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The Baseball Bloggers Alliance began a couple of years ago. I was one of the first members to join, but now there are well over 200 blogs associated. Last year was the first year that the group did its own award voting. This year, Hall of Famer Goose Gossage gave his name to one of the awards, the Top Reliever. So, over the next few weeks, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance will be voting on the following awards.
From the press release:
The five awards are given to a player in each league: The Connie Mack Award, given to the top manager; the Willie Mays Award, for the top rookie; the Goose Gossage award, mentioned above; the Walter Johnson Award, which would be analogous to the BBWAA’s Cy Young Award; and the Stan Musial Award, awarded to the most valuable player in each league.
I was recently selected to be the President of the local chapter which currently contains four Twins bloggers. Between the four of us, we will receive two votes for each AL award. Here is when you can expect to see the awards named:
Connie Mack Award: October 14
Willie Mays Award: October 18
Goose Gossage Award: October 21
Walter Johnson Award: October 25
Stan Musial Award: October 28
With that reminder and background information, today I will be posting my ballot for the Willie Mays Rookie of the Year Award. Andrew Kneeland of Twins Target was the other Twins blogger to vote for this award.
As difficult as my vote for AL Manager of the Year was, it was equally easy for me to make my choice for the AL Rookie of the Year. Not that there weren’t a lot of very good candidates. There were. My preseason choice for the award was Brian Matusz of the Baltimore Orioles, and he had a very solid rookie campaign. The Tigers Brennan Boesch had a remarkable first half, but during the second half, he really struggled. Wade Davis struggled in the first half, then went 7-1 with a 3.22 ERA in the second half. Or, consider the on-base skills of Davis’s Tampa teammate John Jaso from the catcher position. There are a lot of strong candidates. Maybe not as strong as the National League’s group that includes Buster Posey, Jaime Garcia, Jason Heyward and Mike Stanton, but solid none-the-less. Many players made their big league debuts or played as rookies in 2010, but below you will find my ballot, my top three American League Rookies:
#3 – Danny Valencia – Minnesota Twins
2010 was an interesting season for Valencia. He began the season at Rochester and got off to a really slow start. In fact, when promoted to the Twins, he was yet to hit a AAA homer. When called up by the Twins in early June, he hit for average, but no extra base power. But in July, something clicked. He hit .453/.508/.623 with six doubles and his first home run (a grand slam against Zach Greinke. He added another homer in August and then hit five in September. The only case against Valencia is that he played in 85 games and had just 322 plate appearances. However, a .311/.351/.448 line is impressive. As impressive was his 5.7 UZR and 10.2 UZR/150. The question mark for many with Valencia was his defense, and he played outstanding. Valencia played an important role in the Twins pennant run.
#2 – Austin Jackson – Detroit Tigers
Jackson came to the Tigers from the Yankees in that big three-team deal that brought Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. Jackson made the team out of spring training and was impressive through the entire season. He got off to a great start, hitting .364/.422/.495 in April thanks to a .530 BABIP. Obviously that was not maintainable, but his overall line of .293/.345/.400 was solid. The speedster added 34 doubles, ten triples and four home runs. He strikes out a lot (170 times!), but he has so much upside. He stole 27 bases in 33 attempts as a rookie. His 5.4 UZR in centerfield was very solid. Again, his speed helped him overcome being very raw yet.
#1 – Neftali Feliz – Texas Rangers
Feliz pitched only 69.1 innings in 2010, but they were pretty important innings to the resurgent Texas Rangers. There was a lot of talk about Feliz and his triple-digit fastball being a starting pitcher, and that is something that could still happen. But Feliz became one of the league’s most shut-down closers throughout the 2010 season. Feliz recorded 40 saves in 43 opportunities. He struck out more than a batter an inning. He walked just 18 and gave up just five home runs on the season. His 0.88 WHIP meant that he did not even put himself into bad situations many times. Feliz was an All-Star, and at season’s end was still one of the best in the league at his position (not just among rookies). That’s why he is my choice for the Willie Mays Award for American League Rookie of the Year. (Think the Braves wouldn’t love to still have Feliz and Elvis Andrus?)
There is my ballot. Would yours look different? Leave your comments here.