Last week I did a post covering my ballot for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) Goose Gossage award recognizing the American League's top reliever. This award is part of the following selection of awards, voted on by 2 blogger representatives for each major league team, that will be handed out over the next couple of weeks:
- Connie Mack Award (top manager): announced today
- Willie Mays Award (top rookie): announce October 13
- Goose Gossage Award (top reliever): announced October 17
- Walter Johnson Award (top pitcher): announced October 20
- Stan Musial Award (top player): announced October 24
Today, I will cover my ballot for the Stan Musial Award recognizing the American Leagues Top Player. This award, unlike Major League Baseball's MVP Award, recognizes the top position player in the league regardless of how well his team performed during the regular season. Also, unlike the MVP award pitchers are ineligible to win.
Ballots submitted for this award must include 10 finalists are tabulated using a point scale of 13-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, and the player with the most points after all votes are counted is declared the winner of the Stan Musial Award.
I'm not going to get into great detail regarding the statistics I focused on for determining who I included on my ballot like I did with the my Goose Gossage Award post, however many of the same criteria applies in that I focused on statistics that reflected what actually happened in 2011 and not those that project what is most likely to happen in 2012.
Additionally, the players defensive position, the strength of his defence and his overall offensive results all played a part in determining who I included on my ballot and in what order. Specific statistics that I focused on included On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, OPS (OPS+), Stolen Bases, Caught Stealing, Plate Appearances and of course, Wins Above Replacement courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, for which I have highlighted the top 20 below in Figure 1.
Figure 1 - AL Top 20 Wins Above Replacement Leaders
The finalists in descending order for my Stan Musial Award ballot are as follows:
10. Ben Zobrist - Played multiple positions, 2nd base and in the outfield, stole bases, hit 72 extra base hits and didn't get enough recognition for his season.
9. Dustin Pedroia - This guys was such a pest this season, it even bugs me that I've included him on this list.
8. Evan Longoria - Forget batting average, this guy had a monster season while playing stand out defense at a position of premium.
7. Robinson Cano - 81 extra base hits for a 2b ain't too shabby.
6. Alex Avila - Finished 7th in the American League in OPS+ as a catcher playing almost every day.
5. Adrian Gonzalez - Led the American league in hits, 2nd in average, 3rd in OPS and OPS+, 3rd in OBP and among the best defensive 1st basemen.
4. Curtis Granderson - Piled up the counting stats with 136 runs, 10 triples, 41 home runs, 119 rbi's and 25 stolen bases.
3. Miguel Cabrera - No one in baseball got on base at a higher rate than Cabrera.
2. Jacoby Ellsbury - A number 1 selection most other years as the speedy centre-fielder known for stolen bases led the league in total bases in 2011
And My #1 Selection is...
1. Jose Bautista
I know what you are thinking, 'of course a Blue Jay Blogger is going to pick Jose Bautista #1', well hold on there a second, Jose Bautista simply was the top player in the American League. Not only did he lead the AL in WAR, but he came .001 point from winning the American League Sabermetric Triple Crown. That is leading the league in OBP, SLG and OPS, which he would have if it were not for a late season surge by Miguel Cabrera that moved him a hair above Bautista in OBP.
For those that argue that Jacoby Ellsbury was the better player because of the added number of steals, hits, etc., I simply state that Jose Bautista got on base 287 times, which was 23 more times than Ellsbury in spite of having 77 fewer plate appearances, and oh yeah, and Bautista also hit 11 home runs more than Ellsbury, therefore more power plus getting on base more often equals better hitter.