Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 NL Walter Johnson Award

It’s time for the End of the Year Awards.  This is one of my favorite articles to write each year.  It’s also a mandatory article per my affiliation with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  However, it’s not a problem as I love writing these and always hope my vote helps pick the individuals I deem as the correct recipients of each individual reward.  So let’s continue with the….

Walter Johnson Award (Cy Young)


1.             Clayton Kershaw
2.              Johnny Cueto
3.              Adam Wainwright
4.              Jordan Zimmermann
5.              Julio Tehran

Like my AL Walter Johnson post, in the NL there was a clear winner at the top.  But making the rest of my top 5 list was the real challenge.

When you look for the top pitcher in any league, there are a number of things to consider.  For me the most important is ERA.  Keeping runs off the board is the most basic component of winning games.  After that, I like to look at innings pitched and strikeouts.  It’s possible to be a dominant pitcher without being a horse and overpowering hitters, but being able to do those two things makes you worthy of recognition.  Beyond that, I look for a low WHIP and low BAA (batting average against).  They are specific measures of how you do in important pitching aspects; whether it is against opposing hitters overall (BAA) or how well you keep runners off base in an average inning (WHIP).  That’s how I put together my top 5.

There were others to consider besides the guys I listed.  Just like the AL, there were tons of great pitchers in the Senior Circuit.  Doug Fister was 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA.  Cole Hamels had a 2.46 ERA and 198 Ks.  Henderson Alvarez was 12-7 for a below average Marlins team and turned in a 2.65 ERA.  Stephen Strasburg was tied for the league lead with 242 Ks.  Madison Bumgarner won 18 games with a 2.98 ERA and 219 Ks.  Tanner Roark, Tyson Ross, Alex Wood.  They were all great.  The man who came closest to my list but just missed was Zack Greinke, who went 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 207 Ks in 202 IP.  But all those pitchers fell short somewhere, whether it was a higher WHIP or BAA or perhaps not as many Ks.  All were great, but to make a top 5 list you have to nitpick a little bit.  And that’s what I did.  So let’s look at the guys who did make my list.

Number 5 was Julio Tehran of the Atlanta Braves.  Tehran was the ace of a pitching staff with a lot of talent.  He was also one of the few bright spots on a team that fell apart at the end of the year.  And he still found a way to win 14 games on a team that was a mess for the second half of the season.  He threw 221 IP, which is a ton, while recording 186 Ks.  He wasn’t as overpowering as others on this list, or even as overpowering as others who didn’t make the list.  But he pitched to a 2.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 232 BAA.  He added 4 CG and 2 shutouts.  He was very good and very valuable on his team.  It all combined for him to take the 5th spot on my list.

Right above him in the fourth spot was Jordan Zimmermann.  Zimmermann went 14-5 for the NL’s top team, the Washington Nationals.  He also turned in a 2.66 ERA, good for 7th in the NL while notching 182 Ks in 199 IP.  He got a rest at the end of the year to prepare for the playoffs, which kept him from 200 IP and kept him from coming closer to 200 Ks.  But he still was phenomenal on the mound with a sparking 1.07 WHIP.  His 244 BAA was higher than others I considered, which is what kept him fourth on this list.  But don’t be fooled; on a pitching staff that featured NL strikeout king Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann was the ace.

My number 3 man was Adam Wainwright.  He was the first of a group of guys who need no explanation, because their numbers were just better than everyone else’s, even among the guys I that made my list.  Wainwright went 20-9 for the NL Central Champion Cardinals.  He also turned in a 2.38 ERA, third best in the league.  He logged 227 IP, second in the league.  And while his 179 Ks weren’t as good as others both on and off the list, having the third best ERA and WHIP (1.03) shows that he didn’t need to strike you out to take care of business.  And, let’s not be too picky.  179 Ks is still very impressive.

The number 2 guy had a great year.  The difference between him and the others on this list was huge, perhaps even a wider gulf between him and the man at the top of my list.  I’m talking about Johnny Cueto, who was phenomenal this season.  His 20-9 record was good enough for the second most wins in the NL (tied with Wainwright).  His 2.25 ERA was also second in the NL.  He had a league leading 243 IP and 4 CG and 2 shutouts.  He also had 242 Ks, which tied him for first in the NL with the mighty Strasburg.  His 0.96 WHIP was second in the league and his 194 BAA was first.  He was able to overpower hitters better than anyone in the league, but also shut down base runners and keep runs off the board better than anyone but one other pitcher.  While the top guy clearly won this award, people shouldn’t overlook how great Cueto was.  He was better than all the pitchers in the AL and all but one in the NL.  He was phenomenal and is deserving of recognition, especially on a Reds team that didn’t help him very much.  So while he didn’t win my award, he came as close to it as is humanly possible without actually being the winner.  Johnny Cueto had one of the best pitching years in recent memory.

But even with all those Cueto-superlatives, one other pitcher was better.  And that man was Clayton Kershaw.  He led the league with 21 Wins.  And he did that while only starting 27 games, due to an injury.  He led the league in CGs with 6.  He led the league in ERA at 1.77.  That’s about 50 points better than his nearest competitor.  He had the best WHIP in the league (0.86) and the second best BAA (196).  He had 239 Ks, second in the league.  But he likely would have had the league lead if he pitched a full slate of starts.  He is, without question, the best pitcher in baseball.  He can overpower hitters with the best of them.  And he clearly was the best at keeping runners off base and runs off the board.  He is easily my winner of the NL Walter Johnson Award, and may make another appearance on my award ballots later on.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2014 AL Walter Johnson Award Winner

It’s time for the End of the Year Awards.  This is one of my favorite articles to write each year.  It’s also a mandatory article per my affiliation with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  However, it’s not a problem as I love writing these and always hope my vote helps pick the individuals I deem as the correct recipients of each individual reward.  So let’s continue with the….

Walter Johnson Award (Cy Young)


1.             Felix Hernandez
2.              Corey Kluber
3.              Chris Sale
4.              Jon Lester
5.              David Price

The Walter Johnson Award is one of two awards where we list more than 3 people.  And that’s where it gets hard.  It’s often easy to pick out the best player at a position in any individual year.  However it is far more difficult to make a list of the top 3 at any position, much less the top 5.  But I did my best.

There were plenty of talented pitchers to consider.  In addition to the 5 I listed above, I thought long and hard about Garrett Richards, Dallas Keuchel, Alex Cobb, Sony Gray, Max Scherzer and James Shields.  All those pitchers had great years.  The one thing that all of them had in common with my top 5 (save one addition and one abstention) is that they were in the league’s top 10 in ERA rankings.  I don’t think that earned run average is the be-all and end-all of pitchers stats, but it is one of the better ones.  We now know that wins are an overrated stat.  We love strikeouts and know they are important.  But you can be a successful pitcher without recording a ton of strikeouts.  So while I weighed a number of stats, one of the heaviest was ERA.  However I also gave a lot of credence to WHIP and BAA.  They give you an idea of how dominant a pitcher is in any inning.  And all of the guys I considered were ranked highly in those stats as well.  So while there were a ton of talented pitchers who great seasons in the AL this year, I spent a lot of time studying the stats before I settled on my top 5.

Fifth on that list is David Price who split his year between the Rays and Tigers.  He is a dominant lefty and the only person that wasn’t in the top 10 in ERA that I considered (the only pitcher in the top 10 of ERA I didn’t consider was Yordano Ventura who was good, but not as dominant as others on the list).  He still had a very good ERA though, ranking 12th in the AL with a 3.26.  But he made up for not ranking as highly there by being a workhorse.  He led the league with 248 IP and 271 Ks.  And in addition to his strikeout dominance he kept hitters off base with a low WHIP.  The 240 BAA wasn’t as strong as the numbers his fellow hurlers put up, but that’s why he’s ranked 5th.  His ability to go deep into games and shut down offenses with the strikeout was overwhelming.  Add to that an ERA and WHIP that are both very gppd, and you have a top pitcher in the AL, as he has proven he is year after year.

Number 4 on my list was Jon Lester.  He was another guy who split time between two teams:  the Red Sox and Athletics.  While a lot of people aren’t sure if the A’s made a good trade when they acquired Lester, the discussion never focuses on Lester’s contribution.  He ended the year at 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA, fourth best in the AL.  He was also fairly dominant in the strikeout category with 220 in 219 IP.  Similar to Price, he was a workhorse who had the ability to strikeout out the opposing offenses to take over games.  He wasn’t as dominant as Price and had a 236 BAA, which didn’t stack up as well to the other pitchers on this list.  But his low ERA and high strikeout rate put him fourth on my list, which is very impressive in this stacked AL Cy Young race.

The man who was third on my list was Chris Sale.  Sale was a guy who’s overall numbers don’t stack up as well, but that’s because injury limited him to only 26 starts.  The reason he still made my list was because of how dominant he was in those starts.  He pitched enough to qualify for the ERA title and came in second in the AL with a 2.17 ERA.  In addition, he went 12-4 in his 26 starts with a mind blowing 208 Ks in 174 IP.  That was the best K-rate in the league.  What was even more impressive to me was his 0.97 WHIP and 205 BAA.  WHIP measures how many runners you allow in an inning.  1.25-1.30 is average.  To pitch to a WHIP close to 1 is very impressive.  To pitch to an ERA UNDER 1 is downright phenomenal.  And that’s what Sale did in his injury-shortened season.  It’s not easy to make the list of top pitchers in the league at all.  It’s even harder when you have about 6 fewer starts.   The fact that he not only made the list but also made it as high as third shows how dominant he was.

The number 2 man on my list was Corey Kluber.  He is the least-known name, but was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game.  He was tied for the league lead with 18 Wins.  And those wins came for a Cleveland Indians team that didn’t make the playoffs.  But the win total wasn’t what impressed me.  It was everything else.  He had a 2.44 ERA, third best in the league.  He had 269 Ks, second best in the league.  He had 235 IP, also third best in the league.  His WHIP was 1.09.  His BAA was 233.  Not only did he hit all the numbers I look at, he also ranked in the top 3 of all as well.  Kluber is one of the few pitchers who can overpower you with the strikeout, while still pitching with the finesse of the best control guys in the game.  He may not be a household name yet, but he will be if he continues to pitch like this. 

However, my winner of the Walter Johnson Award has to be Felix Hernandez.  King Felix really never had much competition when you break down the numbers.  The gap between him and the rest of the league was huge (though it should be said that for me the gap between Kluber and the guys behind him was just as big).  Hernandez went 15-6 for a resurgent Mariners team that came within one game of the playoffs.  But that’s not what did it.  It was everything else.  He won the ERA title with a 2.14 final total.  It was only 0.03 points lower than the next nearest competitor, but that competitor started 8 fewer games.  And beyond him the next nearest guy was at 2.44 (Kluber).  His 0.92 WHIP was the lowest in the AL.  That means he put fewer men on base per inning that any pitcher in the American League.  His 200 BAA was also the lowest, meaning that hitters did worse against him than any other starter in the league.  And on top of that, he still had an overpowering 248 Ks, good for fourth in the league and 236 IP which ranked second.  He could come into a game and shut the other team down with the best power pitchers.  However, his low WHIP and ERA are the building blocks of successful pitching.  And he is the textbook example.  Bad things happen when men got on base whether it is via a hit, walk or taking a pitch in the back.  No one kept hitters off base better than Felix Hernandez in the AL.  And that’s why he’s my winner for the 2014 AL Walter Johnson Award. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

2014 NL Goose Gossage Award Winner

It’s time for the End of the Year Awards.  This is one of my favorite articles to write each year.  It’s also a mandatory article per my affiliation with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  However, it’s not a problem as I love writing these and always hope my vote helps pick the individuals I deem as the correct recipients of each individual reward.  So let’s continue with the….


1.             Craig Kimbrel
2.              Aroldis Chapman
3.              Mark Melancon

Similar to my AL winner, I think there was a clear choice at the top.  After that though, the rest of the list was a little murky.

There were actually a lot of names to consider.  Of the guys I picked to put on my list, only 1 was in the top 5 in the league for Saves.  But I think that’s okay.  It’s true that a closer’s main stat is Saves.  However, getting an opportunity to Save a game has nothing to do with the closer himself.  That’s why it’s something I look at, but it’s not the main stat I considered when picking this award.  It’s important, but I also look for low ERAs (an ability to keep runs off the board), low WHIPs (an ability to keep runners of base) and strikeouts (the surest way to get an out).  And with closers only throwing one inning I also consider BAA, though perhaps not as much as the other stats I listed.  For those reasons, I stand by my list.

The other names I considered, that weren’t on my list, were the other league leaders in Saves.  Trevor Rosenthal was second in the league with 45 Saves.  But that came with a 3.20 ERA and 1.41 WHIP.  I think both of those numbers are far too high.  So while he got a lot of Saves, there were closers below him on the total Save list who I think played better, but just played on teams that didn’t afford them as many opportunities to Save a game.  It was the same story for Steve Cishek and Francisco Rodriguez:  lots of Saves but ERAs over 3, which weren’t as good as the others who did make my list.  Also, K-Rod gave up more HRs than any other closer in the league.  The last two names were closer to making the list:  Kenley Jansen and Jonathan Papelbon.  Jansen’s 45 Saves were third in the league while his 101 Ks were second among NL closers.  But his 2.76 ERA was just a little high for my taste, though he was still very good.  Papelbon actually hit all of the categories I focus on with a 2.04 ERA (very strong), 0.90 WHIP and 39 Saves.  But the one thing that kept him off my list was the lower strikeout rate, as he only had 63 in 66 IP.  Very good, but just not as good as the guys on my list.

Let’s finally get into my list.  The number 3 man for me was Mark Melancon for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He took over as the closer after Jason Grilli was traded away.  But I think that makes me more impressed with him.  He had 14 Holds showing that he was excellent as a set up man.  Then he continued to excel once he moved into the 9th inning role.  His 33 Saves were only 8th in the league, and he took over the role late.  To record that many Saves in less than a full season is impressive.  On top of that, he hit all my other categories:  low ERA (1.90), low WHIP (0.87) and good K rate (71 in 71 IP).   Batters only hit 195 against him.  He had a great season in Pittsburgh and ranked third on my list, despite only having the 8th most Saves.

Number 2 on my list is the epitome of dominance on the mound.  Aroldis Chapman was only 7th in the league with 36 Saves.  But he was great in the games he closed for the Reds.  He led all MLB closers with 106 K in only 54 IP.  He appeared in fewer innings than most other closers, but had the most Ks.  That’s insane.  Add to that a low ERA (2.00) and low WHIP (0.83) and Chapman hits all the important categories.  And he excels in them.  Opposing hitters hit only 121 against him.  That’s also the lowest among closers.  The hardest thrower in baseball was phenomenal once again, but only ranked second on my list.

And that’s because Craig Kimbrel continues to be the best closer in baseball.  He’s not quite as overpowering, but he’s close.  And he records more Saves and gives up fewer hits and runs.  He led the league with 47 Saves, only 1 behind Fernando Rodney for the MLB lead.  He had one of the lowest closer ERAs (1.61…lowest among full time closers in the league), had a phenomenal WHIP (0.91) and struck out 95 in 61 IP.  That was good enough for 4th in the league, though out of the 3 ahead of him only 1 pitched fewer innings.  So his K-rate is through the roof, he led the league in Saves and his WHIP and ERA were miniscule.  His 142 BAA was second best among closers and showed that most hitters had no idea what to do against him.  He’s been the best closer in the game for a while, and once again won my NL Goose Gossage Award.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

2014 AL Goose Gossage Award Winner

It’s time for the End of the Year Awards.  This is one of my favorite articles to write each year.  It’s also a mandatory article per my affiliation with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  However, it’s not a problem as I love writing these and always hope my vote helps pick the individuals I deem as the correct recipients of each individual reward.  So let’s continue with the….

Goose Gossage Award (Reliever of the Year)


1.              Greg Holland
2.              Zach Britton
3.              Fernando Rodney

This was another award that I think had a clear winner at the top, and then a murky group beyond that to make up the top 3.

I only considered one other pitcher for this list and that was David Robertson of the Yankees.  He had the third most Saves in the league and led AL closers with 96 strikeouts.  But with 7 HR and a 3.08 ERA, he wasn’t as dominant as others on this list.  He also still puts a few too many on base via the walk.  So while I think he had a nice year, he wasn’t in my top 3.

Out of the ones who were, Fernando Rodney was third on the list.  He actually led the majors with 48 Saves.  However, he pitched to a 2.85 ERA and gave up far too many walks.  When you look at closers, you love a dominant pitcher who strikes out a lot of guys and keeps men off base.  Rodney did half of that with 76 Ks in 66 IP.  But he gave up 28 walks and his 2.85 ERA isn’t great for a closer.  It’s not bad by any means and he had a good year.  But he was only the third best closer in the league for my money.

One of the guys I liked better was Zach Britton in Baltimore.  Britton was a former starter who couldn’t get it done on the mound.  They then moved him to the bullpen to be a long guy and spot starter.  He wasn’t much better in that role.  He then moved to middle relief before an injury gave him an opportunity to close.  And he excelled when he moved into the 9th.  He saved 37 games for the AL East winning Orioles while pitching to a 1.65 ERA.  His sparkling 0.90 WHIP shows that he did a phenomenal job keeping runners off base, which is one of the most important stats for a closer.  The one thing he didn’t do was over power hitters with strikeouts.  So while he was great, there was one guy I liked better.

And that was the top man on my list, Greg Holland.  I’ve actually picked him to win this award in the past.  I liked him better than Koji Uehara last year.  In fact, I submit that if the Red Sox didn’t win the World Series, then Holland would have won.  His numbers were better across the board, both percentage and counting stats.  But it’s too late for that.  So hopefully, we can get it right this year.  Holland’s 46 Saves were second in the league and third in major league baseball.  He struck out 90 in 62 IP, good enough for second most Ks among AL closers.  He also had an excellent 1.44 ERA and miniscule 0.91 WHIP.  Batters only hit 170 off of him.  He was completely dominant in his ability to keep runners off base and overpower hitters with the strikeout.  He hit all the important areas for a closer and excelled in them.  So while others had good years, it was an easy call for me to single Greg Holland as my AL Goose Gossage Award Winner.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

2014 Willie Mays Award Winners

It’s time for the End of the Year Awards.  This is one of my favorite articles to write each year.  It’s also a mandatory article per my affiliation with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  However, it’s not a problem as I love writing these and always hope my vote helps pick the individuals I deem as the correct recipients of each individual reward.  So let’s continue with the….

Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year)

The Willie Mays Award is the BBA’s version of the Rookie of the Year Award.  I’ll start with my NL Winner.

1.             Jacob deGrom
2.              Billy Hamilton
3.              Ken Giles

This one was tricky as there was no clear winner until late in the race.  And while I really considered multiple players, the 3 I listed above were my top choices.

The number 3 man on my list was probably the most dominant player on the list.  However he was a middle reliever, and while they are extremely important, they are intrinsically not as valuable to a team as a starter, be it an offensive player or a starting pitcher.  That being said, the fact that Giles even made the list shows how dominant he was for the Phillies.  He only appeared in 44 games, but was fantastic in that time.  He struck out 64 hitters in 45 innings pitching to a 1.18 ERA.  He earned a Save and went 3-1 in the season.  He only allowed 1 HR and only walked 11 hitters.  Rookie pitchers don’t perform as well as rookie hitters and to be that dominant really speaks to the talent and stuff that Ken Giles has.

Billy Hamilton was the preseason favorite to win this award in the NL.  The fastest man in baseball was thrown right into the mix, leading off for a potential playoff team in Cincinnati and taking over as the starting center fielder.  That’s a lot of pressure and responsibility for a rookie.  And while he was great in the first half, he struggled in the second half.  And that’s to be expected.  It’s not uncommon for rookies to play well initially in the league and then struggle.  Many don’t recover.  But lots of rookies play well in the first part of their careers.  That’s why people consistently over rank Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig.  And it’s also why Mike Trout’s success is so surprising.  It bucks the trend.  Things become trends for a reason. 

But I digress.  Let’s discuss Hamilton.  At the end of the day, he hit 250.  That’s just fine for a rookie, but not good enough for a leadoff man.  His 292 OBP was low for anyone.  That’s what he did wrong and that’s why a lot of people want to label Hamilton as a bust and a major reason why the Reds didn’t make the playoffs.  That’s harsh.  The Reds lost Joey Votto early and had some pitching issues.  Hamilton was great in the first half, but his slump was not the main reason Cincinnati didn’t make the playoffs.  Perhaps they put too much on him in his first season.  And let’s not overlook what he did well.  This is a player who many thought lacked the requisite power to hit a sac fly if necessary.  He proved that idea was false with his 6 HR and 48 RBI.  He legged out 8 triples and 25 doubles.  He had 141 hits and 71 runs.  And he stole 56 bases!!  All as a rookie!  Let’s keep things in perspective.  Just because he didn’t live up to our expectations doesn’t mean he had a bad year.  Our expectations for new players are consistently too high.  That was the case again here.  He still struggled like all rookies do.  He stuck out too much, didn’t walk enough and got caught stealing 23 times.  He needs to improve.  But for a rookie, 56 stolen bases, 141 hits, a 250 AVG and 71 runs is great.  And he led all rookies with 152 games played.  Plus I didn’t even get to mention his phenomenal defense, which was a huge upgrade over what the Reds has out there in center field last season.  Hamilton had a good year.

But he still couldn’t hold off Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets.  The Mets have been trumpeting their young pitchers for a while.  Matt Harvey was the great one last year.  Wheeler was the young one to watch this season.  And Noah Syndergaard is the future.  But most overlooked deGrom, who stormed into the majors and dominated.  He started 22 games and went 9-6 with a sparkling 2.69 ERA.  That’s phenomenal for anyone and eye popping for a rookie.  On top of that, he did it with the strikeout.  He overpowered hitters with 144 Ks in 140 IP.  That’s incredible.  He pitched to a 1.14 WHIP and 228 BAA.  The ancillary numbers often tell the real story and deGrom’s show that he not only overpowered hitters, he was able to keep runners off base even when he didn’t punch you out.   deGrom came into the league later than others, but dominated in a strong enough fashion to leap to the top of the rookie leaderboards and take home my NL Willie Mays Award.

The AL Winner was much easier to pick.  The hardest part of this award was limiting the rest of the list to only 2 more players.  But here’s what I’ve got for my AL Willie Mays Award Winner.

1.             Jose Abreu
2.              Dellin Betances
3.              Danny Santana

There were lots of names to consider in addition to the ones I listed above.  Jake Odorizzi, Yordano Ventura, Matt Shoemaker, Masahiro Tanaka, Nick Castellanos, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt all make up this loaded AL Rookie class.  All are worthy of consideration.  But after a lot of research, I listed the three names above as my top 3 guys.

Danny Santana was a great addition for the Cleveland Indians.  He played in 101 games hitting an exceptional 319.  He also chipped in 7 HR while stealing 20 bases.  He had 129 hits, 70 R and 27 doubles.  And he played a very challenging defensive position at a high level.  Santana stood out in a loaded rookie class and looks like a future star.  And he certainly played like one this season.

The other name that jumped out to me was Dellin Betances for the Yankees.  I often overlook players on New York teams, as they are consistently overrated.  But Betances dominated in 70 relief appearances this year.  He went 5-0 with 1 Save while striking out an incredible 135 hitters in only 90 innings.  Not to say that 90 innings isn’t a lot.  It’s a ton for a reliever.  He only allowed 46 hits and 24 walks over those innings.  That is downright dominant.  His 0.78 WHIP spoke to that and his 22 Holds shows that he was taking the mound in key situations.  I’ve already talked about how relievers are intrinsically less valuable than starters, so his inclusion on the list shows how much I think of him.  He would have won it in the NL this year and in both leagues in other years.  But he happened to be a rookie in a year where we saw one of the most dominant rookie performances of all time.

And that performance belonged to Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox.  A lot of people don’t think players who have played professionally in other countries should be considered for the Rookie of the Year Award.  And I think they have a point so I generally take that into consideration.  Abreu is 27 and has played professionally for 11 years.  But even so, no one expected him to be this good.  His 37 HR were third in the league and fourth in all of major league baseball.  It was only 4 behind leader Nelson Cruz, and Abreu only played in 145 games due to injury.  That’s 6 fewer than Cruz.  The White Sox slugger also had the fourth most RBI (107) while hitting 317 with a 383 OBP.  He was one of the best power hitters in baseball, in his first season playing in the U.S.  He also hit for a high average and got on base a good bit.  This was a great season for anyone and even better for a rookie.  So while picking the top 3 players for this list was hard, picking Abreu as my AL Willie Mays Award Winner was easy.