Monday, October 14, 2013

Scherzer, Kershaw ascend list of aces

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 next couple of weeks, I will release 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:
Walter Johnson Award for Top Pitcher
American League
1. Max Scherzer - Detroit Tigers
21-3 record, 2.90 ERA, 214.1 IP, 240 SO, 56 BB, 0.970 WHIP
For Scherzer, it wasn't just about his league leading win total.  He was able to put up impressive numbers across the board and even had the top WHIP in the AL. There will be some arguments made for Yu Darvish to come out on top but the numbers were too close to ignore what Scherzer was able to accomplish. His team won the division and he had to pick up victories in some important games down the stretch for Detroit. 

2. Yu Darvish- Texas Rangers
13-9 record, 2.83 ERA, 209.2 IP, 277 SO, 80 BB, 1.073 WHIP
His second season through the American League was even more dominant than the first. He finished with a ton of strikeouts and he had the lowest H/9 rate in the AL. One has to think that Darvish will eventually be named the top pitcher in the AL but this won't be the year. Either way, Darvish is making the free agent market for Japanese pitchers look good and other team's might start looking to Japan to replenish their pitching problems.

3. Anibal Sanchez- Detroit Tigers
14-8 record, 2.57 ERA, 182.0 IP, 202 SO, 54 BB, 1.154 WHIP
It's weird to have two Tigers on this list without mentioning the name Justin Verlander. Detroit's starting rotation was loaded with talent this year and they didn't even need Verlander to be at the top of his game. Sanchez was tops in the AL as far as ERA and HR/9 while living up to his offseason free agent deal. It might have been the best season of his career.

4. Chris Sale- Chicago White Sox
11-14 record, 3.07 ERA, 214.1 IP, 226 SO, 46 BB, 1.073 WHIP
The White Sox were in the middle of a brutal season but Sale continued to perform at the top of his game. He had the most complete games in the AL and he continues to defy physics with his lanky delivery. He pitched over 200 innings for the first time and he struck out a career high 226 batters. At the beginning of his career, Chicago didn't know whether to use him as a starter or a relief pitcher and they made the right choice.

5. Hisashi Iwakuma- Seattle Mariners
14-6 record, 2.66 ERA, 219.2 IP, 185 SO, 42 BB, 1.006 WHIP
Perhaps the least known name on this list, Iwakuma was impressive in his second full season. In qualifying for his first All-Star Game, he pitched over 200 innings and put up impressive numbers across the board. Felix Hernandez might still be king in Seattle but Iwakuma was the better pitcher this season and he deserves to be recognized for this accomplishment.

National League
1. Clayton Kershaw- Los Angeles Dodgers
16-9 record, 1.83 ERA, 236.0 IP, 232 SO, 52 BB, 0.915 WHIP
Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball and he continues to do some mind-numbing things on the mound. He was at the top of the leaderboard in ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP. This marks the third straight year for him leading the league in ERA and WHIP. His two complete game shutouts were also the best in the NL. It's hard to put into words how good Kershaw is on the mound. Oh yeah... he's only 25-years old. Scary...

2. Adam Wainwright- St. Louis Cardinals
19-9 record, 2.94 ERA, 241.2 IP, 219 SO, 35 BB, 1.068 WHIP
He's the ace of the staff on the best regular season team in the NL. Wainwright was a horse this year leading the NL in wins, games started, innings pitched, and complete games. Without Kershaw in the picture, this award would be his and it has been quite the comeback story since he missed all of 2011 due to surgery. The Cards played in one of the most competitive divisions in baseball and they needed every inning they could get from Wainwright.

3. Jose Fernandez- Miami Marlins
12-6 record, 2.19 ERA, 172.2 IP, 187 SO, 58 BB, 0.979 WHIP
I named Fernandez the best rookie in the NL last week and he looks to be well on his way to being the best pitcher in the league. His rookie campaign might have been the best ever for a pitcher and he deserves to be recognized with the best pitchers in the NL. There were questions about whether he should start the year in the Marlins rotation but he quickly put any of those thoughts to rest. He's here to stay.

4. Cliff Lee- Philadelphia Phillies
14-8 record, 2.87 ERA, 222.2 IP, 222 SO, 32 BB, 1.010 WHIP
The best part about Cliff Lee's season is the number of innings he pitched and his total strikeouts. Take a look above and tell me that's not creepy. His stellar season got lost in the shuffle of a disappointing year in Philadelphia. His numbers were solid across the board and he pitched over 200 innings for the sixth straight season. Other members of the Phillies staff struggled and Lee continued to get it done.

5. Matt Harvey- New York Mets
9-5 record, 2.27 ERA, 178.1 IP, 191 SO, 31 BB, 0.931 WHIP
Young pitchers are a theme on this ballot and Harvey was in the midst of an amazing season before being sidelined with some elbow problems. He got to start the All-Star Game in front of his hometown crowd and he was leading the league in strikeouts for a chunk of the season. Tommy John surgery will keep him out for all of next season but he still shined during his first full season as a big league player. 

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