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)
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
NL MVP (14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1)
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)
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)
|Chan Ho Park||12.5||(5)|
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)
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)
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.
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
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
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
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
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.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now