Monday, October 13, 2014

BBA Awards: NL Walter Johnson

Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season, just with different names because they litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Next up, the Walter Johnson Award or, as I like to call it, the Clayton Kershaw is better than you, so everyone line up for second place award.

There really isn't any need for a buildup here. You know who is taking the top spot in this category, so we'll just dive right in to it.

1. Clayton Kershaw

Because, of course. There are good pitchers in baseball, there are great pitchers in baseball, and then there is Clayton Kershaw. All of the superlatives have been used time and time again with regards to the 26 year-old Texan, and all of them are deserved. It is to the point now where Kershaw isn't compared to his contemporaries anymore, he's compared to some of the greatest pitchers to ever grace the game. And he's only 26, which I already said, but it bares repeating. The dude is 26, which means that his prime years are still on the horizon. Which means that he could still reasonably get better. Which is profoundly unfair, but so much fun to watch.

2. Jordan Zimmermann

If Kershaw does not exist, you could have had an actual argument about who the best NL pitcher is like you can in the AL this year. You could debate the names and the stats over a fistfight or a gentleman's duel. As it stands, the rest of the NL pack of pitchers is lining up for second place, and Zimmermann gets the nod on this ballot. His 5.2 fWAR was the second best in the NL among pitchers and a new career-high. It was also the only other fWAR above 5.0 in the NL among pitchers. He also set career-highs in K/9, BB/9 and WHIP as well as putting an exclamation point on the Nationals season by throwing a no hitter on the final day of the season.

3. Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright is easily one of the best right handers of our generation, but this year, he comes in third on this ballot. He hit the 20-win mark for the second time in his career, and it's the fourth time he has had 19 or more wins in a season. But pitcher wins are silly, His shrinking strikeout rates coupled with a higher FIP and a lower fWAR that Zimmerman pushed him to this spot,

4. Zack Greinke

His name doesn't follow grammar rules, but his 2014 season keeps him among some of the best pitchers in the game. In most ways, his 2014 season was on par with his Cy Young winning season in 2009. He didn't produce a nine-win season (9.1 fWAR in 2009, 3.9 in 2014), but his rate stats and fielding independent stats are right in line with the utter dominance that garnered him some hardware despite being a ".500 pitcher" in 2009. He's quirky, weird and uncomfortable, he's also fourth on this ballot because he outpitched number five despite having a worse record.

5. Johnny Cueto

I'm not ignoring the season that Cueto had, I'm just saying that it is not as good as it seems. It was fantastic, but there were better performances. His 2.25 ERA is no small potatoes, and his 8.94 K/9 is a new career best. But he got out-FIP'd by the rest of the ballot.

LVP: Paul Moholm

Thankfully, Moholm was only allowed to pitch 43.2 innings for the Dodgers over eight starts. Who knows what his league worst FIP (6.04) would have looked like if the Dodgers needed to use him on a consistent basis. His 3.50 K/9 was the worst in the NL for pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched in 2014, worse even than strikeout anti-artist, Bronson Arroyo. Maholm got torched by righties, and didn't fair much better against lefties, so there isn't even an argument for him as a LOOGY in the coming years. But, every team does need a reliable sunflower seed supplier, so maybe there is hope for Maholm yet.

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