Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Walter Johnson Award for Best Pitcher

I'll continue revealing my ballot for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance's postseason awards.  Today I'll look at the Walter Johnson Award, given to the top pitcher in each league.  Again, my votes count only for the American League, but I'll show you my thoughts on both.


1. Justin Verlander, DET
2. Jered Weaver, LAA
3. Dan Haren, LAA
4. James Shields, TB
5. Doug Fister, SEA/DET

I think Verlander will run away with this, and rightfully so.  Among AL pitchers, he ranked first in IP, ERA, and WHIP, second in xFIP, third in K/9 and K/BB, and fourth in FIP.  Not to knock the other pitchers on this list, as they all had great seasons in their own right, but I can't see an argument for someone other than Verlander.

Teammates Weaver and Haren put together quite the 1-2 punch for the Angels this season.  Neither struck out a ton of batters, just a respectable amount, but both threw over 235 innings and placed second and third, respectively, in the AL in WHIP.  Weaver also was second by 0.01 points in ERA, and Haren led the league in K/BB ratio, thanks to the second-lowest walk rate in the bigs.  Some batted ball luck certainly helped Weaver, who had the lowest GB% among qualified starters, but he was pretty good too.

Shields almost reached 250 innings and rated well across the board.  Fister is surely the most surprising and controversial name on my list, as I was shocked to find him there myself.  His strikeout rate was mediocre, but because of impeccable control he was fifth in the AL in strikeout-per-walk ratio.  Combining that with an above-average groundball rate, he was also in the top six in ERA, WHIP, and FIP.  I doubt anyone else will have him ahead of C.C. Sabathia, but I thought that statistically Fister had the better year.

Also considered: C.C. Sabathia (NYY), C.J. Wilson (TEX), Josh Beckett (BOS), David Price (TB), Felix Hernandez (SEA)


1. Roy Halladay, PHI
2. Cliff Lee, PHI
3. Clayton Kershaw, LAD
4. Cole Hamels, PHI
5. Ian Kennedy, ARI

Halladay won this award last year, and he should again in 2011, followed closely by two teammates and Kershaw.  Looking at this, it's hard to believe the Phillies aren't still playing, but that's baseball for you.  The first three were all very close, but Halladay prevailed because of a league-best K:BB ratio and FIP combined with an excellent ERA and WHIP.  Hamels was a pretty easy choice for fourth, and then the last spot was a toss-up between Kennedy and Cain.  Kennedy grabbed it because in the end I valued his superior K:BB ratio more than Cain's continuous home run-dampening ability.  I know a lot of people would have Cain's teammate Lincecum in the top five somewhere, but I just couldn't put him there because of his comparatively high walk rate and subsequently comparatively high WHIP.

Also considered: Matt Cain (SF)

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