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November 11, 2009

The 2009 Internet Baseball Awards

AL Results and Wrap-Up

by Greg Spira

For full results to this year's IBA voting, look here. For NL Wrap up, look here.

It's that time of year when we announce the winners of the 18th annual Internet Baseball Awards. More than 1,200 baseball fans from cyberspace participated in this effort to honor those players and managers whose performances in 2009 were most deserving. Today we'll announce the winners of the American League voting, which featured both the closest IBA race ever and the most dominant Player of the Year voting performance ever.

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: Ten 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 point system we use for this award differs from the BBWAA point system because we use a longer ballot.

  • Rookie of the Year ballots: Ten 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. As with the Pitcher of the Year, we use a longer ballot than the BBWAA.

  • Manager of the Year ballots: Five points for first-place votes, three points for second-place votes, and one point for third-place votes.

2009 IBA AL Player of the Year: Joe Mauer


Rnk Player             1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10  Ballots Points
 1. Joe Mauer       1153   81   16    8    5    3    0    1    1    2    1270   17107
 2. Derek Jeter       32  385  220  130   90   46   29   19   13    6     970    7558
 3. Mark Teixeira     22  215  203  152  117   80   57   39   36   27     948    6477
 4. Zack Greinke      33  274  195  116   81   44   30   20   13    6     812    6218
 5. Ben Zobrist        7   78  126  104  105   54   47   32   37   25     615    3819
 6. Miguel Cabrera     7   54   79  122  115   78   72   40   32   36     635    3658
 7. Kevin Youkilis     0   28   53   66   85   58   54   38   30   24     436    2352
 8. Alex Rodriguez     7   46   47   55   56   35   37   31   28   14     356    2095
 9. Kendry Morales     3   29   59   56   57   42   25   35   19   13     338    1975
10. Evan Longoria      0   13   36   51   61   47   46   33   20   17     324    1703
11. Felix Hernandez    3    5   24   50   55   48   40   42   30   17     314    1562
12. Roy Halladay       0    7   26   44   45   35   40   21   17   14     249    1295
13. Bobby Abreu        3   12   33   34   43   29   20   19   12   12     217    1228
14. Jason Bay          2    7   16   25   41   33   30   20   22   14     210    1043
15. Adam Lind          0    2   14   22   29   32   28   25   21   28     201     875

After two second-place finishes in 2006 and 2008, Twins catcher Joe Mauer climbed to the top of the mountain this year, as net denizens made him their overwhelming choice as the 2009 IBA American League Player of the Year. Mauer earned a sliver under 90 percent of all first-place votes, using his bat and his glove to lead the Twins to the AL Central crown after many baseball observers had written the team off. Mauer is the first-ever American League catcher to win IBA Player of the Year honors, and he's the first MLB catcher to do so since Mike Piazza achieved the feat in 1996 and 1997.

Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Zack Greinke were the only three players to receive more than 10 first-place votes. Jeter's second-place finish in the 2009 voting comes a decade after he finished second in the 1999 AL Player of the Year voting. Jeter has had only one other top five finish during his career-he finished first in 2006-but over his career, Jeter has placed in the top 25 ten times. Teixeira's third-place finish is the best of his career; his previous high was sixth place in 2005. He has now finished in the top 20 four times.

On the other hand, fourth-place finisher Zack Greinke's only previous Player of the Year votes came in 2008, when he squeaked through in 45th place. Greinke overcame playing on the 2009 Royals, one of the worst teams in baseball, to put together a stunningly successful season and placed higher in internet Player of the Year voting than any pitcher since Johan Santana in 2006.

The most unexpected name in the top ten has to be Ben Zobrist, the name of a player that many baseball fans still wouldn't recognize. Before the 2009 season began, Zobrist was a relatively nondescript utilityman for the Rays, and little was expected of him this season. But Zobrist got his bat going in mid-April, giving the Rays a 945 OPS while playing every defensive position except pitcher and catcher over the course of 152 games. The voters recognized his efforts with fifth place.

Miguel Cabrera was something of a disappointment in his first year as a Tiger in 2008, but he rebounded in 2009 and finished sixth in the voting, marking the fourth time in five years he has finished in the top ten in internet Player of the Year voting. Red Sox corner infielder Kevin Youklis finished seventh, marking his second straight year in the top ten.

And then there's Alex Rodriguez. Despite a small controversy you may have heard whispers about during spring season, and despite an injury that prevented him from playing in April and may have weakened his performance when he did come back, he did pretty well for himself in 2009. His eighth-place finish marks the eleventh year Rodriguez has finished in the top 11, though it also marks the first two-year stretch of his career in which he did not finish in first or second place.

Kendry Morales finished ninth and was, like Ben Zobrist, a player who had never appeared on a single IBA Player of the Year ballot before 2009. Roy Halladay, the 12th-place finisher, made the top 15 for the fourth time in his career. Bobby Abreu, who finished 13th, found himself back in the top 25 for the first time since 2005, the last year of a seven-year stretch during which he placed in the top 25 perennially.

The highest-placing rookie was Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who finished in 44th place. The highest placing reliever was, as usual, Mariano Rivera; he finished 19th.

Five of the top 10 ranking players were on teams that made the playoffs, while 16 of the top 20 played for teams that won more games than they lost in 2009. The highest placing finisher from the Chicago White Sox was Mark Buehrle, who was 69th. No other American League team had their highest-ranking player anywhere near that low.

2009 IBA AL Pitcher of the Year: Zack Greinke


Rnk Pitcher              1      2      3      4      5  Ballots Points
 1. Zack Greinke      1105     69     14      7      2    1197   11626
 2. Felix Hernandez     44    683    237     75     25    1064    6656
 3. Roy Halladay        16    226    417    152     93     904    4376
 4. Justin Verlander    14    119    210    293    139     775    3041
 5. CC Sabathia         22     66    170    235    211     704    2448
 6. Mariano Rivera       6     26     72     99     95     298     994
 7. Jon Lester           2     10     45     79    159     295     711
 8. Josh Beckett         2      3      3      4     20      32      88
 9. Joe Nathan           0      1      7     11     10      29      85
10. John Lackey          1      2      5      6      8      22      75

The 2009 IBA American League Pitcher of the Year winner is one of the best baseball comeback stories in years. Zack Greinke was a promising, rather polished 20-year-old pitcher when he came up to the majors in 2004. His ability to pitch at the big-league level was immediately clear. Unfortunately, his ability to live the life of a major league ballplayer was murky. It took several years for Greinke to overcome his challenges with depression and gain a positive outlook on playing baseball. By the end of 2008, his comeback was complete, so in 2009, Greinke took to making the opposition depressed whenever he was pitching. The Royals' ace finished the season with a microscopic 2.18 ERA and a 4.75:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He took 91 percent of all first-place votes and walks away with an internet Pitcher of the Year award. Greinke's previous highest finish came in 2008, when he placed 17th.

Up until 2009, Felix Hernandez had been more potential than performance. However, it's now clear that the future for Hernandez has arrived. He pitched 238 2/3 innings in 2009, with a 2.49 ERA and a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, all career bests by far. As a result, after finishing in the top 30 three times in the past four years, he rose all the way to second place in 2009.

Roy Halladay's third-place finish marks the fourth time the Blue Jays' hurler has finished in the top the top three. He is the only pitcher in the top ten to have won this award twice. Overall, he has placed in the top 25 seven times.

To no one's surprise, Mariano Rivera was the top-ranking relief pitcher, placing sixth. Rivera has never won this award-he took second place in 2006-but he has finished in the top ten nine times. In the last 14 years, he has placed in the top 30 each time.

Tigers ace Justin Verlander, recovering from an off year in 2008 to help keep his team in the AL Central race, finished fourth. CC Sabathia, another former winner, finished fifth, marking the third straight year he has finished in the top five. In addition, it's the sixth straight year Sabathia has finished in the top 30.

Fellow Red Sox hurlers occupy seventh and eighth place. Jon Lester, who placed seventh, made his top 10 debut in 2008 when he finished third. Eighth-place finisher Josh Beckett was the runner-up in both the 2007 AL voting and the 2003 NL voting. Twins closer Joe Nathan finished ninth, marking the fourth time in the last six years he has finished in the top ten. John Lackey's 10th-place finish gives him five straight years in the top 11.

2009 IBA AL Rookie of the Year: Rick Porcello


Rnk Name                1      2      3      4      5  Ballots  Points
 1. Rick Porcello     257    228    178     87     47     797    5364
 2. Elvis Andrus      211    208    166     88     46     719    4706
 3. Andrew Bailey     238    124    137     74     45     618    4200
 4. Gordon Beckham    162    186    165    112     47     672    4130
 5. Jeff Niemann       58     99     93     65     63     378    1996
 6. Brett Anderson     73     57     61     51     33     275    1620
 7. Nolan Reimold      26     47     56     68     73     270    1146
 8. Matt Wieters       13     34     53     48     58     206     835
 9. Ricky Romero        5     10     23     39     71     148     423
10. Neftali Feliz       4     14     17     26     26      87     327

In a close race, the voters chose Detroit Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello as the IBA 2009 AL Rookie of the Year. The right-hander went north with the major league club after only one season in the minors. Though he got roughed up in three of his first four big-league starts, the 21-year-old held his ground the rest of the season, playing a key role in stabilizing the Tigers' rotation.

Elvis Andrus, the shortstop acquired by the Rangers in the deal that sent Mark Teixeira to Atlanta in 2007, finished second in the voting. He helped improve an overhauled Rangers' defense, which helped enable the team to contend for the majority of the season.

Oakland reliever Andrew Bailey took over the closer role in June and finished strong, and takes third place. The 25-year-old righty struck out 91 batters and walked only 24 in 83 1/3 innings.

Finishing just behind Bailey was Gordon Beckham, the White Sox' 23-year-old third baseman. Beckham was one of the few things that went right for the White Sox. He will move to second base for the 2010 campaign.

2009 IBA AL Manager of the Year: Mike Scioscia


Rnk Name                1      2      3  Ballots Points
 1. Mike Scioscia     394    255    131     780    2866
 2. Ron Gardenhire    252    255    126     633    2151
 3. Ron Washington    125    184    147     456    1324
 4. Joe Girardi       102    108    127     337     961
 5. Don Wakamatsu      97    109    102     308     914

Mike Scioscia has been voted the IBA American League Manager of the Year for the second time in his career after leading what was perhaps his best Angels club to a division crown. In his ten years on the ballot, Scioscia has finished among the top six nine times, taking the title in 2002 and twice finishing second.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire finished second in the balloting for the fourth time, clearly establishing himself as the internet voters' bridesmaid of choice. Gardenhire's eight years in command have also garnered two third-place finishes. Completing his second season as the Rangers' skipper, Ron Washington finished third in IBA voting, improving upon his seventh-place finish in 2008. In his second year at the helm of the Yankees, Joe Girardi, the 2007 internet NL Manager of the Year, rose from ninth place to fourth place as his team led the league in wins and won the World Series.

Rookie skipper Don Wakamatsu pointed well in his first season running the Mariners to finish a strong fifth. Rays manager Joe Maddon, last year's winner, fell to ninth after his team failed to make the playoffs.

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