Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2011 IBAs

The Internet Baseball Awards have existed since 1991, and are the internet's longest running baseball awards. Anyone with a Baseball Prospectus subscription, even at the lowly "basic" (i.e. "free") level can have a vote. And so, for the second year in a row, I cast my vote. Here's my ballot. I hope you like it:

AL Manager of the Year

1. Joe Maddon, TBR
2. Mike Scioscia, LAA
3. Manny Acta, CLE

These three managers were, more than any others, I think, part of teams that outperformed expectations. For the Rays's refusal to quit in spite of overwhelming odds, I give Maddon the nod. Scioscia and Acta would also be great choices, though. Scioscia, because of past performance, I think, has been largely overlooked, but the Angels were MUCH better than anyone expected this year.

NL Manager of the Year

1. Kirk Gibson, ARI
2. Ron Roenicke, MIL
3. Don Mattingly, LAD

Gibson led his team to the most surprising finish. Roenicke took what was a sub-.500 team last year, added some new players, created a good clubhouse environment, and led the team to the 2nd-best record in the NL. Mattingly's job was probably the hardest of anyone in baseball, and even after a miserable first half, he helped the Dodgers to an above-.500 record.

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Jeremy Hellickson, TBR
2. Michael Pineda, SEA
3. Dustin Ackley, SEA

Hellickson had a great year for a rookie. There's just not much else to say. Pineda was a nice surprise, and Ackley was the lone offensive bright spot on a TERRIBLE offense.

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Josh Collmenter, ARI
2. Craig Kimbrel, ATL
3. Wilson Ramos, WAS

Ramos was a great pickup for Washington in the Matt Capps trade, but the two pitchers had better year. Collmenter was impressive, but my vote would have gone to Kimbrel if not for his fading down the stretch – he blew three leads (and two saves) in his last eight appearances. And while that was only a small part of the reason Atlanta missed the postseason and I can't blame him for that, it can keep him from getting my RotY vote.

AL Cy Young

1. Justin Verlander, DET
2. CC Sabathia, NYY
3. Jered Weaver, LAA
4. CJ Wilson, TEX
5. Dan Haren, LAA

Verlander had a great year. I wanted to vote for Sabathia, just to be different, and because I really liked his year. But the gap between Verlander and Sabathia is big enough that it has to be Justin. Weaver was a close third, but definitely below the first group. Wilson and Haren were great, and I also considered James Shields.

NL Cy Young

1. Roy Halladay, PHI
2. Cliff Lee, PHI
3. Clayton Kershaw, LAD
4. Cole Hamels, PHI
5. Ian Kennedy, ARI

This was a tough one. It's a really narrow margin from 1-3, and no order is really wrong, per say. I like how Halladay and Lee come out in some of the DIPS methods, plus they have a hitter's park to deal with. The next three were close, as well, with Madison Bumgarner just missing the list. I also considered giving Greinke a nod because his unusual HR rate making his overall numbers worse.


1. Jose Bautista, TOR
2. Miguel Cabrera, DET
3. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
4. Justin Verlander, DET
5. CC Sabathia, NYY
6. Mike Napoli, TEX
7. Curtis Granderson, NYY
8. Dustin Pedroia, BOS
9. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
10. Alex Gordon, KCR

Let me first say that I wanted to put Robinson Cano on this list, but he just missed, and I feel bad about that, because he had a great year. Napoli is probably a little higher than he would be on most people's lists, but he basically led the AL (or was second to Bautista) in every meaningful rate stat. The fact that he only played 113 games because he had one small injury and plays catcher is not something I'm going to hold against him too terribly much. In a year when Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz underperformed, Napoli could be counted on to come through time and again. As for Bautista at the top, well, that's just how I feel. I think if you put him on the Red Sox, they finish with the best record in baseball, instead of missing the playoffs completely. I can't really see a strong argument for any other player except Verlander, who's a bit overrated this year (and is pretty much neck-and-neck with Sabathia, in my book), Cabrera, who doesn't seem to get much national love because of the Verlander hype, or Ellsbury, who just flat-out wasn't as good. Basically, the top-5 are all good choices. But Bautista's my guy. And one last thing: it was really fun to put a Royal on here and be totally serious about it. Gordon finally had the breakout season we've all been waiting for him to have.


1. Matt Kemp, LAD
2. Ryan Braun, MIL
3. Joey Votto, CIN
4. Jose Reyes, NYM
5. Roy Halladay, PHI
6. Cliff Lee, PHI
7. Clayton Kershaw, LAD
8. Justin Upton, ARI
9. Prince Fielder, MIL
10. Troy Tulowitzki, COL

Definitely a hard one for me. I wish I could vote for Braun. I really do. He was outstanding. He's really picked up his defensive game, and as a Brewers fan, I know how huge he was for the team. He's been my favorite player on the team ever since he came up, and I'd love to give him my vote. But even as a homer, I can't ignore how awesome Matt Kemp was. By the traditional measures, he was the best, even playing in a pitcher's park. In the advanced metrics, he laps the field. So it has to be Kemp. The most bizarre thing about this is excluding the name “Albert Pujols.” I thought about including him, just for old times' sakes, but he didn't have a noticeably better year than teammates Lance Berkman or Matt Holliday, nor for that matter some guys like Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Phillips, Shane Victorino, or Andrew McCutchen, and I wasn't going to vote for any of them, so he gets left off. As for the other players, it's really too close to call. They could have gone in pretty much any order, although Reyes would have definitely been higher had it not been for the injury. Votto had an awesome year, and is completely overlooked. Fielder's a little overrated because of his awesome clutchiness this season, but he had another great campaign. Overall, just a really strong crop in the NL, and really tough choices. It'd probably be different if I did it again tomorrow, especially 3-10.

Also, since there's nowhere else to put this, I want to give myself credit for the best idea of the year, because I had it before the Brewers did. The day they signed Mark Kotsay, I said to my father on the phone, “Why would they sign an old guy who can't run and doesn't hit well when Nyjer Morgan is still available? I know he has a reputation as a clubhouse cancer, but he's fast and would make a good defensive replacement and pinch runner, if nothing else. And it would give us a lefthanded bat, just like Kotsay.” Apparently, Brewers GM Doug Melvin heard that conversation or something, signed Morgan, and the rest is history, Tony Plush and all.

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