Thursday, October 25, 2012

Breakdown of the Willie Mays Award

So now that I’ve posted my End of the Year Award winners, I thought I’d take my readers through my thought process, see the others I considered for each award and explain why I chose who I chose.  I’ll continue with the Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year).

In the National League, it came down to three people for me.  The first was the obvious choice, Bryce Harper.  The second was Todd Frazier.  And the third was the guy I ultimately chose, Wade Miley.

Todd Frazier was Cincinnati’s everyman.  He played all over the field and did a nice job.  His numbers were good, hitting 272 with 19 HR, 67 RBI, 55 R and 3 SB.  But as good as the numbers were, what really put him in the running was the way he stepped up for the Reds when Joey Votto went down.  Votto was out for the majority of the second half, and Frazier didn’t miss a step, taking over first base and keeping the Reds not only in the running, but also helping them race to the top of the standings to win the Central.  There’s no replacing Joey Votto, but Frazier did a fantastic job and they were unaffected by the loss of their best hitter.  As solid as his numbers were, what impressed me the most was the way he kept his team in it and didn’t miss a beat stepping in for the best hitter in the National League as a rookie.

Harper was the popular choice to win, and he had a great year for the Nationals.  He hit 270 with 22 HR, 59 RBI, 98 R and 18 SB.  Those numbers are pretty fantastic.  He came up to a club that was leading the NL East, and took over, hitting second in the order and doing everything they asked of him.  I was very impressed with his year, like I expected to be.  And no offense to Todd Frazier, but Harper just out hit him and was easily my runner up.  He scored almost 100 R, hit over 20 HR and stole 18 bases.  We could see a new member of the 20/20 club next year.  Harper was great, but was only second in the running in my book.

The player who got my rookie of the year vote was Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  I always think it’s harder for pitchers to get it going early in their careers than hitters.  And Miley was not in an easy situation in Phoenix.  After losing Daniel Hudson, their number 2 starter for the year, the Diamondbacks asked Miley to step up, and he did in a big way.  He won 16 games for a 500 team in Chase Field, which isn’t the friendliest pitchers park out there.  But he plugged up the hole in the rotation, eating innings and turning in a very impressive ERA in his first year in the majors.  I was impressed with the young hitters in the NL, but the poise of this young pitcher is what sealed it for me, making Wade Miley my Willie Mays Award winner for the National League. 

The AL was not close.  It was barely a race.  No offense to the other guys I considered, but I was ready to crown one of these guys MVP over a Triple Crown Winner.  But I did consider others for a brief second.  And those guys were Yu Darvish and Matt Moore.  And of course, my winner, Mike Trout.

Moore played pretty well.  He was another strong pitcher for a team of strong pitchers in Tampa Bay.  His 11-11 record was solid, as was his 3.81 ERA.  What really did it for me was his ridiculous strikeout rate.  He got 175 Ks in 177 IP.  But as good as he was he wasn’t even the best rookie pitcher in the AL this year. 

That honor belonged to Yu Darvish of the Rangers.  His numbers were a little better, but are all the more impressive when you consider that he did half his pitching in the Ballpark in Arlington, one of the best hitters parks in the majors.  He went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and 221 Ks in 191 IP.  Other than the ERA, those numbers are almost good enough to warrant Cy Young discussion.  Unfortunately for him there were a number of extremely good candidates for that race.  But he came in second in this one.  He threw almost 200 innings in his first season in the majors, playing in the strong AL West.  He was arguably the ace of that Rangers staff and played a major role in them getting to the playoffs.  16 Wins is impressive for anyone, much less a rookie.  And with over 200 Ks, he was dominant out there.  He was great.  Moore was good.  Yoenis Cespedes played well in Oakland too, better than anyone thought.  But this race was won by a large margin.  And the winner was Mike Trout.

Honestly it wasn’t even close.  His team had the best record in the AL ever since he was called up.  He was my MVP, second in the AL in AVG, first in SBs with 149 R and 30 HR and 83 RBI to boot.  He played Gold Glove caliber center field, while spending time in both corner outfield positions to help out the team early on.  He was the best player in the AL, and happened to be a rookie too.  That seals this award for him.  Trout was my Willie Mays Award winner for the AL in the easiest vote I had to cast this year.   

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