Tuesday, October 04, 2011

BBA Awards: Part 1

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has their own set of year-end awards that its members vote on, and are asked to do so in a blog post. Each of these awards is appropriately named after one of baseball's all-time greats. This being my first year in the organization, it will be my first time casting votes for the following awards:
  • Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)
  • Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year)
  • Goose Gossage Award (Reliever of the Year)

Connie Mack Award - AL
  1. Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Joe Girardi, New York Yankees
  3. Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers
I'll start with the Connie Mack Award because, to me, this one is fairly easy, at least to the extent that I view such an award. When thinking about this honor, I tend to favor the managers whose teams outperformed expectations. That's really all we have to go on, in my opinion, and the two teams that most exceeded expectations were the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks.

It's not that no one predicted the Rays to make the playoffs, but not many people gave them a chance this year, especially after losing Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano and Carlos Peña to free agency. But, what was even more impressive was how they did it, by erasing a huge wild card deficit and overtaking the Boston Red Sox on the last day of the season. To me, there's no question that Joe Maddon is the American League's top manager this year.

Connie Mack Award - NL
  1. Kirk Gibson, Arizona Diamondbacks
  2. Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee Brewers
  3. Tony LaRussa, St. Louis Cardinals
It may actually be true that no one picked the Diamondbacks to reach the playoffs, and for that reason, Kirk Gibson is the clear choice for best National League skipper.

Other worthy candidates include the New York Yankees' Joe Girardi, for guiding a team considered to have highly suspect starting pitching to the best record in the American League; the Detroit Tigers' Jim Leyland, for managing a team that few expected would win 95 games; the Milwaukee Brewers' Ron Roenicke, for leading the brew crew to their first playoff appearance in almost 30 years; and Tony LaRussa, because his team pulled off almost as impressive a comeback as the Rays, and they did it without the ace of their pitching staff, Adam Wainwright.

Willie Mays Award - AL
  1. Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers
  2. Michael Pineda, Seattle Mariners
  3. Ivan Nova, New York Yankees
There were a lot of solid rookie performers in the American League this year, but no one who really stood out. I'm surprised that very little has been said about Ogando's chances, but he gets my vote over a couple other young starting pitchers.

Willie Mays Award - NL
  1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
  2. Vance Worley, Philadelphia Phillies
  3. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
Everyone loves to downplay the importance of relief pitchers, but a rookie taking over a pretty high pressure situation, and handling it as well as Kimbrel did, is fairly impressive to me. He was one of the best in the National League at his role, so he gets my vote as the top first-year player in the league.

Goose Gossage Award - AL
  1. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
  2. Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers
  3. David Robertson, New York Yankees
If saves are an over-rated statistic, then blown saves are even more so. Valverde was 49-for-49 in save opportunities, but he also lost four games. His four losses were all tie games in which he failed to pitch the one scoreless inning he was asked to. This is basically the equivalent of blowing a one-run lead, so Valverde's lack of blown saves is at least a little misleading. So, let's face it, Mariano Rivera may have blown five saves, and lost two, but he was clearly better this year. I'm favoring closers for this award, but rounding out the top three is Yankees setup man David Robertson, who deserves some recognition for the fantastic year he had.

Goose Gossage Award - NL
  1. John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Although I downplayed the blown save statistic in explaining my pick for the AL's best reliever—but, seriously, that was to argue Mariano Rivera over Jose Valverde—I'm going to use it to help me decide between three excellent National League closers. All else being fairly equal, Axford converted 46-of-48, Hanrahan 40-of-44, and Kimbrel 46-of-54.


      1. Ogando isn't a rookie. Fangraphs had me confused too. Here's BtBS's take:

      2. Why didn't you tell me sooner? ;)

        Ugh...damn Fangraphs. I should have double-checked, though. Kind of embarrassing.