As part of the BBA Post-Season Awards, I will be providing my ballot for the top manager in each league and the top player in each league.
Without further adieu, Left Coast Bias respectfully submits the following:
National League Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award)
1) Kirk Gibson - Arizona Diamondbacks
29 win difference. That's the difference between the Diamondbacks in 2010 and the Diamondbacks of 2011. Even using the Diamondbacks Pythorgean W/L record of 88-74 still wins the division (perhaps more a statement of the NL West in 2011 than anything). They were picked by nearly every "expert" to finish last or 4th in the West. They weren't the best hitting team, nor the best pitching team. They just kept winning and they ran away with the division. When you are at the helm of the biggest turnaround in baseball, you win this award. It's just a fact. Case closed.
2) Ronald Roenicke - Milwaukee Brewers
Some could say that winning the division with two potential MVP candidates is not impressive. I say winning the NL Central, any year, is impressive. The Brewers quietly were the 2nd best team in the National League, had the distraction of Prince Fielder's imminent departure, and easily won the division.
3) Charlie Manuel - Philadelphia Phillies
There's something to be said for winning when you are expected to. While he had the four aces, the NL East is perhaps arguably the best division in the National League. And the Phillies, despite injuries, still dominated.
American League Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award)
1) Joe Maddon - Tampa Bay Rays
Maybe it's unfair to win an award for one month of work. But when you catch the AL favorite, down 9 games, despite a collapse on their part, you have to be considered for this award. Maddon was able to keep a clubhouse that had every reason to cash in on the season and get ready for fishing and golfing focused. It took all 162 games, but the Rays are post-season bound. And every decision Maddon made in September seemed to be the right one.
2) Ron Washington - Texas Rangers
Against who it mattered most, the Rangers dominated. They were 12-7 against the Angels, a record that all but buried the Angels and their post-season hopes. They lost Josh Hamilton for a significant portion of the year, struggled for much of the year with a leaky bullpen, yet ran away with the AL West by 10 games.
3) Jim Leyland - Detroit Tigers
For much of the year, the AL Central was the Indians. The White Sox and Twins both made runs of varying degrees at some point this season. The Tigers just kept on going, behind superace Justin Verlander and MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera.
National League Player of the Year (Stan Musial Award)
1) Matt Kemp - Los Angeles Dodgers
.11 pts away from winning the Triple Crown. As this category is "Player of the Year" not "MVP" Matt Kemp was clearly the best player in the National League in 2011.
2) Ryan Braun - Milwaukee Brewers
Led the league in OPS, top 10 in RBI, Batting Average, and HR. A completely dominant season from Ryan Braun.
3) Justin Upton - Arizona Diamondbacks
It's crazy to think now that Upton was nearly traded last off-season. This pick may make the statheads head explode, but their are few players I enjoy watching more than Upton. A key to the Diamondbacks unlikely 2011 run.
Best of the Rest:
4) Lance Berkman - St. Louis Cardinals
5) Roy Halladay - Philadelphia Phillies
6) Jose Reyes - New York Mets
7) Prince Fielder - Milwaukee Brewers
8) Troy Tulowitzki - Colorado Rockies
9) Joey Votto - Cincinnati Reds
10) Albert Pujols - St. Louis Cardinals
American League Player of the Year (Stan Musial Award)
1) Justin Verlander - Detroit Tigers
In part because no offensive player in my mind ran away with this, Verlander was the most dominant single player in the American League this year. A bold statement for someone that only plays every 5 days perhaps, but to me, there was no one who had a more prolific season than him. His 2011 shouldn't be relegated only to the Cy Young (which he will certainly win).
2) Jacoby Ellsbury - Boston Red Sox
Ellsbury saved the Red Sox season on a variety of times in September until the magic finally ran out. Despite a complete meltdown around him, Ellsbury remained a bright spot.
3) Jose Bautista - Toronto Blue Jays
Two years in a row leading the league in homeruns, an insane 1.056 OPS, and hit over .300. Best player on a team that is getting better every year. Sign stealing or no sign stealing, this guy showed that 2010 was no fluke.
Best of the Rest:
4) Evan Longoria - Tampa Bay Rays
5) Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers
6) Curtis Granderson - New York Yankees
7) Adrian Gonzalez - Boston Red Sox
8) Paul Konerko - Chicago White Sox
9) Mark Teixeira - New York Yankees
10) Jered Weaver - Anaheim Angels