With about as much fanfare as the release of a new Wallflowers album, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance unveiled its postseason awards over the past week. The collective wisdom of my peers disagreed with three of the five awards we issued in the National League, but I have no problem with any of the group’s picks. As the American League is concerned, we agreed on every count. Here’s a quick rundown:
Connie Mack Award
The bloggers agreed with me that Bob Melvin edged out Buck Showalter as the AL’s best manager. Like me, the group showed little conviction in making this distinction, as Melvin won by just a 2% margin and I picked Melvin based on a rather silly algorithm. In the NL, that algorithm led me to vote for Bruce Bochy, while the Alliance tabbed Davey Johnson, a perfectly reasonable pick who was third on my ballot.
Despite promises of further transparecy in this year’s BBA elections, the announcements were rather cryptic, referencing only the winner’s percentage of the polling (“Davey Johnson received 71% of the vote throughout the BBA”) and leading me to wonder whether the third place vote I gave to Johnson even factored into the result.
Willie Mays Award
Again, the electorate agreed with me in the AL, but not the NL. Mike Trout was a unanimous winner here, which is a shame because it makes it hard for me to argue that we underrated him. Bryce Harper, meanwhile, received 66% of the BBA vote, while my choice, Wade Miley, isn’t even mentioned in the BBA’s writeup. Picking between Harper and Miley is largely a question of philosophy, as Harper was roughly as effective at hitting and fielding as Miley was at pitching, so it’s hard to objectively conclude that one was a more valuable player than the other. Harper is a more-than-defensible choice.
Goose Gossage Award
This was an easy one, as the good bloggers and I agreed on Fernando Rodney’s and Craig Kimbrel’s worthiness. Each received 87% of the BBA vote, which sounds about right and leads me to wonder who got the other votes, particularly in the league Aroldic Chapman doesn’t pitch in.
Walter Johnson Award
Where the league’s best pitcher is concerned, I was somewhat nervous that the group might choose David Price over Justin Verlander based on Price’s lower ERA and more wins. The BBA seems to skew more toward advanced analysis than the BBWAA, but we gave Jose Valverde the 2011 Gossage Award primarily based on saves, so I wasn’t fully confident we’d reward Verlander for pitching far more innings in a more challenging environment. The Alliance came through, as 67% of us voted for Verlander.
In the National league, I picked Clayton Kershaw, but RA Dickey, Johnny Cueto, and others presented strong cases. Though we don’t learn anything about the balloting from the Alliance’s announcement, we do know that Dickey pulled it out. While WAR and other advanced metrics prefer Kershaw, my True Season Score gave Kershaw a 401-400 edge over second-place Dickey, illustrating how close this race was. I like Dickey and am happy to see him win this award.
Stan Musial Award
Here’s where I held my breath. In fact, this award was announced at Tuesday, and with all the election-related choas in my life on Tuesday and Wednesday, I couldn’t bear to make myself check who won until this morning. Miguel Cabrera had a great season. He’ll forever be remembered for winning the Triple Crown and should be recognized as among the game’s best hitters. But he was nowhere near the best player in the American League this year, and if a group of my peers named him the league’s best player, I would have had second thoughts about my membership in said group. Sure enough, the BBA came through, as 62% of us named Trout at the top of our ballots.
In the National League, Buster Posey won the Musial with 70% of the votes, including mine. There were several deserving candidates for this award, but Posey emerged from the pack late in the season.
I won’t say that in a perfect world, the Alliance’s winners would match up perfectly with my own. There were several races (particularly where managers are concerned) where multiple candidates were quite defensible. That there’s room for reasonable people to disagree makes these awards worth discussing. Melvin or Showalter? Kershaw or Dickey? Posey or Braun or McCutcheon or Molina? As long as one can make a case for a candidate other than my own without sounding like a lunatic, I’m happy to be disagreed with, and even to find myself in the minority.
I suppose a case for Cabrera winning the Musial doesn’t have to equal lunacy, but the BBA was charged with picking the best player in the American League, and they responded by honoring the player who had by far the best season. What more can I ask for?