It will soon be time for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance to announce its year-end awards.
Here’s my ballot for the National League:
The Connie Mack Award (for the league’s top manager):
Most of my picks were easy choices, but not the Connie Mack Award. Clint Hurdle led the Pittsburgh Pirates to their first winning season and first playoff appearance since 1992, which is a feather in his cap
But I’m more impressed with what Don Mattingly did in Los Angeles. Sure, the Dodgers owners spent like money was going out of style during the off-season, but injuries and poor early performances meant the team was 12 games under .500 on June 21. While rookie Yasiel Puig was a catalyst for the Dodgers’ second-half success, Mattingly deserves credit for the turnaround too. Dealing with the pressure of an under-performing team, rumors that he was about to be fired, and questions that still linger about his 2014 contract status seem like a bigger challenge than Hurdle had to contend with, so Mattingly is my pick for this award.
The Willie Mays Award (for the league’s top rookie):
Puig deserves strong consideration for the Willie Mays Award even though he didn’t reach the major leagues until June 3. A .319 batting average, 19 home runs and a 5.0 WAR value would be enough in some years.
But unfortunately for Puig, the Marlins brought Jose Fernandez to the major leagues in April and he was one of the most dominant pitchers in the league for a full season. Fernandez had a 12-6 record on a team than finished with a 62-100 record. His 2.19 ERA was second best in the majors, and he had the second best strikeout rate in the National League.
The Goose Gossage Award (for the league’s top reliever):
Craig Kimbrel saved 50 games for the Atlanta Braves, leading the National League for the third year in a row. He struck out 98 in 67 innings and had a 3.3 WAR value. (For comparison, Rafael Soriano of the Washington Nationals was the only other NL pitcher with 40 or more saves (43). He struck out 51 in 66.2 innings and had a 0.9 WAR value.)
The Walter Johnson Award (for the league’s top pitcher):
Clayton Kershaw didn’t come close to winning 20 games, but he led the league in ERA (1.83). strikeouts (232), shutouts (2), and WHIP (0.915). Seems like a clear-cut winner to me.
The Stan Musial Award (for the league’s top player):
Kershaw deserves some consideration for the Stan Musial Award too, but I’m going to give my vote to Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh. A .317 batting average, 21 home runs and .911 OPS is pretty impressive, and his 7.5 offensive WAR rating was the best in the National League.