The Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) will soon announce the winners of the 2011 Walter Johnson Award, which is awarded to those judged to be the top pitchers in both the American League and National League. The BBA is now nearing the end of its 2011 voting sessions, for all that remains is the Stan Musial Award, which shall be awarded to the players who are judged to be the most valuable in both leagues.
Being a member of the Philadelphia chapter of the BBA, my votes are restricted to the NL. Unlike the other BBA Awards, the Stan Musial Award requires a 10-player ballot. Listed below are my votes for the 2011 NL Stan Musial Award.
1. Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers)
2. Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers)
3. Prince Fielder (Milwaukee Brewers)
4. Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers)
5. Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies)
6. Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals)
7. Jose Reyes (New York Mets)
8. Cliff Lee (Philadelphia Phillies)
9. Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado Rockies)
10. Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)
Kemp was an easy selection for me at the first place vote. Late in the season, Kemp was a Triple Crown candidate until Reyes and Braun pulled away from him in the batting title race. In addition to being a season-long Triple Crown threat, Kemp was one home run short of a 40/40 season (39 home runs and 40 steals).
My sixth place vote for Pujols will likely cause mixed feelings among my readers. Some of you will probably wonder why I did not rank Pujols higher (I felt the others were more deserving); others might question why I have Pujols on my list at all.
To those who question why I have Pujols on my list at all: Pujols is on my list because he was once again one of the best players in baseball this season, despite it being an “off” season by his incredibly high standards. Pujols finished the season with a .299 AVG, 37 home runs, 99 RBIs and 105 runs.
Although the .299 AVG for the season is below the norm for Pujols and his high standards, he returned to form after the All-Star break and played a large role in helping the Cardinals turn their season around and sneak into the postseason. In the crucial month of September, Pujols hit .355 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 26 games (the Cardinals were 18-8 in those 26 games).
I hope those who criticze Pujols for his .299 AVG do not have the audacity to cast a vote for Ryan Howard of the Phillies.
Pujols: .299 AVG, 37 HR, 99 RBI, .366 OBP, .906 OPS
Howard: .253 AVG, 33 HR, 116 RBI, .346 OBP, .835 OPS
The .366 OBP by Pujols was remarkably a career-worst for him! Pujols had an OBP of .400 or higher in nine of his 11 MLB seasons; Howard had only one season with an OBP of .400 or higher (.425 OBP with a .313 AVG in 2006). Other than the .425 OBP Howard posted in 2006, the .392 OBP in 2007 was the only other season in which his OBP was higher than Pujols’ .366 OBP of the 2011 season.
This is not intended to be a Howard vs. Pujols debate; anyone with a brain knows that Pujols is a better baseball player than Howard. I merely brought up the Howard/Pujols comparisons to not only justify my vote sixth place vote for Pujols, but to also silence the Ryan Howard apologists who often accuse me of not giving him enough credit.
I am sick and tired of his apologists saying “look at the home runs and RBIs!” First of all, Pujols has more home runs (so there goes your precious home runs argument). Secondly, RBIs are the byproduct of how well your teammates get on base for you to drive them in; with Pujols having more home runs and slaughtering Howard in AVG (and yet having fewer RBIs), it is obvious that Howard had more help from his teammates than Pujols did in the RBI department.
Here is another statistic for you Ryan Howard apologists: Howard hit .266 against right handed pitching and a pathetic .224 against left handed pitching; Pujols hit .300 against right handed pitching and .295 against left handed pitching. Howard simply has too many flaws in his game to warrant a vote for the Stan Musial Award.
The 10 players displayed above are my votes for the 2011 NL Stan Musial Award. I have made it perfectly clear why Pujols was worthy of a vote and also why Howard was not worthy of a vote. I am quite confident I chose the 10 best players for this award. The order these 10 are placed in will surely differ among the voters; however, I would be surprised if Kemp or Braun do not win.