Monday, October 25, 2010

Dissecting The BBA Walter Johnson Awards

The BBA announced their Walter Johnson Award winners for the AL and NL pitcher of the year. The Baseball Blogger Alliance is made up of 233 blogs that range in covering all 30 teams to general baseball. The voting mirrors that of the BBWAA and is broken up into chapters. Our little blog of stats and nonsense votes in the general baseball chapter because the BBA wouldn't give us an entire chapter of our own dedicated to some borderline unstable writing. Stonsense is what we've been throwing around the office but we're open to suggestions.

I don't have a problem with the voting outcome for the National League since the final tally was almost identical to my ballot except I had Tim Lincecum fifth and left Tim Hudson off of my ballot. Plus, Roy Halladay won unanimously. So, good job bloggers. The AL ballot, however, ugh. I thought we were making some progress in the blogosphere but I spend an inordinate amount of time at FanGraphs. Oh Dave Cameron, your site has ruined my productivity. I only get around to about two naps per day now thanks to FanGraphs. I should note, if it isn't obvious, that I use FanGraphs' WAR (fWAR) for my analysis. Let's take a look at the the final voting for the AL pitcher of the year...

1. Felix Hernandez
I have no issue with Felix in the top spot. I had Felix first on my ballot and, while I didn't think he was the runaway winner, the BBA voters did. Felix received 18 of 22 first place votes for 137 points. I thought Felix was going to win and I thought he was deserving but I would have preferred to see more love for my second pick instead of...

2. CC Sabathia
Oy. I'm afraid this will be the outcome of the BBWAA voting as well but I was hoping for a little more from my blogging brethren. Sabathia led the AL in wins with a shiny 21-7 record. Yay, wins! He finished with a 3.18/3.54/3.78 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) line and a 5.1 WAR (wins above replacement). The ERA was nice but he finished worth 1.9 runs fewer than Cliff Lee. Sabathia's 2.66 K/BB is laughable compared to Lee's 10.28 K/BB ratio. The only argument I can see against Lee to be the top choice, or second, is that he just pitched 212.1 innings. But I don't think that three extra starts for the Yankees gives Sabathia any case here. In fact, I left him off of my ballot all together.

3. David Price
Price had the second most wins in the American League with a 19-6 record but had a much shinier ERA than Sabathia. Price finished with a 2.72/3.42/3.99 line but his 2.38 K/BB ratio was also dwarfed by Cliff Lee's and Price actually threw 3.2 fewer innings. Lee also dominated Price in WAR, 7.0 to 4.3. Somebody please explain to me how Price was better than Lee and don't even think about using the "w" word. For the record, I had Jered Weaver in this spot because he was second in K/BB to Lee and led the AL in SIERA. Weaver was also worth 1.6 more wins than Price.

4. Cliff Lee
Bout damn time. Although he didn't receive one first place vote but Sabathia got three and Price got one. *aims shotgun at pitcher wins*

5. Jered Weaver
I don't have a problem with Weaver at five. Maybe I overrated him some because of his SIERA and FIP and K/BB ratio. His 5.9 fWAR was good for exactly fifth place in the AL.

So who, in my opinion, was erroneously left out of the top five? I'm glad you didn't ask. I had Justin Verlander fourth thanks to his AL second best 6.3 fWAR. I said in my ballot post that Verlander was probably a straight WAR pick since his peripherals weren't otherworldly. Not entirely true, his 2.97 FIP was third best in the AL. But his strikeout rate was down and his xFIP was higher than anyone else I've mentioned except for Sabathia and Price. Verlander finished last with only five points in the voting. Yikes.

My final choice was Francisco Liriano. He only pitched 191.2 innings but he had an AL best 3.06 xFIP and second best 3.02 SIERA. If I've lost you but you kept reading for whatever reason, that means Liriano severely outpitched his 3.62 ERA. He was roughly worth a win more than Sabathia and two wins more than Price. I don't won't to preach too much about randomness or luck because that's not what we started this site for but it should at least be recognized. Liriano was extremely unlucky this season.

I filled out all of my ballots based on who I thought the best players were and not how I thought the BBWAA results were going to turn out. I suspect the BBWAA voting will mirror the BBA's when it comes time for them to reveal their Cy Youngs. But I'll take comfort from the Bible passage that claims the nerds will inherit the Earth. Or that might have been from a Simpsons episode or I made it entirely.

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