Friday, September 30, 2011

End of the Year Awards for MLB

The 2011 Major League Baseball regular season came to a close Wednesday night, and what a finish it was. And now that the dust has finally settled, let's take a look at my thoughts on the end of the year awards. We're talking Cy Youngs, MVPs, Rookies of the Year, and Managers of the Year. I'm not saying this is who's going to win, but it's who I'd pick. So here we go:


We'll start with an easy one. If Justin Verlander isn't the unanimous winner, then the system is broken. Justin Verlander won 24 games, 5 more than any other American League pitcher, led the league in innings pitched (251), strikeouts (250), WHIP (0.92), ERA (2.40) and was one of just 5 pitchers in the American League to make 34 starts. There's honestly no argument for any other American League pitcher.
Photo Credit:

Winner: Justin Verlander (Tigers)

Honorable Mentions: Jered Weaver (Angels), James Shields (Rays), C.J. Wilson (Rangers), CC Sabathia (Yankees), Jose Valverde (Tigers), Mariano Rivera (Yankees).


This one isn't quite as clear cut, but I still feel good about saying that Clayton Kershaw deserves to win the NL Cy Young Award. Like Verlander, Kershaw won the Pitching Triple Crown (lead the league in Wins, ERA and Strikeouts) going 21-5 with a Major League best 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts in just 233 1/3 innings. Dodger pitchers other than Kershaw were 13 games under .500 and I think that's what separates Kershaw from fellow 21 game winner Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks. Kershaw's overall numbers are better and he won a ton of games for a bad team. Now there's certainly an argument for saying that the guys who win a ton of games in a pennant race are doing so with more pressure on them and that means more, but consider Kershaw was 3-1 with a 1.42 ERA against Arizona and 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA against San Francisco, the two best teams in his division, and I think he still gets the edge.
Photo Credit:

Winner: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)

Honorable Mentions: Kennedy (Diamondbacks), Roy Halladay (Phillies), Cliff Lee (Phillies), Cole Hamels (Phillies), John Axford (Brewers).


There's some really good candidates for this award this year: Mark Trumbo hit 29 home runs and drove in 87 for the Angels, Ivan Nova won 16 games for the Yankees and didn't lose after June 3rd going 12-0 the rest of the way, Tampa's Jeremy Hellickson finished 8th in the AL in ERA, Angels closer Jordan Walden had 32 saves, and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer had a solid all around season batting .293 with 19 home runs, 78 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases. So how do we narrow this down? Walden blew a league worst 10 saves and Trumbo had an on base percentage of just .291 with 120 strikeouts, so they're out. Hosmer's really good and you'll be hearing his name a lot more in the future, but while his numbers were good, they weren't GREAT. So you're left with two starting pitchers, Nova and Hellickson. And honestly, Hellickson's numbers are better than Nova's in every category except wins. I don't want to undersell the importance of what Nova was to the Yankees rotation, but the Rays don't make the playoffs without Hellickson.
Photo Credit:

Winner: Jeremy Hellickson (Rays)

Honorable Mentions: Trumbo (Angels), Nova (Yankees), Walden (Angels), Hosmer (Royals)


A number of worthy candidates for Rookie of the Year in the NL as well: Freddie Freeman led all NL rookies in runs (72), hits (161), doubles (32), runs batted in (76) and was tied with Desi Espinosa with 21 home runs while batting .282. Craig Kimbrel set a rookie record with 46 saves. And you can make cases for pitchers Josh Collmenter (10-10, 3.38 ERA), Dillon Gee (13-6, 4.43 ERA) and Vance Worley (11-3, 3.01 ERA). I go back and forth on this one between Worley and Kimbrel. Kimbrel had 46 saves, a rookie record, and ended the season with a 2.10 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. Worley was 11-3 for the Phillies, and stepped up big time in their rotation when Joe Blanton and Roy Oswalt suffered injuries during the year. I think I give the slight edge to Kimbrel just because he was SO dominant for most of the year. On September 8th his ERA was a mere 1.55, at one point he saved 25 games in a row, and he didn't allow a single run between June 14th and September 8th, a span of 38 appearances. On second thought, it's not that close. Despite his disappointing end to the season, Kimbrel's your guy.
Photo Credit:

Winner: Craig Kimbrel (Braves)

Honorable Mentions: Freeman (Braves), Collmenter (Diamondbacks), Gee (Mets), Worley (Phillies).


If the Red Sox had won, this award should have gone to Jacoby Ellsbury who bounced back from an injury plagued 2010 season to set career highs in virtually every offensive category this year - .321 average, 119 runs, 212 hits, 46 doubles, 32 homers, 105 runs batted in, to go along with 39 steals. It was more than that though as he was getting big hits right and left for the slumping Sox, the biggest of which being a 3-run homer to beat New York last Sunday night in the 14th inning, and on top of that he's been a terrific centerfielder. But they didn't win, so I'm ruling him out. Jose Bautista's name gets thrown out there a lot, but the Jays finished 81-81 and I'm a believer that this award should go to a player on a contending team. Curtis Granderson scored 136 runs and slugged 41 homers while driving in 119, but he only hit .262 for the top-seeded Yankees. Plus, if he didn't play well he had Mark Teixeria, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, etc. in the lineup to pick him up. You can throw some other names out there too: Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Michael Young... But I have to go with Verlander again. The Tigers pulled away in the Central late thanks to a big winning streak, but before that, the Tigers were under .500 when Verlander didn't pitch. I know a lot of people don't like pitchers winning the MVP award, but in a year where there isn't a clearcut favorite among the position players, I think he deserves it.
Photo Credit:

Winner: Justin Verlander (Tigers)

Honorable Mentions: Ellsbury (Red Sox), Granderson (Yankees), Bautista (Blue Jays), Cano (Yankees), Young (Rangers), Gonzalez (Red Sox)


For the same reason I don't like Bautista for the award in the American League, I don't like Matt Kemp in the National League. Kemp just narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown (batting average, home runs, runs batted in), losing out only on the batting title to Jose Reyes, but didn't play for a contender. So now I'm looking at two guys that play for the same team which is a bit of a conundrum. Prince Fielder (.299 38 homers 120 rbis) and Ryan Braun (.332 33 homers 111 rbis) both have impressive resumes. So how do you say one is more valuable than the other? Troy Tulowitzki had a great season playing a solid shortstop for the Rockies, but they finished 4th in the NL West. Ryan Howard led the Phillies with 33 homers and 116 runs batted in, but batted just .253. Justin Upton only drove in 88 runs for Arizona. Albert Pujols was terrific again, though not by his standards - .299 37 homers 99 rbis... So you really don't have a great candidate. I guess I'd go with Braun, but I wouldn't be upset if Fielder or Pujols came away with the award.
Photo Credit:

Winner: Ryan Braun (Brewers)

Honorable Mentions: Fielder (Brewers), Pujols (Cardinals), Tulowitzki (Rockies), Kemp (Dodgers).


Any time you make the playoffs out of the American League East and you're not from New York or Boston, you're doing something really right as a manager. The fact that the Rays did it this year after losing Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford and practically their entire bullpen is downright astounding.
Photo Credit:

Winner: Joe Maddon


In 2010 Arizona was 65-97, the second worst team in the National League. This year, the D-Backs won the NL West with a record of 94-68. I defy you to name a better candidate.
Photo Credit:

Winner: Kirk Gibson

So those are my picks, what do you guys think?

Sports & Such is now on twitter. Follow us @smittysports1. 
Got any questions/comments/requests? Email the blog - 


  1. Can't you just give the AL MVP to John Lackey for being the best player on every other team he faced? I'm not bitter or anything...

  2. Don't worry, dude. He's only under contract for like 3 more years.

  3. Gotta think the voters are still too "traditional" to give the MVP to a pitcher.

  4. Thinking back to Pedro a few years back and how he didn't even crack some guys ballots, you're probably right. But as a former pitcher, I have to lobby for my own kind.