Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014 Willie Mays Award

The Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Blog (VHCBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). In this blog post, we present our ballot for the Willie Mays Award, which is given by the BBA to the top rookie in each league. Similar to the Baseball Writers' Association of America, the alliance is organized into different chapters. Gus, the founder of the VHCBB, is President of the alliance's Other Baseball Chapter.

National League

Jacob deGrom
There was no standout candidate for the Willie Mays Award in the NL, but we’re going with the feel-good story of underdog Jacob deGrom. Besides, it’s nice to finally have some good news to report on the mediocre NY Mets, who stumbled through their sixth consecutive losing season in 2014. deGrom posted a 9-6 record with a 2.63 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in his rookie campaign, striking out 144 batters in 140 ⅓ innings pitched. He came into the season with little fanfare, although he was ranked as the Mets’ 10th-best prospect by Baseball America. In three levels of minor-league baseball in 2013, deGrom had a 4.51 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, so the Mets were quite happy to cash in their winnings on the last week of the season and shut him down for the year after he reached a career-high 178 ⅔ innings pitched.

deGrom’s main competitor in the National League was Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds, but we decided to give the edge to the Mets hurler after noticing Hamilton’s steal percentage. The speedy outfielder was caught stealing in 29% of his attempts, which means that Hamilton’s stolen bases were worth very little to the Reds in terms of net runs scored. He’s an exceptional outfielder, but his defense isn’t enough of a reason to give him the nod, especially after considering his anemic .250 BA / .292 OBP / .355 SLG slash line.

Ender Inciarte of the Diamondbacks rounds out our ballot. The speedy Venezuelan is already one of the best defensive outfielders in the league, although he’s no Jason Heyward in the field -- yet. His offensive contributions were modest (.278 BA, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 19 steals), but Inciarte earned our vote based on his spectacular defense alone. After all, a run prevented is as valuable as a run produced.

Our National League ballot is therefore:
  1. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
  2. Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
  3. Ender Inciarte, Arizona Diamondbacks
American League

Jose Abreu
Jose Abreu is a slam dunk to win the Willie Mays Award in the AL. In spite of being one of the worst-fielding first baseman in baseball, his offensive numbers are so outstanding that he’s the obvious choice for being the rookie of the year in the junior circuit. The 27-year-old Cuban slugger hit .317 with 36 homers and 107 RBI this season and he likely has quite a few more years like that in front of him. Sure, it may be as a Designated Hitter, but there is no doubt that Abreu is an offensive force.

Another feel-good story is Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays. The speedy outfielder was drafted in the 31st-round of the 2010 draft, but Kiermaier moved up the ladder with ease and made his major-league debut at the end of the 2013 season. This year he hit .263 with 10 homers, 35 RBI and 5 steals in 331 at-bats, but it was his outstanding defensive work that got him noticed. Other than Jason Heyward, Kiermaier is simply the best defensive right fielder in the game.

Astros pitcher Collin McHugh rounds out our ballot. McHugh was drafted by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2008 draft and he made his major-league debut with New York in 2012. After being traded to the Rockies for Eric Young Jr. in June of 2013, McHugh was claimed off of waivers last December by Houston. The pickup proved to be a stroke of genius, as McHugh went 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA and sparkling 1.02 WHIP in 25 starts for the Astros this season.

Our American League ballot is as follows:
  1. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
  2. Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
  3. Collin McHugh, Houston Astros

1 comment:

  1. Abreu and deGrom were the winners of the Willie Mays award. Full voting results here: http://baseballbloggersalliance.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/abreu-unanimous-selection-for-willie-mays-award/