2011 Awards

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I have the opportunity to vote on postseason awards. Since I am a Mariners blog, I only vote on American League awards. Here are my picks for each award, along with a little rationale behind them. I will post the final results of the voting when it comes out, and compare the BBA picks with the BBWAA. The BBA awards will be announced a full month earlier, so expect some reaction on them first:

Connie Mack Award (top manager)
  1. Joe Maddon, Rays
  2. Mike Scioscia, Angels
  3. Jim Leyland, Tigers
While it is impossible to separate the contributions of Maddon and his GM, Andrew Friedman, they are the tandem that make the Rays as competitive as they are. Maddon's willingness to think outside the box, and trust the different ideas that the number-crunching front office throws at him and his coaching staff deserve to be commended. The wins and furious comeback in the wild card race don't hurt either.

As for Scioscia, his ranking is a backhanded condemnation of Tony Reagins, the now ex-Angels GM. Once again, the Angels contended, and how I'm not totally sure with the bad moves made. Leyland gets the nod thanks to Detroit's strong finish, and moves like sending Brandon Inge down, only to see him come back and be a productive third baseman again.

Willie Mays Award (top rookie)
  1. Michael Pineda, Mariners
  2. Alexi Ogando, Rangers
  3. Mark Trumbo, Angels
This was a tough award to choose on. Dustin Ackley, Desmond Jennings, and Brett Lawrie all burst on the scene later in the season, and a full season from any of them probably would have changed the voting drastically. Still, I'll defer to their respective ballclubs, and assume there was some reason for keeping them in the minors to develop a little longer. It was a tough choice between Pineda and Ogando, and it was Pineda's All-Star game performance that swayed me in the end.

Goose Gossage Award (top reliever)
  1. Mariano Rivera, Yankees
  2. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
  3. David Robertson, Yankees
I picked Rivera partially because he broke the all-time saves record this season, but his case stands on its own well. Papelbon accumulated more WAR, but the last thing he did is blow the the final game against the Orioles (though that's not his fault really; he was overused). Papelbon also earned only 31 saves, a surprisingly low total for a team as good as Boston. Modern pitching metrics suggest that Rivera was a bit lucky this year (especially with his strand rate), but at the end of the day it still counts as production. It's hard to find a more productive reliever in the AL than Rivera, this season, or any of the past 15 seasons for that matter.

Walter Johnson Award (top pitcher)
  1. Justin Verlander, Tigers
  2. CC Sabathia, Yankees
  3. C.J. Wilson, Rangers
  4. Jered Weaver, Angels
  5. Doug Fister, Tigers
No-brainer here, though I feel bad for Sabathia. He should have at least one or two more Cy Young awards, but he always runs against a remarkable season from somebody else. The inclusion of Doug Fister might be an eyebrow-raiser, but his WAR compares favorably with anyone in the next tier below Verlander and Sabathia. Furthermore, the Tigers took off after his acquisition, and his masterful pitching had something to do with that.

Stan Musial Award (top player)
  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
  2. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
  3. Curtis Granderson, Yankees
  4. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
  5. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
  6. Justin Verlander, Tigers
  7. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
  8. CC Sabathia, Yankees
  9. Ben Zobrist, Rays
  10. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
Ellsbury did it all this year. He hit for average, and more power than I think just about anyone thought he had (maybe even including him). Along with that came great speed, and tremendous defense in center field. Talk about a total package. If Curtis Granderson had more elite defense, he would give Ellsbury a run for his money, but as it is, I couldn't forget about Bautista's amazing first half.

Strictly listing based on WAR, Pedroia should rank higher - but I find it hard to justify anyone as the Most Valuable Player in a league when they aren't the best player in their own lineup. I hope guys like Ian Kinsler and Ben Zobrist get some love on other ballots too, though neither look much like a traditional MVP candidate with their low batting averages, and general lack of any sparkling traditional statistic. Their value comes from being good in several areas from positions that often don't provide a ton of offense.

Those are my picks. I'm sure every one of you disagree somewhere. I'll assume I nailed my picks if I don't see any comments.