Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Forum: Our Award Picks

Another Friday, another forum. This week, I (Bill again) polled the TPA staff and got full ballots from each of us for each of the "major" awards: AL & NL MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year. 

The Platoon Advantage is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and this post doubles as our site's ballot for their parallel awards: the Stan Musial Award (for the top player in each league), the Walter Johnson Award (for the top pitcher), the Willie Mays Award (top rookie) and the Connie Mack Award (top manager). Accordingly, the "ballots" below represent an aggregate ballot formed from combining all our picks; each first place vote got a number of points equal to the number of slots on the ballot (10 for MVP, 5 for Cy Young, 3 for the others), and each one-step-lower vote got one point less, such that the last slot on the ballot was good for one point. For a spreadsheet showing each of our individual ballots, click here

We've got a tie for the AL MVP, which is fine, but then I flipped a coin to determine the AL Stan Musial Award winner. I also flipped a coin to determine the last spot on our AL Connie Mack Award ballot. Our comments were submitted in different ways; sorry for the inconsistencies. If it helps, it kind of bugs me too.

AL Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award)
Maddon got three of four first-place votes; Jason listed Maddon third and gave his top spot to Acta. Girardi and the unemployed Terry Francona finished in a tie for third.

NL Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award)
Gibson got all four of our first-place votes. No other manager was named on all four ballots.

MOY Comments:
Jason (Acta, Francona, Maddon; Gibson, Quade, Collins): My Manager of the Year qualifications are these: don’t bunt, don’t intentionally walk anybody, make sure your best hitters get the most plate appearances, and make sure your best relievers pitch in the high-leverage situations. I haven’t put together an actual statistic for this yet, but based on those criteria, I’ve got Manny Acta and Kirk Gibson (sorry fellow A’s fans) at the top of my lists.

Mark: AL (Maddon, Acta, Girardi): This is pretty much an order of the AL managers according to how much I like them. I don't know how else to do it. 
NL (Gibson, Manuel, Roenicke): I don't like the "team who was supposed to be terrible" argument, but there really isn't a better argument to be made when we really don't know much information here.

TCM: AL (Maddon, Girardi, Leyland): Joe's awesome. The end. 
NL (Gibson, Roenicke, Manuel): The D-backs were unexpected competitors, weathered a big injury to Stephen Drew, fostered good young players like Paul Goldschmidt and Josh Collmenter, and had a strong bullpen.

Bill (Maddon, Acta, Francona; Gibson, Roenicke, Black): I don't know which managers are good and bad, but I've been impressed in limited exposure with Gibson, and I've always been a big Acta fan. Buddy Black? Yeah: I ran out of NL candidates, and Black's Padres sac bunted the next-fewest time in the NL this season.

AL Rookie of the Year (Willie Mays Award)
Pineda was first for three of us, and second for TCM (he went with Hellickson, who didn't appear on anyone else's ballot at all). No one aside from Pineda got more than three points. 

NL Rookie of the Year (Willie Mays Award)
Kimbrel was named first by Mark and Bill, second by TCM, and not at all by Jason.

ROY Comments:
Jason (Pineda, Weeks, Ackley; Collmenter, Espinosa, Luebke): Michael Pineda and Josh Collmenter are about as different as can be, but they take my Rookie of the Year votes for similarly excellent seasons as starting pitchers.

Mark: AL (Pineda, Trumbo, Hosmer): A slow second half didn't keep Pineda from being the best rookie out there. 
NL (Kimbrel, Espinosa, Ramos): You can order these three any way you want to, and I won't disagree. Gave Kimbrel a few bonus points for leverage as a tie-breaker.

TCM: AL (Hellickson, Pineda, Ackley): Hellickson utilized his defense more than Pineda did, but he also faced tougher competition, and was in a playoff hunt.  And since both Hellickson and Pineda were up all year, they get a bump over Ackley. 
NL (Ramos, Kimbrel, Freeman): As Aaron Gleeman has pointed out, Ramos' rookie season is actually pretty special, and he's not a relief pitcher. Bonus!

Bill (Pineda, Hosmer, Nova; Kimbrel, Ramos, Espinosa): I think both Pineda and Hosmer are going to be superstars, and that if Trumbo or Nova wins over both of them, that's going to be one of those things people laugh about down the line. In the NL: I'm generally as against voting for relief pitchers as anybody -- wouldn't have voted for Bailey for Feliz, certainly -- but I really do think Kimbrel has been the best NL rookie (and by quite a bit) this year.

AL Cy Young (Walter Johnson Award)
4.  Dan Haren
Unanimous at number 1, of course.

NL Cy Young (Walter Johnson Award)
2.  Cliff Lee
5.  Matt Cain
Everyone had the same top three. Everyone but Jason (who went with Lee) listed Halladay first.

Cy Young Comments:
Jason (Verlander, Weaver, Sabathia, Price, Haren; Lee, Kershaw, Halladay, Cain, Bumgarner): On the pitching side, while the “Sabathia faced harder hitters” argument has to be considered, I think Verlander’s rate of reduction, so to speak, of the hitters he did face wins out. Cliff Lee, on the flip side of that coin, nudges Clayton Kershaw by dint of doing almost exactly the same work against a slightly superior set of batters. (I have Kershaw ahead of Lee on my MVP ballot for being better at fielding and baserunning by the tiniest of amounts, though we’re surely well within the margins of error of the available statistics.)

Mark: AL (Verlander, Sabathia, Haren, Wilson, Weaver): I took a real hard look at CC, but because I thought I might just be trying to be contrarian, I'll go with the superb, "no doubt" choice of Verlander. 
NL (Halladay, Lee, Kershaw, Bumgarner, Carpenter): Not much doubt here.

TCM: AL (Verlander, Sabathia, Weaver, Haren, Shields): Verlander and Sabathia are closer than they look at first blush, but Justin gets it just by a hair and because his actual performance outkicked his underlying stats.
NL (Halladay, Kershaw, Lee, Kennedy, Greinke): Again, this is really close.  Halladay, Kershaw, and Lee all finish within one inning of each other, and one run allowed.  Although Halladay didn't strike out as many, he did exhibit the best control and kept the ball in the park better than his competitors.

Bill (Verlander, Sabathia, Weaver, Price, Haren; Halladay, Lee, Kershaw, Bumgarner, Cain): It's easy to make a case that Verlander might not be the best pitcher in the AL, but I think it's impossible to make a case that anyone else is. In the NL, as between the three pitchers with almost terrifyingly similar stats, I put Kershaw a bit behind Halladay and Lee due mostly to the ballparks they pitched half their games in.  

AL MVP (Stan Musial Award)
1.  Jose Bautista (SMA winner; MVP tie)
2.  Jacoby Ellsbury (MVP tie)
4.  Justin Verlander
Everyone listed Joey Bats and Ellsbury number one and two, but we split on how to order them, and Bautista wins our Stan Musial Award vote on a coin flip. 

NL MVP (Stan Musial Award)
1.  Matt Kemp
6.  Clayton Kershaw
7.  Cliff Lee
8.  Roy Halladay
Kemp was a unanimous choice, and Braun got everybody's second-place vote except Mark's. Interesting that Kershaw-Lee-Halladay finished in exactly the opposite order that they did in our Cy Young vote.

MVP Comments (top AL choice listed; see the spreadsheet for our full ballots):
Jason: In the American League MVP, Jose Bautista’s season represented sheer dominance, even if you think he wasn’t a +9 defender, as FRAA believes, and I don’t give extra credit for playing on a contending team (I vote WINS+, in other words), so Jacoby Ellsbury can’t quite make up the gap. Matt Kemp was similarly too amazing to ignore in the National League, and the only hard stuff, as with the AL, was who goes where down-ballot.

Mark: AL (Ellsbury): I don't believe Ellsbury's defensive numbers, but even so, he was the league's best.
NL: Not much doubt here, either [like his NL CY vote].

TCM: AL (Ellsbury): This was ridiculously close. In the end, The Common Man chose to put additional emphasis on Ellsbury's defensive contributions and, as a tiebreaker, his performance in the race for the postseason.
NL: Kemp was pretty clearly the best player in the National League, which means he contributed the most wins to his team, which means he was the most valuable player.  Q.E.D.

Bill (Bautista): I don't really know whether Bautista or Ellsbury was better, but I feel a little more confident in what the various WAR models have to say about Bautista, since they're not dependent on an outlandish defensive performance. I was undecided right down to (and past) the final day, but Bautista's my guy. I feel a little bad about knocking pitchers down a couple pegs by refusing to vote for them, but not that bad, and of course it wouldn't have affected any winners.

So there you have it. Bautista/Ellsbury (Bautista takes the Stan Musial Award, but they share our MVP) and Kemp; Verlander and Halladay; Pineda and Kimbrel; Maddon and Gibson. Remember to check out the full ballots, and let us have it in the comments. 

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