Aaaaaaaaaand here we are!
After yesterday's introduction (and the mild stir it caused), I discovered the other half of the email list for the Halos Heaven Voting Board (HHVB), the group of HHers here that vote on these honors and other frivolous things. I mass-mailed them in a panic, and would you believe it--I got four more ballots in the span of about 10 hours! So that brings this year's voting total to 10 members.
The ballots are locked in, all votes have been counted, and the winners are clear. So let's get on with it.
Today's awards are the Trout-Salmon Award and the Comeback Player of the Year Award. (On a side note, I am open to suggestions of Angels players to name the Comeback award after. This name right now is basic.)
The Trout-Salmon Award, named after the two players (Mike Trout and Tim Salmon) to have won the BBWAA's Rookie of the Year Award in a Halo uniform, honors the Angel who posted the most outstanding rookie season. This award debuted LAST season, when outfielder J.B. Shuck was (almost by default) crowned with the honor, seeing serious competition only from fellow Angels rookie outfielder Kole Calhoun. Who is this year's winner?
Well, the winner of this season's Trout-Salmon Award is, like Shuck last season, an..."elder" rookie. I can't really do too much to conceal his identity, but I'll say what I can before the reveal: His value to the team was almost unable to truly be quantified. However, below we attempt to give the statistics that DO quantify his value to the team. His value came not just as a rookie, but as a team player that knew just when to step up.
2014 TROUT-SALMON AWARD: MATT SHOEMAKER (16-4, 3.04 ERA, 1.074 WHIP, 3.26 FIP, 8.2 K/9, 8.1 H/9, 5.17 K/BB, 136.0 IP, 2.5 bWAR)
This really wasn't much of a doubt. Shoemaker, who also led the American League with his .800 winning percentage, won Rookie of the Month AND Pitcher of the Month honors for the month of August in the American League. He undeniably stepped up after the injury to Garrett Richards--defined no better than the one-hit gem he threw the night after the injury. After August 20th (Richards' involuntary exodus), Shoemaker pitched to a 1.15 ERA, 32 strikeouts, and a combined 1.191 WPA across those six games (i.e. he gave his team an average of 19.85% additional likelihood of winning each of those six games). Shoemaker wasn't even on the roster until May, but once he got into the rotation on July 21st, he was firmly entrenched, save for an emergency relief appearance in the 17th inning during the Boston Marathon of Anaheim on August 9th. He took the award unanimously, being the first to take this award in such a manner. Voting was conducted on a 5-3-1 points scale; details are below.
Meanwhile, there's also a NEW award this season to honor the best rebound performance: the commonly-named Comeback Player of the Year Award. This year's winner certainly had a good deal of adversity to overcome: a year and a half of physical and mental pressure finally did this player in, during a sluggish and slumpy July of 2013. After missing 63 games, this player came back with a lot to prove and live up to, as well as a fairly important milestone to chase down. While he did not appear to be back in the form of his prime, he did indeed rebound nicely enough to prove that he's still a reliable everyday performer, and a presence in the lineup still to be feared, respected and admired.
2014 COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: ALBERT PUJOLS (.272/.324/.466, 28 HR, 105 RBI, 125 OPS+, 89 R, 66 XBH, 159 games, 3.9 bWAR)
There's no denying that Albert Pujols had very much to prove this season: with the hindsight that 2012 was the big first-year jitters of a giant contract, and that 2013 was a hobbled and feeble shell of his former self, 2014 was marked for many months of the offseason as Pujols' "show-me" year with the Angels. And while he did not return to his mid-20s Cardinal ways, he did put up an impressive showing for a 34-year-old first baseman. Removing him from the comparison to his past self, he was 6th among AL first basemen in OPS+ (min. 400 PAs), and of the ones above him, none of them started as many games as he did (159). Voting was done on a 5-3-1 points scale; details are below.