It's now that time of year when baseball fans have one more thing to look forward to before the Hot Stove really starts going: arguing over post season awards.
Six of us submitted ballots like the BBWAA for the three major awards, and you can see the results below. Scoring was done just like the actual ballots, except with points multiplied by ten to look more substantial. Additionally, we voted on the Hank Aaron Awards. This isn't how the Hank Aaron is decided, but it should be. Every year there's some debate somewhere on whether or not pitchers should be considered for MVPs because they have an aware and the hitters don't. Well, if the Hank Aaron was treated with more respect and prestige, the hitters would have an award. Then they could get the Hank Aaron for hitting, pitchers could get the Cy Young for pitching, and all players could be considered for the MVP based on their performance at the plate, in the field or on the mound -- or a combination of any of the three.
Anyway, you'll see the voting results for each of the eight awards below, as well as who each of our writers put first and some commentary from their own fingers on their ballots. Please feel compelled to argue!
American League Most Valuable Player: Josh Hamilton, Outfielder, Texas Rangers
We're exposing ourselves to accusations of homerism here, but we believe, unanimously, that Josh Hamilton was the MVP of the AL. He had one of the greatest seasons in the history of the franchise, right there with Alex Rodriguez, while leading his team to the playoffs. While Robinson Cano played a more valuable position, we don't think he hit enough to catch up to Hamilton. While Miguel Cabrera had a great year at the plate, he did so without any defensive value. Hamilton's all-around excellence is also reflected by his leading all position players in FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement with 8.0. This despite missing the last month of the season.
It's true we want Hamilton to win it, but I think it's also true he has the best argument, by far, and most will agree he deserves it when he eventually does win the real award.
- Josh Hamilton, OF, TEX 840 (6)
- Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY 460
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET 410
- Jose Batista, RF, TOR 360
- Adrian Beltre, 3B, BOS 350
- Evan Longoria, 3B, TB 270
- Carl Crawford, LF, TB 250
- Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA 250
- Cliff Lee, SP, SEA/TEX 150
- Paul Konerko, 1B, CHW 90
- Shin-Soo Choo, RF, CLE 50
- Joe Mauer, C, MIN 30
- Francisco Liriano, SP, MIN 20
- Nelson Cruz, RF, TEX 10
Christopher Fittz: Hamilton
Robbie Griffin: Hamilton
There's maybe some disagreement on Hamilton's defensive value, but that's about the only argument for anyone over him as MVP, and I don't think it's a very strong one. Anyone who scores from second on an infield single is my MVP. I'm not so high on Miguel Cabrera [eighth]. He hit mighty fine, but not well enough to separate himself from a host of other players who played better defense at more valuable positions. Most of the guys I put ahead of him were also the difference between their teams missing and making the playoffs. I originally had left Bautista off my ballot and instead had Jered Weaver, but the arguments of everyone else got to me.
Maurice London: Hamilton
This really should be a unanimous pick for Hamilton. I'm sure Cano [third] will get some Yankee votes and Cabrera [second] will get the recovering alcoholic vote, but Hamilton was the best player in the American league this year, and it wasn't really that close. If Cruz had stayed healthy this year, this could very well be a Ranger 1-2 finish at the top, so he gets the sentimental nod at ten.
Brett Perryman: Hamilton
Liam Ponting: Hamilton
Hamilton's a no-brainer here. Highest WAR in baseball despite missing a month due to injury, and even if you're not into newfangled statistics, anybody who watched a Rangers game during the months of June/July would know that they were witnessing the best player in baseball. Bautista [second] gets the nod over Cano [third] because of his offensive prowess and beats out Cabrera [fifth] because of his positional value and, frankly, his ridiculous power jump. Jose Bautista led the majors this year with a .357 ISO. The last man to have an ISO number over .350 was Barry Bonds (.450) in 2004. No one else was over .300 this year. That level of power should be recognized.
JP Starkey: Hamilton
Hamilton is it for me. Over 500 at bats and an awesome season while leading the AL in OPS, wOBA, WAR and batting. Not sure what else you can ask for. There's not a ton of value difference for 2010 between Longoria [second] and Beltre [third] -- so I gave the nod to Longoria thanks to the Rays making the playoffs. Cano [fourth] is a better defender and at a more premium position that it was enough to have him leapfrog Cabrera [fifth] for me. Lee's season [eighth] was so good that he needed inclusion on this. Choo [ninth] is the most underrated player in the American League.
National League Most Valuable Player: Joey Votto, First Baseman, Cincinnati Reds
The National League MVP debate has boiled down to two very close first baseman. The first has been the best player in baseball for some time, but could not keep his team from collapsing in 2010. The second is a young hot shot just beginning to fulfill his potential, and his team ran away with the division in 2010. We went with youth.
Votto and Pujols ended up extremely close this season. Votto gained just a 12 point lead in both Batting Average and On Base Percentage. He led in slugging by just four points. Votto led in weighted On Base Average by 19 points, but once FanGraphs puts in a park adjustment, it thinks his bat contributed fewer than two runs more than Pujols this season. Neither on paper looked great defensively, though both have looked good in the past. They were really, really close, folks.
Interestingly, Votto was not a unanimous choice, but the other first place votes didn't go to Pujols. As close as they were, our staff had Pujols, in fact, in third place. You can scroll down to read the arguments for a third party for MVP.
- Joey Votto, 1B, CIN 740 (4)
- Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL 560 (2)
- Albert Pujols, 1B, STL 510
- Carlos Gonzalez, CF, COL 360
- Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, WSN 330
- Roy Halladay, SP, PHI 320
- Matt Holliday, LF, STL 250
- Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, SD 200
- Jayson Werth, RF, PHI 80
- Andres Torres, OF, SF 60
- Brian McCann, C, ATL 40
- Adam Wainwright, SP, STL 30
- Aubrey Huff, 1B, SF 20
- Tim Lincecum, SP, SF 20
- Brian Wilson, RP, SF 20
- Rickey Weeks, 2B, MIL 10
I’ve got the top four guys on this list [Votto, Tulowitzki, Pujols, Zimmerman] really, really close together. I broke the tie by going with the one whose team would not have been in the post season without him. I’m opposed to using that as a primary requirement for winning the MVP, but I’m okay with it entering close contests. Tulowitzki’s magic in September and rate quality is probably what has me putting him over Pujols, meanwhile. The back four on this list were also pretty close for me, out of about ten guys total, and once again, I went with people whose teams would have missed the playoffs without them and Carlos Gonzalez [tenth] for being toolsy. Before anyone asks, Wilson [ninth] got in over Lincecum because of leverage.
Votto was a tad better than Pujols [second] in almost every category this year. Votto edged out Pujols in WAR, SLG, OBP etc. Had the Cardinals made the playoffs over the Reds, Pujols probably wins it again. They didn't, so Votto it is. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Billy Beane for trading for trading Carlos Gonzalez [third] out of the AL West. Thank you so very much.
There's really no separating Votto and Pujols [second] this year. Votto has the slightest of statistical leads and played for the better team, so he wins out. Tulowitzki could've been higher than third had he not missed 40 games this year, but his ridiculous September (.800 SLG?!) and stellar defense vaults him into third.
I debated the first three [Tulowitzki, Pujols, Votto] here for a good bit. Tulo didn't play a full season but hit .315/.381/.568 from short stop with the fourth best wOBA in the league at .408. The three guys better than him in wOBA were Votto, Pujols and Gonzalez [fifth] -- and those guys play 1B or OF, not SS. Tulo also hit 27 homers in 122 games, pretty impressive to me. Pujols gets the nod at 2 over Votto because, well, aside from just liking Pujols better, his BB/K was almost double Votto's. Votto also benefited from Luck; his BABIP was .361 compared to Pujols' .297. Nitpicking, sure, but their numbers are so close all you can do is nitpick - they had identical wRC's on the year. Zimmerman [fourth] is awesome and deserves recognition. The other guys in there are all pretty obvious to me. Lincecum [ninth] wasn't as good as Josh Johnson or Wainwright this year, but if he doesn't turn the ship around and have a dominant September then the Giants don't make the playoffs.
American League Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
The Mass Sports Media this year has framed the Cy Young debate as David Price vs. CC Sabathia.
You'll notice neither got even a single last place vote from us. Some places might suggest to you Colby Lewis was better than price and close to Sabathia this year, let alone the guys we ended up voting for.
To be fair, a lot of the MSM is also arguing for Felix Hernandez, and we clearly have no problem with that choice. Jered Weaver and Francisco Liriano pretty much split our last place votes, giving us three-out-of-four choices in the AL West, and three-out-of-four choices mostly off the MSM radar. Strikeouts tell you a lot more about a pitcher than wins.
- Felix Hernandez, SEA 170 (5)
- Cliff Lee, SEA/TEX 120 (1)
- Francisco Liriano, MIN 40
- Jered Weaver, LAA 30
Felix Hernandez [second] is absolutely a fine choice. I have no problem if he wins the award and have no problem with people weighing his ERA and innings pitched as deciding factors in this case. However, the ballpark and defensive support that helped Hernandez put up that awesome ERA helped Lee look almost as good by ERA and even better by peripherals until he switched over to a more hitter-friendly park. Lee's ERA went up quite a bit when he became a Ranger, but his xFIP stayed pretty much the same, going from 3.19 to .327; all while going deep in to games. Again, I have no problem with Hernandez winning -- especially since he managed to play a full season -- but I'm firmly convinced that had he stayed in Seattle, Lee never would have been considered out of the running like he is now. Since I can cast this vote without changing the final results, consider this something of a protest to the way Lee's amazing season was unfairly shrugged aside once he switched teams (though I really do think he could be argued as deserving the Cy Young, it's not all protest). Also, while I don't think either should solely be considered to determine the Cy Young, the WAR stats from FanGraphs (using FIP) and StatCorner (using tRA) would defend me as not entirely controversial. Lee's 7.1 and 8.0 at those two sites respectively each led all of baseball.
Felix was in a class of his own this year. Having said that, if it wasn't for a back strain in August, Cliff Lee [second] would be right there with him. It took two years for Liriano [third] to fully recover for Tommy John surgery, but he came back with a vengeance this year, leading the league in xFIP and a healthy k/9 of 9.44. My two favorite pitchers of the last few years were Liriano and Rich Harden . . . At least Liriano put it back together.
I'd like to make note of the fact that I ranked my top three [Hernandez, Lee, Liriano] this way before looking at their WAR numbers (which rates these three pitchers in this order as the three best in the AL). When I evaluate the worth of a pitcher, I only really pay much attention to 4 things: IP, K/9, BB/9, GB%. Liriano ticked the boxes for K/9, BB/9, and GB%, but he threw under 200 innings. Cliff Lee had a K:BB rate that Steve Nebraska would be jealous of, but he wasn't particularly adept at inducing grounders. Jon Lester walked too many guys, CC Sabathia didn't have eye-popping K rates and had a BB rate that muddied his K:BB, Jered Weaver was an extreme flyball pitcher and David Price walked too many and didn't have a standout GB%. The one pitcher who was absolutely phenomenal in every category was Felix Hernandez. IP? Lead the AL with 249.2. K/9? 7th in the AL at 8.36, BB/9? 2.52, resulting in an excellent 3.31 K/BB. GB%? 5th in the AL at 53.9%. Felix Hernandez missed bats, controlled the strike zone, induced grounders and piled up innings better than anyone else in the AL. That's all anyone needs to know.
Top three [Hernandez, Lee, Weaver] all from the AL West. Lee's ridiculous 10.28 K/BB was almost enough to make me give him the award over Lee, but Hernandez pitched more innings and had an ERA of 2.27 compared to Lee's 3.18. Yes, I know, park factors and all that aren't played into ERA -- but at the end of the day, a 2.27 ERA in the American League is just awesome. Lee was awesome as well. Had he pitched to start the year, he'd probably take the award home for me, but almost 250 innings of work with a 2.27 ERA? I just can't ignore that.
National League Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
Prior to this season, there was a lot of talk about how dominant Roy Halladay would be in the National League after having looked so good against much more difficult AL lineups for so long, and he didn't disappoint. After having been arguably the best in the AL, Halladay went out and was definitively the best in the NL.
Adam Wainwright finishes second ahead of two interesting third and fourth choices. Ubaldo Jimenez took the world by storm -- as though he hadn't been great in 2009 already -- and looked like the front runner for the award to start the year before he struggled in the middle of the summer. While he ended up forgotten, however, his peripherals in August and September were right there with his April and May numbers, and he did all that in Coors Field. Josh Johnson, meanwhile, had a better strikeout rate, ERA, and Fielding Independent Pitching ERA than Halladay, though in nearly 70 fewer innings. That's why the Rangers tried to trade for him.
- Roy Halladay, PHI 180 (6)
- Adam Wainwright, STL 110
- Josh Johnson, FLA 40
- Ubaldo Jimenez, COL 30
This is so obviously Halladay it's hard to think of anything worth saying. The back three of the ballot are more interesting to me. Jimenez started out a tad overrated thanks to good luck, and ended the year more than a tad underrated thanks to bad luck, and his year may have been front-heavy, but he's still making the back of my Cy Young ballot for the second straight season. Wainwright seems like the obvious No. 2, but I could also put Josh Johnson somewhere; with more innings, he'd have made it easily.
Halladay absolutely dominated the National League. He once again led the majors in complete games with nine, shutouts with four, and innings pitched with 250.2, among a myriad of other categories he led the national league in. He's amazing. By the way, did you know that tied for second in complete games this year were Cliff Lee and.....Carl Pavano? Never underestimate the power of an awful mustache.
Roy Halladay ended up having even better results in the NL than most people predicted. Halladay's 250 innings, 51.2 GB% and 1.08 BB/9 more than compensate for his (still salty) 7.86 K/9. I'd like to point out that had Josh Johnson pitched more innings, he would've easily been No. 2, and probably would've made a strong run at No. 1. I just can't reward a guy who only threw 183 innings, even if he was absolutely phenomenal during that time.
This one is sort of obvious with Halladay winning. If Johnson eclipsed 200 innings, this could have been closer. Johnson actually threw almost 60 fewer innings yet only trailed Halladay in .3 in WAR. He was bad ass. I'm giving the third spot to Wainwright, but I could easily see it going to Ubaldo.
American League Rookie of the Year: Neftali Feliz, Relief Pitcher, Texas Rangers
This is where we may be a little more vulnerable to homerism claims, but Neftali Feliz, who set the rookie saves record with 40, will likely be winning the actual Rookie of the Year. And, hey, it wasn't unanimous here. Austin Jackson put up nearly a .400 Batting Average on Balls In Play, a blistering rate that may or may not be sustainable, while playing excellent centerfield. In a strong rookie class, we agreed those two stood at the top.
There was some difference in who filled out the third spot on our ballots, with Danny Valencia's amazing second half edging out the rarely-discussed John Jaso and one of the pre-season favorites Brian Matusz.
- Neftali Feliz, RP, TEX 160 (4)
- Austin Jackson, CF, DET 140 (2)
- Danny Valencia, 3B, MIN 30
- John Jaso, C, TB 20
- Brian Matusz, SP, BAL 10
I really hope Feliz [second] wins it, but no matter how good he was, I couldn’t put him over Jacksons’s all around excellence. It may have been thanks to a flukey BABIP, but he was an offensive and defensive force at a premium position; as good as you can hope for a rookie to be. The third (or even first) spot may have belonged to Carlos Santana if he stayed healthy, but I’m giving it to the tremendously overlooked John Jaso.
Feliz. Set the record for most saves by a rookie, was generally awesome this season. Had some awesome hair, some not so awesome, but we still love Feliz's explosive. That explosive, by the way, was the second most valuable pitch by a reliever this season; only Matt Thornton had a better explosive.
Feliz is absolutely a homer pick. I know he's a reliever and I know that he wasn't as good as he was during his short stint last year. Regardless, he still picked up 40 saves for a team that won the AL West, he was still ridiculously tough to hit (.180avg against, 0.65 HR/9) and he did this while being instructed to be practically a one-pitch guy (three guys in baseball threw one pitch more than Feliz threw his FB). You wonder what he could've done had he consistently found the tilt on his slurve, and had he not lost confidence in his change after giving up a grand slam to Corey Patterson on a center-square 87mph piece of meat, but what he did was still remarkable.
Jackson's defense gave him the nod over Feliz [second] for me. 21 DRS in CF is pretty nice. If Valencia [third] had played a full year he might have made a case for No. 2 or maybe even No. 1, but alas, he didn't. Feliz was dominant and that almost warrants him getting the award from me, but I'm going to give it to Jackson.
National League Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward, Right Fielder, Atlanta Braves and Buster Posey, Catcher, San Francisco Giants (tie)
In probably the tightest, best and most interesting races of this awards season, we could not come to a consensus. This year's NL RotY comes down to how much you value playing time. Both Jason Heyward and Buster Posey were super elite prospects before the season began, both absolutely knocked the skin off the ball, and both were huge factors in teams that narrowly made the post season. Heyward, however, started by hitting a home run on day one, while Posey played a more valuable position and was held back by Bengie Molina before getting to start. In the end, we all agreed they were the top two, but they split our first place votes.
Much like the AL, we agreed on the top two with some disagreement in the order and a few different guys chosen for the back three.
- Jason Heyward, RF, ATL 150 (3)
- Buster Posey, C, SF 150 (3)
- Jaime Garcia, SP, STL 30
- Mike Stanton, RF, FLA 20
- Stephen Strasburg, SP, WSN 10
It may be unfair of me to "penalize" Posey [second] for his team allowing dead weight to block him, but I'm going with the guy who played a full season. Heyward's bat is just something else, and after he started out hot, everyone seemed to take him for granted, and once he had a slump, they missed the fact that he ended up just as hot for most of the year. June (.244) was his only month with a wOBA under .367, and three out of six months - including two of the last three -- he was over .400. And while Posey is getting points for the Giants' playoff appearance, we should remember the Braves, too, narrowly made the playoffs. Like Santana in the AL, Stephen Strasburg would have been in this mix -- if not at the top -- with good health. 2010 looks like one of the best rookie classes since 1986.
Heyward [second] is a man beast and he just turned 21 a couple of months ago. He's going to be scary for a long time to come. Posey was just on another level and he led the surge the Giants needed to overtake the Padres. Since the Molina trade, the Giants went 52-31 after trudging along around .500 for most of the season pre-Posey. Stanton gets the third place vote because of his insane power.
Posey [second], if Brian Sabean had a clue, could've easily won this award. However, Heyward played in 34 more games and was a fantastic player in his own right, so he takes the crown.
American League Hank Aaron: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
We included the Hank Aaron award so we could maybe differentiate between MVP and "best hitter," but that didn't end up being the result in either case this year. Just like we unanimously believed Hamilton is the MVP, we unanimously believed he was the best hitter in the AL. Hamilton led the AL in BA and SLG, and while he was second in OBP behind Cabrera, he lead him in wOBA by 18 points.
To us, the best three hitters in the AL were pretty clear, with just some slight disagreement on the order.
- Josh Hamilton, TEX 180 (6)
- Miguel Cabrera, DET 100
- Jose Bautista, TOR 80
This was pretty close. I started delving pretty deep in handed-specific park factors just to try and get some separation. I partly wanted to give it to Cabrera [second], just because I had him so low on my MVP ballot, but the more I looked at it the more it looked like Hamilton deserved it. The ballparks did not, in fact, cause all the ground once you really look in to it. I’d accept any order of these three, though.
National League Hank Aaron: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Once again, our Hank Aaron winner was our MVP winner. Once again, Pujols and Votto were extremely close. Unlike the MVP, a few of us did go with the guy who might one day be the greatest first baseman we've ever seen.
- Joey Votto, CIN 160 (4)
- Albert Pujols, STL 140 (2)
- Carlos Gonzalez, COL 50
- Troy Tulowitzki, COL 10
Again, separating Votto [second] and Pujols [third] is tough. It doesn't even look like one was particularly more lucky than the other, if you want to go that far in trying to separate them. Votto had a much higher BABIP, but he's always been high, while Pujols has always been about average; their regressed wOBA's (StatCorner's attempt to adjust for luck) are a staggeringly-close .443 and .442, respectively. Pujols's park-adjusted wOBA appears to be higher, however, and while his BABIP was a little lower than his career, Votto's was a little higher. Pujols also has the better track record and had 54 more plate appearances. This is some nitpicky stuff, but it's so close I have to nitpick just to pick a winner.
Taking away everything except for offense, this is what I see. I'm still giving Pujols the edge over Votto.