The 2012 baseball season was not a great season for the Minnesota Twins or their fans but there are teams, players and managers that had a great year and one that they will remember for a long time. Now that the regular season is complete, members of the Baseball Bloggers Association are voting for their post season award winners by picking who they feel deserved to bring home the hardware for their efforts. Here is how I see it.
The Connie Mack (Top Manager) award goes to Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics for leading the A’s to a division championship (94-68) after the team finished with a 74-88 mark in 2011. On June 30th the A’s were 13 games out of first and had a 37-52 record after three consecutive losses to the Texas Rangers. From that point on the A’s went 57-26 and won the division title on the last day of the season. My runner-up award goes to the Baltimore Orioles Buck Showalter who took his team to a wild-card playoff spot and a second place finish in a tough division. My third place finisher was a true rookie manager, Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox who had never managed before and piloted his team to a second place finish when I had the White Sox picked to finish dead last in the AL Central.
The Willie Mays (Rookie of the Year) award is the easiest pick of all, the award goes to outfielder Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Trout started the season in AAA and was called up at the end of April. Even with the late start Trout led the league in runs scored (129) and stolen bases (49) while finishing second in batting average hitting .320. Trout lead all AL rookies in every hitting category and even had the two longest rookie hitting streaks this past season. What an amazing season! My runner-up was the Oakland A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes who finished second to Trout in every AL hitting category except stolen bases (finishing fourth) and in any other season would have easily won the award. I have three pitchers rounding out the top 5 with the Oakland A’s Tommy Milone and Yu Darvish finishing in a tie for third and the Minnesota Twins Scott Diamond rounding out the top five.
The Goose Gossage (Top Reliver) award goes to closer Fernando Rodney of the Tampa Bay Rays. The 35 year-old Rodney had a career year in his 10th season in the big leagues with 48 saves in 50 opportunities with 76 strikeouts in 74.2 innings and posting a 0.60 ERA with a 0.78 WHIP. Talk about lights out and to think he never had an ERA of under 2.68 any other season. The Rays signed Rodney as a free agent on January 4, 2012 for $1.75 million, what a bargain. The runner -up is the Baltimore Orioles Jim Johnson who led the league in saves with 51 in 54 chances. I have Rafael Soriano of the New York Yankees finishing third, Joe Nathan from the Texas Rangers in fourth and my fifth place vote goes to Tommy Wilhelmsen of the Seattle Mariners.
The Walter Johnson (Top Pitcher) award goes again this season to the Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander who pitched 238.1 innings in 33 starts and went 17-8 with an ERA of 2.64 and a 1.06 WHIP and a .217 batting average against to go with his 239 strikeouts. Tampa Bay Rays David Price was my runner-up by an eye lash, Price had a great season going 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA but I gave the nod to Verlander for innings pitched and strikeouts. My third place vote goes to the Seattle Mariners Felix Hernandez, fourth goes to Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox and fifth goes to Jeff Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Stan Musial (Top Player) award goes to the American League’s first triple crown winner since 1967, the Detroit Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera. This was a very tough choice over my runner-up, outfielder Mike Trout of the Angels but in the end I think Cabrera earned it because of his triple crown and because he volunteered to move to 3B to make room for the recently acquired Prince Fielder. Both players had amazing seasons but I had to go with Cabrera this year. My third place vote goes to the Texas Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre, Twins catcher Joe Mauer gets my fourth place vote and my fifth place vote went to the shortstop from the New York Yankees because he played in 159 games and led the league in hits, and at bats at the age of 38.
The Connie Mack (Top Manager) award goes to the Washington Nationals skipper Davey Johnson who took over the manager reigns late in 2011 and took the Nats to their first division championship and 98 wins this past season. Previous to taking over the Nationals manager role in 2011, Johnson last manged the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2000. My runner-up for NL skipper of the year goes to rookie manager Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals. In his first job as a manager the former catcher Matheny took his team to a wild card playoff spot and 88 victories after losing his best player (Albert Pujols) to free agency and losing one of his best pitchers (Chris Carpenter) for all but 3 games in 2012. The third place vote goes to the Cincinnati Reds skipper Dusty Baker for leading that team to a 97 win division winning season in his fifth year on the job.
The Willie Mays (Rookie of the Year) award goes to the Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. The Nationals rookie also started his big league career in late April after starting the season in AAA and hit .270 with 22 home runs, 59 RBI’s, scored 98 runs and stole 18 bases. My runner-up may surprise some people but I think catcher Wilin Rosario of the Colorado Rockies had a fantastic rookie season hitting .270 with 28 home runs, 67 runs scored and 71 RBI’s while playing in just 117 games with just 396 at bats. My third place vote goes to lefty Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks who was 16-11 in 29 starts and 194.2 innings with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP for a team that went 81-81. Fourth place goes to 1B Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs and my fifth place vote goes to 27 year-old rookie pitcher Lucas Harrell who won 11 games for the worst team in baseball, the Houston Astros who won a total of 55 games this year.
The Goose Gossage (Top Reliever) award easily goes to the 24 year-old Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel who had 42 saves in 45 opportunities and posted a 3-1 record with a 1.06 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP. In 62.2 innings Kimbrel struck out 116 batters allowing only 27 hits and 14 walks and allowed opposing hitters a .126 batting average. The man is a machine. My runner-up is Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds who also had 42 saves and struck out 122 batters in 71.2 innings while posting a 1.51 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP. Hitters hit .141 against Chapman. Third place goes to Jason Motte of the St., Louis Cardinals, fourth goes to Jonathan Papelbon of the Philadelphia Phillies and my fifth place vote goes to Joel Hanrahan of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Walter Johnson (Top Pitcher) award is a tough call but I am going with the New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey as my choice. Dickey pitched a league leading 233.2 innings and struck out a league leading 230 batters. The 37-year-old Dickey was 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP for a team that won a total of 74 games. My runner-up is Gio Gonzalez of the division winning Washington Nationals who was 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA and an amazing 0.4/9 home runs allowed. My third place vote goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw, fourth place goes to the Atlanta Braves Craig Kimbrel and my fifth place vote is for Cincinnati Reds Johnny Cueto.
The Stan Musial (Top Player) award goes to Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun again this year. Yes, I know all about last years fiasco with Braun but what can I say, the man puts up the numbers and without him the Brewers are nothing. Look at the numbers, a league leading 41 home runs to go with a league leading 108 runs scored, second in RBI’s (112) and a .319 batting average. Top that off with 356 total bases and you have the best player in the NL this season. The runner-up this year is Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen who had a wonderful season. My third place vote goes to San Francisco catcher and part-time first baseman Buster Posey. Posey almost single handedly led the Giants to the NL Western Division title and if he had played as well the entire year as he did in the second half of the season he might have been my choice to win this award. Posey hit .385 and knocked in 60 runs during the last half of 2012 coming off a horrific injury in 2011. I will go with New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey fourth in the voting here because without Dickey the Mets would have been not worth watching. Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel gets my fifth place vote.
So there you have it, the players that I think deserve to bring home the hardware after another great season of baseball in 2012. You may agree or disagree with my choices but that is what makes baseball such a great game and so much fun for us as fans to enjoy. When the BBA announces their winners in the near future I will share them with you.