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July 12, 2001

Prospectus Awards Balloting

Our Picks at the Break

by Baseball Prospectus

With half the season down and the good half to go, the Baseball Prospectus staff has assembled its mid-season awards. Take these with a few grains of salt, and enjoy the second half of the season.

(Numbers in parentheses indicate number of ballots on which the player appeared, then number of first-place votes received.)

AL MVP (14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1)

Alex Rodriguez 116 (10) (6)
Jason Giambi 95 (10) (2)
Manny Ramirez 84 (10) (2)
Bret Boone 53 (8)
Pedro Martinez 49 (8)
Roberto Alomar 46 (8)
Mike Sweeney 32 (8)
Edgar Martinez 25 (6)
Bernie Williams 13 (4)
Mike Cameron 12 (5)
Joe Mays 11 (3)
Juan Gonzalez 9 (4)
Torii Hunter 9 (2)
Jorge Posada 9 (2)
Ichiro Suzuki 7 (4)
Ellis Burks 6 (1)
Troy Percival 4 (1)
Tim Wakefield 3 (3)
Carlos Delgado 3 (1)
John Olerud 3 (1)
Jim Thome 1 (1)

BP voters aren't unanimous on whether playing on a winning team should mean something in MVP voting. Alex Rodriguez, who has had a superlative season on a team whose starting rotation has been so bad they might as well throw slo-pitch softball pitchers out there, received six of the ten first-place votes as a result of his great offense while playing a key defensive position. The positions that players play has a large effect on the voting, boosting Rodriguez, second basemen, and center fielders over others.

NL MVP (14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1)

Barry Bonds 140 (10) (10)
Luis Gonzalez 86 (10)
Lance Berkman 62 (9)
Chipper Jones 51 (8)
Rich Aurilia 50 (10)
Sammy Sosa 45 (9)
Cliff Floyd 41 (10)
Randy Johnson 33 (5)
Albert Pujols 29 (7)
Andruw Jones 10 (3)
Brian Giles 9 (4)
Ryan Klesko 7 (3)
Phil Nevin 4 (2)
John Burkett 4 (2)
Larry Walker 4 (1)
Todd Helton 3 (1)
Curt Schilling 3 (1)
Charles Johnson 2 (2)
Greg Maddux 2 (2)
Gary Sheffield 1 (1)

Again, it didn't matter a lot to voters whose team was in first place, but it's clear that no one who voted thinks that only a division leader's players need apply, since Barry Bonds's reign of terror garnered him unanimous first place accolades in the NL.

As in the AL, the BP voters also gave more credit to players who play more important defensive positions. The group also gives less credit to those who play in Denver.

AL Cy Young (10-7-5-3-1)

Pedro Martinez 97 (10) (9)
Joe Mays 56 (9) (1)
Tim Wakefield 40 (8)
Tim Hudson 33 (9)
Troy Percival 10 (2)
Mark Buerhle 8 (2)
Steve Karsay 5 (3)
Roger Clemens 3 (1)
Eric Milton 3 (1)
Brad Radke 2 (2)
Gene Nelson 2 (2)
Mike Mussina 1 (1)

Roger Clemens's 12-1 record is barely given a second thought here, as the voters concentrated on pitchers who have significantly lower ERAs. Mariner pitchers are similar ignored, since it's the offense (with some help from the bullpen) that has boosted that team to its great record. Meanwhile, BP voters did recognize the unheralded Tim Wakefield, who has had a very quiet great year.

NL Cy Young (10-7-5-3-1)

Randy Johnson 85 (10) (7)
John Burkett 62 (10) (2)
Curt Schilling 43 (7)
Greg Maddux 37 (9)
Rick Reed 13 (2) (1)
Chan Ho Park 12.5 (5)
Mike Hampton 2.5 (3)
Jon Lieber 2 (2)
Matt Morris 2 (2)
Steve Karsay 1 (1)

There is probably more of a pronounced difference between BP voters and others in Cy Young voting than there is in other awards. That is because BP voters are almost unanimous in their total dismissal of won-loss records. There isn't always agreement on how to measure pitchers' value, but there certainly is agreement on how not to do it. Leading the league in ERA or SNWL is what gets pitchers attention from the BP staff. Thus, Randy Johnson and John Burkett both finish ahead of Curt Schilling, the league leader in wins.

AL Rookie of the Year (5-3-1)

Ichiro Suzuki 50 (10) (10)
Josh Towers 15 (7)
David Eckstein 13 (5)
Bob File 6 (4)
C.C. Sabathia 3.5 (2)
Chris Michalak 1.5 (2)
Ryan Franklin 1 (1)

It would be hard to find anyone who wouldn't vote for Ichiro in this race. However, BP voters recognized Josh Towers as the runner-up while totally ignoring the more heralded Alfonso Soriano, and also threw some support to the relatively unknown Bob File.

NL Rookie of the Year (5-3-1)

Albert Pujols 48 (10) (9)
Jimmy Rollins 20 (8) (1)
Ben Sheets 17.5 (10)
Roy Oswalt 3.5 (2)
Shawn Chacon 1 (1)

The same three names appeared on almost everybody's ballot, so the only real debate is which of Ben Sheets and Jimmy Rollins deserves second place behind Albert Pujols' monster season.

Individual Comments

Gary Huckabay:

I've tried to do a couple foolish things here. First, I've given way too much credit for things like flexibility and context-based need. Second, I've tried to separate pitching from defense more than one probably should, which partially explains the Tim Hudson placement in the AL Cy Young Award voting. Yes, Ben Grieve is gone, but the A's defense is still pretty scary, particularly on the infield corners. And...yes, I really believe Torii Hunter's defense is that good. The same goes for Andruw Jones, who appears to have recovered from whatever was bugging him last year. There are plenty of solid performances by offensive players in both leagues.

1. Barry Bonds
2. Lance Berkman
3. Albert Pujols
4. Andruw Jones
5. Luis Gonzalez
6. Rich Aurilia
7. Brian Giles
8. Sammy Sosa
9. Chipper Jones
10. Cliff Floyd

On the NL side, Barry Bonds is a complete no-brainer. Without him, the Giants resemble a cross between the Orioles and Marlins, but with a much higher risk in the pitching staff. If J.D. Drew were healthy, he'd probably be in the running for one of the top spots, but he isn't. There's enough error-bar space in the rest of the ten votes that you could probably move the order around fairly easily. I don't give credit for playing on a winning team in MVP voting. I've had the argument for nearly 15 years now, and I still believe that Most Valuable Player means exactly that--not Most Valuable Player With Good Supporting Teammates.

1. Alex Rodriguez
2. Jason Giambi
3. Manny Ramirez
4. Torii Hunter
5. Roberto Alomar
6. Mike Sweeney
7. Troy Percival
8. Bret Boone
9. Pedro Martinez
10. Tim Wakefield

In the AL, Jason Giambi is almost singlehandedly keeping the A's (and Art Howe) on offensive life support, as is Manny Ramirez for his Red Sox Of course, neither plays shortstop, and He Who Was Created To Play Shortstop is having his typical absurd year, playing solid defense, hitting exceptionally well, staying healthy, and probably giving off life-giving Vitamin D. Pedro Martinez is best the best pitcher in the league, even with the missed time, and Tim Wakefield has performed at a superlative level both in the pen and in the rotation. He's probably the most underrated player in baseball right now, and absolutely deserved an All-Star slot. I think it's possible that if he had put up those numbers as a Yankee, he might have made the club.

1. John Burkett
2. Greg Maddux
3. Randy Johnson
4. Chan Ho Park
5. Steve Karsay

I've already received a lot of grief for including Steve Karsay in the NL Cy Young voting, which is understandable because he's thrown about six innings in the NL as I write this. That's pretty much a Doug Dascenzo pitching season. But his performance has been outstanding. In Jacobs Field, in front of an aging defense, he's been virtually unhittable, and he's already logged 50 innings for the season. An ERA of 1.00, peripheral numbers that would make Pedro proud, and a heavy workload all get my attention.

1. Pedro Martinez
2. Tim Wakefield
3. Tim Hudson
4. Troy Percival
5. Jeff Nelson

On the AL pitching side, I've included Troy Percival and Jeff Nelson, simply because I can't really describe how well they've both pitched. ERA doesn't tell the whole story, particularly for middle relievers like Nelson, so let's take a look at some admittedly biased numbers for Percival and Nelson combined this year:


IP      H   BB   K
66.1   28   31  87

That's just foul. Nelson's struck out 36 of the 77 right-handed batters he's faced this year. Strikeouts don't mean that much in most cases; people tend to worry about them too much when evaluating past hitter performance, for example. But for a middle reliever like Nelson? They mean more in that kind of context, and both Percival and Nelson have been devastating.

And, of course, I can count on my BP colleagues to make sane decisions, so I can point out some really great performances for which I'm probably overstating the case.

1. Ichiro Suzuki
2. C.C. Sabathia
3. Chris Michalak

I don't like to put Ichiro at the top of the AL Rookie of the Year voting--I think it's disrespectful to the players in Japan--but I'll get yelled at by other BPers if I don't. I think the public perception of Ichiro's value is just about correct, but for the wrong reasons. I think he's going to be vastly overrated offensively, and vastly underrated defensively, even with all the attention he gets with the glove.

This is Andy Warhol time for Chris Michalak, and C.C. Sabathia, if he stays healthy, will work his way onto the Cy Young list pretty quickly.

1. Albert Pujols
2. Roy Oswalt
3. Ben Sheets

The NL rookie crop is...well, strong. We liked Albert Pujols before the season started, but we didn't expect a cocoon to open and reveal Mike Schmidt. I'll be honest, I was very high on Pujols when I was doing the research for Baseball Prospectus 2001, and thought he'd be in the bigs for help in August or September when Mark McGwire got hurt. I'd say he's helped a little. A hundred hits, 40+ for extra bases, and on pace for 60-70 walks....yeah, that's a keeper.

Keith Woolner:

1. Jason Giambi
2. Alex Rodriguez
3. Manny Ramirez
4. Pedro Martinez
5. Bret Boone
6. Joe Mays
7. Mike Sweeney
8. Edgar Martinez
9. Ichiro Suzuki
10. Mike Cameron

AL MVP honorable mentions include Juan Gonzalez, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Cristian Guzman, Troy Glaus, and John Olerud.

Jason Giambi edges Alex Rodriguez for the top spot on my midseason MVP vote. Manny Ramirez has "slumped" to the second-best hitter in the league behind Giambi. If Pedro Martinez hadn't been injured, he would likely have topped the ballot. Bret Boone might not be this high on the list at the end of the season, but he's had a great first half. Mike Sweeney may be the most Unheralded hitter in the AL--he's third in the league in MLVr behind only Giambi and Ramirez while Edgar Martinez is fourth. Ichiro and Mike Cameron both force their way into the top 10 with a boost from their outstanding defense.

1. Barry Bonds
2. Luis Gonzalez
3. Rich Aurilia
4. Chipper Jones
5. Cliff Floyd
6. Sammy Sosa
7. Albert Pujols
8. Randy Johnson
9. John Burkett
10. Charles Johnson

NL MVP honorable mention goes to Lance Berkman, Brian Giles, Phil Nevin, Curt Schilling, and Greg Maddux.

Barry Bonds and Luis Gonzalez are running away from the rest of the league. Gonzalez also has the second-highest Zone Rating in the league at his position, though Bonds is above average as well.

Rich Aurilia is out-hitting Alex Rodriguez once you take park effects into account, and has the #2 ZR among NL shortstops. After those three, the pack is pretty tight, with Charles Johnson's arm moving him into the top ten. Lance Berkman has been the third-best hitter in the league, but his atrocious Zone Rating was enough to bump him down to an honorable mention.

1. Pedro Martinez
2. Joe Mays
3. Tim Wakefield
4. Tim Hudson
5. Steve Karsay

AL Cy Young Award honorable mentions: Brad Radke, Mark Buehrle, Andy Pettitte, and Eric Milton.

Despite his fragility, Pedro Martinez still leads the majors in VORP as of this writing. Joe Mays is a clear #2, nearly 10 runs better than any other AL pitcher. Tim Wakefield's place on this may be a bigger surprise than anyone else, but his combination of versatility and effectiveness this year are unsurpassed. Tim Hudson get the nod over similar-VORP Brad Radke due to superior hit prevention and strikeout rates. Steve Karsay is in the NL now, but his combined VORP is tops among pure relievers, and a 1.10 RA is just plain Eckersleyian.

1. Randy Johnson
2. John Burkett
3. Curt Schilling
4. Greg Maddux
5. Chan Ho Park

NL Cy Young Award honorable mentions: Matt Morris, Jon Lieber, Mike Hampton, Darryl Kile, and Rick Reed.

John Burkett actually has a less than one-run edge on Randy Johnson, but Johnson gets the nod for much the same reasons as I picked Hudson over Radke. John Burkett's season is perhaps more surprising than Wakefield's--his 2001 VORP is already his career high.

1. Ichiro Suzuki
2. Bob File
3. Josh Towers

Just one honorable mention in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting: David Eckstein.

The first spot in the ballot was easy to fill out, but the rest of the AL rookie crop was rather weak. Bob File? Well, his name is a surprise, but he's holding hitters to a .169/.277/.203 averages and a 1.75 ERA. Josh Towers's secondary numbers don't support his sparkling 2.32 RA, but through the first half he's kept runs off the board for the Orioles.

1. Albert Pujols
2. Jimmy Rollins
3. Ben Sheets

Picking the NL's #1 rookie was only slightly harder than in the AL, but that's due to Jimmy Rollins's success at shortstop rather than any slight against Albert Pujols. Pujols has been the seventh-best hitter in the NL this season. Rollins has been an above-average offensive shortstop, even before you throw in a league-leading stolen-base total at an over 90% success rate. Ben Sheets leads the Brewers' staff in VORP, but would you have guessed that #2 and #3 are relievers Dave Weathers and Mike DeJean?

Derek Zumsteg:

1. Manny Ramirez
2. Brett Boone
3. Roberto Alomar
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Alex Rodriguez
6. Jason Giambi
7. Mike Sweeney
8. John Olerud
9. Mike Cameron
10. Ichiro Suzuki

My rankings betray my view on the value of huge contributors to losing teams: they're not that valuable. Still, I didn't think Bret Boone would ever be on an MVP I list I voluntarily turned in. How about those Ms, huh? Really a team built without a superstar...it's built with five. And if making that point meant I left a couple of Yankees off, well, you have to make sacrifices.

1. Barry Bonds
2. Luis Gonzalez
3. Chipper Jones
4. Lance Berkman
5. Sammy Sosa
6. Rich Aurilia
7. Albert Pujols
8. Cliff Floyd
9. Brian Giles
10. Ryan Klesko

I first filled this out with Barry Bonds at 1-9 and Luis Gonzalez at 10, but they kept rejecting it like a Florida ballot marked for Al Gore.

1. Joe Mays
2. Pedro Martinez
3. Tim Wakefield
4. Tim Hudson
5. Brad Radke

It amuses me that Joe Mays, who had to endure a year of public tongue lashings from Tom Kelly every fifth day whether or not Mays pitched well, is now held up as one of Kelly's successes in developing young pitchers. Pedro Martinez's injury makes him a controversial second. It makes me happy to see Tim Wakefield have this kind of success, because he's finally getting some props.

1. John Burkett
2. Randy Johnson
3. Curt Schilling
4. Greg Maddux
5. Chan Ho Park

Did you know that John Burkett is also an excellent bowler? It's true. Curt Schilling is like a 7-4-7 infantry squad, using Level 2 smoke and withering prep fire to rout all who face him. Some guy named Maddux is still hanging around, too.

1. Ichiro Suzuki
2. David Eckstein
3. Ryan Franklin

They say that covering the Angels can make a man crazy. But they called me mad at Oxford, and I showed them! David Eckstein has been a great addition to the Halos at a position that's usually a huge offensive and defensive liability. Plus, the guy works so hard. As for Ichiro, well, anyone who doesn't think he should be eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award hasn't given the issue enough thought. Ryan Franklin proves again that there are dozens of major league contributors ready to contribute, waiting for their chance. Mike Neill rules!

1. Jimmy Rollins
2. Albert Pujols
3. Ben Sheets
3. Roy Oswalt

I, uh, sort of have this bias for Olympic players. They won the gold medal, folks. Best team in the world, even when managed by Tommy "The Wizard" Lasorda.

Jeff Hildebrand:

1. Jason Giambi
2. Manny Ramirez
3. Alex Rodriguez
4. Bret Boone
5. Mike Sweeney
6. Pedro Martinez
7. Bernie Williams
8. Mike Cameron
9. Ichiro Suzuki
10. Joe Mays

He's not getting a lot of attention because the team is lingering around the .500 mark, but Jason Giambi is having another monster year. Alex Rodriguez is playing about as expected in Texas. It's not his fault that the rest of the lineup has been (unsurprisingly) decimated by injuries or that the pitching has been (also unsurprisingly) awful. Seattle has survived his departure by getting strong performances by a wide range of players, which shows up in the three Mariners on the list.

1. Barry Bonds
2. Luis Gonzalez
3. Randy Johnson
4. Chipper Jones
5. Lance Berkman
6. Sammy Sosa
7. Cliff Floyd
8. Curt Schilling
9. Rich Aurelia
10. Albert Pujols

The gap between the top two and the rest is huge. Barry Bonds has been on a different planet for most of the year, and Luis Gonzalez is making a serious bid to dethrone Davey Johnson and Brady Anderson for the title of most extreme career year in the past 30 years. Chipper Jones and Sammy Sosa are both isolated bright offensive bright spots for teams which are mostly getting by on their pitching.

1. Pedro Martinez
2. Joe Mays
3. Tim Hudson
4. Tim Wakefield
5. Steve Karsay

Yes, Pedro Martinez is injured right now. He's so good that even taking into account the fill-in starts that have been required, he's the best pitcher in the majors. Right behind him on the Sox is Tim Wakefield, whose performance has been lost somewhat since it's been split between the rotation and the bullpen. Trading Steve Reed for John Rocker might have been a dubious trade for the Indians. Including Steve Karsay as well was absolutely nuts.

1. Randy Johnson
2. Curt Schilling
3. John Burkett
4. Greg Maddux
5. Matt Morris

If either Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling start to fade from their workloads later in the season, the Diamondbacks will be in big trouble. On the other hand, if they keep it up all year long they are going to be very dangerous in the playoffs. John Burkett is the stunner of the lot, and is yet another feather in Leo Mazzone's (who really is a natural for a bobblehead doll) well-decorated cap.

1. Ichiro Suzuki
2. Josh Towers
3. Bob File

Another clearcut winner here, but unlike the NL, there aren't strong candidates for the other slots, although the biggest knock on Josh Towers is that he hasn't been in the rotation all year, so his strong numbers are based on a pretty limited number of starts.

1. Albert Pujols
2. Jimmy Rollins
3. Ben Sheets

There have been years when any of these three would be respectable winners of the award. Albert Pujols is the easy winner here, though. Jimmy Rollins' shaky OBP is the main factor keeping him from seriously competing for the award. Ben Sheets has been solid, although not as strong as the W/L record would make him look.

Michael Wolverton:

1. Alex Rodriguez
2. Jason Giambi
3. Pedro Martinez
4. Bret Boone
5. Roberto Alomar
6. Joe Mays
7. Mike Sweeney
8. Bernie Williams
9. Manny Ramirez
10. Tim Wakefield

Clay Davenport's Equivalent Average report rates Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi as roughly equally valuable relative to their positions. I give A-Rod the tie-breaking vote because he fields his position better than Giambi fields his. Bret Boone gets the nod over Roberto Alomar because of defense, and Manny Ramirez is downgraded because of his non-existent defense.

1. Barry Bonds
2. Luis Gonzalez
3. Randy Johnson
4. Sammy Sosa
5. Chipper Jones
6. Lance Berkman
7. Rich Aurilia
8. Cliff Floyd
9. John Burkett
10. Greg Maddux

I don't think there's anything too controversial here. Barry Bonds is a no-brainer for the top spot, and I think Luis Gonzalez is just as obvious for number two. Lance Berkman's defensive numbers knock him down a few places, although I admit that the short left-field porch in Enron could play a role in those numbers.

1. Pedro Martinez
2. Joe Mays
3. Tim Wakefield
4. Steve Karsay
5. Tim Hudson

Aside from Pedro Martinez turning in his usual jaw-dropping but gimpy performance, this is a weak year for AL starters. Steve Karsay gets the distinction of receiving a vote for a league in which he's no longer pitching; what a dumb trade that was for the Indians.

1. Randy Johnson
2. Curt Schilling
3. John Burkett
4. Greg Maddux
5. Mike Hampton

Unlike the AL, the NL has plenty of pitchers who are excluded from this list only because I have to stop at five. David Weathers is one; I'd much prefer him to Ben Sheets as the token Brewer All-Star.

1. Ichiro Suzuki
2. Bob File
3. Josh Towers

Ichiro has obviously established himself as the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award, but it's possible that one of the many fine AL rookie pitchers could give him a run for his money by September (in my mind, if not those of the BBWAA voters). I'd pick Josh Towers and Bob File as the best of the crop so far, but C.C. Sabathia and Chris Michalak aren't far behind.

1. Albert Pujols
2. Ben Sheets
3. Shawn Chacon

The only real question here is whether Jimmy Rollins belongs ahead of one or both of the pitchers. I say no. Rollins's offensive numbers aren't that special -- 2 runs better than an average shortstop, according to Clay Davenport's measures -- and his defensive numbers are below average. Besides, I like the idea of Chacon getting at least a little recognition for the fine work he's doing in The Place Pitchers Go To Die.

Keith Law

1. Alex Rodriguez
2. Jason Giambi
3. Pedro Martinez
4. Manny Ramirez
5. Ellis Burks
6. Roberto Alomar
7. Jorge Posada
8. Carlos Delgado
9. Mike Sweeney
10. Tim Wakefield

Jason Giambi is having the better season at the plate--and he should clearly be the AL's All-Star there--but I'll give the nod to Alex Rodriguez on position. Pedro Martinez would have been #1, as always, if he hadn't gotten hurt. I may be overvaluing Jorge Posada's positional value, since he's no great shakes defensively, but he's having another fine season at the plate and is well above his competitors offensively. The surprise to me is that Alomar is getting no press for his great season.

1. Barry Bonds
2. Luis Gonzalez
3. Lance Berkman
4. Rich Aurilia
5. Randy Johnson
6. Albert Pujols
7. Sammy Sosa
8. Cliff Floyd
9. Phil Nevin
10. Greg Maddux

Barry Bonds, Barry Bonds, Barry Bonds. There's no room for any discussion here, at least not among the voices in my mind. It is nice to see lots of new names on the list though. Phil Nevin was probably the one questionable call here, but again, great seasons by players at weak positions rate very highly in my view.

1. Pedro Martinez
2. Mark Buerhle
3. Tim Wakefield
4. Joe Mays
5. Mike Mussina

No surprise at the top, but I doubt anyone foresaw the next three pitchers coming anywhere near this list. Mark Buehrle has the third-lowest BR/9 figure among major-league starters, behind Pedro Martinez and Rick Reed.

1. Randy Johnson
2. Greg Maddux
3. John Burkett
4. Rick Reed
5. Jon Lieber

Again, a few surprises, notably John Burkett, who looked washed up about five years ago. His revival may be the biggest feather yet in Leo Mazzone's cap, assuming it doesn't collapse in a heap by the fall.

1. Ichiro Suzuki
2. David Eckstein
3. Josh Towers

I'm voting for Ichiro in spite of myself; I don't believe veterans of The Japanese major leaguers should qualify as rookies (they do, under the rules, but they shouldn't), but without Ichiro, there's nothing.

1. Albert Pujols
2. Ben Sheets
3. Jimmy Rollins

A no-brainer, frankly, even if Albert Pujols isn't really 21. Jimmy Rollins has probably produced more value than Ben Sheets so far, but I find it hard to rank someone who has 18 unintentional walks in 79 games as high as third, never mind second, on my ballot.

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