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November 4, 2008
The 2008 Internet Baseball Awards
AL Results and Wrap-Up
Click here for the full results of the voting.
It's time to announce the winners of the 17th annual Internet Baseball Awards. More than 1,400 baseball fans from cyberspace participated in this effort to honor those players and managers whose performance in 2008 were most deserving.
The point system for the balloting was as follows:
2008 IBA AL Player of the Year: Dustin Pedroia
Rnk Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ballots Points 1. Dustin Pedroia 408 319 247 154 136 58 35 18 11 4 1390 12963 2. Joe Mauer 423 240 163 138 102 43 34 25 10 6 1184 11416 3. Grady Sizemore 160 187 176 154 112 76 57 38 28 12 1000 7871 4. Alex Rodriguez 122 130 157 151 153 115 82 57 34 33 1034 7284 5. Cliff Lee 131 123 138 132 113 69 66 50 29 13 864 6477 6. Kevin Youkilis 93 122 124 134 140 111 86 58 58 32 958 6391 7. Carlos Quentin 91 106 140 115 134 103 63 76 66 40 934 6124 8. Josh Hamilton 54 69 79 123 137 137 143 116 86 58 1002 5527 9. Justin Morneau 40 105 108 122 105 67 78 72 38 32 767 4824 10. Roy Halladay 16 75 62 91 120 68 61 71 46 20 630 3661 11. Evan Longoria 30 41 50 66 64 60 39 33 32 29 444 2683 12. Milton Bradley 11 12 26 26 38 45 51 50 58 55 372 1630 13. Ian Kinsler 3 10 19 29 35 43 46 46 44 47 322 1369 14. Francisco Rodriguez 7 14 20 25 22 23 19 11 23 25 189 986 15. Miguel Cabrera 3 10 9 18 23 18 19 22 32 27 181 791
After going hitless against Oakland on May 1, 2007, rookie Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia's batting average fell to .172. It looked to many fans and reporters that the young infielder wasn't ready for the major leagues. Despite Pedroia's success in the minor leagues, some observers thought that the diminutive player might never amount to much of a major league hitter. Pedroia's team, though, had confidence in Pedroia, and the rest of the second baseman's 2007 was a smashing success as the Sox won their second World Series in four years and Pedroia won Rookie of the Year honors from both the BBWAA and Internet voters. Still, on a team featuring big bats like those of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, no one expected Pedroia to do more than provide another productive bat in the lineup in 2008. However, with David Ortiz injured for much of the season and Manny Ramirez often elsewhere (first mentally, and later on physically), Pedroia ended up playing a far more important role for the Red Sox. Pedroia ended up slugging .493 in 157 games and provided above-average defense all year long. In the end, Pedroia was the biggest factor in a very different Red Sox team making it into the postseason once again. As a result of Pedroia's efforts, on-line voters selected him as their 2008 AL Player of the Year.
Pedroia's selection was no sure thing. He remained in second place during the first few days of balloting and in the end, only received the second highest number of first-place votes. But Pedroia showed up on 17 percent more ballots than any other AL player and received more second-place votes and third-place votes than anyone else, so while the vote was competitive, Pedroia was the clear winner in the end.
Pedroia is the second player in IBA voting history to win a Player of the Year the year after winning Rookie of the Year. The first player to do it was also a Red Sox middle infielder, though Nomar Garciaparra played shortstop, not second base, when he accomplished this feat in 1997 and 1998. Three other players have been voted both Internet Rookie of the Year and Internet Player of the Year, though none did it in consecutive years-Derek Jeter, Mike Piazza, and Albert Pujols.
Twins catcher Joe Mauer finished second in the Internet AL Player of the Year voting for the second time in his career; in 2006, Mauer finished second behind Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter. Those two second-place finishes are by far the best any catcher has done in Internet Player of the Year voting since Mike Piazza was a two-time Internet NL Player of the Year in the mid-1996 and 1997. Mauer earned more than 26 percent of all first-place votes in the balloting, more than any other player, but was left totally off the ballot by 27 percent of the voters.
Grady Sizemore, the center fielder of the Cleveland Indians, finished third after a season in which he was one of the few players in the Indians lineup who did not disappoint. Sizemore's previous three seasons, none of which was particularly different than his 2008 (Sizemore did have career highs in home runs and stolen bases in 2008, but his overall production level remained at the same level as it had been in previous years), had landed him 11th (2007), 9th (2006), and 21st (205) in the voting.
Alex Rodriguez, the oldest player (by far) to place among the top ten vote-getters, finished fourth. The Yankees may have had a down year, but the Yankees third baseman continued playing at the historically high level that has earned him four Internet Player of the Years and 10 finishes in the top 11 in Internet Player of the Year voting over the past 11 years. Cliff Lee's career had hit the skids after a career year in 2005 had earned him 24th place in that year's Internet AL Player of the Year voting. In 2008, however, he came back from nowhere with a spectacular season that earned him fifth place in the balloting, the highest rank, by far, of any pitcher in 2008's Internet Player of the Year voting
Kevin Youklis had never finished higher than 30th before in Internet Player of the Year voting, but a career year during which he and Dustin Pedroia were the stars of the Red Sox offense earned him sixth place. Carlos Quentin, another newcomer to the top of the Player of the Year charts, finished seventh. Quentin, a former top prospect who the White Sox acquired from the Diamondbacks in the offseason, looked like a contender for the top spot in the Player of the Year voting before an injury kept him out of action for virtually the entire last month of the regular season. Josh Hamilton, another newcomer to both the American League and Player of the Year candidacy, finished eighth after a season during which virtually every baseball writer in America wrote a story about the comeback he made after losing years of his career to drug addiction. Hamilton was also the highest-placing finisher in the voting to come from a team that finished below .500, but he was one of three Rangers to finish in among the top 13 vote-getters, as Milton Bradley finished 12th and Ian Kinsler 13th.
Ninth- and 10th-place finishers Justin Morneau and Roy Halladay both had one previous finish among the top 10 in Internet Player of the Year balloting. Evan Longoria, who finished 11th, was the highest-ranking rookie and had the second-highest finish of any (Devil) Ray in IBA voting history (Carlos Pena finished seventh in 2007).
No team placed more than two players in the top ten. The Red Sox placed six players in the top 30; no other team had more than three. Nine of the top 25 players in the voting came from playoff teams, while eight came from teams that lost more games.
2008 IBA AL Pitcher of the Year: Cliff Lee
Rnk Pitcher 1 2 3 4 5 Ballots Points 1. Cliff Lee 1164 281 24 7 2 1478 13750 2. Roy Halladay 292 977 92 19 7 1387 10283 3. Jon Lester 16 52 547 141 71 827 3753 4. Francisco Rodriguez 13 57 139 129 87 425 1698 5. Daisuke Matsuzaka 7 39 133 129 102 410 1497 6. Mariano Rivera 3 24 123 117 58 325 1222 7. Ervin Santana 1 5 109 124 84 323 1046 8. Mike Mussina 4 20 86 100 113 323 1023 9. John Danks 2 4 41 126 85 258 716 10. Joe Nathan 0 10 23 28 28 89 297 11. John Lackey 2 6 23 23 23 77 269 12. A.J. Burnett 3 1 26 18 28 76 249 13. Joakim Soria 2 2 15 28 43 90 236 14. James Shields 1 6 16 20 27 70 219 15. Scott Kazmir 2 6 13 14 16 51 185
In 2007, Cliff Lee fell about as far as a major league pitcher can fall. Lee's last major league start of 2007 occurred on July 26, at which point the Indians gave up on the idea that Lee, who had a 6.38 ERA at that point, could be of help, and sent him to the minors. Lee would return to the big leagues when rosters expanded in September, but was Indians barely used him. One year later, however, Lee completed a masterful season in which he pitched 223
On the other hand, Roy Halladay, who finished second in the voting, has been a mainstay at the top of the AL Pitcher of the Year Young charts. Halladay has been among the top six vote-getters in five of the last seven years, a run which has included winning the award in 2003 and a previous second-place finish in 2005. On the other hand, the third-place finisher, Jon Lester, had never been named on a single ballot before his remarkable season coming back from cancer. Francisco Rodriguez, the highest-ranking reliever, finished fourth after a season in which he set a new record for saves in a single season. Mike Mussina finished eighth, marking his first return to the list of top vote-getters since 2001, when he made his tenth straight appearance in the top eleven.
2008 IBA AL Rookie of the Year: Evan Longoria
Rnk Player 1 2 3 Ballots Points 1. Evan Longoria 1264 118 11 1393 6685 2. Alexei Ramirez 51 359 210 620 1542 3. Mike Aviles 50 334 191 575 1443 4. Joba Chamberlain 20 182 184 386 830 5. Jacoby Ellsbury 26 159 115 300 722 6. Brad Ziegler 4 79 150 233 407 7. Armando Galarraga 5 64 98 167 315 8. Denard Span 5 44 92 141 249 9. Nick Blackburn 1 16 39 56 92 10. Chris Davis 5 13 27 45 91
Despite starting off the regular season in the minors and missing more than a month late in the year as a result of a wrist injury, Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria was voted the 2008 IBA AL Rookie of the Year vote in a landslide. Longoria finished the season with a .531 slugging average and a .343 on-base percentage, which helped him win 88 percent of all first-place votes, the highest total of any of this year's award winners, as he was named on 97 percent of the ballots. Longoria received more support for the award than any IBA Rookie of the Year Award-winner since Albert Pujols in 2001. Longoria's award also marks the first time a Tampa Bay player has won an Internet Baseball Award.
Alexei Ramirez, a former Cuban baseball star who left that country for the Dominican Republic in 2007, finished in second place after playing a solid second base and slugging .475 for the division-winning White Sox this past season. Ramirez received the greatest amount of attention this past season for setting the major league record for the hitting five five grand slam home runs in 2008, a major league record for a rookie in a single season.
Royals shortstop Mike Aviles finished a very strong third just behind Ramirez. Aviles wasn't called up to the majors by the Kansas City until May 29 but turned out to be one of the few bright spots in a disappointing campaign for the Royals. Despite having achieved considerable success in the minor leagues, Aviles has never been considered a significant prospect by scouts, and there are still doubts about his glove and his plate discipline, but it's safe to say that after a season in which he hit for a .321 batting average and a .469 slugging percentage he's forced the Royals and their opposition to pay more attention to him.
Two prospects with far greater hype finished fourth and fifth. Joba Chamberlain's fourth-place finish made him the highest-placing pitcher, and he actually had an excellent season, posting a 2.60 ERA in over 100 innings, but far more attention was paid to Chamberlain's health and usage in 2008 than his actual performance. On the other hand, the fifth-place finisher, Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, didn't live up to the pre-season hype. Ellsbury provided the Red Sox with speed in the outfield and on the bases but posted only a .331 on-base percentage in 145 games.
2008 IBA AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon
Rnk Manager 1 2 3 Ballots Points 1. Joe Maddon 1202 103 16 1321 6335 2. Ron Gardenhire 52 417 160 629 1671 3. Terry Francona 47 267 211 525 1247 4. Ozzie Guillen 33 251 221 505 1139 5. Mike Scioscia 30 244 253 527 1135
After leading the formerly woe-begotten Tampa Bay (formerly Devil) Rays, a team that had last at least 90 games in every year of their ten-year existence, to a first-place 97-win season, Joe Maddon was named the IBA AL Manager of the Year in a rout. Maddon had finished in eighth and then seventh in the voting during his first two years in the job, and won 86 percent of the first-place votes en route to his electoral romp.
Ron Gardenhire kept a Twins team that had lost its ace pitcher and star center fielder to richer teams during the offseason in the race for the AL Central title until the final weekend of the season, and he finished a distant second. Gardenhire has finished among the top three vote-getters in five of the seven years he has managed the Twins; he finished second in 2003 and 2006, and finished third in 2002 and 2004.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona finished third for the second consecutive year; he has never placed any higher than that in the voting. Ozzie Guillen finished fourth, his best finish since he won the 2004 balloting. Mike Scioscia finished fifth, marking the eighth time in nine years he's finished in the top six. Last year's winner, Indians manager Eric Wedge, finished tenth.