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The SBNation Awards

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[Update: littlevisigoth sagely recognized two errors that I am now correcting. I had said that Webb led the league in WHIP, and no: he didn't. Carpenter did. I even knew that. littlevisigoth also points out that Pujols led qualifying NL hitters in OBP, not Cabrera. I wish I had not made these mistakes, but I am still happy with my choices, and stand by them.]

A few weeks ago, those of us along the SBN baseball circuit were emailed a ballot. The First Annual SBNation Baseball Awards, we were told. Conceived as a conscious alternative to the awards bestowed by the Baseball Writers of America, and brought into fruition by Talking Chop maven Martin Gandy, the SBNation awards, will--or at least so it is thought--bring a more diagnostic approach to the presentation of postseason awards.

If the top brass on the SBNation network have their way, the SBNation awards, will, from their inception, be presented by the media, not as a populist alternative to the MVP, the Cy Young, and the Rookie and Manager of the Year awards, but rather as the analytical one. Certainly quality writers like Marc Normandin at Beyond the Boxscore and Jeff Sackmann at Brew Crew Ball will not have submitted their ballots without extensive looks at arcane numbers.

Obviously, I can't hang with those guys, but I did the best I could. I figured I'd try to minimize my own not inconsiderable biases by ranking players in much the same way that the ballots themselves will be counted. With the MVPs, for example, they wanted a list of ten, so I ranked players in six stats: OPS, OBP, RBI, average, runs scored, and equivalent average. If a player led the NL in a category, he got 11 points; if he finished second, he got nine; and so on, until I was handing out one point for finishing tenth in the league. Then I added up the scores, and voted based on the totals I'd derived.

MVP

  • 1. Albert Pujols
  • 2. Ryan Howard
  • 3. Miguel Cabrera
  • 4. Lance Berkman
  • 5. Carlos Beltran
  • 6. Garrett Atkins
  • 7. Nick Johnson
  • 8. Chase Utley
  • 9. Freddy Sanchez
  • 10. David Wright

Pujols over Howard confirmed nicely my own bias against high strikeout totals. Lance finished with a higher OPS and a higher EQA than Cabrera, but no-one save Pujols had a higher onbase percentage than Miggy, and of course it's slightly more difficult to homer in Cabrera''s home park than in Lance's.

Besides Pujols, the only player to finish in the top ten in each of the six categories I looked at was Garrett Atkins. I exercised a small amount of editorial bias with Atkins' teammate Matt Holliday, who finished immediately behind Atkins in my system, but on inspection, had something like an .819 road OPS. Coors didn't favor offense like it has in past years in 2006, but still . . .

So Holliday got the axe, and those behind him got promoted.

I'm probably the only person on the SBNation network OR in the BBWA who gave Freddy Sanchez an MVP vote, but goddamnit, someone needs to give the guy some credit: it ain't easy leading the league in hitting.

So, Freddy: this Bud's for you.

Cy Young

For Cy Young, they only wanted three pitchers, so I was able to look at more numbers. I looked at ERA, wins, WHIP, K/BB ratio, number of Quality Starts, Average Game Score, winning percentage, average Game Score, and DIPS ERA.

  • 1. Brandon Webb
  • 2. Roy Oswalt
  • 3. Chris Carpenter

I damn near said screw it, and just voted Roy Oz because he's Roy Oz. But my pangs of conscience got me. Webb led the league in DIPS, and only relinquished his ERA lead to Roy on the last day of the season. Chris Carpenter tied Oswalt in points under my system, but there I WAS able to allow myself to be capricious, and I kicked Carp to third place. It was easy to justify that with the three straight poor starts Carpenter had to close the year, while Roy O nearly led us to the NL Central title.

I know at least one NL Central blogger voted Oswalt number one.

Oh, and John Smoltz had a fucking great year.

Rookie of the Year

I saw the ROY as a two-man race between Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman. Ramirez led rookies by a wide margin in runs scored, Zimmerman led by a wide margin in runs driven in. But Hanley had the advantage in OPS, OBP, and EqA. Plus he stole 51 bases.

  • 1. Hanley Ramirez
  • 2. Ryan Zimmerman
  • 3. Dan Uggla

Manager of the Year

I guess for Manager of the Year, I could have compared actual to pythagorean record, to see who was giving games away. I could have looked at one-run wins vs. one run losses, to see who squoze the most out of what they were handed. And I could have looked at blown leads, to try and get a measure of how a skipper handled his bullpen.

But I didn't. These just seemed obvious, and I hope no-one gets mad at me.

While it seems to me that all the acclaim for Girardi overlooks the fact that the young players he had to start were VERY GOOD young players, you can correct for that and still come to the conclusion that he should win the award. Garner did everything he could to stay competitive with a lineup composed of an MVP candidate and a rotation of twelve others. I might have voted him third, even if the Astros hadn't won 10 of 12 to close the year, and challenged the Cardinals.

  • 1. Joe Girardi
  • 2. Phil Garner
  • 3. Willie Randolph

At least one other NL Central blogger agreed with me about Phil.