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BBA Ballot: Walter Johnson Award

Posted on October 21, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Filed Under: Baseball Bloggers Alliance
As most of you that read this blog on a semi-regular basis know, I'm part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  (OK, full disclosure, I'm actually the founder.)  The BBA is designed to really encourage cooperation and collaboration across baseball blogs.  I've used the BBA in the pre-season Playing Pepper series as well as fill-in guests when I was on vacation this summer.

To go along with that purpose, the BBA also collaborates to vote on post-season awards.  You've likely seen the press releases, at least here on this site, for the awards that we have voted on so far this season.  Ron Washington and Bud Black won the Connie Mack Award for best manager.  Neftali Feliz and Buster Posey won the Willie Mays Award for best rookie.  Most recently, Rafael Soriano and Brian Wilson won the Goose Gossage Award for best reliever.

In the St. Louis chapter of the BBA, we divvy up the award ballots among ourselves to get to two per award.  Bill of i70baseball and Steve of The Outfield Ivy did the voting in the Connie Mack, Bill and Nick from Pitchers Hit Eighth did the honors for the Willie Mays, and Mark of RetroSimba and Pip from Fungoes cast their ballots for the Goose Gossage.

Which brings us to the next award, the Walter Johnson Award.  Given to the best pitcher in each league, it honors one of the early legends in the game.  Since the BBWAA didn't care for us using the Cy Young title, Johnson seemed the next logical selection.

After the jump, my selections for the five spots on the ballot.

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I came up with 10 names that I thought I'd want to research, see what their numbers looked like in relation to each other.  There were a number of great pitchers this year, and I could have easily added five or more to that initial pool of consideration.  I had to draw the line somewhere, unfortunately.

I looked at seven categories (wins, ERA, strikeouts, K/BB, K/9, Average Game Score and DIPS) and listed where each of these guys ranked in those categories.  I used that as my starting point, with the results as follows:

Honorable mention: Chris Carpenter, Cole Hamels, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, Roy Oswalt

I really added Carpenter to the list just because he was a Cardinal, but his rankings were better than I expected.  Watching him regularly this year, he obviously wasn't the dominant force he had been, but he still was a top-notch pitcher.  Highest ranking: sixth in wins.  Lowest ranking: 27th in K/9.

Hamels had slipped last year, but he got back to close to his 2008 form this past season.  He was striking people out and, when looking at his ERA vs. his DIPS rankings, his results didn't appear to be fluky.  Highest ranking: sixth in strikeouts.  Lowest ranking: 23rd in wins.

I had originally seen Hudson on an early ballot turned into the BBA, so I included him as well in my group.  However, though he had good numbers in wins and ERA, he didn't stand out as much in the other categories.  Highest ranking: fourth in wins.  Lowest ranking: 37th in K/9.

It seems that Lincecum's reign as NL Cy Young is over after two years, but he's still a force to be reckoned with.  At his age, it's doubtful we've seen the best of him, so there may be more trophies in his future.  Highest ranking: first in strikeouts and K/9.  Lowest ranking: 19th in ERA.

Oswalt had an eventful year, getting traded from the only team he'd ever played for after requesting such a move, then going to the eventual NL East-winning Phillies.  Oswalt continued to show why I lobbied for the Cards to try to get him, though I realize probably in the long run, it was better that they didn't.  Highest ranking: fourth in average game score.  Lowest ranking: 16th in wins.

Fifth place: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
13-10, 2.91, 204.1 IP, 212 K, 81 BB, 1.18 WHIP, .214 BAA

Talk about someone young and about to come into their own.  Kershaw's win-loss record may be a little pedestrian, but everything else is pretty intriguing.  He gained some control this year and was able to work longer into games.  A few less walks and he'll be an even bigger star.  Highest ranking: fourth in K/9.  Lowest ranking: 19th in K/BB.

Fourth place: Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins
11-6, 2.30, 183.2 IP, 186 K, 48 BB, 1.11 WHIP, .229 BAA

Johnson would probably rank a little higher on the list if 1) this wasn't such a good year for pitching and 2) he hadn't been hurt at the end of the season.  He didn't pitch after September 4, so losing those last 3-4 starts hurt him in this listing.  Other than that, though, it was a pretty spectacular year.  Highest ranking: first in ERA and DIPS.  Lowest ranking: 28th in wins.

Third place: Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies
19-8, 2.88, 221.2 IP, 214 K, 92 BB, 1.15 WHIP, .209 BAA

Jimenez looked like he had the award wrapped up at the All-Star break, when he already had 15 wins to his credit.  While he slumped some down the stretch, it wasn't completely his fault.  For instance, in his last two starts, he threw fifteen innings and allowed only two runs, yet only received a loss and a no-decision.  As with Kershaw, he's got to work a little on his command, but he looks to be a guy that will be in this discussion for years to come.  Highest ranking: third in wins and strikeouts.  Lowest ranking: 26th in K/BB.

Second place: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
20-11, 2.42, 230.1 IP, 213 K, 56 BB, 1.05 WHIP, .224 BAA

I wanted to put Wainwright first, I really did.  In fact, when I was organizing who would vote on which award in September, I chose this one in part because I expected I would be able to vote for Waino in the top slot.  I think you can make an argument that he was worthy of the top slot, but our winner is an easier sell.  That said, Wainwright's option for 2012 and 2013 vest if he finishes in the top three of the Cy this year or next and that should happen.  That late season slump kept him out of the top spot, but it was still a remarkable season and I can't wait to see how he follows it up next year.  Highest ranking: second in wins, ERA, DIPS and average game score.  Lowest ranking: 10th in K/9.

First place: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
21-10, 2.44, 250.2 IP, 219 K, 30 BB, 1.04 WHIP, .245 BAA

Last summer, when Halladay had made it clear that he wanted out of Toronto, I suggested on this blog that they should go get him, even if it cost Brett Wallace and others in the farm system.  The Cardinals chose to go the offensive route and make the deal for Matt Holliday, but can you imagine what this season would have been like with Halladay, Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia going the way they did?  Even the sputtering offense couldn't have kept the Cards out of the postseason.  Halladay put up these numbers in a hitter's park, plus threw nine complete games and four shutouts, not to mention a perfect game (and, though it doesn't count toward this voting, a post-season no-hitter as well).  All in all, it was a season that would have made the Big Train proud.  Highest ranking: first in wins, K/BB, and average game score.  Lowest ranking: 14th in K/9.

Agree?  Disagree?  Put it in the comments!


2 Comments | Leave a comment

This is probably my homerism showing through but I can't really see the justification of Kershaw over Lincecum.

Lincecum had more innings, a better K/9, BB/9, nearly identical FIP (even with a HR/9 double his previous 2 seasons that explains his increased ERA) and was worth nearly a half win more (Fangraphs version).

I think the rest of your ballot is solid but I can't stand a Dodger above a Giant.

Can't argue with you too much on that. With the limited research, I felt they were pretty close, but my gut said Kershaw. Maybe it's a bias from him "stealing" the Cy from Carp and Waino last year. ;)

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