox) won both awards in 1986. So pitchers are elligible for the MVP.
That said, here is our ballot:
1st Place: Jose Bautista, RF/3B, Toronto Blue Jays. Led the AL in home runs (43), walks (132), slugging precentage (.608), OPS (1.056), OPS+ (181), and intentional walks (24). He was an All Star.
2nd Place: Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, Boston Red Sox. He had a breakout season in 2011. He led the league in total bases (364), and a batting average of .321, a .552 slugging precentage, and 212 total hits. He also was an All Star.
3rd Place: Curtis Granderson, CF, throws right, bats left, New York Yankees. He led the AL in runs scored (136) and RBI’s (119). He also hit 41 home runs, stole 25 bases, had a .552 slugging percentage, and 322 total bases. He likewise was an All Star.
4th Place: Miguel Cabrera, 1B, 3B, LF, Detroit Tigers. He led the AL in games played (161), doubles (48), bating average (.344), and OBP (.448). He hit 30 home runs, scored 111 runs, had 197 hits, and 105 RBI’s. Another All Star (his 6th appearance).
5th Place: Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers. He led the AL in wins (24), win/loss percentage (.823), games started (34), innnings pitched (251), strikeouts (250), ERA+ (170 – ERA adjusted to his home park), WHIP (.920) and hits/9 innings (6.2). Yet another All Star. Yes, he’s a pitcher, but he and Cabrera are the reason the Tigers got to the postseason.
The rest of the field includes:
6th Place: Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Boston Red Sox. Led Al in hits (213) and grounded into double plays (28). BA (338). All Star.
7th Place: Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees. BA .302, 188 hits, All Star.
8th Place: Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox. Led AL in plate appearances (731). .307 BA, 91 RBI’s. Not an All Star.
9th Place: CC Sabathia, LHP, New York Yankees. Led AL in batters faced (985). 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 231.1 innings pitched, All Star.
10th Place: Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers. 620 AB, 121 runs, 158 hits, 32 HR, 77 RBI’s, 30 stolen bases. Not an All Star.
That’s it for the BBA Awards for another year. Let’s go watch the world Series!
This is the next-to-last BBA award for this year, the Walter Johnson Award for the best pitcher, roughly analogous to the MLB Cy Young Award. Our Chapter’s ballot:
1st Place: Justin Verlander, RHP, of the Detroit Tigers. He lead the Al in wins (24-5), ERA (2.40), innings pitched (251), strikeouts (250), WHIP (0.920), hits/9 innings (6.2), Strikeouts/9 innings (8.3), SO/BB ratio (2.96) . What more do we need to say?
5th Place: Dan Haren, RHP, of the Los Angeles Angels. 16-10, 3.17 ERA, 34 games started (led AL), 192 SO, 1.024 WHIP 8 H/9, 7.3 SO/9, and 5.82 SO/9 (led AL). He is the only 1 of the 5 that was not an All Star in 2011.
Next up: The Stan Musial Award for the top layer (MVP).
Below is the Oakland Athletics BBA Chapter’s ballot for the Goose Gossage Award for the best relief pitcher in the American League. None of the places were unanimous. Applying the BBA point system, here are the Chapter’s picks:
1st Place: Jose Valverde, RHP, (closer) Detroit Tigers. Valverde converted 49 saves in 2011, but finished with a record of 2-4. He had 8.6 strikouts/9 innings (SO/9) and a 2.03 strikeout to walk ratio. As were each of the others in this list, he was an All Star this season. He posted a 2.24 ERA and struck out 69 in 72.1 innings.
2nd Place: David Robertson, RHP, (set-up man) New York Yankees. Robinson usurped the role of set-up man from Rafael Soriano early in 2011 and thrived in that role. He allowed only 8 earned runs, and stuck out 100 batters in 66.2 innings, for a 1.08 ERA and compiled a 13.5 SO/9. He only surrendered 1 home run all season. He was my first place choice.
3rd Place: Mariano Rivera, RHP, (closer) New York Yankees. Rivera has long been considered the best reliever in baseball, certainly the best closer. But he is 41 years old and had fewer saves and a lower SO/9 than our 1st place winner did. He walked only 8 batters and posted a 1.91 ERA, while converting 44 of 49 save opportunities.
Up next: The Walter Johnson Award for the top starting pitcher.
As President of the Oakland A’s Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA), here is our chapter’s ballot for the Willie Mays Award, which is analogous to the MLB Rookie of the Year Award:
1st Place: Mark Trumbo, 1B, the Los Angeles Angels. This may be a somewhat controversial pick, and it was not unanimous among our chapter. However, under the BBA point system, he edged out Michael Pineda by 1 point and Ivan Nova by 2. No question that Trumbo was perhaps the most valuable player to his team, playing predominently 1st base, but also all three 3 outfield positions. His 29 runs, 87 RBI’s, and 137 hits carried the Angels to a credible postseason bid, despite having a team that was short on talent. On the negative side was his .291 On Base Percentage, but his fielding percentage at 1B was .993, and 1.000 in the outfield, both outstanding.
2nd Place: Michael Pineda, RHP, Seattle Mariners. Pineda gave a much needed lift to a foundering Seattle Mariners team. His record of only 9-10 can be attributed in great part a team that had trouble hitting and winning games. He finished with 173 strikeouts, but gave up only 55 walks (over 3:1 ratio), and had a 1.099 WHIP (walks + hits/inning pitched). His ERA was 3.74 and he was an All Star in 2011.
3rd Place: Ivan Nova, RHP, New York Yankees. This 24-year-old pitcher in his 1st full year in the majors, managed to thrive despite the New York media glare and finished with a record of 16-4, an ERA of 3.70, and a WHIP of 1.355, second only on the team to CC Sabathia in all 3 stats. With the other Yankee starters not living up their high-priced potential, “Super Nova” was instrumental in getting the Yankees to the post season.
Next up: the BBA Walter Johnson Award (top starting Pitcher)
It’s time to start thinking about year-end baseball awards, and first up is the BBA’s Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year). I am not the only BBA blogger following the A’s this year. Jason Leary of Junkball/Swinging A’s joined last year but filed his own 2010 ballot, and we welcome David Wishinsky to the fold this year.
We decided to file a composite ballot this year, and Jason, David and I submitted ballots for all the awards this year. 1st place votes received 5 points each, 2nd place received 3 points, and 3rd place got 1 point each. Having combined their scores with mine, our ballot is as follows:
1st Place: Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays, a unanimous decision (15 points). He lost a ton of talent during the off-season, but he made the best of what he had, like unsung heroes Matt Joyce, Sam Fuld, and the perennial energizer bunny Johnny Damon on offense, and James Shields, David Price and rookie Jeremy Hellickson excelling on the hill. And who can forget the last day of the season when the Red Sox led 3-2 and the Orioles were down to their last strike? Unfortunately for the Bosox , their vaunted closer Jonathon Papelbon blew the save, and the Red Sox lost the game. 3 minutes later, the Rays came from behind and beat the Yankees, pounding the nail on the coffin of the Red Sox massive collapse by knocking them out of the postseason. Especially amazing since Maddon sent Dan Johnson (former A’s 1st baseman) to the plate (batting an unimpressive .109) when they were down to their last stike in the bottom of the ninth. DJ hit a homer to tie the game! Evan Longoria homered in the bottom of the 12th to win it. Now that is inspired managing.
2nd Place: Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers (6 Points). Jim didn’t have much of a turnover from last season and added Victor Martinez to the mix. He bettered last year’s 81-81 record by finishing at 95-67, earning the team the Central Division title and a trip to the postseason. He gets kudos for accomplishing all this despite having to keep a lid on the fallout from Miguel Cabrera’s DUI arrest during spring training. He has won the MLB’s MOY award 3 times already, 2 in the NL in the 1990′s, and in 2006 in the AL with the Tigers.
3rd Place: Manny Acta of the Cleveland Indians (4 Points). This one surprised me as not many other writers have even mentioned him in the conversation around MOY. But my two cohorts both voted for him and he gets the nod. In his second season as the Tribe’s manager, he lead the team to a second-place finish in the AL Central with an 80-83 record. He lead the team to an 11-game improvement over their 69-93 record in 2010, and accomplished this with the 3rd youngest roster in MLB, including 11 players who made their Major League debuts. I guess he is pretty impressive. BTW, I picked Joe Girardi for this spot.
That’s it for the Connie Mack Award for 2011. The Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year) is up next.