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.
Today’s ballot is for the equivalent of the MLB Cy Young Award. Here are my picks, all of whom were All Stars in 2010:
1st Place: CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees.
Not only did he have 21 wins and only 7 losses, he pitched 237.2 innings, had an ERA of 3.18, 197 strikeouts and a low WHIP of 1.191. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the WHIP stat, it means walks and hits per inning pitched. It is one of the best ways to evaluate a pitcher. He’s the only one of the 5 listed here who won over 20 games. So, much as I hate the Yankees, he gets my nod for #1.
2nd Place: Cliff Lee of the Texas Rangers. Although he had a bit if a rough go after he was traded by Seattle to Texas, he deserves to be #2. I know, the Cy young doesn’t usually go to a pitcher unless he has at least 16 wins, but when Cliff (12-9) is on, he is completely dominant, and he’s on most of the time, and almost always lights out when it really counts. His ERA was 3.18, not the lowest by any means, but he gave up only .8 walks per 9 innings, his strikeout/walk ratio was 10.28, and his WHIP was a very low 1.003. On paper he may not look like he deserves second place, but I’d take him as the ace on my team anyday.
3rd Place: David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays. David (19-6) had a 2.72 ERA, Pitched 208.2 innings and had 188 strikeouts. So far, so good. But his WHIP was 1.193, he gave up 3.4 walks/9 innings, his SO/BB ratio was 8.1, all worse than Lee.
4th Place: Trevor Cahill of the Oakland Athletics.
You would be wrong if you thought this was strickly a sentimental pick, because if it were, Trevor (18-8) would be much higher up the list. He deserves considerable recognition for what he accomplished in 2010, especially since he started the year at AAA, and in the majors he pitched for a team with some of the lowest hitting stats in the league. He finished with an ERA of just 2.97, had 118 strikeouts, and his WHIP was 1.108, second lowest of the 5 listed here behind only Cliff Lee. His hits/9 innings was the lowest at 7.1.
5th Place: Jon Lester of the New York Yankees. Another Yankee, I know, but his stats alone warrant his consideration: W/L of 19-9, ERA 3.25, 208 innings pitched, 225 strikeouts, 1.202 WHIP, and 7.2 hits/9 innings.
There you have it.
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance is a group of about 235 bloggers who cover all 30 MLB teams, as well as some who write blogs of more general baseball interest and history of the game. If you are interested in reading blogs about teams other than the A’s, let me know which teams and I’ll hook you up with my fellow bloggers who cover that team.
Nest: The Stan Musial Award (akin to MLB’s Most Valuable Player award)