Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BBA AL Walter Johnson 2014

Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season with different names because they get litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Now up, the AL Walter Johnson or how I learned to stop wondering what team Corey Kluber plays for and love strikeout percentages.

Unlike the full sprint runaway Clayton Kershaw is going to enjoy for National League pitcher of the year, the American League has a coin flip for the top spot and a rock-paper-scissors for three through five. How will I decide? A coin flip and a round of rock-paper-scissors. Are you already not paying attention?

1. Corey Kluber
This was a razor thin decision and conventional wisdom says Felix Hernandez will end up with the award. But Kluber just about matched or bested King Felix in all categories. Kluber had a better K/9 than Hernandez (10.27 to 9.46) with only a slight edge going to the Mariners ace in K/BB (5.39-5.27). Hernandez had the better ERA (2.14 to 2.44) and ERA- (58 to 66). Kluber had the better FIP (2.35 to 2.56) and FIP- (64 to 70). But all this tells us is that both were excellent and not as good as Kershaw. Kluber threw 235.2 innings. Hernandez threw 236 innings. Kluber did lead all pitchers with a 7.2 fWAR with Kershaw's 7.2 fWAR and Hernandez's 6.2 fWAR as runners-up.

I'm taking the slight edge in K/9 and FIP. Also, Kluber plays for Cleveland. Who knew?

2. Felix Hernandez
I've already laid out the argument for Hernandez above. He's most likely going to win the award. He has a Cy Young in his pocket and probably deserved at least another one. But I think the main argument for Felix here is, oh my god, the garlic fries at SafeCo. That's just pure science.

3. Chris Sale
Sale only managed to log 174 innings. And that's the only reason I didn't flip a three sided coin for first place. Some might argue that it's because three sided coins don't exist but let me assure you, it was just the innings. Sale had a 10.76 K/9, second to Kershaw. Sale had a 2.17 ERA, third to Kershaw and Hernandez. Sale had a 2.57 FIP, fourth to Kershaw, Kluber and Hernandez. His 66 FIP- was the only other FIP- under 70 after Kershaw and Kluber.

Sale threw rock for third place and as we know, nothing beats rock.

4. David Price
Price had his best season in several interesting categories. His 6.1 fWAR bested 2012's 4.8 fWAR quite handily. The 2.78 FIP edged last season's 3.03 career high. And his 9.82 K/9 was, surprising to me, a professional best by over one strikeout per nine innings.

Scissors are tough. They cut through things, they're dishwasher safe, you shouldn't run with them but they don't beat rock.

5. Max Scherzer
What did Scherzer do so differently from last season to merit dropping from first to fifth?
Almost nothing. His BABIP went from .259 to .315 which would explain the increase in ERA. Otherwise, pretty much the same guy.

Paper might be the lamest of the trilogy but Scherzer is going to sign a piece this winter that will allow him to buy all the rocks and scissors his heart desires.

LVP: Chris Young

Thank goodness for SafeCo, huh?

Ernesto Frieri could have been the runaway winner here if Angels GM Jerry Dipoto didn't have to trade him to the National League to keep Mike Scioscia using Frieri to pitch batting practice to the American League.

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