Tag Archives: BBWAA

NL’s Cy Young Award has gone to a Phillies hurler seven times

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Denny won the 1983 NL Cy Young Award for his performance with the Phillies that season

 

Major League Baseball continues the announcement of its 2019 awards on Wednesday evening. The top pitchers in both the National and American Leagues will be honored as the Cy Young Award winners are publicly revealed in a 6:00 pm EST broadcast on the MLB Network.

Those will be the more formally recognized awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. However, a few hours earlier, the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America) will announce the winners of voting from their membership.

The 2019 American League Cy Young Award finalists are teammates Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander of the AL champion Houston Astros and former Phillies pitcher Charlie Morton of the Tampa Bay Rays. Verlander previously won the award back in 2011 and is a three-time runner-up for the honors.

In the National League, the finalists are last year’s winner Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, Korean southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and three-time winner Max Scherzer of the world champion Washington Nationals. Both Ryu and Cole are free agents this off-season.

My choices are Cole and deGrom. Those are the two men who received my IBWAA vote.

MLB first began recognizing the best pitcher in baseball with this formal award with the 1956 season. For the first 11 years, just one winner for all of Major League Baseball was honored.

Due to an overwhelming outpouring of fan requests, a winner was honored from both the National and American Leagues beginning with the 1957 season.

In 1969, the American League vote ended in a tie between Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers and Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles, and for the only time in the history of the award it was shared. Voting rules were changed as a result, with just one winner honored thereafter.

While the Cy is generally considered to be an honor for the top starting pitcher in the game, that is not a requirement. Mike Marshall of the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first reliever to take the honors in 1974, and eight other relievers have since won the award across the two leagues. The most recent was Eric Gagne of the Dodgers back in 2003.

Roger Clemens holds a record for having won the award seven times. A pair of former Phillies pitchers, Roy Halladay and Pedro Martinez, are among a group of a half-dozen hurlers to be honored with the Cy in both leagues at some point during their careers.

The late Baseball Hall of Famer and Phillies Wall of Famer Halladay is one of just four pitchers to take home a National League Cy Young Award while a member of the Fightin’ Phils pitching staff.

Halladay was the unanimous winner of the award after a historic 2010 season in which he threw a Perfect Game as well as just the second postseason no-hitter in MLB history. He registered an incredible 8.6 WAR value that year, winning 21 games and tossing 250.2 innings with nine complete games.

In 1983, right-hander John Denny captured the honors with the Phillies “Wheeze Kids” team that would go on to win the National League pennant. Denny received 20 of 24 first-place votes to finish as an easy winner.

That Cy followed a 19-win season during which he tossed 242.2 innings over 36 starts. Denny was also the NL’s Comeback Player of the Year in that first full season after coming to the Phillies from the Cleveland Indians in a September 1982 trade.

Four years later, the only Phillies relief pitcher to ever win the Cy took the honors in one of the closest votes ever. Steve Bedrosian saved 40 games for the team that year, exactly half of their total 1987 wins total. He worked 89 innings over 65 games, allowing 79 hits with 74 strikeouts and a 2.83 ERA.

“Bedrock” received just nine of 24 first-place votes, but came out the winner with 57 total voting points. That total edged out the 55 received by Rick Sutcliffe (four first-place) of the Chicago Cubs and 54 for Rick Reuschel (eight first-place), who split the season between the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.

Halladay, Denny, Bedrosian. Those are three of the seven times that a Phillies pitcher has taken the NL honors. As I said earlier, four pitchers have won the award while with the club. Which means that the fourth hurler would put four Cy Young Awards into his trophy case.

That hurler was, of course, lefty Steve Carlton. The greatest pitcher in Phillies franchise history, Carlton won the Cy for his performances on the mound in the 1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982 campaigns.

That first win in 1972 was one of the most impressive pitching performances in Major League Baseball history. In his first season after arriving from the Saint Louis Cardinals in a spring training trade for Rick Wise, Carlton was the unanimous winner of what has been ranked as the ninth-greatest Cy Young season in history.

The man who became alternately known as “Lefty” or “Super Steve” won 27 games with a putrid Phillies team that would win just 59 games. He made 41 starts with 30 complete games, numbers that are unheard of in today’s game. Carlton allowed just 257 hits over 346.1 innings with 310 strikeouts, registering a 1.97 ERA and 0.993 WHIP.

In 1977, Carlton won 23 games while tossing 283 innings over 36 starts. He registered 17 complete games and struck out 198 with a 2.64 ERA and 1.124 WHIP. That performance allowed him to receive 17 of 26 first-place votes and finish comfortably ahead of runner-up Tommy John of the Dodgers.

For his performance during the Phillies first-ever World Series-winning campaign in 1980, Carlton became just the third pitcher to ever win three Cy’s, joining Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver with that distinction.

That year, the lefty won 24 games, with 38 of his starts resulting in 13 complete games. He struck out 286 batters while allowing just 243 hits across 304 innings pitched. Carlton registered a 2.34 ERA and 1.095 WHIP, and received 23 of the 24 first-place votes as the runaway winner.

Two years later, Carlton became the first pitcher to ever win four career Cy Young Awards, and did so again in runaway fashion, receiving 20 of 24 first-place votes.

That season, Carlton won 23 games while making 38 starts, half of those resulting in complete games. He struck out 286 over 295.2 innings with a 1.147 WHIP for a Phillies team that would battle his old Saint Louis club for the NL East crown down to the last two weeks of the season before falling three games short.

Carlton and Halladay went on to become both Baseball Hall of Famers and Phillies Wall of Famers. Carlton’s 84.1 career WAR mark is the fifth-best in baseball history among left-handed pitchers, while Halladay’s 65.4 mark leaves him among the top 50 hurlers in the history of the game.

Denny had a nice career, winning 123 games over 13 big-league seasons, 37 of those with the Phillies over parts of four years. Bedrosian registered 184 career saves and 76 wins in a 14-year career.

At this time last season, Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola was a finalist for the award after winning 17 games and allowing just 149 hits over 212.1 innings across 33 starts with 224 strikeouts.

Will Nola some day become the fifth Phillies pitcher to capture an NL Cy Young Award? Perhaps Zach Eflin will elevate his game to that level. Or maybe the club will be able to lure Cole or Ryu this winter in free agency and find one of them taking the honors in some future season.

One thing is certain, as the 2011 Phillies who won a franchise record 102 regular season games while featuring a “Four Aces” rotation of Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt showed, starting pitching is the name of the game in Major League Baseball.

The Phillies need to upgrade their starting pitching rotation by landing a pair of new, proven arms in the free agent market this winter. If they do, the club should finally once again become a serious challenger for a postseason berth in 2020. And perhaps they’ll also get a Cy Young winner in the bargain.

 

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The two Phillies skippers to win Manager of the Year may surprise you

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Ozark was the first, and is one of just two Phillies managers to ever take home Manager of the Year honors

 

On Tuesday evening the 2019 Major League Baseball Manager of the Year Awards for the National and American Leagues will be announced.

As with Monday’s announcement of the Rookies of the Year, honorees were first named on social media by the IBWAA for their organization. That will be followed by a televised announcement on MLB Network at 6:00 pm EST for the Manager of the Year as chosen by the BBWAA.

The voters from the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America handed their honors out to Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves in the National League and Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins for the American League.

Finalists for this year’s BBWAA award in the National League are Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers, Mike Shildt of the Saint Louis Cardinals, and Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves.

My choice among these candidates would be Shildt. Prior to the season, most prognosticators had his Cardinals finishing behind the Brewers and Chicago Cubs. But the Cards won their first NL Central Division crown since 2015, turning last year’s worst defense in the NL into the league’s best.

While Shildt would be my pick among those finalists, he would not be my actual pick. I believe that Dave Martinez of the world champion Washington Nationals deserves the honor – and it has little to do with his club winning the first World Series in franchise history.

The Nationals were a dozen games below the .500 mark and sitting in fourth place in the NL East Division as May wound towards a close. Rather than throw in the towel, Martinez kept his team positive and focused. The Nats had the best record in the National League from that point to the end of the season.

Over in the American League, the finalists are Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees, Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins.

A great case can be made for any of these men, as well as Oakland A’s skipper Bob Melvin. But my choice would be Baldelli. While the Twins were considered a possible playoff team entering the season, few saw them winning 101 games and capturing the AL Central crown in nearly wire-to-wire fashion.

The first recognized honors in this category were The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award, established in 1936. From that year through 1985, one winner for all of Major League Baseball was announced. Since 1986, The Sporting News has handed out honors in both the American and National Leagues.

The  Baseball Writers Association of America began honoring a Manager of the Year for both leagues with the 1983 season. Each member of a 30-member committee of the BBWAA submits a ballot listing a first, second, and third place finisher among the managers of each league. The manager with the highest score in each league wins the award.

Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa have won the BBWAA award four times, more than any other manager in history. Jim Leyland is the only skipper to be named Manager of the Year four times by The Sporting News.

The Phillies new manager Joe Girardi is the only person to be named as the BBWAA Manager of the Year while piloting a losing club. Girardi took those honors for keeping the 2006 Florida Marlins in the Wildcard playoff hunt until the season’s final weeks, despite working with the game’s lowest payroll.

Yesterday, I wrote about the four players who won the Rookie of the Year Award as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Today, we’ll look at the history of the club in Manager of the Year Award voting.

It’s not much of a history, mind you. Only one manager of the club has ever taken the award as handed out by the BBWAA. And that manager was not either of the men who guided the Phillies to World Series glory. He was also honored in the same year by The Sporting News, which has named just one other Phillies manager as a winner of their award.

As I said earlier, the BBWAA award did not begin until 1983, so Dallas Green obviously would not have a plaque on his shelf for that 1980 championship. That year, The Sporting News chose to honor Bill Virdon of the Houston Astros, whose team the Phillies defeated in the NLCS, as their NL Manager of the Year.

And after guiding the Phillies to a second consecutive NL East crown and the 2008 World Series championship, Charlie Manuel finished as the runner-up to Lou Piniella of the Chicago Cubs in that year’s BBWAA voting.

Manuel would lead the Phillies to five consecutive NL East crowns, but never was awarded the Manager of the Year by the BBWAA or The Sporting News. Not even in 2007, when an underdog Phillies team rallied from seven games back on September 12 to capture their first division title in 14 years.

Manuel finished second to Bob Melvin of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2007 BBWAA voting. With his team established as favorites, ‘Uncle Charlie’ would finish just 6th in 2009, 5th in 2010, and 4th in 2011. That last was after guiding the Phillies to a 102-win season, the most regular season victories in franchise history.

Despite leading the “Whiz Kids” to a surprise National League pennant in 1950, manager Eddie Sawyer was passed over by The Sporting News in favor of Detroit Tigers skipper Red Rolfe, whose club had finished as the American League runners-up to the New York Yankees that year.

Paul Owens guided the Phillies “Wheeze Kids” to a 1983 NL pennant, but The Sporting News honors that year went to Tony La Russa, who had led the Chicago White Sox to a 99-win season and the AL West Division title in his first year as manager. In their first season giving out an award that year, the BBWAA handed the honors to the manager of the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda.

A decade later, Jim Fregosi skippered the ‘Macho Row’ Phillies to a stunning NL East crown in a wire-to-wire performance, then on to a National League pennant. But Fregosi finished a close runner-up to Dusty Baker of the San Francisco Giants, whose club had won 103 games but finished as runners-up in the NL West. The Sporting News gave their award to Bobby Cox of the NL West champion Atlanta Braves.

So, which Phillies managers have been recognized as the Manager of the Year?

The first was Danny Ozark, who The Sporting News named as their winner after he guided the Phillies to the first of three consecutive National League East Division titles in the 1976 season.

It would then be a quarter-century until a second Phillies skipper was so honored. For leading the club to a second place finish in the NL East in 2001, Larry Bowa won the Manager of the Year Award from both The Sporting News and the BBWAA.

That’s it, Ozark and Bowa, the only two men to ever be named as the Manager of the Year with the Phillies. The hope now is that Girardi can put a second career Manager of the Year award in his trophy case and on his resume’ as soon as next year at this time.

 

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2019 Major League Baseball Awards

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Realmuto was honored with his second consecutive career Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award

 

Major League Baseball has entered its off-season period, but there is still plenty of action surrounding the game. As teams begin to evaluate their future needs and prepare to shop in the Hot Stove free agent market, the game steps back momentarily to honor the best performances from this past 2019 season.

This past week, MLB continued the process of handing out the hardware to the top players from this past season. Winners of both the Silver Slugger Awards and Gold Glove Awards were announced, honoring the top offensive and defensive performers at each position in both leagues.

2019 GOLD GLOVE AWARDS

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Winners are listed below with their position and team. Number of career Gold Gloves won are shown in parentheses.

National League: P – Zack Greinke ARZ (6), C – J.T. Realmuto PHI (2), 1B – Anthony Rizzo CHI (3), 2B – Kolten Wong STL (1), SS – Nick Ahmed ARZ (2), LF – David Peralta ARZ (1), CF – Lorenzo Cain MIL (1), RF – Cody Bellinger (1)

American League: P – Mike Leake SEA (1), C – Roberto Perez CLE (1), 1B – Matt Olson OAK (2), 2B – Yolmer Sanchez CWS (1), SS – Francisco Lindor CLE (2), 3B – Matt Chapman OAK (2), LF – Alex Gordon KC (7), CF – Kevin Kiermaier TB (3), RF – Mookie Betts BOS (4)

Arenado (below right) and Chapman (below left) were further honored when they were each named as winners of the National and American League Platinum Glove Awards. This is the second consecutive Rawlings Platinum Glove for each as the overall top defensive performer in their respective leagues.

Rawlings is not the only sponsor of awards for MLB defensive excellence. The winners were also announced for the Wilson Defensive Players of the Year at each position in Major League Baseball.

The Houston Astros were honored as the Wilson Defensive Team of the Year. Individual winners with their number of career Wilson awards in parentheses were:

P – Zack Greinke HOU (3), C – Roberto Perez CLE (1), 1B – Freddie Freeman ATL (2), 2B – Kolten Wong STL (1), SS – Andrelton Simmons LAA (6), 3B – Matt Chapman OAK (2), LF – David Peralta ARZ (1), CF – Lorenzo Cain MIL (4), RF – Aaron Judge NYY (1)

Perez was further honored as the overall Wilson Defensive Player of the Year.

2019 SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS

The Silver Slugger Awards as the top offensive performer went to:

National League: P – Zack Greinke ARZ (2), C – J.T. Realmuto PHI (2), 1B – Freddie Freeman ATL (1), 2B – Ozzie Albies ATL (1), SS – Trevor Story COL (2), 3B – Anthony Rendon WAS (2), OF – Cody Bellinger LAD (1), Christian Yelich MIL (2), Ronald Acuna Jr.ATL (1)

American League: DH – Nelson Cruz MIN (3), C – Mitch Garver MIN (1), 1B – Carlos Santana CLE (1), 2B – DJ LeMahieu NYY (1), SS – Xander Bogaerts BOS (3), 3B – Alex Bregman HOU (1), OF – Mike Trout LAA (7), George Springer HOU (2), Mookie Betts BOS (3)

The overall top hitter in each league is honored with the Hank Aaron Award. Each MLB team’s radio and television play-by-play broadcasters and color analysts vote for three players in each league, and fans are given the opportunity to vote via MLB’s official website. Fans’ votes account for 30% of the final points, while broadcasters’ and analysts’ votes account for the other 70%.

The winners of the 2019 Aaron Awards were Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels in the American League. It was the second career Aaron Award for each, the second consecutive for Yelich. Trout was previously honored back in 2014.

Prior to Game 4 of the World Series, the winners of MLB’s Relief Pitcher of the Year Award in each league were announced.

Taking the award as the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year was Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees, who was honored for the first time.

The Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year was awareded to Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers, who became just the second relief pitcher to be honored two years in a row.

 UPCOMING AWARDS NOMINEES

The winners of the rest of baseball’s official awards will be announced this coming week. Voting was conducted by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The following is the awards announcement schedule. You can watch as the honorees are named in a live broadcast on the MLB Network each day at 6:00 pm EST.

The nominees were selected based on regular season performance only.

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order with their position and current team, and I have highlighted my pick as the winner in red.

MONDAY: Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award

NL: Pete Alonso 1B NYM, Mike Soroka P ATL, Fernando Tatis JR SS SD

AL: Yordan Alvarez DH/OF HOU, Brandon Lowe 2B/OF TB, John Means P BAL

TUESDAY: Manager of the Year Award

NL: Craig Counsell MIL, Mike Shildt STL, Brian Snitker ATL

AL: Rocco Baldelli MIN, Aaron Boone NYY, Kevin Cash TB

WEDNESDAY: Cy Young Award

NL: Jacob deGrom NYM, Hyun-Jin Ryu LAD, Max Scherzer WAS

AL: Gerrit Cole HOU, Charlie Morton TB, Justin Verlander HOU

THURSDAY: Most Valuable Player Award

NL nominees: Cody Bellinger OF LAD, Anthony Rendon 3B WAS, Christian Yelich OF MIL

AL nominees: Alex Bregman SS HOU, Marcus Semien SS OAK, Mike Trout OF LAA

Other MLB award winners this season included starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg of the world champion Washington Nationals, who was named as the Most Valuable Player of the World Series.

Howie Kendrick of the Nationals took the NLCS Most Valuable Player honors, while second baseman Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros won the ALCS MVP honors.

Carlos Carrasco of the Cleveland Indians was honored with the Roberto Clemente Award in recognition for his many charitable efforts both stateside and in his native Venezuela. The pitcher was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year and “put in the difficult work to make a return to pitching amid his treatment — all while continuing to give his time, attention and financial assistance to young leukemia patients.”

Mike Trout received the Players Choice Award as the overall Major League Baseball Player of the Year and was also the AL Player of the Year. It was his second American League and first overall honor in voting by his fellow ball players.

Others receiving Players Choice Awards were Anthony Rendon as the NL Player of the Year, Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom as the AL & NL Pitchers of the Year, Hunter Pence and Josh Donaldson as the AL & NL Comeback Players of the Year, and Yordan Alvarez and Pete Alonso as the AL & NL Rookies of the Year.

On Sunday, November 17 at 8:00 pm EST, the MLB Network will take a final look back on 2019 as it presents the Plays of the Year for this past season. That highlights loaded program will re-air a number of times throughout the month of November.

I suppose that after finishing exactly at the .500 mark and in fourth place this season, the Phillies could not have expected much more in the way of award winners than the Gold Glove-Silver Slugger combo taken by Realmuto.

Hopefully the results in the standings and in the postseason, including award winners, are more substantial for the club in the 2020 campaign.

 

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My 2019 IBWAA Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

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Former Phillies star Jim Thome was among those voted into the HOF last year

As a lifetime member of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association), I have the honor of being involved in the organization’s annual Hall of Fame voting process. This is my fifth year with a ballot, and my selections were turned in about two weeks ago.

The IBWAA voting process does not earn a player a plaque at Cooperstown. It does, however, allow a group of well-informed voters to express their opinion as to which players are deserving of the ultimate honor for their baseball career. You can consider it a formal endorsement from baseball writers and bloggers who represent dozens of internet sites.
I had decided over the last couple of years to break my ballot down into three segments. “Hall of Fame” players are those who, for me, are obvious, or whom I evaluated from previous years and decided were worthy.

“Future Consideration” names are not so obvious to me, but are strong enough candidates that I will continue to evaluate them moving forward. Finally, “Not Hall of Famer” guys are those who just don’t make the cut for me and will not in the future.

In 2017, eight players received my IBWAA vote: Barry BondsRoger ClemensTrevor HoffmanMike MussinaManny RamirezIvan RodriguezCurt Schilling, and Larry Walker. Both Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero, who I had on my “Future Consideration” list that year, were voted in by the full IBWAA membership.
Last year just five returning players received my vote as a “Hall of Fame” player: Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling once again, as well as two newcomers to the ballot: Jim Thome and Chipper Jones.
On my “Future Consideration” list from the 2018 ballot were Hoffman, Mussina, Walker, Ramirez, Scott RolenGary SheffieldBilly WagnerLee SmithJohnny DamonSammy SosaJeff KentFred McGriffOmar VizquelJamie MoyerAndruw Jones, and Johan Santana.
The IBWAA membership honored six players in the final vote a year ago. Bonds and Clemens each finally got in, joined by Thome, CJones, Mussina, and Hoffman.
While the BBWAA only allow their eligible Hall of Fame voters to cast ballots for up to 10 players, the IBWAA has a 15-player limit. I decided after looking over the names to cast a wide ballot this year. Bottom line, I simply felt generous.

MY 2019 IBWAA BALLOT

My list for the 2019 IBWAA ballot was led by Schilling, the only player who has been a definite, no-doubt “Hall of Fame” player for me in both of the last two years but hasn’t made it as yet.
Two newcomers on this year’s ballot were considered by me to be no-doubt “Hall of Fame” players. Both Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay thus received my vote as well.
I had decided early-on to bump up two players from last year’s “Future Consideration” list who were back on the 2019 IBWAA ballot, Walker and Rolen, to receive my vote.
That was originally going to be all for me. And then I got soft. I read a couple of pieces written by respected sources advocating for more players to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and was influenced to send in a full 15-player ballot.
For that reason alone, 10 additional players received my vote this year. These players would have usually found themselves in my “Future Consideration” list: Ramirez, Sheffield, Wagner, Kent, McGriff, and AJones from last year’s ballot. And then newcomers Todd HeltonLance BerkmanRoy Oswalt, and Andy Pettitte.
Over the last few days, I have come to regret that expansion of my ballot. If I had it to do over again, just Schilling, Rivera, Halladay, Walker, and Rolen would have received my vote. The rest would have been in the “Future Consideration” category, along with holdovers Sosa and Vizquel and newcomer Miguel Tejada.
A year from now you can expect me to return to my three-tiered system of breaking down the nominees. You can expect that any of my five 2019 no-doubt players doesn’t make it this time around, they will get a vote from me again next year.

Originally published at Phillies Nation asMatt Veasey’s 2019 IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot

National League Most Valuable Player

As the 2014 Major League Baseball season sprints into it’s stretch run, each week separates post-season wheat from chaff. Time runs out on some clubs, and the words “Magic Number” once again emerge into the game’s vocabulary for others.

As teams push for the pennant, they are often driven forward by one man, one lead character playing hero in that season. He may be a slugger. He may have a golden arm. He may come up with clutch hits at crucial moments of many of these dramatic, decisive games.

At the end of it all, teams win, and players are honored for their individual achievements. The voting for the ‘Most Valuable Player‘ award in both the National and American League takes place before the post-season, so it is a reflection on the performance of the top players in the game over the course of the regular 162-game season that has unfolded over the previous full 6 months.

These centerpiece awards have been given out in MLB since 1931 by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America. Two baseball writers from each city in each league vote annually for the recipient, and the winner is announced at the conclusion of the World Series.

The BBWAA has never given out a clear definition of “most valuable”, and that has been a bone of contention among many voters, commentators, writers, fans, and even players themselves. What makes a player valuable to his team, and how is that measured? Can a starting pitcher, for instance, who only affects team performance once or twice a week, possibly be as valuable as a position player, who affects team outcomes every game?

Without definitive direction, I have always been guided by what I consider common sense. To me, especially since pitchers already have an award specifically dedicated for their excellence in the Cy Young Award, I cannot personally consider a starting pitcher to be more valuable than the most valuable of position players.

This is not to say that starting pitchers, such as Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, are not valuable. Clearly they are, and clearly the Dodgers, as one example, would not be the same team, and perhaps not even a contender, without Kershaw. So for me, a pitcher like Kershaw would absolutely receive acknowledgement on my ballot. But he would not be the top choice.

On each ballot, the writer’s doing the voting select 10 players and rank them 1-10 in the order in which they feel these players have been “most valuable” to their particular team. A player then receives 14 ‘points’ for every first place vote, 9 for a 2nd place vote, 8 for 3rd, 7 for 4th, on down to 1 point for a 10th place vote.

The following would be my personal 10-player National League Most Valuable Player ballot, were I to have one, and were the season to end today. I will present my 10-player American League MVP ballot tomorrow:

10) Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Milwaukee
You would be hard-pressed to make a case that any player has been more influential to his team’s success as a complete surprise than has KRod proven for the Brew Crew. Once arguably the game’s most dominant closer, he re-emerged in that role this season for the Brewers. He has registered 39 Saves with a 2.95 ERA and a magnificent 0.98 WHIP, and with a 69-14 K/BB ratio across 61 extremely valuable innings at the end of now-fading Milwaukee’s closest games.

9)   Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco
His raw numbers of 19 homers, 69 rbi, 101 runs scored, 13 steals while compiling a .295 batting average make Pence one of the best all-around offensive threats in the NL. Combine the numbers with his hustling defense and his passionate leadership, and factor in that he plays his home games in a pitcher’s haven at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and you have a legit MVP candidate for a legit contender that wouldn’t be so without him.

8)   Dee Gordon, 2B, Los Angeles
The only rival to KRod as a surprise MVP candidate, Gordon’s emergence has arguably been even more unlikely. Not even a starter entering the spring, Gordon took the 2nd base job and ran with it, literally. Hitting .287, he has stolen 59 bases to lead all of baseball, has scored 80 runs, and generally been exactly what the first-place Dodgers needed: a catalyst at the top of the batting order on a consistent basis. His team is very likely once again struggling for runs and under-achieving if not for his sudden emergence as an impact player this year.

7)   Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles
The best starting pitcher on the planet. Period. On his return to the team after missing the first few weeks of the season, Kershaw took up right where he had left off during the team’s showcase opening series in Australia in March, where he left off last season in a Cy Young campaign. He has dominated. With an 18-3 record, 22 of 24 Quality Starts, a 1.67 ERA and 0.82 WHIP, and with an unreal 210-27 K/BB ratio over 177.1 IP, Kershaw is the clear NL Cy Young Award winner once again.

6)   Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami
The most sensational individual performer in the National League this season on a daily basis, Stanton likely gets the honors as the Most Outstanding Player in the NL: 37 homers, 105 rbi, 88 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, a .291 batting average with a .396 on-base percentage. He is improved defensively, and has a cannon for a right arm. Stanton does it all, and has most importantly stayed healthy this year. The only thing keeping him from the top spot? His team is not, and won’t be, in the post-season race. They could lose without him. They are losing with him. His performance keeps them fighting for .500, but for this writer, to win the honors you need to elevate your team to contention.

5)   Craig Kimbrel, RP, Atlanta
The most valuable Closer in the game today, he is the perfect weapon in the 9th inning. In that role, he impacts 3 times the number of actual game results than does a starting pitcher like Kershaw. He has registered 43 Saves, tied for the NL lead. He has a 1.61 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. He has an 80-18 K/BB ratio across 56 innings. The Braves are just 1 1/2 games out of a Wildcard berth that they wouldn’t even be sniffing without him.

4)   Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee
The Brewers are just a game and a half out of the Wildcard, but they have been seriously fading, and with that fade Gomez’ own shot at the NL MVP Award is also fading. But Milwaukee led the NL Central for much of the season, and they remain in the post-season hunt, largely thanks to Gomez’ taking his game to another level. He has 21 homers, 67 rbi, 87 runs scored, and 29 steals while hitting at a .284 clip, and has taken the mantle away from Ryan Braun as the biggest threat in the Brew Crew everyday lineup. His teammate, Jonathan Lucroy, would also be a worthy nominee, and will finish high on some ballots, but it is Gomez who is the better all-around player.

3)   Anthony Rendon, Washington
Playing largely at 3rd base due to Ryan Zimmerman’s season-long injury troubles, Rendon has been a whiz at the hot corner for the first place Nats. He also seemlessly slid over to play 2nd base for a month when Zimmerman was briefly able to get healthy. All the while, he has emerged as the most consistent offensive threat in their batting order. His 102 runs scored leads all of baseball. He has 18 homers, 77 rbi, and 15 steals as well. There is a sense is that he is only scratching the surface of his all-around game. Aleady one of baseball’s best hitters, Rendon is the MVP of a team running away with a division crown. Hard to beat that as a league MVP endorsement. I was extremely tempted to list him in the top position.

2)   Andrew McCutchen, Pittsurgh
The Pirates have again emerged as a playoff contender for the 2nd straight season. Their run to the post-season a year ago was a prime factor in McCutchen taking home the 2013 NL MVP. Their return would be a major factor in his winning the honors in back-to-back fashion, something accomplished only by Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, and Miguel Cabrera in the last three decades. He has the raw numbers: 22 homers, 74 rbi, 76 runs, 17 steals, and a .311 batting average with a .402 on-base percentage. And he is getting hot and coming up with big hits lately in clutch situations. The Pirates have taken over a Wildcard spot, and if they hold it, he will be a top finisher when all the votes are counted.

1)   Buster Posey, San Francsico
The 2012 NL MVP, his raw numbers are good enough on their own: a .309 batting average, 20 homers, 79 rbi, 67 runs scored. That he produces this offense mostly from the catchers position makes him the game’s top threat in that regard from the position. The Giants have wisely reduced his catching, shifting some of the load to more appearances at 1st base to keep his potent bat in the lineup, while also finding him more scattered rest opportunities. The result has been that Posey is fresh, the game’s hottest hitter over the last month as the Giants halted a slide and re-emerged as contenders. They now lead the Wildcard race, and are still within range of running at the Dodgers for the division crown. They are at neither spot without him. At least for now with 3 weeks to go, on this man’s ballot it is between Posey and McCutchen, the last two winners of the award, for NL MVP.