As with the All-Star game the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has asked all of its members to vote for the snappily named end of year awards. Therefore, without further ado, here are my votes.
We’ll begin with the American League:
Connie Mack Award (Best Manager): 1. Joe Madden (Tampa Bay Rays) 2. Terry Francona (Boston Red Sox) 3. Bob Geren (Oakland Athletics)
The Red Sox fan in me wants to give Francona the nod in this category and I think I would be justified in doing so as the Red Sox have been far more competitive than their injury marred roster should have allowed them to be (look for a post trumpeting the positive contributions of the likes of Hall, McDonald and Kalish in the coming days). Still, the Red Sox are not going to make the play-offs and ultimately success is the true measure of an excellent manager. Therefore I'll have to vote for Joe Madden who's Rays have dominated the AL East and outplayed the far richer Yankees all year. The Rays do not have the depth of talent New York and Boston do and therefore their ability to win so many ball-games has to be largely due to do Madden's exciting brand of baseball. I toyed with giving my third place vote to Cito Gaston of the Blue Jays but balked after it dawned on me that they are only over 500 due to Jose Bautista's freak season and Vernon Wells' half a good season. I don't think it's anything Gaston can take credit for. I've got the same reservations about Geren in Oakland and of course its long been whispered that A's managers are simply Billy Beane's puppets but I'm prepared to give Geren the benefit of the doubt and attribute the A's' surprising competitiveness to his managerial decisions. Honourable mention goes to Ron Gardenhire who is a fantastic manager however (aside from the injury to Morneau and Nathan, who as a closer is easily replaceable anyway) the Twin simply had too good a team not to run away with the Central, no managerial heroics necessary. Credit to Ozzie Guillen and his White Sox for pushing them close however.
Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year): 1. Austin Jackson (Detroit Tigers) 2. Sergio Santos (Chicago White Sox) 3. Brennan Boesch (Detroit Tigers)
I'm not particularly enthused about any of these guys and other than Jackson who is a clear winner (and yet would not have cracked my top 5 in the NL) the 2nd and 3rd picks could easily be replaced with any number of other AL rookies. While technically a Rookie I've not giving consideration to Neftali Feliz as I think he got too much of a look last year to really count. Honourable mention to Ryan Kalish of the Red Sox who looks to have the makings of an incredible defensive CF (Lord knows the Sox could use one after years of Ellsbury) and some decent pop. Dishonourable mention goes to Matt Tuiasosopo of the Mariners who I picked in my team of 2010 back in April and has spectacularly failed to hit the Mendoza line. Then again, he does play for Seattle, not a lot of role models around there anymore.
Goose Gossage Award (Best Reliever): 1. Joakim Soria (Kansas City Royals) 2. Ryan Perry (Detroit Tigers) 3. Sergio Santos (Chicago White Sox)
First of all I object to the BBA's insistence that this award be named after Gossage. It should be the Lee Smith award. As with the Rookie award the AL has a significantly weaker class than the NL. I'll give Soria the nod, more as compensation for having to play for Kansas City than any real merit. Perry and Santos have both been really solid competitors for their teams, nothing particularly exciting about either of them, but the sort of guys who you'd happily have on your team. Honourable mention to Daniel Bard, Rafael Soriano and Jose Valverde (before he got hurt).
Walter Johnson Award (What the Cy Young should really be called) 1. Trevor Cahill (Oakland Athletics) 2. Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners) 3. Jon Lester (Boston Red Sox) 4. David Price (Tampa Bay Rays) 5. Clay Buchholz (Boston Red Sox) 6. Francisco Liriano (Minnesota Twins) 7. CC Sabathia (New York Yankees) 8. Brett Anderson (Oakland Athletics) 9. Cliff Lee (Seattle Mariners/Texas Rangers) 10. Matt Garza (Tampa Bay Rays)
I must say I'm a bit old-fashioned when it comes to the W. I complained bitterly the other year when CC Sabathia beat Josh Beckett for the Cy Young even though Josh had 20 wins (oh to have more years like that!). However I read Joe Posnanski's excellent article comparing CC and King Felix's starts this year and I am sold, Felix has had by far the better year. I'm putting Hernandez second behind Cahill simply because I think the young A is better able to satisfy both the advanced stat and the Joe Morgan sides of me; he has enough wins, he has the low ERA and has come up big in the big game this year. Jon Lester has emerged as a legit ace in Boston and has a shot at 20 wins. Buchholz and Price are both Cy Young award winners of the future. I'll pick Price over Buchholz here partly to deflect accusations of Red Sox bias but also because Price carries with him an excitement that Clay doesn't. Liriano has been great for the Twin, who, at the start of the year lacked for a legit ace - they clearly have one now. If it weren't for the wins I'd leave CC out of the top ten entirely but deep down I know I couldn't really justify it. Brett Anderson is another white-hot prospect who if he can stay healthy will be a dominant pitcher for years to come. Cliff Lee has struggled lately but has the best walk to K ratio in baseball history this year! Garza, with his no-hitter and utter dominance against the Red Sox rounds off the top ten. Honourable mention goes to Carl Pavano who has completed his return to baseball respectability admirably and is a big part of the Twin's success this season.
Stan Musial Award (MVP) 1. Paul Konerko (Chicago White Sox) 2. Josh Hamilton (Texas Rangers) 3. Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers) 4. Adrian Beltre (Boston Red Sox) 5. Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays) 6. Robinson Cano (New York Yankees) 7. Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins) 8. Alex Rios (Chicago White Sox) 9. Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays 10. Vlad Guerrero (Texas Rangers)
I want to make it very clear that I regard the MVP award as just that, the most VALUABLE player award. I believe my voting largely reflects this. While the White Sox are not going to make the playoffs this year they came close and the fact that they did so is almost entirely due to Paul Konerko's monster year. Konerko is at the stage in his career where he can sit back, hit 15-20 bombs a year, knock in 60-70 and get a pat on the back from everyone (sit Jason Varitek only less so). Instead Chicago's captain has put up Albert Pujols numbers while still providing the emotional heart of Ozzie Guillen's line-up. Hamilton is much the same, and would have one this award if it weren't for his injury. He just seems to be the talisman the Rangers needed this season. Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the AL but his value is significantly less than Konerko's. The same is true of Longoria, Cano and Beltre - all three had fantastic seasons and all will win MVP votes, however all three played in good lineups with a lot of other talent around to support them (and pad their RBI totals). I pick Beltre first as, given the Red Sox's problems staying healthy he carried the team on his back offensively for big portions of this year. Joe Mauer is Joe Mauer, a catcher who can win batting titles - that will always be of incredible value. Jose Baustista will probably never have another year like this and I doubt that the Blue Jays would have finished any worse off had he not hit 50 bombs. Still, 50 HR is 50 HR and deserves MVP consideration I suppose. Vlad and Alex Rios both had big bounce-back years and really helped out their clubs.
And now for the National League:
Connie Mack: 1. Bud Black (San Diego Padres) 2. Bruce Bochy (San Francisco Giants) 3. Charlie Manuel (Philadelphia Phillies)
It would appear that the Padres are going to blow their lead and end up out of the post-season. Still, no matter how things end up the 2010 Padres has absolutely no business even being a .500 team led alone one that entered September in first place in their division. Bud Black deserves huge credit for that (as does Kevin Towers, the new Arizona GM). Bruce Bochy is a similar case, he has done very well with what was and (to a lessen extent post Burrell and Guillen) is a very poor offensive team. As for Charlie Manuel, consider him the poor man's Terry Francona.
Willie Mays: 1. Jason Heyward (Atlanta Braves) 2. Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants) 3. Gaby Sanchez (Florida Marlins)
For more detailed discussion of the NL Rookie of Year award please see a previous post. There I promoted Sanchez as the true winner over Heyward. Since then Sanchez has faded while Heyward has carried on producing at a high level. Buster Posey has had an amazing year and, given that he is a catcher, I would like to pick him over Heyward. However Heyward's WAR is significantly higher and he is a more exciting player to watch.
Goose Gossage Award: 1. Luke Gregerson (San Diego Padres) 2. Johnny Venters (Atlanta Braves) 3. Nick Masset (Cincinnati Reds)
I've decided not to get over excited about closers for this vote. Billy Wagner has been sensational this year and would be a deserving winner. However Gregerson, Venters and Masset have done exceptional work all year long without the attention and praise lavished on their 9th inning counterparts. Essentially all these nominees are inter-changeable, the current order is simply how I viewed it at the time of writing, all are worthy winners who played huge roles in their team's success.
Walter Johnson: 1. Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies) 2. Mat Latos (San Diego Padres) 3. Ubaldo Jimenez (Colorado Rockies) 4. Josh Johnson (Florida Marlins) 5. Tim Hudson (Atlanta Braves) 6. Roy Oswalt (Houston Astros/Philadelphia Phillies) 7. Adam Wainwright (St Louis Cardinals) 8. Chris Carpenter (St Louis Cardinals) 9. Jon Garland (San Diego Padres) 10. Yovanni Gallardo (Milwaukee Brewers)
Roy Halladay did the impossible and managed to live up to the hype, Jimenez throws a no-hitter, Halladay throws a perfecto. That's a pretty good way of summing up the whole Cy Young battle really. Given Philly's injury problems (which, to be fair, are a little over-reported) one can't even make the claim that Halladay's season is diminished by moving to a contending team. Latos gets the runner up vote partly due to his youth and partly due to playing for a team so offensively impotent. Jimenez has a great year and would be a worthy winner, he just lacked the consistency of Halladay and Latos. Josh Johnson has become the forgotten man of NL pitching. His one run complete game against Philly was forgotten as Halladay threw the perfect game, yet he beat Doc in a low scoring follow up the next week. Without any of the hype of the Jimenez-Halladay Cy Young race Johnson has quietly put up a season that rivals both of them. Oswalt, Carpenter, Wainwright and Hudson's seasons are all pretty much interchangeable. I'll put Oswalt, Wainwright and Hudson above Carpenter simply because Chris seems to be a gigantic d#ck. Jon Garland is a gamer, pure and simple. A big reason for the Padre's success. Gallardo is the only bright spot as far as pitching is concerned in Milwaukee (no matter how many ludicrous moustaches they make their closers grow).
Stan Musial: 1. Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds) 2. Albert Pujols (St Louis Cardinals) 3. Troy Tulowitski (Colorado Rockies) 4. Adrian Gonzalez (San Diego Padres) 5. Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado Rockies) 6. David Wright (New York Mets) 7. Scott Rolen (Cincinnati Reds) 8. Jason Heyward (Atlanta Braves) 9. Brian McCann (Atlanta Braves) 10. Aubrey Huff (San Francisco Giants)
A clearer choice than in the AL. Joey Votto is unquestionably the MVP of the NL. Votto emerged as a legitimate triple crown threat and powered the Reds to their first post-season appearance in years. Extra credit should go to Votto for returning so strong from his trouble last year. Pujols is Pujols, he has another MVP calibre year but simply (given the Cardinals' collapse and the good year enjoyed by Matt Holliday) wasn't as valuable as Votto. Troy Tulowitski is comfortably the best short shop in baseball and is currently on a one-man mission to get the Rockies to the play-offs. Given the decline of Todd Helton expect Tulo to be the face of the Rockies for the foreseeable future. Speaking of one-man-offences, Adrian Gonzalez can be considered a legit MVP on the basis of value alone. Cargo drops to fifth on this list and again the reason for this is value. His numbers are inflated by Coors Field but what's more he simply isn't the most valuable player on his own team, yet alone the whole league. Neither Rolen, Wright, Heyward, McCann or Huff are true contenders for the MVP, they all however have had big years and were of great value to their teams, particularly Rolen and Huff - two great players who's solid, dependable contributions are often over-looked in favour of their more flashy team-mates.