Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011 Willie Mays Awards

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). Similar to the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), the alliance is organized into different chapters. Gus, the founder of the VSBB, is President of the alliance's Other Baseball Chapter. This year, the VSBB has the honour of casting the Other Baseball Chapter ballot for a number of the awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues. On Friday, we posted our ballot for the Connie Mack Award, presented to the top manager in each league. Today we present our ballot for the Willie Mays Award, given to the top rookie in each league.

The 2011 season was full of great performances by rookies, so coming up with a list of the top three newcomers in each league was a difficult job.

In the National League, we believe the most deserving rookie is Danny Espinosa of the Washington Nationals. Although Espinosa only hit for a .236 average, he drew 57 walks and produced a solid .323 on-base percentage. He also played in 158 games, hit 21 homers and 66 RBI and chipped in with 17 stolen bases. He was also excellent defensively, turning 101 double plays for the Nationals at second base.

The Braves’ closer Craig Kimbrel came a close second. Kimbrel notched 46 saves and struck out a staggering 127 hitters in only 77 innings. He also turned in a stellar 2.10 ERA.

Another Braves pitcher, Brandon Beachy, earned a third place finish on my ballot. Beachy started 25 games with Atlanta, registering a 3.68 ERA with 169 strikeouts and only 46 walks in 141 2/3 innings. Honourable mention went to Wilson Ramos of the Washington Nationals.

My National League ballot is:
  1. Danny Espinosa, 2B, Washington Nationals
  2. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Atlanta Braves
  3. Brandon Beachy, SP, Atlanta Braves 
In the junior circuit, I gave the nod to the Michael Pineda of the Seattle Mariners. Pineda’s stuff is electric and he reminds me of a young Pedro Martinez. In 28 starts with Seattle, Pineda notched a 3.74 ERA with 55 walks and 173 strikeouts in 171 innings pitched. He’s likely to have a stellar career.

Another Mariner, Dustin Ackley, finished in the second spot on our ballot. Ackley hit .273 and had a .348 on-base percentage in 2011. He also hit 6 homers and knocked in 36 runs in only 333 at-bats.

The final vote on our ballot went to Ivan Nova of the New York Yankees. Nova had a 3.70 ERA in 165 1/3 innings pitched, while walking 57 and striking out 98. Nova is likely to gain a lot of consideration for the award based on his gaudy 16-4 record, but in my opinion that record says at least as much about the Yankees’ offensive support as it does Nova. Honourable mention goes to Desmond Jennings of the Tampa Bay Rays.

My American League ballot is:
  1. Michael Pineda, SP, Seattle Mariners
  2. Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle Mariners
  3. Ivan Nova, SP, New York Yankees