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BBA General Chapter Announces Vote for AL Walter Johnson Award

October 21, 2010

Each year the Baseball Bloggers Alliance votes on and chooses our own winners for each of the year’s major awards. As President of the General Chapter, it is my privilege to announce the Chapter’s choice for each award winner. Today we’ll look at the Walter Johnson Award, given to the top pitcher for each league. We’ll start out with the American League.

First place votes were awarded 7 points. Second place votes were awarded 4 points. Third place votes were awarded 3 points. Fourth place votes were awarded 2 points. Fifth place votes were awarded 1 point. Each blog within the General Chapter of the BBA was invited to submit a ballot for the award. Ballots were subsequently submitted by the following members: TG Sports Thoughts, Wezen-Ball, The Straw That Stirs The Drink, Jason’s Baseball Blog, Going Yard, Flagrant Fan, Diamond Hoggers, 85% Sports, Rhino Rant, The Golden Sombrero, Off Base Percentage, and Blogging From The Bleachers.

One recurring discussion over the final few weeks of the 2010 Regular Season was the debate between traditional statistical measures and modern Sabermetrics. The debate centralized on the season put forth by Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. Traditionalists still state the best pitcher in the league is the one with the most victories, lowest ERA, and highest strikeout totals – the three “Triple Crown” categories. With a 13-12 record, Hernandez was far from leading the league in victories. However, his 2.27 ERA was tops in the league and he finished second in strikeouts with 232 (trailing the league leader by just 1 K). Sabermetricians put more weight on WAR, K/9, and BB/9. Hernandez finished 3rd in WAR (6.2), 7th in K/9 (8.36), and 14th in BB/9 (2.52).

Despite the constant debating that we saw, heard, and read over the last few weeks of the season there is one certainty we can conclude: Hernandez was overall the top pitcher in the American League in 2010. This is why he wins the Walter Johnson Award for the AL, by a wide margin (as you’ll see below). And just think how much stronger his case would be if Seattle wasn’t such a disappointment this season.

The two names most closely discussed as potential threats to Hernandez were AL East foes, CC Sabathia of the Yankees and David Price of the Rays. Not only did both lead their respective teams to the playoffs but they finished 1st and 2nd in overall wins. Sabathia finished the season 21-7 with a 3.09 ERA and 197 strikeouts. Price finished 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA and 188 K’s. Their performances received a lot more notice than that of Hernandez considering both teams were consistently competitive but also due to the fact that they pitch in the AL East. Yet, looking at them side-by-side with Hernandez they still can’t quite compare.

Oakland’s Trevor Cahill, Texas’s Cliff Lee, and the Angels’ Jered Weaver also received strong consideration for the award. Cahill finished 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA. Lee was 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA after splitting the season between Seattle and Texas. Weaver led the league in strikeouts, had the same record as Hernandez, and held a 3.01 ERA.

Also receiving some merit were a pair of Boston pitchers, Jon Lester (19-9, 3.25) and Clay Buchholtz (17-7, 2.33), Detroit’s Justin Verlander (18-9, 3.37), Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano (14-10, 3.62), Oakland’s Brett Anderson (7-6, 2.80), and Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza (15-10, 3.91).

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total Points  
11 1       81 Felix Hernandez
  4 4 1 1 31 CC Sabathia
  4 2 2   26 David Price
1   1 1 1 13 Trevor Cahill
  1 1 2 2 13 Jered Weaver
    1 4   11 Jon Lester
  1 1   2 9 Cliff Lee
    1 1 2 7 Justin Verlander
        3 3 Clay Buchholtz
        3 3 Francisco Liriano
        1 1 Brett Anderson
        1 1 Matt Garza
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