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2012 Awards

One of the great privileges that comes with Baseball Bloggers Alliance membership is the opportunity to vote on postseason awards. I am classified as a Mariners blog, so I vote only on American League awards. Results of BBA-wide voting will come out as October unfolds, and I will post the results as they come out. For now, you will have to settle with how I voted, along with my rationale:

Connie Mack Award (best manager)
  1. Buck Schowalter, Orioles
  2. Bob Melvin, Athletics
  3. Robin Ventura, White Sox
The Orioles have to be one of the most patchwork playoff teams of all-time. They had 8 pitchers start at least 10 games for them, and none of those include Joe Saunders, the man who started their one-game playoff to make the ALDS. They lost Nick Markakis for the season right as they hit crucial games in September. They called up a 20-year-old Manny Machado, asked him to switch positions, and it worked. Schowalter truly had some situations to manage throughout the season. Baltimore's incredibly good fortune in extra innings and one-run ballgames are both well-known storylines in 2012 too, and Schowalter's handling of his ever-changing roster has to be given some credit for all those wins. For me, Buck is an easy pick for this award.

Willie Mays Award (best rookie)
  1. Mike Trout, Angels
  2. Yu Darvish, Rangers
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
There's no other choice besides Trout for this award, despite the success of Darvish and Cespedes. I feel like saying anything more would suggest there is an argument to be made for anyone besides Trout. There isn't.

Goose Gossage Award (best reliever)
  1. Fernando Rodney, Rays
  2. Jim Johnson, Orioles
  3. Rafael Soriano, Yankees
I wouldn't be surprised if Fernando Rodney is a one-year wonder, but what a year it was. He started the season as an interim closer until Kyle Farnsworth got healthy, but he simply pitched way too well and never slowed down. Rodney essentially was the 1990 version of Dennis Eckersley this season. Seriously.

Walter Johnson Award (best pitcher)
  1. Justin Verlander, Tigers
  2. David Price, Rays
  3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
  4. Jered Weaver, Angels
  5. Chris Sale, White Sox
I couldn't justify giving this award to anyone else but Verlander, which surprised me because I felt like I heard more about other pitchers with regularity. The problem with Verlander is that he has set the bar so high for himself. He had the kind of season that is expected of him, and it just so happens that expectation makes him better than anyone else in the league. Verlander led all AL starting pitchers in innings pitched, strikeouts, WAR, and WPA. He was among the leaders in virtually any statistical category you could care about. He is a bona fide ace that provides quality and quantity.

Stan Musial Award (MVP)
  1. Mike Trout, Angels
  2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
  3. Robinson Cano, Yankees
  4. Adrian Beltre, Rangers
  5. Adam Jones, Orioles
  6. Justin Verlander, Tigers
  7. Josh Reddick, Athletics
  8. Josh Hamilton, Rangers
  9. David Price, Rays
  10. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
There was only one choice for this award in my eyes. I respect Miguel Cabrera's triple crown. He had an amazing season. The problem is that he ran into an even more amazing performance. I watched Trout open up the season in Tacoma. I honestly believe I saw the best player in all of baseball play, completely healthy, in a AAA game.

What else does Trout need to do to win an MVP award? He led the AL in runs scored and stolen bases. The Angels were 6-14 when they called him up, and then went 80-56 with him in the lineup. Albert Pujols heated up once Trout started playing every day. Baseball is, of course, a team game, but Trout deserves some of the credit - I'd argue a lion's share. These are the kind of results that make MVP cases.

One last number that I have to throw in: Trout's WAR is an even 10.0 according to Fangraphs. That was best in the AL by 2.1 WAR. To try to put this gap in perspective, Paul Konerko was worth 2.1 WAR. Add up Paul Konerko and the next-best player in the AL (Robinson Cano), and you get Mike Trout's season, which by the way was a month shorter than everyone else's because he didn't get called up until the end of April. Really, despite Miguel Cabrera's triple crown, there was Mike Trout and everybody else in the American League this season.

There are my award selections. Awards are an inexact science, and I would love to field some debates in the comments section. There were no debates last year, so I assume that I nailed those picks. Maybe picking Trout over Cabrera will rile some feathers among you, the faithful Musings readers, this year.