Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ellsbury, Bautista will fight for American League MVP

At the conclusion of every season, the members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) are asked to submit their ballots for the top awards across baseball. Each of these awards is named in honor of a player that epitomized the role in Major League Baseball. Over the past couple of weeks, I have released  my ballots for each award and I will post the official announcements from the BBA with the combined votes of all member blogs.

Here is the list of awards that have been announced and the others that will be announced in the coming days:
Stan Musial Award for Top Player
American League
1. Jacoby Ellsbury-CF-Boston Red Sox
.321/.376/.552, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 7.2 rWAR, 9.4 fWAR 
Even with the collapse of the Red Sox in the closing weeks of the season, Ellsbury put together an outstanding season for Boston to lead them to the brink of the playoffs. Ellsbury has already been recognized as the Comeback Player of the Year for the American League and this award will fill up his mantel even more. He finished the year in first place in the American League in total bases and extra base hits. While the offensive numbers are outstanding, his defense helped to bolster his candidacy as the best player in the AL for 2011. He had the third highest UZR rating in all of baseball and he ranked first in UZR among center fielders. On a team full of MVP candidates, Ellsbury stood out among the crowd and deserves to be recognized as the best player in the league.

2. Jose Bautista-RF-Toronto Blue Jays
.302/.447/.608, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 8.5 rWAR, 8.3 fWAR
Bautista burst onto the scene in 2010 after spending the first six years of his career in relative obscurity while bouncing between five teams. He settled in Toronto and spent some time improving his swing to become one of the best power hitters in the game. He was the AL leader in home runs, slugging percentage, on base plus slugging, and OPS+. His season was outstanding and he will finish at the top of many ballots but in this instance he finishes only slightly behind Mr. Ellsbury.

3. Justin Verlander-RHP-Detroit Tigers
(24-5), 2.40 ERA, 0.920 WHIP, 8.5 rWAR, 7.0 fWAR
There is a lot of talk about whether a pitcher should be considered for the MVP Award and no pitcher has been named MVP since Dennis Eckersley took home the hardware in 1992. Verlander's fantastic season has pushed him into the discussion for the top award given out in the AL. He was on top of almost every major pitching category and he helped the Tigers standout in a mediocre division. One of the best statistical pitching seasons in years but he will have to be satisfied with the Cy Young Award.

4. Miguel Cabrera-1B-Detroit Tigers
.344/.448/.586, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 7.1 rWAR, 7.3 fWAR
With the way Spring Training started for Cabrera, there could not have been too many people who predicted him to end the season as the batting champion. He was a constant force in the middle of the Tigers line-up and he played in all 161 games for Detroit. His OBP and doubles total were enough to rank him number one on the list of American League players.

5. Dustin Pedroia-2B-Boston Red Sox
.307/.387/.474, 21 HR, 91 RBI, 6.8 rWAR, 8.0 fWAR
Pedroia has already been given the AL MVP in the past and he will finish near the top of the list again this season. He combined a very good offensive campaign with some tremendous defense behind the Boston pitching staff. His UZR was second on the leader board among all players in MLB. 

6. Ian Kinsler-2B-Texas Rangers
.255/.355/.477, 32 HR, 77 RBI, 5.4 rWAR, 7.7 fWAR
At first glance, the numbers Kinsler put together this season are not off the charts. Even with a low batting average, he managed to get on base at a high rate and that was combined with some power in the heart of Texas. Since he finished with the fourth best UZR in all of baseball, his defensive rating in the middle infield moves him up this list.

7. Curtis Granderson-CF-New York Yankees
.262/.364/.552, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 5.2 rWAR, 7.0 fWAR
During the middle portion of the season, Granderson was near the top of this list. His defensive flaws brought down some of his high offensive numbers. He was tops in the league in runs batted in and runs scored. His 41 home runs were eleven more than he had in any other year.

8. Adrian Gonzalez-1B-Boston Red Sox
.338/.410/.548, 27 HR, 117 RBI, 6.9 rWAR, 6.6 fWAR
Gonzalez is the third member of the Red Sox to crack the top ten in this balloting. His first year in Boston was a relative success but his numbers dropped off in the second half. He worked out better than the other big free agent in Boston, Carl Crawford. 

9. Evan Longoria-3B-Tampa Bay Rays
.244/.355/.495, 31 HR, 99 RBI, 6.3 rWAR, 6.1 fWAR
Longoria's bat powered the Rays past the Red Sox on the final day of the season. His walk-off home run will be the stuff of legends for years to come. His high defensive ability and power offensive output make him a valuable player for the future of the Rays.

10. Alex Gordon-LF-Kansas City Royals
.303/.376/.502, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 5.9 rWAR, 6.9 fWAR
The Royals have been waiting for this season from Gordon since he was selected with the second pick in  the 2005 Draft. The move from third base to the outfield has gotten the best out of his offensive production. Now he can be part of the revitalization in Kansas City.

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