October 2011

2011 Bastian Awards

It’s that time of year again. As has been tradion for this blog over the years — the previous five spent covering the Blue Jays — it’s time to roll out the annual postseason Bastian Awards. This is where I make my picks for baseball’s major awards and you tell me what an idiot I am.

Don’t worry. I can take it.

Without further ado, let’s get the offseason blogging started…

AMERICAN LEAGUE

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
1. M. Cabrera, DET: .344/.448/.586/1.033, 30 HR, 48 2B, 105 RBIs, 108 BB, 111 R, 161 G
2. J. Bautista, TOR: .302/.447/.608/1.056, 43 HR, 24 2B, 103 RBIs, 132 BB, 105 R
3.  J. Ellsbury, BOS: .321/.376/.552/.957, 32 HR, 46 2B, 105 RBIs, 119 R, 39 SB
4. C. Granderson, NYY: .262/.364/.552/.916, 41 HR, 26 2B, 119 RBIs, 136 R, 25 SB
5. A. Gonzalez, BOS: .338/.410/.548/.957, 27 HR, 45 2B, 117 RBIs, 108 R

Comment: Your first question is probably, “Where’s Justin Verlander?” I’ve always felt that pitchers should not win an MVP. My personal opinion is that pitchers win the Cy Young and hitters win the MVP. That’s how I see it, so that’s why Verlander doesn’t make my list. I get the arguments in favor of Verlander, and I admit there is a sound case for his inclusion, but I’ve got to stick with my beliefs on this one. As for my pick, I find it amazing how under the radar Cabrera’s season was due to all the Verlander hype. He fell one game short of playing the entire season, won a batting title and boasted a better OBP than Bautista. It was tough for me to pass on Bautista, but Cabrera’s incredible season was a big part of Detroit’s surge to the Central crown.

CY YOUNG AWARD
1. J. Verlander, DET: 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 K, 251 IP, 0.92 WHIP, .192 AVG
2. J. Weaver, LAA: 18-8, 2.41 ERA, 198 K, 235.2 IP, 1.01 WHIP, .212 AVG
3. J. Shields, TB: 16-12, 2.82 ERA, 225 K, 249.1 IP, 1.04 WHIP, .217
4. CC Sabathia, NYY: 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 230 K, 237.1 IP, 1.23 WHIP, .255 AVG
5. R. Romero, TOR: 15-11, 2.92 ERA, 178 K, 225 IP, 1.14 WHIP, .216 AVG

Comment: Why even list four runner-ups here? This award is Verlander’s all the way and it’s not even close. Any time a pitcher is discussed as an MVP candidate it’s a good indication of the type of season he had. He was the best pitcher in the league all season and the statistical leader across the board. I could’ve easily flipped CC and Romero, but I still appreciate Sabathia’s win total and nearly one-to-one strikeout-to-inning rate. I could’ve one a number of ways for my fifth vote, but Romero deserves some love for continuing to develop into the Blue Jays’ workhorse and staff leader.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. J. Hellickson, TB: 13-10, 2.95 ERA
2. I. Nova, NYY: 16-4, 3.70 ERA
3. M. Trumbo, LAA: .254, 29 HR, 87 RBIs
4. E. Hosmer, KC: .293, 19 HR, 78 RBIs
5. J. Walden, LAA: 2.98 ERA, 32 saves

Comment: I felt this award came down to either Hellickson or Nova. Nova’s win-loss is impressive, but Hellickson’s performance across the board was better than the Yankees right-hander. There is certainly a case to be made for Trumbo, too. And he might wind up winning the award considering neither Hellickson or Nova are clear front-runners. I’d imagine the votes to be split among those three when the award is handed out.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR
1. Joe Maddon, TB
2. Manny Acta, CLE
3. Jim Leyland, DET

Comment: I do not think an 80-82 record and a second-place finish in the AL Central warrants a Manager of the Year Award for Acta. But I do think finishing well above expectations with an injury-riddled roster deserves more than a third-place finish in the voting for the Tribe’s skipper. I gave the nod to Maddon here, because no one thought the Rays would make the playoffs, and best the Red Sox in the process.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
1. P. Fielder, MIL: .299/.415/.566/.981, 38 HR, 36 2B, 120 RBIs, 107 BB, 95 R, 162 G
2. R. Braun, MIL: .332/.397/.597/.994, 33 HR, 38 2B, 111 RBIs, 109 R, 33 SB
3. M. Kemp, LAD: .324/.399/.586/.986, 39 HR, 33 2B, 126 RBIs, 115 R, 161 G
4. J. Votto, CIN: .309/.416/.531/.947, 29 HR, 40 2B, 103 RBIs, 110 BB, 101 R, 161 G
5. T. Tulowitzki, COL: .302/.372/.544/.916, 30 HR, 36 2B, 105 RBIs, 81 R

Comment: Can we give Prince and Braun a co-MVP Award? I think that would be the right way to go. And split votes between the two might wind up sending the award into Kemp’s hands. That would be just fine by me, too. This was a tough one to pick between those top three, and I think there were a long list of ways you could go with the fourth and fifth picks. I went with Prince because I’m a sucker for guys who play all 162 games and for hitters who wind up with more walks than strikeouts. He accomplished both while topping Braun and Kemp in OBP.

CY YOUNG AWARD
1. C. Kershaw, LAD: 21-5, 2.28 ERA, 248 K, 233.1 IP, 0.98 WHIP, .207 AVG
2. R. Halladay, PHI: 19-6, 2.35 ERA, 220 K, 233.2 IP, 1.04 WHIP, .239 AVG
3. I. Kennedy, ARI: 21-4, 2.88 ERA, 198 K, 222 IP, 1.09 WHIP, .227 AVG
4. C. Lee, PHI: 17-8, 2.40 ERA, 238 K, 232.2 IP, 1.03 WHIP, .229 AVG
5. C. Hamels, PHI: 14-9, 2.79 ERA, 194 K, 216 IP, 0.99 WHIP, .214

Comment: This is similar to the AL Cy Young in my opinion. It’s Kershaw and the rest. And the rest, in the NL’s case, is pretty darned good. The top four candidates are each worthy of taking home the honor, but Kershaw’s performance — for a team that finished only three games over .500 — was downright filthy. The question is who would be your pitcher of the year, Verlander or Kershaw? I’d go with the righty.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. C. Kimbrel, ATL: 2.10 ERA, 127 K, 77 IP, 46 saves
2. F. Freeman, ATL: .282, 21 HR, 76 RBIs
3. J. Collmenter, ARI: 10-10, 3.38 ERA, 159.1 IP
4. D. Gee, NYM: 13-6, 4.43 ERA, 160.2 IP
5. D. Espinosa, WAS: .236, 21 HR, 66 RBIs

Comment: I don’t see this award as having a debate at all. This is Kimbrel’s to lose and he should be able to run away with it in the voting. It’s a pretty weak class behind him, though Freeman’s a solid pick as the runner-up, if you ask me. After the pair of Bravos, it’s a crapshoot. I liked Collmenter at three for his role in helping the D-backs go from worst to first in the NL West.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR
1. Kirk Gibson, ARI
2. Tony La Russa, StL
3. Ron Roenicke, MIL

Comment: Clearly I only picked Gibson here because he is a former Michigan State Spartan. Beyond that, he did a pretty decent job of helping guide a rag-tag D-backs squad from last place to first in the NL West. La Russa gets my vote for second because I pretty much thought the Cardinals were left for dead midway through the year. Then came a surge that now has them playing for the World Series.

INDIANS AWARDS

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: SS Asdrubal Cabrera
Stats: .273/.332/.460, 25 HR, 32 2B, 87 R, 92 RBIs, 151 G
Comment: You could actually make a case for catcher Carlos Santana, who turned in a pretty solid year after a really slow start. That said, Asdrubal was Cleveland’s most consistent performer from start to finish and he emerged as a leader on the field for a team that endured a wave of injury issues.

PITCHER OF THE YEAR: RHP Justin Masterson
Stats: 12-10, 3.21 ERA, 216 IP, 158 K, 65 BB, 1.28 WHIP
Comment: Masterson developed into the Tribe’s staff ace this season, and he might have achieved 16+ wins had it not been to poor run support. The sinkerballer was reliable all year and will probably enter 2012 as the team’s No. 1 starter. To think, a year ago there were still people questioning whether he should be moved back to the bullpen.

RELIEVER OF THE YEAR: RHP Joe Smith
Stats: 71 games, 2.01 ERA, 67 IP, 45 K, 21 BB, 52 H, 1.09 WHIP
Comment: Closer Chris Perez garners most of the attention, but Smith used his sidearm stylings to emerge as a force out of the bullpen this year. Whether he was used in the sixth, seventh or eighth, Smith could be counted on to create grounders. Smith’s great season helped bridge the gap to the setup men and closer.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RHP Vinnie Pestano
Stats: 67 games, 2.32 ERA, 20 games finished, 62 IP, 84 K, 24 BB, 41 H, 1.05 WHIP
Comment: The Indians wanted to ease Pestano into a late-inning role, but the went ahead and seized control of a setup job earlier than the team expected. Having Pestano’s ability to blow a heater by hitters proved to be a great asset in the eighth inning. He has the stuff of a future closer.

~JB

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