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October 24, 2000
My IBA Ballot
Our Staff Makes the Call
(All next week, we'll be bringing you the winners of the 2000 Internet Baseball Awards. This week, we'll be running some ballots submitted by the Baseball Prospectus staff, along with their commentary. We continue the series today with Keith Woolner.)
My ballot is heavily influenced by the Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) system that I devised. More information on VORP is available at http://www.stathead.com. However, I don't let small differences in VORP automatically determine where a player ranks. I discount DHs more than VORP indicates, and probably don't consider defense at a position as strongly as I should, mostly because I'm dissatisfied with most of the defensive systems out there.
AL Player of the Year
Pedro Martinez had a season for the ages, one of the top five pitching seasons since 1901 according to VORP, and easily tops my Player of the Year ballot. Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Delgado get a slight edge on Nomar Garciaparra due mostly to their extra playing time.
NL Player of the Year
This was a very difficult ballot to fill out, mostly because the top dozen players were so close in value. Jeff Kent gets my #1 vote, but after that, I have no quarrel with anyone who wants to rearrange the order of the players.
Honorable mentions: Gary Sheffield, Richard Hidalgo, Sammy Sosa, Jose Vidro, Jim Edmonds, Tom Glavine, Jeff D'Amico, Todd Helton, Phil Nevin, Andruw Jones, Jeff Bagwell, Moises Alou, Bobby Abreu, Luis Castillo, Mike Hampton, Al Leiter and Jason Kendall.
AL Pitcher of the Year
I doubt I have to explain my #1 pick here, and Mike Mussina as #2 is pretty straightforward. Derek Lowe at #3 is probably a surprise, but getting 91 quality innings from a closer is pretty remarkable these days, and it's the third year in a row that Lowe has carried a heavy workload well. Bartolo Colon, David Wells, Roger Clemens and Brad Radke all had comparable VORP to Tim Hudson and Chuck Finley, and could have easily warranted a place on the ballot.
Honorable mentions: Colon, Wells, Clemens, Radke and Keith Foulke.
NL Pitcher of the Year
If I could have cast my ballot as a three way tie for first among Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown and Greg Maddux, I would have. I've rarely seen three pitchers so similar in value atop the league VORP ratings. The raw stats that Gabe White posted in Colorado are simply astounding. And while I probably should have put Tom Glavine fifth, I wanted to give some recognition to Jeff D'Amico's outstanding season, even though it was light on innings.
When it comes to Rookie of the Year voting, I consider rates of production more than total value. A rookie winning a job has a lot to do with managers' tendencies, and to award one player who had a starting job in April over a better performing player who finally forced his way into the lineup in June doesn't seem right to me. Thus, I consider it the most impressive performance by a rookie, rather than the most valuable, as is probably clear from my #1 picks in both leagues.
AL Rookie of the Year
OK, so Barry Zito didn't pitch even 100 innings, but that ERA was still the second-best in the AL (behind Pedro Martinez) for pitchers with as many innings as Zito. And allowing fewer than seven hits per nine innings as a starter gets my attention.
Terrence Long provided above average production for Oakland all year long; the only AL rookie with a better rate of VORP was Adam Piatt, and his having fewer than 200 plate appearances placed him below even my threshold of consideration. Tomokazu Ohka's presence on the list may surprise some, but he threw as many innings as Kelly Wunsch or Kazuhiro Sasaki, and posted a better RA+ than either of them despite being a starter. Not to mention that he solidified the Red Sox's rotation behind Pedro Martinez while they battled for the wild card.
NL Rookie of the Year
Rick Ankiel vs. Mitch Meluskey vs. Rafael Furcal came out closer than I would have thought. Once I decided that Meluskey had enough playing time for full consideration (he had 400 plate appearances, seventh-most among all National League catchers), I didn't penalize him for playing time. Meluskey's rates of production for his position were much better than the other two. He ranked second among NL catchers in OBP (to Jason Kendall) and third in slugging average (to Mike Piazza and Todd Hundley). In fact, other than Piazza, Meluskey was arguably the top catcher in the league when he played, even considering the Enron factor.
Ankiel wasn't quite as impressive next to other starting pitchers as Meluskey was to catchers, but it was darn close. Furcal had a fine OBP, but his lack of power (.382 SLG) dropped him to third on my ballot.
Keith Woolner can be reached at email@example.com.