GAME ONE: Giants Find Missing “Sock” – use extra base hits to down Royals in K.C.
GAME TWO: How Do You Spell Relief ? Not G-I-A-N-T-S – as Royals “Lorde” it over SF’s Relief Corps.
We now interrupt the World Series for this important announcement regarding the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) 2014 Awards.
After each season, members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (an organization of 200+ bloggers dedicated to the national pastime) vote on a series of awards for each league. Those recognitions, announced in increments during the month of October, include:
- Willie Mays Award (top rookie)
- Walter Johnson Award (top starting pitcher)
- Stan Musial Award (top player)
- Goose Gossage Award (top relief pitcher)
- Connie Mack Award (top manager)
The results for all the awards are now in and, in this post, BBRT will share the winners – and top five finishers – in each of the BBA categories, as well as few comments on areas where the full BBA results differed from BBRT’s early-October ballot. For a detailed look at BBRT’s entire ballot, click here.
WILLIE MAYS AWARD – top rookie
Chicago White Sox’ first baseman Jose Abreu was an overwhelming selection for the BBA Willie Mays Award for top rookie in the American League. Abreu hit 36 home runs and drove in 107, while putting up a .317/.383/.964 line and an OPS+ of 169.
Note: OPS+ is a player’s On Base Percentage plus his Slugging Percentage adjusted for the park and the league in which he played. An OPS+ of 100 equals the league average. The higher the OPS+, the stronger the performance.
In the National League, New York Mets’ pitcher Jacob deGrom outdistanced runner-up Cincinnati Reds’ outfielder Billy Hamilton in the BBA balloting. DeGrom went 9-6, 2.69, with better than a strikeout per inning in twenty-two 2014 starts.
While BBRT’s NL vote went to deGrom, my choice in the AL did not even make the BBA’s top five. My selection for top AL rookie was Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Matt Shoemaker, who turned in a 16-4 record, with a 3.04 ERA (20 starts, seven relief appearances). Shoemaker moved passed Abreu (and others) on the BBRT ballot thanks to his performance under the pressure of the pennant race. From August 1 to season’s end, Shoemaker went 8-1, with a 1.66 ERA.
The top five in the BBA Willie Mays Award voting:
- Jose Abreu, White Sox
- Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees
- Collin McHugh, Astros
- Dellin Betances, Yankees
- Mookie Betts, Red Sox
- Jacob deGrom, Mets
- Billy Hamilton, Reds
- Ender Inciarte, Diamondbacks
- David Peralta, Diamondbacks
- Ken Giles, Phillies
For the complete 2014 BBA top rookie voting, click here. It may take a second click to reach the article.
Prior BBA Willie Mays Award winners:
- 2013: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay; Jose Fernandez, Miami
- 2012: Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Bryce Harper, Washington
- 2011: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City and Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
- 2010: Neftali Feliz, Texas; Buster Posey, San Francisco
- 2009: Andrew Bailey, Oakland; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
WALTER JOHNSON AWARD – top pitcher
The BBA vote for top pitcher in the AL was a close one, with the Indians’ Corey Kluber barely outpointing the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez (2010 Walter Johnson Award winner). Kluber, who went 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA (152 ERA+), finished among the leaders in ERA (third), complete games (second, tie), strikeouts (second) and innings pitched (third).
Note: ERA+ adjusts a pitcher’s earned run average (ERA) according to the pitcher’s ballpark (whether the ballpark favors batters or pitchers) and the ERA of the pitcher’s league. Average ERA+ equals 100; a score above 100 indicates that the pitcher performed better than average, below 100 indicates worse than average.
It was a much different story in the National League, as Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers won his third Walter Johnson Award in four years – more than doubling the voting total of the runner-up, the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright. Kershaw missed a month of starts and still led the NL in wins (21), ERA (1.77 – his fourth consecutive ERA title) and complete games (6), while finishing third in strikeouts.
Kershaw was a shoe-in for the NL top pitcher on BBRT’s ballot as well, but I went “outside-the-box” with my top AL vote. The BBA’s number-one and number-two choices did finish near the top of my ballot (second and third), but my number-one vote went to the Twins’ Phil Hughes. Now, I am from Minnesota, but this is just not a “homer” vote. Hughes won 16 games for a team that went 70-92. Only three players in the AL won more games (they each had 18 victories), and all three pitched for teams with winning records. Hughes, who went 16-10, 3.52, also set a new MLB record for strikeouts to walks ratio (11.63) and recorded the fewest walks ever for any hurler to reach 200 innings pitched in a season.
The top five in the BBA Walter Johnson Award vote:
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland
- Felix Hernandez, Seattle
- Jon Lester, Boston/Oakland
- Chris Sale, Chicago
- David Price, Tampa Bay/Detroit
- Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
- Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
- Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati
- Jordan Zimmerman, Washington
- Cole Hamels, Philadelphia
For the complete 2014 BBA top pitcher voting,click here. It may take a second click to reach the article.
Prior Walter Johnson Award winners:
- 2013: Max Scherzer, Detroit; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
- 2012: Justin Verlander, Detroit; R.A. Dickey, New York
- 2011: Justin Verlander, Detroit; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
- 2010: Felix Hernandez, Seattle; Roy Halladay, Philadelphia
- 2009: Zack Greinke, Kansas City; Tim Lincecum, San Francisco
STAN MUSIAL AWARD – top player
Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Mike Trout easily captured his third straight BBA American League Stan Musial Award, finishing far ahead of runner-up Cleveland outfielder Michael Brantley. Trout, who hit .287, finished in the top five in the AL in runs scored (115, first), RBI (111, first), home runs (36, third), slugging percentage (.561, third), walks (83, fourth) and triples (nine, third). He also added 16 steals in 18 tries and showed Gold Glove defensive skills.
In the National League, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw executed a BBA double steal this year, taking both the Walter Johnson Award and Stan Musial Award (see the Walter Johnson Award text above for Kershaw’s statistics). The race was closer than in the AL, with the NL’s second-place finish going to Pirates’ centerfielder Andrew McCuthchen.
BBRT’s ballot had Trout at the top of the AL, but listed the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen ahead of Kershaw in the NL. Explanation? In past award announcements, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has referred to this award as recognizing the “top” or “premier” player in each league (as opposed to the Most Valuable Player). That distinction, coupled with the fact that the BBA has an award for the top pitcher (named after a pitcher) and this award for top player is named after a position player, swayed my vote. (If the award had been labeled MVP, I would have gone with Kershaw. This same controversy, by the way, influences MLB’s MVP and the Sporting News Player of the Year Awards.) Like Trout, McCutchen exhibits Gold Glove skills in the field, along with power and speed on offense. He finished 2014 (146 games) with a .314 average, 25 home runs, 83 RBI and 18 steals (in 21 attempts).
The Top five in the BBA Stan Musial Award vote:
- Mike Trout, Los Angeles
- Michael Brantley, Cleveland
- Jose Bautista, Toronto
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland
- Victor Martinez, Detroit
- Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
- Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
- Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee
- Anthony Rendon, Washington
For the complete 2014 BBA top player voting click here. It may take a second click to reach the article.
Prior Stan Musial award winners:
- 2013: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
- 2012: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Buster Posey, San Francisco
- 2011: Jose Bautista, Toronto; Matt Kemp, Los Angeles
- 2010: Josh Hamilton, Texas; Joey Votto, Cincinnati
- 2009: Joe Mauer, Minnesota; Albert Pujols, St. Louis
GOOSE GOSSAGE AWARD – top reliever
Atlanta Braves’ Craig Kimbrel continued his run as the BBA’s top National League reliever, capturing his fourth-consecutive Goose Gossage Award – although this season he did get a bit of a challenge from Cincinnati Reds’ triple-digit closer Aroldis Chapman. Kimbrel, who led the NL in saves for the fourth-consecutive year, finished 0-3, 1.61, with league-leading 47 saves and 95 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings. To show how dominating Kimbrel has been, BBA reports that his sparkling 227 ERA+ was actually significantly lower than his ERA+ in the two previous seasons (399 and 311, respectively). ERA+ explained in the Walter Johnson Award section of this post.
In the American League, Yankees’ rookie reliever Dellin Betances edged out Kansas City reliever Wade Davis for Goose Gossage Award honors. Betances, appeared in 70 games for the Yankees, putting up a 1.40 ERA (and a 277 ERA+), while striking out 135 in 90 innings.
BBRT’s ballot listed Kimbrel as the NL’s top reliever, but opted for the Royals’ Greg Holland – who went 1-3, with 46 saves, a 1.44 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings pitched – in the AL.
The top five in the BBA Goose Gossage Award vote:
- Dellin Betances, New York
- Wade Davis, Kansas City
- Greg Holland, Kansas City
- Zach Britton, Baltimore
- Sean Doolittle, Oakland
- Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
- Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati
- Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles
- Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh
- Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia
For the complete 2014 BBA top reliever voting click here. It may take a second click to reach the article.
Prior Goose Gossage Award winners:
- 2013: Koji Uehara, Boston; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
- 2012: Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
- 2011: Jose Valverde, Detroit; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
- 2010: Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay; Brian Wilson, San Francisco
CONNIE MACK AWARD – top manager
Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter and Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle were named the 2014 Connie Mack Award winners, recognized as MLB’s top managers by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.
This is the second straight year Hurdle has taken home the BBA’s top manager recognition in the NL. After breaking the Pirates’ two-decade playoff drought in 2013, Hurdle again led Pittsburgh into the post season, securing a wild-card berth and finishing just two games shy of the Central Division Champion Cardinals.
Over in the American League, Showalter led the unheralded Orioles to their first American League East divisional title since 1997, winning the division by 12 games over the second-place New York Yankees. Baltimore won 96 games this season, despite injuries to key players (Matt Weiters and Manny Machado) and the sub-par season and later suspension for 2013 star Chris Davis.
BBRT’s vote went to Showalter in the AL, but I differed from my BBA peers in the NL, where my top selection was Bruce Bochy of the Giants. Bochy led his squad to an 88-74 record (and Wild Card spot), despite the difficulties facing Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and injuries to Brandon Belt and Angel Pagan. Counting on youngsters like Joe Panik and Andrew Susac, Bochy San Francisco on track.
The top five in the BBA Connie Mack Award vote:
- Buck Showalter, Baltimore
- Ned Yost, Kansas City
- Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles
- Lloyd McClendon, Seattle
- Bob Melvin, Oakland
- Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh
- Bruce Bochy, San Francisco
- Matt Williams, Washington
- Don Mattingly, Los Angeles
- Mike Matheny, St. Louis
For the complete 2014 BBA top manager voting click here. It may take a second click to reach the article.
Prior Connie Mack Award winners:
- 2013: John Farrell, Boston; Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh
- 2012: Bob Melvin, Oakland; Davey Johnson, Washington
- 2011: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay; Kirk Gibson, Arizona
- 2010: Ron Washington, Texas; Bud Black, San Diego
- 2009: Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Jim Tracy, Colorado
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams, as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of the awards voting, the organization consists of 215 blogs spanning most of the 30 major league squads, as well as general baseball writing.
The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.
Chapters generally followed one of two methods when casting their ballot. Either representatives of the chapter were given the ballots for voting or a “group ballot” was posted, accounting for both of their votes. Notably, though the BBA’s awards come out well before their official counterparts, the BBA selections have matched those of the Baseball Writers of America in many instances over the past five years.