Monday, October 6, 2014

2014 Walter Johnson Award

The Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Blog (VHCBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). Once again this year, the VHCBB has the honour of casting ballots for the BBA awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues. Today we give you our ballots for the Walter Johnson Award, which is presented to the top pitcher (starter or reliever) in each league.

National League

Clayton Kershaw
The top spot on my NL ballot for the Walter Johnson Award is an obvious choice -- the one and only Clayton Kershaw. He has put up gaudy numbers his entire career, but 2014 was spectacular by even Kershaw’s lofty standards. He notched a 21-3 record along with a 1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 239 strikeouts in 198 ⅓ innings pitched. His WHIP was the lowest in the big leagues since Pedro Martinez set the all-time record of 0.74 in 2000, and only four pitchers have posted a lower ERA since 1979. Clayton Kershaw's 2014 season was truly one for the ages.

Kershaw would be in line for his fourth consecutive title were it not for a voting glitch in 2012. He won both the Walter Johnson and Cy Young awards in 2011 and 2013, but he was denied each of the awards in 2012 when voters got seduced by R.A. Dickey’s 20-6 record (Kershaw went 14-9 but clearly out-pitched Dickey that year).

Mr. Consistency, Adam Wainwright, gets our runner-up vote. The St. Louis Cardinals stalwart went 20-9 with a career-best 2.38 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Jordan Zimmermann (14-5, 2.66 ERA), Johnny Cueto (20-9, 2.25 ERA) and Stephen Strasburg (14-11, 3.14 ERA) round out our National League ballot.
  1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
  2. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
  3. Jordan Zimmerman, Nationals
  4. Johnny Cueto, Reds
  5. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
American League

Felix Hernandez
The choice for the top pitcher in the American League is much tougher than in the senior circuit, but the decision comes down to either Felix Hernandez or Corey Kluber.

A pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t always an accurate measurement of his effectiveness, since there are many factors that a pitcher can’t control that go into determining the winning and losing pitchers in a game. Setting aside this dubious statistic, it becomes clear that King Felix deserves my first-place vote. Hernandez posted a better ERA (2.14 vs. 2.44) and WHIP (0.92 vs 1.09) than Kluber, although their strikeout-to-walk ratios were similar (Hernandez edged Kluber 5.4 to 5.3). It will be interesting to see how this one plays out with the other voters, since Kluber went 18-9 and Hernandez "only" posted a 15-6 record for the punchless Mariners.

Many Yankees fans were probably scratching their head trying to figure out why Phil Hughes had a breakout season in 2014 with the Twins after spending the first seven years of his big-league career with the Bronx Bombers. The answer is actually quite simple: Hughes is a fly ball pitcher who gave up a lot of cheap homers in Yankee Stadium. In a different ballpark, he could finally attack the strike zone without worry and so his walk rate dropped significantly. The result? A 3.52 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and the all-time MLB record for strikeout-to-walk ratio (11.6!!).

A pair of pitching studs dealt at this summer’s trading deadline, David Price (15-12, 3.26 ERA) and Jon Lester (16-11, 2.46), round out our ballot.
  1. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
  2. Corey Kluber, Indians
  3. Phil Hughes, Twins
  4. David Price, Tigers / Rays
  5. Jon Lester, Athletics / Red Sox

1 comment:

  1. Clayton Kershaw won the NL award and Corey Kluber won in a squeaker over King Felix in the AL. Full voting results are here: