Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2014 Stan Musial Award

The Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Blog (VHCBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). The VHCBB once again has the honour of casting a ballot for the BBA awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues. Today we reveal our ballots for the Stan Musial Award, which will be presented to the MVP in each league.

The BBA’s Stan “The Man” Musial Award recognizes the best all-around player in each league. The award is not based solely on offensive contributions, so the defensive abilities of each candidate must be considered. On my ballot that means that defensive standouts such as Alex Gordon, Josh Donaldson, Jason Heyward and Jonathan Lucroy may be ranked higher than some baseball fans might expect. Conversely, guys like Jose Abreu, Jose Bautista and Michael Brantley, who are below average defensively, drop lower on my ballot -- or as in Abreu’s case, drop off the ballot entirely.

National League

Mr. Pirate, Andrew McCutchen
The trendy pick in the National League is to go with Clayton Kershaw, but his season -- as great as it was -- just falls short for my top pick for the Stan Musial Award. The numbers for Kershaw and Andrew McCutchen are both worthy of a first-place vote, but I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the guy who is in the lineup every day. Kershaw’s numbers are outstanding, but I just can’t give my first-place vote to a guy who trots out there every fifth day -- especially since he missed the entire month of April with a back injury and only made 27 starts this season.

McCutchen, who made 648 plate appearances in 2014, finished third in the batting race with a .314 mark, swatted 25 homers and knocked in 83 runs. The Pittsburgh centrefielder also stole 18 bases and was caught in only three attempts -- a solid 86% success rate. Most impressively, he led all of MLB in on-base percentage (.410) and he topped the National League in OPS (.952). His excellent all-around play was one of major reasons why the small-market Pirates qualified for the postseason in spite of having the fifth-lowest payroll in the big leagues.

The third and fourth spots on my ballots go to two of the most underrated players in the senior circuit: Anthony Rendon and Jonathan Lucroy. Rendon led the league in runs scored with 111 and hit .287 with 21 homers and 83 RBI. Lucroy, who is ranked as one of the top defensive catchers in the NL, hit .301 with 13 homers and 69 RBI.

Our full National League ballot is:
  1. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
  2. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
  3. Anthony Rendon, Nationals
  4. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
  5. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
  6. Buster Posey. Giants
  7. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
  8. Carlos Gomez, Brewers
  9. Jason Heyward, Braves
  10. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
American League

Mike Trout
Mike Trout has clearly been the best player in the American League for the past three seasons, although the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) was asleep at the wheel when they gave the MVP Award to the defensively-challenged Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and 2013. The analytics-friendly Baseball Bloggers Alliance is likely to give Mike Trout his third consecutive Stan Musial Award this year and it appears that the BBWAA is finally ready to see the light (hallelujah!!). Ironically, Trout is coming off the weakest season of his short MLB career -- he “only” hit .287 with 35 homers and 111 RBI. In addition to leading the league in RBI, Trout also was tops in the AL in runs scored (115) and total bases (338). That’s good enough to earn my first-place vote.

Michael Brantley had a breakout season in 2014, becoming just the fourth Cleveland player in the last 60 years to register 200 hits (Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga and Joe Carter were the others). Brantley hit .327 with 20 homers and 97 RBI, to go along with 23 steals in 24 attempts. A pair of slick-fielding players, Alex Gordon and Josh Donaldson, finished third and fourth on my ballot, respectively. Gordon hit .266 with 19 homers and 74 RBI, and he posted a solid .351 on-base percentage. Donaldson got on base at .342 clip and slammed 29 homers with 98 runs batted in. Here is my full ballot for the junior circuit:
  1. Mike Trout, Angels
  2. Michael Brantley, Indians
  3. Alex Gordon, Royals
  4. Josh Donaldson, Athletics
  5. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
  6. Corey Kluber, Indians
  7. David Price, Tigers / Rays
  8. Phil Hughes, Twins
  9. Jon Lester, Athletics / Red Sox 
  10. Jose Bautista, Jays


  1. A pitcher has not won the National League MVP award since Bob Gibson did it back in 1968. However I believe Kershaw will become the 3rd Dodger pitcher in history to win the award. Sandy Koufax (1963) and Don Newcombe (1956) were the other two.

    1. I think you are right. Kershaw will win the award. But I think that McCutchen deserves the award more (for the reasons given in my post).

  2. Mike Trout won his third consecutive Musial award in AL voting. Kershaw won the NL award by a score of 151-128 over McCutchen. Full voting results are here: