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November 5, 2008

The 2008 Internet Baseball Awards

NL Results and Wrap-Up

by Greg Spira

Click here for the full results of the voting.

It's that time of year when we announce the winners of the 17th annual Internet Baseball Awards. More than 1,600 baseball fans from cyberspace participated in this effort to honor those players and managers whose performances in 2008 were most deserving. Today we'll announce the winners of the National League voting.

The point system for the balloting was as follows:

  • Player of the Year ballots: 14 points for first-place votes, nine points for second-place votes, eight points for third-place votes, etc., down to one point for a tenth-place vote.
  • Pitcher of the Year ballots: 10 points for first-place votes, seven points for second-place votes, five points for third-place votes, three points for fourth-place, and one point for fifth-place votes. This is the one award where our point system always differs from the BBWAA point system, because we use a longer ballot.
  • Rookie of the Year ballots: Five points for first-place votes, three points for second-place votes, and one point for third-place votes.
  • Manager of the Year ballots: Five points for first-place votes, three points for second-place votes, and one point for third-place votes.

2008 IBA NL Player of the Year: Albert Pujols


Rnk Player              1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10   Ballots Points
 1. Albert Pujols    1233   97   38   17    5    7    4    2    2    1    1406   18650
 2. Hanley Ramirez     26  454  191  164  105   76   46   38   14   15    1129    8477
 3. Lance Berkman      14  223  195  167  159   89   74   46   31   26    1024    6853
 4. Chase Utley        21  105  196  155  149  101   85   54   45   16     927    5899
 5. David Wright       10   93  163  152  171  118  104   63   50   28     952    5694
 6. Chipper Jones      14   70  131  128  133  115   81   68   47   28     815    4793
 7. Ryan Howard        53  116   75   80   64   44   38   28   35   24     557    3880
 8. Manny Ramirez      32   63   72   65   79   50   40   42   49   51     543    3205
 9. Tim Lincecum        5   33   61   77   94   61   70   50   44   22     517    2803
10. Ryan Braun          7   49   61   94   55   53   56   44   37   22     478    2732
11. CC Sabathia        27   59   65   50   49   46   41   33   42   33     445    2683
12. Jose Reyes          3   12   35   38   63   68   59   72   58   45     453    2027
13. Johan Santana       1   20   42   61   61   56   43   48   32   14     378    1997
14. Carlos Beltran      1   15   38   42   50   53   38   69   43   41     390    1798
15. Matt Holliday       2    7    9   20   27   42   37   51   42   57     294    1117

For the third time in four years, Albert Pujols was the National League Player of the Year in the IBAs. Despite playing hurt all year, Pujols was clearly the dominant player in the league, and he almost single-handedly kept the Cardinals in the playoff hunt for much of the season. He finished the season with a .653 slugging average, 50 points higher than any other NL hitter, while finishing second in the league in on-base percentage and continuing to play Gold Glove-quality defense at first base. Pujols received 84 percent of the first-place votes on the ballot this year and another seven percent placed him second. However, four percent of the voters mysteriously left Pujols off their ballots. Pujols has received a higher average level of support from the voters than any other player in the history of the voting. He has finished in the top seven every single year of his eight-year career, finishing out of the top four in only one of those eight years. This 2008 Player of the Year award is the third given to him by internet voters; only Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez have previously won that many or more.

Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez finished second in the voting, and has also received significant support in internet voting during his (shorter) career. Like Pujols, Ramirez' first season earned him Internet NL Rookie of the Year honors. Ramirez finished 23rd in Internet NL Player of the Year voting in his rookie year of 2006 and followed up with a 2007 season that earned him fourth place in the voting last season.

Astros first baseman Lance Berkman had his best showing ever with a third-place finish that marks the fifth time he has finished in the top 10; he previously finished eighth in 2001, sixth in 2002, ninth in 2004, and fifth in 2006. The highest-placing finisher from a playoff team was Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who finished fourth after finishing sixth in both 2006 and 2007

David Wright, who finished in fifth place, has now finished in the top 10 four years in a row; he finished second last year after finishing eighth in both 2005 and 2006. Chipper Jones, the Atlanta third baseman who finished sixth, won an Internet NL Player of the Year award himself back in 1999, and has now finished among the top 12 vote-getters in nine different years.

Ryan Howard finished seventh, making the Phillies the only National League team to place two players in the top 10 this year. Howard received more first-place votes than any other player besides Pujols but appeared on far fewer ballots than the top six finishers. Manny Ramirez returned to the top 10 in internet Player of the Year voting in 2008 with an eighth-place finish. Manny had been among the AL's top 10 vote-getters in Player of the Year voting every year from 1998 through 2005, with a high finish of second in 2004. His 229 plate appearances in NL play in 2008 was by far the lowest PA total ever by any non-pitcher to finish in the top 10.

Tim Lincecum, who finished ninth, was both the highest-ranking pitcher in this year's NL Player of the Year voting, and the highest-ranking newcomer to the top 10. Brad Lidge finished 20th, andwas the highest-ranking relief pitcher. Of the top 20 vote-getters, eight were on playoff teams, five were Mets, four were pitchers, three were on teams with losing records, and one was a catcher.

2008 IBA NL Pitcher of the Year: Tim Lincecum


Rnk Pitcher                  1      2      3      4      5   Ballots Points
 1. Tim Lincecum           955    335     56     15      4    1365   12224
 2. Johan Santana          273    619    184     71     22    1169    8218
 3. C.C. Sabathia          122    155    281    159    128     845    4315
 4. Brandon Webb            47    189    318    193    106     853    4068
 5. Cole Hamels              5     42    212    214    130     603    2176
 6. Brad Lidge               9     18     94    109     83     313    1096
 7. Ryan Dempster            5     16     86    101    124     332    1019
 8. Dan Haren                1     10     47     83     98     239     662
 9. Edinson Volquez          0      6     33     42     55     136     388
10. Jake Peavy               2     11     23     38     34     108     360
11. Chad Billingsley         3      6     23     25     34      91     296
12. Carlos Zambrano          2      6     24     18     24      74     260
13. Roy Oswalt               0      2     10     18     22      52     140
14. Derek Lowe               1      4      5     13     17      40     119
15. Rich Harden              0      0     14      9     15      38     112

Whereas the top vote-getters in IBA NL Player of the Year voting were all familiar names, the NL Pitcher of the Year winner was Tim Lincecum, by comparison a relatively unknown pitcher only a few years out of college. Lincecum made his major league debut on May 6, 2007 after less than a year in the minor leagues, and had an impressive but not spectacular rookie season in which he finished fifth in Internet NL Rookie of the Year voting and 22nd in Internet Pitcher of the Year voting. In 2008, however, Lincecum was spectacular and, as a result, received more than 66 percent of all first-place voters to become the second youngest pitcher to ever win the Internet NL Pitcher of the Year award.

The second-place finisher was a newcomer to the National League but not to Internet Pitcher of the Year voters. As a member of the Minnesota Twins, Johan Santana came to the National League having already won three Internet Pitcher of the Years in the AL. Acquired by the Mets to lead their pitching staff, Santana proved every bit as effective as the Mets expected, and finished among the top 10 in Internet Pitcher of the Year voting for the sixth straight year.

CC Sabathia finished in third place and was even more of a National League newcomer than Santana, coming over to the Brewers in a mid-summer trade from the Indians. Sabathia started only 17 National League games, the second-lowest total of any starting pitcher to ever finish in the top 10 in Internet Pitcher of the Year voting. But those 17 starts were extraordinarily impressive, as Sabathia posted a 1.65 ERA as a Brewer and led the National League in Complete Games with seven, providing Milwaukee with just enough top-quality innings to squeeze into the playoffs for the first time since Pete Vuckovich won a Pitcher of the Year trophy.

Sabathia, last year's Internet AL Pitcher of the Year, just edged out Brandon Webb, who won the Internet NL Pitcher of the Year in 2006 and finished in second place last season. Cole Hamels, who finished in sixth place last season, moved up to fifth place in the 2008 balloting. The highest-ranking relief pitcher, Brad Lidge, finished sixth. This marks the third time that Lidge has been the highest-placing reliever; he accomplished that previously when he finished 10th in 2004 and ninth in 2005. Last year's Internet NL Pitcher of the Year winner, Jake Peavy, finished tenth, marking his fourth straight appearance among the top 12 vote-getters. Roy Oswalt, who had placed in the top seven in six of the previous seven years, finished 13th.

Five of the top twenty vote-getters were Cubs; no other team had more than three. Two teams, the Phillies and Diamondbacks, had two pitchers finish in the top 10.

2008 IBA NL Rookie of the Year: Geovany Soto


Rnk Player                   1      2      3   Ballots Points
 1. Geovany Soto          1178     63     17    1258    6096
 2. Joey Votto              74    618    242     934    2466
 3. Jair Jurrjens           26    302    324     652    1360
 4. Jay Bruce               21    105    131     257     551
 5. Hiroki Kuroda            8     93    111     212     430
 6. Kosuke Fukudome         10     23     31      64     150
 7. Clayton Kershaw          5     26     31      62     134
 8. Johnny Cueto             0     25     33      58     108
 9. Blake DeWitt             1     11     16      28      54
10. John Lannan              0     11     20      31      53

Geovany Soto's minor league career had not been that impressive until 2007, but since he got into shape early in that season there's been no stopping him. In 2008, Soto quickly established himself as one of the two best catchers in the National League and put up a season that made him a landslide 2008 Internet NL Rookie of the Year winner. With more than 87 percent of all first-place votes, Soto became only the second catcher-the first was this guy you might recall named Piazza way back in 1993-to be named an Internet Rookie of the Year.

Joey Votto, a first baseman with a good eye and a strong power stroke, finished a distant second. Jair Jurrjens, a pitching prospect acquired by the Braves (along with another player) for Edgar Renteria last offseason, finished third after posting a 3.68 ERA over 31 starts. Jay Bruce was Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year in 2007, and finished fourth after a season which consisted of a torrid start, a long struggle, and some late success; he was the youngest everyday player in the top 10.

Two Japanese imports finished in the next two slots. Hiroki Kuroda quietly but effectively filled a rotation spot for the NL West champion Dodgers, and finished fifth, while the far more hyped Cubs outfielder, Kosuke Fukudome, finished sixth. Clayton Kershaw, a Dodgers pitcher who had some success in 2008 and is the youngest ballplayer in the top 10, finished seventh. Johnny Cueto, a talented young hurler for Cincinnati with great stuff but inconsistent command, finished eighth.

The Dodgers (Kuroda, Kershaw, and Blake DeWitt) and the Reds (Votto, Bruce, Cueto) both had three players finish in the top 10, while the Cubs (Soto, Fukudome) had two.

2008 IBA NL Manager of the Year: Lou Piniella


Rnk Manager                  1      2      3    Ballots Points
 1. Lou Piniella           389    283    176     848    2970
 2. Charlie Manuel         265    273    153     691    2297
 3. Joe Torre              257    236    174     667    2167
 4. Fredi Gonzalez         150    146    123     419    1311
 5. Tony La Russa          128    155    103     386    1208

After leading the Cubs through their most dominating regular season in decades, Lou Piniella proved to be the voters' choice as the IBA's NL Manager of the Year. His finish is the second time he has been named an Internet Manager of the Year; he won the AL honor for skippering the Mariners in 2001. Piniella had strong competition, however, and earned only 30 percent of all first-place votes.

Charlie Manuel led the Phillies to their second straight division title, which helped make him the first choice of 20 percent of the voters. Joe Torre led the Dodgers to the playoffs in a year in which his former team, the Yankees, did not make the postseason, finished just behind Manuel. Fredi Gonzalez managed a Miguel Cabrera-less Marlins team to an over .500 season, which drew him strong support, winning more than 11 percent of the first-place vote. Tony La Russa's Cardinals team unexpectedly stayed in the playoff hunt until late in the season, so he also received a significant amount of votes and finished fifth. Last year's winner, Clint Hurdle, finished last.

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