Right after the end of the season I was given the privilege of voting for the Sports Blog Nation’s picks for the American League MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the year awards. The results will be announced this week. Here are the players I voted for, and my reasons for each:
Rookie of the Year
1. Jeremy Hellickson
He probably received his share of luck last season, and having the league's best defense helps quite a bit as well. But in the end an ERA of 2.95 pitching in the AL East is just too much to pass over.
2. Eric Hosmer
3. Mark Trumbo
While I would be happy to see Trumbo win the award, I just couldn't bring myself to put him higher than third. Having an OBP under .300 is a hard thing to overcome for anyone, but especially for a guy playing first base. Trumbo exceeded my expectations. I was expecting his "swing hard in case you hit it" approach to produce results that look like, well, what we saw from Brandon Wood. Instead, he was a solid contributor who had some very big moments to keep the Angels in contention for awhile. But Hosmer, playing the same position, is a more complete offensive player so I put him second. Hosmer beats Trumbo by about 40 points in batting and on base averages, while giving up only 12 points in slugging.
Honorable mention goes to pitchers Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and Jordan Walden. JP Arencibia had a similar season to Trumbo. He's ahead in that he plays a much tough defensive position, but behind for having an even lower OBP. Brett Lawrie, Dustin Ackley, and Desmond Jennings were outstanding after late callups, any of them would have won my vote had he played at that level for the full season.
1. Justin Verlander is an easy choice, leading the league in wins (24), ERA (2.40), Innings (251) and strikeouts (250). He didn’t win a world championship, but earned a reputation as a rain maker during the postseason. Maybe he can spend the off season touring the world and bringing rain to drought stricken villages.
2. Jered Weaver finished a close second in ERA at 2.41. Winning 18 games with the offensive support the Angels gave him is an amazing accomplishment.
3. CC Sabathia would have won the award if he had been able to beat the Red Sox at all. He was 1-4 against the Red Sox, with a 6.39 ERA. Against everyone else, he was 18-4 with a 2.49 ERA. He did that while pitching in a bandbox of a ballpark. Sabathia would have been the Cy Young winner had he been able to handle New York’s most hated enemy.
4. James Shields gets my 4th vote for a 2.82 ERA, pitching 249 innings, and completing 11 games..
There are several other starting pitchers who are worthy of placing on the ballot. Let's give Dan Haren a standing ovation. Raise a fist for Doug Fister. All hail King Felix Hernandez. Send a six pack to the Red Sox clubhouse for Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. David Price, CJ Wilson, and Ricky Romero had great years too. With so many good starters to choose from, I couldn't settle on one, so I gave my final vote to:
5. Mariano Rivera. He’s the best closer in baseball history, and still going strong at age 41. The Yankees didn’t move past the first round, but don’t blame Rivera. He faced four batters in the postseason, and got them all out. He threw eight pitches, and all of them were strikes. He’s as close as any human being can get to perfection.
To be continued: Later this week I'll publish my choices for MVP.