The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has now named its first awards of the season, and just one is yet to be announced. First, the Connie Mack Awards for top manager went to Ron Washington and Bud Black. Then Neftali Feliz and Buster Posey won the Willie Mays Awards for each league’s top rookies. The Goose Gossage Awards for top relievers went to Rafael Soriano and Brian Wilson. Yesterday, the Walter Johnson Awards, given to each league’s top pitcher, were handed out to Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay.
That leaves just one more award to give, the Stan Musial Award which is akin to the Most Valuable Player Awards. I have one of two Twins Blogger ballots for this award. The other was from “Fetch” at Twinkie Talk, which you can see here. And here is my vote:
STAN MUSIAL AWARD BALLOT
This was a really difficult vote. Before doing the research, I jotted down who I thought would be my Top 5, and to be honest, after doing the research, the top four were pretty easy choices, but it was difficult to determine what order they should be in. From four through ten, it was more difficult.
But first, my thoughts on the MVP award. It seems that everybody has a different definition of “value” and what an MVP should be. And that’s why it’s great, because it creates a ton of discussion. And that’s why it’s frustrating, because it can be difficult to determine the differences in value between two or more players. I do not believe that an MVP has to be from a playoff team. I do believe that an MVP should be from a team that was competitive through most of the season. In other words, that means that guys like Luke Scott, Billy Butler and Shin-Soo Choo tend to be overlooked despite some very strong seasons. I believe that a pitcher can get votes, but in order to finish in the top ten, a pitcher needs to be beyond dominant. I believe that no one statistic is the right measure for an MVP. I also believe that you need to look at a multitude of stats to really make a decision. I think those stats should be a combination of counting stats and rate stats along with some of the advanced metrics. I believe that there were a lot of very good players in 2010 in the American League, and just because a player does not finish in the Top 10 does not mean they didn’t have a good year or somehow was disappointing. I also believe that salary and expectations should play no factor in the vote. I also believe there is room for intangibles in the vote and yet, that should be used in a tie-breaking type of situation. I mean, if someone like Derek Jeter and Milton Bradley put identical numbers up, I have no problem with giving the edge to the “leadership” of Jeter. But I can’t reiterate enough that ‘intangibles’ are not a big percentage at all in any MVP discussion.
So what numbers did I look at? As you know, some of the MVP candidates missed some time, and I do believe that has to be noted. So I looked at games played and plate appearances. I took a glance at extra base hits and home runs. I know RBI are a product of having runners on in front of them, but someone has to drive in runs. I looked at the triple slash numbers (BA/OBP/SLG) and OPS. I also looked at Runs Created, and RC27. I looked a wOBA. I wanted to look at positional variation, so I reviewed WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). I looked at Win Probability Added to determine “clutchness” throughout the season. I also looked a little bit at defense by looking at UZR. Like I said, I don’t want any formula based on these things, but wanted to be able to compare and contrast.
Finally, I contacted a few bloggers from some of the teams of players that I had some questions about, and all of that put together helped me to come up with my Stan Musial Ballot. We were asked to vote for the top ten (which is the same thing that the Baseball Writers do when they vote for MVP). Here is my ballot:
#10 – Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins - .327/.402/.469
Yes, the home run numbers dropped from his 2009 MVP season, but contrary to popular belief, Mauer had another very good 2010 season. His VORP was at 50.5 which is in the top eight in the league. He creates runs. He is clutch with a WPA of 2.45 which is top ten in the league. He also does a very good job behind the plate. Was it a down year from a remarkable 2009 season? Sure. Does that mean it was a bad year? Not at all.
#9 – Nick Swisher – New York Yankees - .288/.359/.511
People wondered what the personality of Swisher would do in New York. He struggled some in 2009, but in 2010, he put together his best season. It was also his most consistent season. That was important to the Yankees since Derek Jeter had a down year, and A-Rod and Mark Teixeira each had struggles and injuries throughout the season.
#8 – Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays - .294/.372/.507
The Rays were the top team in the league and they were really carried by two players on offense. Longoria provided the power with 46 doubles and 22 home run. He created a lot of runs. He was clutch, and he played a terrific 3B defensively. Despite his youth, Longoria turned into a real leader on the 2010 Rays roster.
#7 – Adrian Beltre – Boston Red Sox - .321/.365/.553
Beltre was a free agent last offseason and signed a make-good deal with the Red Sox. Beltre made good, to be sure. First, he remained one of baseball’s best defensive 3B. However, he also led the league with 49 doubles while added 28 home runs.
#6 – Paul Konerko – Chicago White Sox - .312/.393/.584
I know, he plays for the White Sox, but he seems like a good guy. And he had a tremendous 2010 season, arguably the best of his career. Konerko hit 39 home runs and drove in 111 runs. He was in the top five in the league in WPA, and despite playing the hitter-friendly 1B, he had a VORP of 64.2. If he played another position, he would rank higher with these numbers. Of course, he’s not a great first baseman defensively, with a -13.4 UZR. But the end of the day, Konerko was again the best hitter and the leader of the White Sox.
#5 – Robinson Cano – New York Yankees - .319/.381/.534
Of course, the Yankees were only one game behind the Rays as the best team in the league, and Cano was clearly the best player on the Yankees roster. The second baseman hit 41 doubles, hit 29 home runs and drove in 109 runs. He was clutch, and he was consistent. His defense improved, although his UZR was still slightly below 0 (-0.6).
#4 – Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays - .260/.378/.617
I think we were all assuming that Bautista’s dream season would eventually end with him waking up and reality setting in, but it never did. 35 doubles and 54 home runs later, he ended the season as the Blue Jays all-time single season home run leader. He was third in the league in OPS. He was second in the league in runs created. He was in the top three in Win Probability added. Now, his defense in right field and at 3B were both slightly sub-par, but when you’re providing this kind of offense, adequate defense is way more than adequate! The softball-swinging Jays may have finished fourth in the AL East, but they had a record above .500 and must of the credit for that is Bautista.
#3 – Carl Crawford – Tampa Bay Rays - .307/.356/.495
Crawford is just a solid all-around player, and he put together a great season for the Rays. He hit 30 doubles, 13 triples and 19 home runs. He drove in 90 runs. He stole 47 bases. He was very clutch. And defensively, his 18.5 UZR is far and away the best of anyone who could even be considered an MVP candidate. Since the Rays were the best team in the league, the “Best Player on the Best Team” argument would push us to Crawford.
#2 – Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers - .328/.420/.622
If the Detroit Tigers had been in contention into September, Cabrera would probably be considered a front runner, but like our #1, Cabrera’s season ended a little early too. But Cabrera put together another incredible season of offensive numbers. He had 45 doubles, 38 homers and led the league with 126 RBI. He led the league in Runs Created at 133.3. His 6.93 WPA was second in the league as was his .429 wOBA and 79 VORP. After a disappointing end to his 2009 season, Cabrera came back with another great season, even if his 1B defense is pretty bad.
#1 – Josh Hamilton – Texas Rangers - .359/.411/.633
I thought missing much of September would hurt Hamilton’s case in my head, but a review of all of the things I mentioned told me that he was still, far-and-away the league’s top player and most valuable player. Despite the missed time, Hamilton’s 40 doubles, 32 home runs and 100 RBI were still among league leaders. He led the league in batting average (.359), slugging percentage (.633), OPS (1.044), RC27 (9.59), wOBA (.447), WAR (8.0), WPA (9.31) and VORP (80.5). And he plays a very good defense with a 7.9 UZR. The Rangers were a semi-surprise team in 2010 in that the Angels had really dominated the AL West in recent years. Hamilton led the Rangers to an easy win in the division.
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