Crashburn Alley 2012 MLB Awards

At long last, we here at Crashburn Alley will hand out our end-of-season awards for the 2012 season. It was a surprisingly entertaining season from start to finish, headlined by one of the best rookie classes we have seen, arguably even surpassing the 2001 class (notably featuring Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki). Miguel Cabrera made the AL MVP vote interesting by winning the first batting Triple Crown since Carl Yazstrzemski in 1967. Feel-good story and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was a beacon of light in an otherwise gloomy season for the New York Mets. Yoenis Cespedes, when healthy, was a catalyst for the Oakland Athletics, who defied many odds in winning the AL West at the end of the season.

The five of us here at Crashburn Alley retreated deep into our underground bunkers, pulled out our calculators and test tubes, and got to work coming to a consensus on our award winners. Feel free to leave your own picks and opinions in the comments below. Without any further ado, let’s get started.

For placement, first place votes were given a value of five points, second place votes three points, and third place votes one point. This system varies from that of the Baseball Writers Association of America, but our ballots only run three deep and we have just five voters, so this system is quite simple.

American League Most Valuable Player

1 2 3
BAER Trout Cano Cabrera
SOMMERS Trout Cano Cabrera
BAUMANN Trout Cabrera Cano
BOYE Trout Cabrera Beltre
LONGENHAGEN Trout Cabrera Cano
  • Winner: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (25 of 25 possible points)
  • Runner-up: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (11)
  • Consolation: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees (8)

It was a runaway for Mike Trout. While he didn’t win the coveted Triple Crown nor did he play for a playoff team, Trout was the standard-bearer in the American League, helping his Angels in every conceivable way besides actually pitching (Wilson Valdez joke goes here). Trout, unlike Cabrera, played a premium position in center field with exquisite defense and ran the bases extremely well (49 stolen bases in 54 attempts). Trout had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all-time, arguably the best if you reserve some skepticism about the accuracy of Dead Ball Era players such as Shoeless Joe Jackson and Benny Kauff. But not only that, his 2012 was one of the greatest seasons period, rivaling even Barry Bonds in his prime.

National League Most Valuable Player

1 2 3
BAER Posey Braun Headley
SOMMERS Posey Braun McCutchen
BAUMANN McCutchen Posey Wright
BOYE Posey McCutchen Braun
LONGENHAGEN Posey Molina McCutchen

The National League voting had slightly more variety, but Buster Posey ran away with our NL MVP award. The combination of world-class offense, impeccable defense, and playing a premium position led to his four of five possible first-place votes from us. Posey outpaced, by far, all other catchers in every important offensive statistic. The second- and third-place debate between Braun and McCutchen is interesting as well, as it simply comes down to a subjective weighting of defense — Braun voters weight it less than McCutchen voters.

American League Cy Young

1 2 3
BAER Verlander Price Hernandez
SOMMERS Verlander Price Hernandez
BAUMANN Verlander Hernandez Price
BOYE Verlander Price Hernandez
LONGENHAGEN Verlander Hernandez Scherzer

Another runaway in the American League, as Justin Verlander unanimously takes home the AL Cy Young award from the five of us. Verlander’s big advantage over David Price was his 27 more innings pitched, while his big advantage over Felix Hernandez was an ERA more than 40 points lower. As with the NL MVP award, the second- and third-place debate was centered around only two players, though Max Scherzer did get an honorable mention and is a token of a DIPS-reliant approach to the award — his 3.74 ERA is unbecoming of a Cy Young candidate, but his 2.99 SIERA puts him in the upper echelon of starters.

National League Cy Young

1 2 3
BAER Kershaw Dickey Cain
SOMMERS Kershaw Dickey Cueto
BAUMANN Dickey Kershaw Lee
BOYE Dickey Kershaw Cueto
LONGENHAGEN Dickey Kershaw Lee

Our first close call. Dickey barely edged out Kershaw, but the argument can go either way. Kershaw has an ERA 20 points lower, but Dickey got to 20 wins and led the league in innings pitched, complete game shut-outs, and raw strikeouts. He is also an all-around feel-good story. In the end, the consensus among the five of us is that Kershaw does not defend his Cy Young crown, surrendering it to the late-blooming 37-year-old knuckleballing Dickey. The third-place voting was interesting as Johnny Cueto and Cliff Lee both split the bill, with Cueto having the better argument from a traditionalist perspective, while Lee gets a helping hand from the Saber crowd.

American League Rookie of the Year

1 2 3
BAER Trout Parker Cespedes
SOMMERS Trout Cespedes Darvish
BAUMANN Trout Darvish Parker
BOYE Trout Cespedes Darvish
LONGENHAGEN Trout Darvish Cespedes
  • Winner: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (25)
  • Runners-up: Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics; Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers (8)

Trout takes home some more hardware unanimously. The race was much less competitive here, with Trout lapping the competition and then some. According to FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement, Trout was more than three times as valuable as Yoenis Cespedes, who by all accounts had an absolutely fantastic season leading the Athletics’ second-half surge into the post-season. The second-place debate ended up in a dead heat between Cespedes and pitcher Yu Darvish. A’s starter Jarrod Parker got a couple honorable mentions in a not-so-distant fourth place.

National League Rookie of the Year

1 2 3
BAER Harper Miley Frazier
SOMMERS Miley Harper Grandal
BAUMANN Miley Harper Aoki
BOYE Harper Frazier Miley
LONGENHAGEN Harper Frazier Miley

Bryce Harper ekes his way out of the NL ROY race with the hardware, just ahead of starter Wade Miley. The 19-year-old Harper gave the Nationals a huge boost in the bookends of his season, May and September, as the franchise ended its 31-year playoff drought. Harper did it all: he hit for power (.206 isolated power), got on base (.340), stole bases (18 in 24 attempts), and played great defense at two outfield positions (center and right field). Miley is not to be forgotten, though, as he turned out to be the Diamondbacks’ most reliable starter, coming in at a 3.33 ERA with an extremely low walk rate, just above four percent. The third-place vote was interesting, including Yasmani Grandal of the San Diego Padres and Norichika Aoki of the Milwaukee Brewers. They were a distant third to Harper and Miley, however.

That wraps up the Crashburn Alley 2012 MLB awards show. What do you think of our picks? Which were on the money and which came way out of left field? Who would you have chosen? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. BradInDC

    November 02, 2012 07:54 AM

    I can’t belief all you traders voted for Brice Harper.

  2. Kyle

    November 02, 2012 08:13 AM


  3. Zach

    November 02, 2012 09:10 AM

    *fry squint* Can’t tell if those two are trolling…

  4. robbie e

    November 02, 2012 09:10 AM

    Lee considered for Cy Young? Lee? I guess now wins don’t matter or era for the entire season! Cole Hamels again, chopped liver even with the wins that everyone said he needed. I understand wins are not the best way to evaluate a pitcher since he can’t control that but in Cole’s case it was always the lack of wins even when he had a better era. Lee’s era was higher this season and he had 6 wins, for whatever reason! It’s all a popularity contest and Lee is a perennial favorite no matter what he does or how he pitches. I guess it’s everyone else’s fault when he doesn’t win.

  5. Rogelio

    November 02, 2012 09:30 AM

    Cano over Cabrera. I understand thinking outside box but no way at all is that even realistic/

  6. Bill Baer

    November 02, 2012 09:32 AM

    @ nehi

    I think you can go either way between Lynn and Frazier.

    @ rogelio

    Cano was only a shade behind Cabrera offensively while playing good defense at a premium position. Another one I think you can go either way with depending on how much you weight various components of value.

  7. BradInDC

    November 02, 2012 09:42 AM

    @Zach – I was being sarcastic, not trolling. Thought I’d spelled the correct amount of things wrong in the first post to make it clear. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

  8. Zach

    November 02, 2012 10:26 AM

    @Brad – I realized that a moment later. But seriously, these guys are traders.

  9. LTG

    November 02, 2012 10:36 AM

    Is sarcasm in comments a benign subset of trolling?

  10. Richard

    November 02, 2012 11:01 AM

    robbie – Lee was considered for 3rd place in the Cy Young voting, let’s not get carried away…. and across the board his numbers were better than Hamels’ were, so there’s that

  11. John

    November 02, 2012 11:21 AM

    I agree with everything but I too think Cole’s name ought to be where Cliff Lee’s name is. They both have WAR’s of 4.2, Lee has a higher ERA, WHIP, gave up more home runs and Batting average against with runners in scoring in position. Saber crowd says Cole should have been looked at, even having more strike outs than Lee although more walks, 52 BB per 215 IP is still only an average of 2 walks per game. Even defense independent ERA both Lee and Hamels are in the same neighborhood with Lee at 3.17 and Hamels at 3.31. It all comes down to wins in this game though and despite Lee only receiving an average of 3.60 runs per start, Hamels received 4.77 and that makes an eleven win difference with Lee winning 6 games and Cole 17.
    I know this is blasphemous but in looking at all these numbers, in enough of these categories Gio Gonzalez is better than both Lee and Hamels enough to the point that he’d be more likely to receive votes before Lee or Hamels and even though there is a dark horse here for the BBWAA to vote on. Craig Kimbrel’s season was worthy of at least someone voting for a pitcher who only allowed 7 runs all year long while striking out batters at a rate of 16.66 K/9. In the last 12 years, no pitcher with at least 50 IP is even above 15 K/9 except Kimbrel.
    In regards to AL MVP…I would give Trout the MVP in a heartbeat based on his ridiculous season which is even more exciting because he is a local to the South Jersey community, but the guy who makes the playoffs and wins the Triple Crown will more than likely be taking it home this year but I would argue without the Triple Crown achievement the choice would be a toss up.

  12. Bill Baer

    November 02, 2012 11:47 AM

    As @weed_mouse pointed out to me on Twitter, Lance Lynn isn’t a rookie due to service time. I’ve edited the post to fix my mistake. I put in Todd Frazier in his place.

  13. Eric Longenhagen

    November 02, 2012 01:13 PM

    If you put Cole, Gio, Cueto in that third spot I’m fine with that. You’re splitting hairs. The fake ballot scenario means I almost have to put Lee if for no other reason than to create the opportunity for me to explain to those who don’t already know that pitchers have no control over what happens to a ball after it’s put into play.

  14. robbie e

    November 02, 2012 02:06 PM

    I understand that, Eric. But the knock on Cole was always the wins. You can’t use the argument that it’s Lee instead of Hamels whose stats were pretty close except that Hamels finally got the wins and actually would have had 20 because of 3 games that he actually left with the lead and the bullpen blew the save. If I were Cole I’d ask what the hell I had to do to be considered as a Cy Young contender. Win 20 with a below 3 era still wouldn’t get it done. When Cole didn’t get any run support in 2010 it was still the wins that kept him out of contention more than anything else.

  15. Bill Baer

    November 02, 2012 02:13 PM

    Pinning Hamels vs. Lee is a false choice. And I don’t think Eric has ever advocated that Hamels shouldn’t have been in consideration because of his record.

  16. Eric Longenhagen

    November 02, 2012 03:08 PM

    Yeah, Robbie, I could care less how many games a pitcher has won. I haven’t cared since 2004 when Roger Clemens beat out Randy Johnson for the NL CY because Unit had 14 losses, even though he had a sub-1 whip and threw 250 innings. I love Cole and could have thrown a dart at 4 different names for that third spot. But now I get to tell you how little wins tell us so I’m glad I had Lee third.

  17. bob dee

    November 03, 2012 03:28 PM

    longenhagen & Buamann are nuts Lee wasn’t even the best pitcher on his own team. Both theses guys are the reason some people dismiss sabermetrics. They have no common sense or uncommon sense for that matter.

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