Showing posts with label BBA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BBA. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BBA Topic - Walter Johnson Award

After each regular season, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance votes on the best manager, rookie, relief pitcher, starting pitcher, and most valuable player in each league.  Today we discuss the best starting pitcher - aptly named the Walter Johnson Award.

The BBA ballot requires three names.  For the National League, the three names are easy.  The hard part is deciding in what order they should fall.  Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, and Cliff Lee were the best three pitchers in the National League this season, and they threw virtually the same number of innings (Halladay 233 2/3, Kershaw 233 1/3, Lee 232 2/3), so one can compare their numbers without applying any correction factor.

So let's compare them.  Here are their season numbers, per Fangraphs.

I left their W/L/WAR numbers off deliberately.  Innings Pitched we've already discussed.  Wins/Losses have become less relevant to measuring a pitcher's worth in the relief pitcher era, and WAR?  Well, WAR has become too simple an answer for me (that's a topic best left to a future post).

So what do we have?  Halladay issued the fewest walks, allowed the least number of HRs, got the most groundballs, and had the best Fielding Independent Percentage.  Kershaw struck out the most per nine innings, had the lowest percentage of balls in play turn into hits, and the lowest Earned Run Average.  Lee stranded more runners then either two, and had the lowest Expected Fielding Independent Percentage.

Doesn't really help, does it?

Let's try again.  The fact that Kershaw has the lowest ground ball rate (so conversely, the highest fly ball rate) of the three matches his lowest BABIP of the three.  Fly ball pitchers tend to have a lower BABIP.  Using that logic, it would explain why Halladay's BABIP is slightly higher than Lee's.

Some folks have argued part of Kershaw's success is based on his home ballpark.  Dodger Stadium is a pitcher-friendly ballpark, Citizen's Bank is a pitcher-neutral one.  Kershaw giving up fewer HR than Lee can be explained by the ballpark factor, but Halladay gave up fewer than either while pitching in the same home ballpark Lee pitches in.

Lee's strikeouts per nine, strand rate, and expected FIP are better than Halladay's.  Halladay, however, has fewer walks, HR, a lower ERA and FIP than Lee.  I think ultimately that places Halladay ahead of Lee.  Kershaw has a higher walk rate than Lee, but in the other categories (K/9, HR allowed, ERA, FIP) he's better.

Cliff Lee becomes the #3 NL pitcher.

How to split Kershaw and Halladay is tough - very tough.  They are virtually even everywhere, and the one area where they do differ (HR's allowed) I believe has more to do with Halladay being a ground ball pitcher in a park where fly balls fly out than in any real difference in quality between the two pitchers.  Roy Halladay has been consistently brilliant for years, and is the reigning Walter Johnson Award Winner.  Clayton Kershaw is only 23 years old and may just be starting to realize his enormous potential.

I've tried to be objective.  Let's be arbitrary.  Halladay had fewer bad days than Kershaw did.  Roy Halladay had only one 2011 start in which he gave up more than 5 ER. Kershaw had four.  Halladay was more consistently brilliant than Kershaw.  We'll make that the straw that broke the camel's back.

The Padres Trail 2011 Walter Johnson Award Ballot:

  1. Roy Halladay
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. Cliff Lee
As always, thanks for reading and your comments are welcome.

UPDATE 10/22: I neglected to make the ballot 5 deep, which is the BBA requirement.  So, hurriedly, I've added these two names:

  • 4.  Ian Kennedy
  • 5.  Jair Jurrjens
 Kennedy pitched extremely well for the Arizona Diamondbacks throughout the 2011 season, and tied for the league lead in wins (21).  Jurrjens had a fantastic first half of the season before getting hurt and missing all of September.  If I've missed someone deserving, post it in the comments.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

BBA Topic - Connie Mack Award

Each year, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance member chapters vote on their post-season awards.  Some awards are similar to those voted on by the BBWAA, and some are unique.  The Connie Mack award is given to each league's top manager.

The San Diego Chapter gets two votes for each category. You can read Left Coast Bias' selections here.  Mine are below.

Manager of the Year is tough, because it seems the odds-on favorite for the award typically manages a team widely expected to suck before the season started.  Which then means the award goes to the team that did the best job proving the prognosticators wrong.  I don't have a snappy, simple solution for fixing that; I just point it out.

With that said, whom to vote for?  I need to narrow down the field, so let's make it easy - I'll eliminate all teams that finished below .500 this season.  The only team I slightly regret dropping from consideration this way is Pittsburgh.  Clint Hurdle did a fantastic job (or was the NL Central just that mediocre) keeping them in contention until the end of July; but after that the Pirates collapsed, finishing 18 games under.  So it's a slight regret.

That leaves Philadelphia, Atlanta, Milwaukee, St Louis, Arizona, San Francisco, and Los Angeles as the contenders.  Atlanta is out; you blow a 9.5 game lead, you get no votes as the league's best manager.  San Francisco gets dropped; the Giants faded badly after the trade deadline.  That takes us to five.  Five is a manageable number.

The Padres Trail ballot for Connie Mack is:
  1. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks - Yeah, I'm in the 'vote for the team that most exceeded pre-season expectations' category.  Gibson took a Diamondbacks team widely expected to challenge the Padres for NL West basement occupancy and instead led them to the NL West Title.  Granted, most of the rebirth in Arizona is the handiwork of several GMs, including Kevin Towers' rebuild of the bullpen.  However the Diamondbacks have had one of the more talented rosters in the league for several years, and never played to their talent.  Gibson got that talent to shine.
  2. Charlie Manuel, Phillies - The amount of pressure placed on the manager of a team widely expected to be the best in the league is immense.  Many buckle under it.  Manuel led his team to the best record in the league.
  3. Tony LaRussa, Cardinals - He lost his best starting pitcher in spring training, and his early bullpen was a mess.  And yet, he found a way to motivate his team and get them into the post-season. 
  4. Ron Roenicke, Brewers - Another manager with the weight of expectations.  Prince Fielder is widely expected to play somewhere else next year, so the Brewer management went all in for this season, and brought in a new manager to lead the troops.  Additionally, he lost one of the off-season prizes, Zack Grienke, for 6 weeks due to injury.  A torrid August secured the NL Central for Milwaukee.
  5. Don Mattingly, Dodgers - The Dodger organization is a mess.  Everyone knows about the McCourt scandal and legal death match with MLB.  All that drama affected the major league team. It took them about 4 months to successfully deal with it, but they finally got it together, closing with a 41-28 kick and getting into third in the NL West.