Monday, October 22, 2012

2012 IBAs

Hurray!  Here we are again, ladies and gentlemen.  It's IBA (Internet Baseball Awards) time!  That means, for the second straight year, I'll be publishing my ballot (here's last years).  So, before I break it all down, here are my award winners:

AL Manager

1. Bob Melvin
2. Buck Showalter
3. Robin Ventura

Three guys who did a great job putting up better years than were expected of their teams.  I think Baltimore is more likely a fluke than Oakland, and I think the Oakland job (with all those rookie pitchers) was, in some ways, the more difficult, and it was (turns out) in the more difficult division.  So, as long as this is the "who's the manager of the team that overachieved the most?" award, I'm gonna go Melvin.  Although I don't fault anyone for the logic that, "If you had said before the season started that the O's would finish with 93 wins and in the postseason, I would have handed my vote to Showalter that day."  He's a fine choice, Ventura's a fine choice.  Pretty much anyone's a fine choice, so long as he's not Bobby Valentine or Ned Yost.

NL Manager

1. Bud Black
2. Davey Johnson
3. Mike Matheny

Seriously, Manager of the Year is a stupid award.  We simply don't know enough about managers to evaluate them well.  But the Padres were WAY better than I thought they'd be.  Probably because of Chase Headley.  But maybe because of Bud (or as calls him, "Buddy") Black.  Johnson led the Nationals (seriously, the WASHINGTON NATIONALS) to the playoffs behind the best pitchers in baseball.  Again, I don't know how much that was him, but maybe some of it.  Matheny gets added because, frankly, who saw the Cards being basically exactly the same team as last year, only without any of the players or LaRussa?  I'm tempted to put Matheny at #1, but I think this whole award is a crapshoot, so he wound up third.  Meh.

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Mike Trout
2. Yoenis Cespedes
3. Yu Darvish
4.  Matt Moore
5.  Will Middlebrooks

The Mike Trout Show begins.  Cespedes and Darvish were great.  Moore succeeded in spite of high expectations.  Middlebrooks was one of the few bright spots for a bad Red Sox team.  All good players.  And there well could have been a few A's pitchers on here, too.

NL Rookie of the Year

1.  Bryce Harper
2.  Wade Miley
3.  Norichika Aoki
4.  Martin Maldonado
5.  Zack Cozart

Harper or Miley... Harper or Miley.  I go with Harper here, because he's more likely to have the better career.  Aoki and Cozart are a little bit of a stretch, because they're both "old" rookies.  Aoki came out of pretty much nowhere though, and completely made up for Nyjer Morgan's regression to... Nyjer Morgan, and allowed for Corey Hart to move to 1B.  Now, were I not a Brewers fan, I wouldn't know that.  But I am.  So there.  Maldonado replaced Jonathan Lucroy well.  And he made George Kottaras cuttable (<----not a word).  For people who think I'm being a homer, yes.  But at least I found a way to keep Mike Fiers off the ballot, even though he may be my favorite of the crop (although I LOVE all three of the Brew Crew rookies).
AL Cy Young
1.  Justin Verlander
2.  David Price
3.  Felix Hernandez
4.  Max Scherzer
5.  Chris Sale

Verlander, with the exception of his W-L record, was EXACTLY the same pitcher this year as last year.  David Price this year was not as good as Justin Verlander last year.  How anyone can vote Price the Cy winner is beyond my understanding.  That said, Price was phenomenal.  King Felix was himself.  That's pretty much a 3rd-place vote, guaranteed.  We'll see how he adjusts to new field dimensions in Seattle next year, when the fences get moved in.  My guess?  His ERA goes up, but he's basically the same guy.  It'll be interesting to watch.  Scherzer was great, and underrated, too, for the Tigers this year.  Lots and lots of strikeouts. Chris Sale had a nice year.  Don't know if he'll repeat it, but it doesn't matter.  There were lots of other great guys (Matt Harrison, Jake Peavy, Hideki Kuroda, Yu Darvish, Jered Weaver, and that whole fleet of A's pitchers).  I like these five best.

NL Cy Young
1.  RA Dickey
2.  Cliff Lee
3.  Clayton Kershaw
4.  Stephen Strasburg
5.  Craig Kimbrel

There's really no easy answer, and Dickey's the best story.  I really wanted to vote for Cliff Lee, because it would have been awesome for a player who was that unlucky to win the award.  And Lee was outstanding - just unlucky.  Strasburg is my more "unconventional" choice.  He was great.  the 160 inning-thing was not his fault.  And yes, that's throwing Craig Kimbrel a bone at the end.  He was too good not to get a vote.  I don't think I'm being controversial for leaving off Gio Gonzalez and Johnny Cueto.  I just don't think they were as good as the other four starters.  They were more valuable than Kimbrel, but it's not his fault how he gets used, and I think he deserves a sympathy vote more than they need one for getting to 20 "wins."  Frankly, though, if you were to tell me that I'm a fool for leaving them off because they were both better than Dickey... well... I don't know that you'd be wrong.  Unlike last year, which had three deserving winners, this year has no candidate at all who stands out.  Also, shout-outs to Kris Medlen and Jordan Zimmerman, whom I also really wanted to vote for.  And it would have been nice to toss a vote to Aroldis Chapman, as well.  So that's 10 guys, none of whom could really be "wrong."  Yup.  That's 2012 in the NL.

*A quick aside, before we get to the MVP votes.  No pitchers on my ballots this year, except Verlander.  While a lot of guys had great years, there were too many inseparable offensive players, in my opinion, and no compelling reason to give a vote to a pitcher.  That's not good logic.  I know that.  I know it, and I don't care.  It's my ballot. Go cast your own.  {On second thought, don't.  Because voting ends tonight, Monday the 22nd}
AL Most Valuable Player

1.  Mike Trout
2.  Miguel Cabrera
3.  Robinson Cano
4.  Adrian Beltre
5.  Alex Gordon
6.  Austin Jackson
7.  Ben Zobrist
8.  Josh Willingham
9.  Justin Verlander
10.  Joe Mauer

Yeah, I don't really want to have "the talk."  You know - the one about whether Trout was better than Cabrera.  They both had great seasons.  Trout was better.  Cabrera won the Triple Crown.  Both seasons aren't likely to be forgotten.  When (not if) Cabrera wins the BBWAA MVP award, it will be no great injustice.  As in many previous years, the best player may not win.  As in most previous years, a deserving player is winning.  This is not Fingers in '81, or Hernandez in '84, or Eckersley in '92, or even an equally bad choice not involving a relief pitcher.  It'll be a great player getting a great award.  Miguel Cabrera has probably been the second-best player in the AL for like 4 years in a row... it's just been someone different on top each year.  It's no great sin that he'll win.  Heck, I'm happy for both guys.
As for my down-the-ballot choices, what stinks is that this Trout-Cabrera hubbub has distracted from a lot of great seasons by other players.  Cano had a wacky year, but I'm willing to file the weird RBI totals as just bad luck this year, because Cano's been (historically) a good clutch hitter, not a bad one.  Beltre's always been great.  Gordon had a breakout year.  Jackson and Zobrist have been themselves:  great in the field, solid with the bat.  Jackson continues to be a BABIP monster - maybe the greatest player of all time, adjusting for era, at getting on with balls in play.  Verlander gets a ninth-place vote.  There are two Twins in my top ten.  That looks wrong.  But then you look at Willingham's and Mauer's years.  They were great.  Almost any team would be lucky to have them.

NL Most Valuable Player

1.  Ryan Braun
2.  Andrew McCutchen
3.  Buster Posey
4.  Chase Headley
5.  Yadier Molina
6.  David Wright
7.  Jason Heyward
8.  Michael Bourn
9.  Aramis Ramirez
10.  Joey Votto

Remember how Votto had the award locked up before he got hurt?  I honor that with a 10th-place vote.  For me, the MVP was Braun.  Dealing with all the steroids BS (you don't know what he did or didn't do, no matter what you think), hearing that he'd regress without Fielder, and basically carrying what was a BAD club offensively and keeping them competitive for half the season makes him deserve the award, in my opinion.  But really, 1-6 were all the same player.  Pick one.  You're not wrong.  Heyward and Bourn... it's too close to call between the two of them.  I like both, but I'm giving Heyward the nod.  As for Ramirez, here's a neat little fact for you, going away:

Most XBH (extra-base-hits) in MLB this year:

Miguel Cabrera - 84
Robinson Cano - 82
Ryan Braun - 80
Albert Pujols - 80
Aramis Ramirez - 80
Well, I hope you like the ballot.  Got any comments?  Feel free to post a link to yours - I'd love to read it!

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