Thursday, October 9, 2014

BBA AL Willie Mays 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 Willie Mays or how I learned to stop comparing rookies to Mike Trout and love them bombing.

In this case, the bombing I'm referring to involves baseballs destroyed by Jose Abreu. The AL rookie class was so deep after Abreu this season, I tried to vote for George Springer as a National Leaguer.

1. Jose Abreu
So, Abreu is a 27-year-old Cuban defector and probably shouldn't be eligible for this award but thems the rules. And his six year, $68 million deal with the White Sox has, let's say, 23 other teams kicking themselves for not being more active in the bidding. Abreu crushed Major League pitching to the tune of 36 homers and a .317/.383/.581 line. His 5.3 fWAR (Fangraphs wins above replacement) tied him with Robinson Cano for 20th among position players just a tenth behind Miguel Cabrera. Make it nerdier, you say? His 165 wRC+ put him fourth behind Andrew McCutchen, Trout and Victor Martinez. His .411 wOBA was tied with Martinez for second behind the .412 wOBA that Cutch slugged. He should win Rookie of the Year unanimously and get some top five MVP votes.

2. Masahiro Tanaka
This is where it gets interesting. I'll stand by Tanaka as he lived up to Brian Cashman's billing as a "number three starter" and then some. The arm injury sidelined him and will be a dark cloud for the next year or so since that smell in the air is a looming Tommy John surgery. That smell in the air could also just be New York or fumes from that maple syrup factory we call Vermont.

3. Danny Santana
I can make a case for six more players here. Collin McHough had 154.2 innings of 2.73 ERA and 3.11 FIP ball. Dellin Betances had some pretty insane numbers that we'll get to during the reliever of the year portion of these awards. George Springer left the season early with an injury and Mookie Betts arrived with a late promotion but both are future stars. Matt Shoemaker won 16 games for the Angels and almost threw a no hitter. His wife called Will Middlebrooks a butthole on Twitter for breaking it up. That would be good enough for second most years.

But Santana finished second to Abreu in wRC+ by 32 points. That's how good Abreu was. Santana hit seven homers and stole 20 bases while hitting .319/.353/.472 in 430 plate appearances. He was really good. So good, that that's probably his best.

LVR. Jackie Bradley Jr.
JBJR ain't so good with the bat. The glove plays in center just fine or he never would have made it off of the PawSox team bus. But moving the aforementioned Betts from second to center and signing Cuban Rusney Castillo to a big deal, does not bode well for Bradley's future as a starter in Boston. His .198/.265/.266 slash in 423 plate appearances backs that up. Jon Singleton's 37K% could not be happier for Jackie.

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