Saturday, October 1, 2011

2011 AL Walter Johnson Award

In what should come as no surprise to any baseball fan, my pick for the AL Walter Johnson award, for best pitcher in the American League, goes to Justin Verlander.
First the raw stats: 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 Ks.   This while leading the league in innings pitched with 251 and a WHIP of 0.92.  League leaders are usually above 1, and this is the 2nd lowest mark in the AL since 1972 (to Pedro's record setting mark in 2000).  But aside from the stats, he is the major reason the Tigers ran away with their division.  Take him away from the rotation and this is maybe an 85 win team.  If I had an MVP pick, I suspect he'd be the first name on the ballot as well.  
 The rest of the ballot...
#2 -  Jered Weaver - Along with Dan Haren kept the Angels in contention for much of the year.  18-8. 2.41 198 Ks.   And a sub 2 ERA against divisional opponents.

#3 CC – why not higher?  Until the Red Sox disastrous September, he was the main reason the Yankees were looking up at Boston.  He went 1-4 with an ERA of 6.39 against them.  Even AJ Burnett fared better.  Top pitchers have to win the big games.  He pitched well all season, but couldn’t go the extra mile when he needed to.  Beat up on weak teams (10-0, 1.81 vs sub .500 teams), but decidedly mediocre (9-8 3.71) against above .500 competition.

#4 – Doug Fister – Gave the Tigers a legitimate reason not to have to pitch Verlander and then hope for 4 days of rain going 8-1, 1.79 after escaping Seattle.  Gives this team a bit of a 2001 Diamondbacks look, with 2 aces at the top carrying them to a championship.

#5 - CJ Wilson - Rangers are known for their offence, but Wilson is trying to help change that reputation, with his sub 3 ERA at the most hitter friendly park in the majors.

Honorable mentions go to Ricky Romero – who may be the biggest unknown pitcher to those living south of the 49th, Josh Beckett – who would have top 5 consideration if he could have pitched a couple of more gems when he needed to in September,  James Shields who had the best season on a great Rays starting rotation and Felix Hernandez who in a "down year" is still an ace.

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