Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) award winners, continues with the American League Walter Johnson Award for Pitcher of the Year. The past two seasons I selected Detroit's Justin Verlander, one year quite easily, the other one in a closer race. This year it looks like the award will go to a Tiger again, but one of his teammates instead. The big question is which one?
Max Scherzer is everyone's obvious choice. He started off 13-0, deservedly started the all-star game and ended up 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA. Last time a pitcher was so dominating and didn't win the Cy Young, was probably 1985 when John Tudor also won 21 games, including 10 shutouts and a sub 2 ERA, and lost to some kid named 'Doc'. (In fact, Tudor didn't get a single first place vote!)
Meanwhile his teammate Anibal Sanchez, had a good but unremarkable 14-8 record. However, Sanchez led the league with a 2.57 ERA and was one of two pitchers in the majors to only give up single digit home runs (the other was Matt Harvey who was shut down in August), while Scherzer gave up 18 long flies. As well, Scherzer had some BABIP luck which was not bestowed on Sanchez. Other than home runs, all the rate stats slightly favor Scherzer as well - slightly higher strike out rate, slightly fewer walks. But it doesn't matter. I've been entrusted to cast a ballot. If we chose winners based on a numerical formula, there'd be no need for voting. I know when watching them pitch, I always felt like Scherzer was beatable and Sanchez was the scarier pitcher to face. Anibal Sanchez is receiving my vote this year.
By the way, there were several other outstanding pitcher performances in the American League. (Not as good as the NL, but some pretty good seasons nevertheless). This includes Felix Hernandez, David Price, Yu Darvish, Chris Sale, Bartolo Colon, James Shields, Derek Holland , CJ Wilson and two more Tiger starters, Justin Verlander and Doug Fister. Conspicuous by their absence are a trio of Blue Jay hurlers who were key in making them instant World Series contenders after they were acquired last offseason - RA Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle all had extremely sub-par seasons. If only someone saw that coming, a whole nation wouldn't have been disappointed.
My full ballot:
#1: Anibal Sanchez
#2: Max Scherzer
#3: Chris Sale
#4: Felix Hernandez
#5: Yu Darvish