Monday, October 13, 2014

Kluber, Kershaw Ascend List of Aces in '14

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:
American League
1. Corey Kluber- RHP - Cleveland Indians
W-L 18-9, 2.44 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 235.2 IP, 269 K, 51 BB
Kluber used a very strong second half to separate himself from the rest of the pack in the American League. He started more games than anyone in baseball and he had the best FIP in the AL. He posted career highs in strikeouts per nine and averaged less than two walks per nine. His 18 wins were tops in the AL. His ERA was third in the AL and his Baseball Reference WAR for pitchers had him ranked highest in the league. It will be a close race but Kluber deserves the nod.

2. Felix Hernandez- RHP - Seattle Mariners
W-L 15-6, 2.14 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 236.0 IP, 248 K, 46 BB
As the Mariners tried to fight for their playoff lives, they need Hernandez to be the top pitcher in the American League. He lost three of his last five decisions and none was worse than a clunker at the hands of the Blue Jays in the seasons final days. He led the league in ERA, games started, WHIP, and hits per nine. If Kluber hadn't been so strong down the stretch, Hernandez would likely be walking away with this award.

3. David Price- LHP - Tampa Bay Rays/Detroit Tigers
W-L 15-12, 2.26 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 248.1 IP, 271 K, 38 BB
Price was part of a big deal around the trade deadline but that didn't stop him from having a strong season. He threw the most innings baseball and this helped him to led both leagues in strikeouts. He also faced over 1000 batters for the first time in his career. He will be a free agent after the World Series and he's averaged over 200 innings pitched in each of the last five seasons.

4. Phil Hughes- RHP - Minnesota Twins
W-L 16-10, 3.52 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 209.2 IP, 186 K, 16 BB
When the Twins signed Hughes in the off-season, they were hoping for this kind of rebound season. He would go on to set the all-time record for strikeouts per walk. He averaged 11.6 strikeouts per walk and the next closest pitcher finished at 7.33. He was also in the top 10 in a variety of other pitching categories and he did all of this on a very bad Twins team.

5. Jon Lester- LHP - Boston Red Sox/Oakland Athletics
W-L 16-11, 2.46 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 219.2 IP, 220 K, 48 BB
Much like Price, Lester switched teams at the deadline and he will be looking for a new home this off-season. His numbers put him near the top of the AL in most statistical categories even with the A's having trouble winning games at the end of the year. He's going to get a lot of money this winter even though he wasn't the top pitcher in the league.

National League
1. Clayton Kershaw- LHP - Los Angeles Dodgers
W-L 21-3, 1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 198.1 IP, 239 K, 31 BB
This award is Kershaw's and he has a strong shot at walking away with the MVP in the National League. Even though he missed time at the beginning of the year, he still led the league in wins, complete games, WHIP, and FIP. It was also the third straight season he's led the NL in ERA+. It was a regular season for the ages even if the playoffs didn't go so well for Mr. Kershaw.

2. Johnny Cueto- RHP -Cincinatti Reds
W-L 20-9, 2.25 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 243.2 IP, 242 K, 65 BB
Following an injury plagued season in 2013, Cueto was back to the form he showed in 2012. He led the NL in innings pitched, strikeouts, and hits per nine. If Kershaw wasn't in the picture, there would be quite the battle between Cueto and Adam Wainwright for the top spot. It was the season he needed to have as he prepares to enter free agency for the first time.

3. Adam Wainwright- RHP - St. Louis Cardinals
W-L 20-9, 2.38 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 227.0 IP, 179 K, 50 BB
Wainwright's season was very strong but it wasn't at the same level as Kershaw. He won 20 games for the first time since 2010 and he led the league in shutouts. In any other season, he would have a strong case could be made for him to win this award especially since he played the entire year. Unfortunately for him he will play second fiddle to Kershaw again. 

4. Jordan Zimmerman- RHP -Washington Nationals
W-L 14-5, 2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 199.2 IP, 182 K, 29 BB
Zimmerman won five few games than 2013 but this year might have been his best as a professional. His strikeouts per nine and walks per nine rates were the best of his career. He also lowered his ERA by over half a run compared to last season. His no-hitter at the end of the year also helped to push him a little higher on this list. 

5. Stephen Strasburg- RHP - Washington Nationals
W-L 14-11, 3.14 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 215.0 IP, 242 SO, 43 BB
Strasburg tied Cueto for the most strikeouts in the league. His career high in strikeouts before this season was 197 back in 2012. He also pitched over 200 innings for the first time in his relatively young career. Strasburg tied for the league led in games started and finished in the top 10 in a variety of other categories. 

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