We here do like to keep everything that we post fantasy related, but this one is a little different. We’re also proud members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and as such, we’ve been given a vote in their annual end-of-year awards. Today, we’re going to show you how Fantasybaseballcrackerjacks.com voted in each award, and offer a reason why.
- Connie Mack Award: Manager of the Year
- Willie Mays Award: Top Rookie
- Goose Gossage Award: Top Reliever
- Walter Johnson Award: Top Pitcher
- Stan Musial Award: Top Player
As always, if you disagree with anything said here, feel free to voice your disagreements in the comments section below.
- Connie Mack Award
American League: Joe Girardi, New York Yankees
This was actually a difficult award to come to. There are a lot of worthy candidates for this award and sorting through them was not easy. Sorting through them to come to a guy whose team didn’t even make the playoffs was even tougher. But when you look at what the Yankees had, Joe Girardi is the most worthy candidate.
If you pooled all the games that Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson played for the Bronx Bombers in 2013, you’d get to a 140, not even a full season for one player. Also, remember that A-Rod’s insurance policy, Kevin Youkilis, played only 28 games (shocking), while C.C. Sabathia was generally ineffective from the mound all year.
I haven’t even mentioned how he managed the pending A-Rod implosion, working him back into the lineup in a relatively pain-free way. This was a team that had no business contending for a playoff spot but managed to win 85 games and compete for a playoff spot until the season’s final week.
National League: Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
This is not a knock on any other NL managers, but this one wasn’t that close. Think back to what you were doing on October 14, 1992. Can you remember? Were you even born yet? That’s the last time the Pirates played in a postseason game. The 1992 season was also the last time they were above .500 in a season. Not anymore.
The Pirates didn’t have that baggage this year. They didn’t have the baggage of second-half collapses in both 2011 and 2012. They just won a lot of games, and are in the midst of a magical postseason run.
If you follow a team that has losing so much instilled in the culture, then you know that the toughest thing about changing it is often just getting the players to believe that they can win while wearing that uniform. Clint Hurdle did that in 2013, and his players put it into action.
- Willie Mays Award
American League: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays
That, plus the fact that this wasn’t exactly a great AL rookie class gives this award to Myers in a walk.
National League: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
Believe me, nobody suffers from Puig-fatigue more than yours truly, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t make a huge impact in 2013. You could point out how good Jose Fernandez was on an otherwise dismal Marlins team and truthfully, Fernandez was great, especially for a guy who just turned 21. It’s very close, but Puig gets the edge here by being an every day player.
It’s hard to ignore a guy who is capable of dominating a game in every way imaginable. His arm keeps teams from advancing their runners, his speed takes pitchers off of their games against the likes of Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez, and he can drive any pitch he sees. Again. It’s not a knock on anyone else, but Yasiel Puig was just phenomenal.
- Goose Gossage Award
American League: Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
Certainly not the sentimental choice for this award, but he is the right one. I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent here.
Using saves as a barometer for how good a reliever was is even dicier than using wins for starters. With wins, you need run support and in this era, a good bullpen. With saves, you not only need to have a lead going into the ninth inning, but it can’t be that big of a lead. Still, if you have a lot of saves, it means that your team trusted you in big situations, and you performed well enough to not lose your job. Jim Johnson of the Orioles has led the majors in saves in each of the last two seasons. By that stat, and several others, he’s one of the best in the game and deserves to be recognized as one of the best relievers in the game. Back to Holland.
Holland’s ERA in 2013 (1.21) lower than Johnson’s WHIP (1.28). That’s not a great WHIP, but that’s a downright incredible stat and more than makes up for the difference of three saves. Giving this award to Greg Holland is not a knock on Johnson, or a very strong group of American League relievers that includes the now retired best relief pitcher ever.
But Holland not only dominated in the aforementioned ERA category, but pretty much everything else. 47 saves, 0.97 WHIP, 13.84 K’s per 9 innings, 5.72 strikeouts to walk ratio. It’s a great class of relievers, but Holland gets the nod and actually, it’s not that close.
National League: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
- Kimbrel: 67 IP, 39 H, 20 BB, 9 ER, 98 SO, 50 saves, 1.21 ERA, 0.88 WHIP
- Holland: 67 IP, 40 H, 18 BB, 9 ER, 103 SO, 47 saves, 1.21 ERA, 0.87 WHIP
With all due respect to the other NL relievers, Kimbrel also doesn’t have quite the competition as Holland had, notably with Nathan and Rivera.
Aside from the numbers, this really comes down to a simple question. If you were nursing a one-run lead and were facing the heart of the best lineup in the game, what closer would you want handling the job? Kimbrel is probably the answer to that question overall, but his toughest competitors are all in the AL. Other NL guys are good and do specific things very well, but nobody does it all like Kimbrel.
- Walter Johnson Award
American League: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
Forget the wins, that’s fine. Max Scherzer doesn’t need them to stake claim to this award. From the start of the season to the end, Scherzer was just the best pitcher in the American League, putting every element of the position together for a fantastic season.
Scherzer has always had a tremendous fastball, but with weaker secondary pitches he’d been predictable in the past, which kept him from entering the elite group of pitchers. That was not a problem in 2013, as he put it all together, notching a WHIP under 1.00 and an ERA under 3.00, throwing 25 quality starts, good enough for second in the junior circuit (James Shields).
This is not an open-and-shut case, as there are a few pitchers (Yu Darvish, Felix Hernandez) who I’d rather have in a situation where I needed a strikeout. But this is where Scherzer gets the nod in 2013: They may be who you’d want if you needed a strikeout, but Max doesn’t lag in that area in a big way. But if you need a good start where you’re pitcher won’t hurt himself by walking guys and getting behind in counts, Scherzer is the guy you’d want this season, and they lag way more behind him in that area.
National League: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Let’s not over-think this one. Clayton Kershaw has the best ERA and WHIP, and led the NL in strikeouts and innings pitched. Opposing pitchers take the mound thinking that if they allow a run, they’re going to get a loss.
This may be a bit more of a competition if Matt Harvey didn’t get hurt, but probably not much of one. Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game, and his 2013 season reflected that.
Others receiving consideration: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals; Matt Harvey, New York Mets; Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies; Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals; Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals; Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins; Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants; Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Stan Musial Award
American League: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
It’s hard to get past how good Trout is at everything. Cabrera is the better hitter, but Trout excels at every part of the game, dominating on the bases and in the field, where Cabrera is below average at best, and a liability at worst. Now, many good or even great players have that edge over Miggy, but only Trout is more valuable.
Trout isn’t as dangerous with the bat as Miggy; I’m not sure we’ve seen that hitter in a long time. But he is not that far behind and could realistically be more of a Triple Crown threat if he batted in the middle of the order all year instead of in the first or second spot, which is where he batted for most of the season. If Miggy didn’t spend so much of the second half banged up, his hitting statistics would be better (hard to believe, but true), which could give him enough of an edge to make up for Trout’s advantages. But as it is, Trout is just too good at everything. He is the “Top Player” of the American League.
National League: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
This one was close, really close. There are some great NL players, but many of them missed a good portion of the season for various reasons. So, this came down to Paul Goldschmidt vs. Andrew McCutchen and in a close race, Goldy gets the nod.
McCutchen is better in the field and on the bases, but not by much, and that’s really important to note. Those kind of things always favor outfielders. They have to run around a lot more than corner infielders, so they usually have better body types for stealing bases, and of course running balls down in the gap.
But Goldschmidt just doesn’t lag that much on the bases, and McCutchen wasn’t close enough to him with the bat to get this vote, not all year, at least. This is not a knock on Cutch at all, nor is it a knock on any other NL player. But Goldscmhidt dominated several areas, notably in power without lagging badly anywhere else. So, he gets our vote.
Others receiving consideration: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates; Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers; Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals; Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals; Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers