It’s just about time for the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) to turn in their ballots for the yearly Major League Baseball awards. And it is also the time for us bloggers to opine on how staggeringly dumb some of these writers are by casting our own votes on the awards.
At this awards show, no one will be censored like Sally Field.
Some notes about how I determine the winners…
I make heavy use of Sabermetrics, and light to no use of “traditional” statistics like wins and losses, saves, batting average, and the like.
In addition, I intentionally do not take into account the player’s team and whether or not they have been in contention. It is my belief that a player’s contributions on a failing team are worth just as much, if not more than another player’s contributions on a winning team. This is a debate that always pops up around this time of year, so feel free to try to change my mind on it.
The statistics I do use can be found on websites like Baseball Prospectus, The Hardball Times, and Baseball Reference, among others. I will provide links to both the explanation of the statistic and to the page(s) I pulled the information from. I am using the statistics that are currently up on those websites as of September 20 at 10 AM EST, so it’s highly likely that the values will differ from the ones I will list.
Without any further ado, let’s dole out the trophies.
American League Most Valuable Player: Alex Rodriguez
Even using “traditional” statistics, this award is likely the easiest for which to decide the winner. “Pay-Rod” is fourth in the American League in on-base percentage (.416), first in slugging percentage (.646), first in OPS (1.062), first in runs scored (134), first in total bases (354), first in home runs (52), first in runs batted in (142), and eighth in walks (86).
Add to that his 89.0 VORP that leads the Majors, .427 PMLVr that ranks second, .337 EqA that ranks first in the American League, and 149 runs created that also ranks first.
Congratulations, Mr. Rodriguez, you have easily earned the AL MVP award in a year in which most expected you to fail, and still some expect you to fail when the Yankees reach the post-season.
National League Most Valuable Player: Hanley Ramirez
To non-Sabermetric-using baseball fans, my choice of Ramirez is suspect. He does not lead the league in any “traditional” statistical categories. He ranks 12th in the National League in on-base percentage (.390), sixth in slugging percentage (.568), and eighth in OPS (.958). However, he does rank second in the NL in runs (116) and hits (197), third in total bases (336) and stolen bases (50), and fourth in doubles (43) and extra-base hits (77).
Others have cited Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins as the deserving winner of the NL MVP award. Let’s take a look at some Sabermetrics.
He’s second in the Majors in VORP (89.0) behind Alex Rodriguez, his RAP ranks first in the National League (50.2), and his PMLVr ranks second in Major League Baseball (.427) — higher than Alex Rodriguez (the leader is his teammate, Jorge Posada).
It’s true that Ramirez’s defense needs improvement. He ranks last among qualified shortstops in the National League with a .776 RZR.
However, his offensive contributions, especially compared to his shortstop brethren, outweigh his below-average defense.
And, as I mentioned, the fact that the Marlins are last in the National League East division (65-87, 19.5 GB) is not something I consider.
American League Cy Young Award: C.C. Sabathia
Josh Beckett seems to be the favorite for this award, and I don’t know why. Sure, he leads the Major Leagues in wins, but that statistic tells you next to nothing. He’s got the fourth-best WHIP (1.129), sixth-best ERA (3.20) and the eighth-best strikeouts total (180) in the American League in 188.7 innings. Let’s have a look at Sabathia.
Sabathia has the sixth-best WHIP (1.145), seventh-best ERA (3.21), and the fourth-best strikeouts total (198) in the American League in 227 innings (tops in the league) — nearly more than 38 innings more than Beckett.
On the Sabermetric side of things, Sabathia is second in the Majors in VORP (63.4), behind only Jake Peavy. He has put up these great numbers while pitching in the most innings and despite an unluckily-high .317 BABIP.
In addition, Sabathia leads the American League with 128 PRC, and only trails Beckett by five-hundredths of a point in FIP (.323).
National League Cy Young Award: Jake Peavy
This award, like the AL MVP, is an easy one. Peavy leads the National League in quite a few “traditional” statistical categories, including ERA (2.39), WHIP (1.044), and strikeouts (225). He becomes even more impressive with the use of Sabermetrics. He also ranks sixth in innings pitched (203).
His 72.1 VORP not only leads Major League pitchers by far, but would rank fifth in the Majors if we include hitters. He leads the National League in PRC (138) and FIP by far (2.62).
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American League Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Guthrie
This one was tough to pick, as there wasn’t any really great candidates in the American League. Dustin Pedroia was my #2 pick, but I declined him because he’s simply a singles and doubles hitter with average defense.
Jeremy Guthrie has had a good year for a decrepit Baltimore Orioles team. He doesn’t have Cy Young statistics at all (3.65 ERA, 1.204 WHIP, but he does have a higher VORP than any other American League rookie (37.9) with the exception of Brian Bannister. Guthrie leads Bannister in PRC 79-72.
After Erik Bedard (a Cy Young candidate), Guthrie is the Orioles’ #2 pitcher and he looks to be a promising find for the team.
National League Rookie of the Year: Ryan Braun
Another easy pick. He, by far, leads Major League rookies in VORP (50.6) and, if not for Prince Fielder, is the Milwaukee Brewers’ MVP. He has put up in 405 at-bats what 95% of Major Leaguers can’t do in 600 at-bats. 31 home runs, 85 runs batted in, a .370 on-base percentage, a .637 slugging percentage, and a 1.007 OPS.
Let’s say Braun has the 548 at-bats A-Rod has (Braun played in his first MLB game on May 25, missing about the first two months). His home runs and runs batted in above translate to 42 and 115, respectively.
His .319 EqA ranks eighth in the National League, and his 28.0 RAP ranks fourth behind some excellent third basemen: David Wright, Chipper Jones, and Miguel Cabrera.
Braun’s defense is lacking — just a .565 RZR, easily last in the National League among qualified third basemen– but not even that makes the award’s recipient a tough call.
American League Manager of the Year: Joe Torre
His team has the fourth-best record in the American League, and Eric Wedge is deserving, too, but with what Torre has had to deal with following his team’s dismal first two months (22-29, 13.5 GB in fourth place in the AL East), he has done a remarkable job since (66-35, .653).
The starting pitching was falling apart. Mike Mussina might be done after this season. Roger Clemens wasn’t what they expected him to be. Kei Igawa bombed. Their best pitching prospect, Philip Hughes, got injured in the midst of a perfect game. None of their young pitchers did a good job filling in. They have used 28 different starting pitchers this season.
And there was the offense. Robinson Cano, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, and Melky Cabrera all weren’t hitting for a while. Damon didn’t appear to be able to play center field effectively anymore, so Torre switched him to left field and moved Cabrera to center. Giambi was injured from the end of May until the beginning of August, so they’ve had to plug in Doug Mientkiewicz and Andy Phillips at first base. Nobody on the bench has really contributed much.
Yet the Yankees have the Major League-best offense, and their pitching is still middle-of-the-pack.
After the media was calling for George Steinbrenner to give him the boot in favor of Joe Girardi, Torre has earned the AL Manager of the Year award.
National League Manager of the Year: Charlie Manuel
Like Torre, Charlie Manuel has had a ton of injuries, a bad pitching staff, and media scrutiny to deal with all season long.
In this article, I listed the 15 Phillies to be put on the disabled list at the time. Since then, Cole Hamels missed time with a strained left elbow, and Antonio Alfonseca was described by Manuel as “out of gas.”
Manuel has had to make do with a horrible bullpen that GM Pat Gillick failed to improve during the off-season. In fact, the bullpen was so lousy that Manuel moved then-starter Brett Myers to the set-up role for Tom Gordon (Myers became the closer when Gordon was injured).
Myers’ statistics as a closer: 45.2 IP, 1.226 WHIP, 2.96 ERA, 56 K, 16 BB, 17 saves in 20 opportunities.
In addition, despite the injuries to 2005 Rookie of the Year and 2006 NL MVP Ryan Howard, 2007 MVP candidate Chase Utley, speedster Shane Victorino, and a horrid first-half for Pat Burrell, the Phillies have, by far, the National League’s best offense. First in runs, triples, walks, hit batsmen, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Second in at-bats, hits, doubles, home runs, and stolen bases.
When the Phillies lost to the Mets on April 17, Charlie Manuel blew up at “journalist” Howard Eskin during the post-game press conference, the team dropped to a 3-9 record, quickly 5.5 games behind the Mets for fourth place in the NL East. Now, the Phillies are 12-games above .500 — an 18-game swing — and are battling for playoff berths in either the NL East or in the Wild Card, as they are 2.5 GB the Mets and Padres, respectively.
Honorable mention to Bud Black, but this award isn’t even close — Manuel in a landslide. The Phillies should look to re-sign him at least for another season to finish out Gillick’s tenure (that is, if Gillick does come back for the 2008 season).
American League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award: J.J. Putz
His line: 66 IP, 0.667 WHIP, 72 K, 12 BB, 1.36 ERA
Add to that a 315 ERA+, a 34.5 VORP (behind only Rafael Betancourt and Matt Guerrier among relievers), and his 95.9 LOB% — best among qualified relievers — as well.
National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award: Carlos Marmol
His line: 64.2 IP, 1.098 WHIP, 89 K, 33 BB, 1.25 ERA
Add to that a 364 ERA+, a 33.2 VORP (best among NL relievers), and his 91.3 LOB% — behind only Takashi Saito among NL relievers — as well.
American League Gold Glove Awards
Format: Name, (RZR, OOZ) except for catchers (FPct, Assists) and pitchers (regular ZR, and RF)
C: Kenji Johjima (.998, 52)
1B: Kevin Youkilis (.835, 21)
2B: Aaron Hill (.876, 53)
3B: Brandon Inge (.711, 62)
SS: Tony Pena (.846, 68)
OF: Curtis Granderson (.921, 83)
OF: Coco Crisp (.910, 56)
OF: Torii Hunter (.897, 44)
P: Roy Halladay (1.000, 2.19)
National League Gold Glove Awards
C: Russell Martin (.989, 84)
1B: Albert Pujols (.846, 49)
2B: Chase Utley (.876, 47)
3B: David Wright (.699, 78)
SS: Troy Tulowitzki (.858, 82)
OF: Andruw Jones (.924, 78)
OF: Eric Byrnes (.918, 46)
OF: Carlos Beltran (.910, 62)
P: Roy Oswalt (1.000, 2.37)
American League Silver Slugger Awards
Format: Name (PMLVr)
C: Jorge Posada (.464)
1B: Carlos Pena (.263)
2B: Placido Polanco (.223)
3B: Alex Rodriguez (.427)
SS: Carlos Guillen (.178)
OF: Magglio Ordonez (.395)
OF: Vladimir Guerrero (.273)
OF: Curtis Granderson (.243)
DH: David Ortiz (.376)
National League Silver Slugger Awards
C: Russell Martin (.244)
1B: Albert Pujols (.283)
2B: Chase Utley (.365)
3B: Chipper Jones (.426)
SS: Hanley Ramirez (.394)
OF: Matt Holliday (.332)
OF: Barry Bonds (.365)
OF: Adam Dunn (.259)
P: Micah Owings (.245)
There you have it. Feel free to chime in with your picks, or tell me why I’m wrong.