It's that time again! The Baseball Bloggers Alliance get to pick their annual award winners. What is the BBA you ask? And what are these "awards" I speak of? I'm not really sure either, but the fine folks at the BBA gave me this press release to share with you.
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 316 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.
The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.
Chapters generally followed one of two methods when casting their ballot. Either representatives of the chapter were given the ballots for voting or a “group ballot” was posted, accounting for both of their votes.
Notably, though the Alliance’s awards come out well before their official counterparts, the BBA selections have matched those of the Baseball Writers of America in all but two instances in the past two years. This, of course, does not include the Goose Gossage Award that is exclusive to the BBA.
So now that you know (and knowing is half the battle), here are my picks for the Goose Gossage Award, given out to the top reliever (NL only).
#1. Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta Braves) *5 POINTS
The guy was a beast this year. 4-3 with 46 saves, a 2.10 ERA & 1.04 WHIP. Those numbers look fine and dandy, but that's not why I picked him. Kimbrel had an dazzling 14.84 K/9 (127 K's in 77 IP). To put that in perspective Padres fans, he had only had 1 less strikeout than Tim Stauffer this season despite pitching 108.2 innings LESS than him. With a WAR of +3.2, Kimbrel and teammate Jonny Venters (+1.7 WAR) combined to make the back end of the Braves bullpen one of the most feared in all of baseball. Oh yeah....Kimbrel only had 20.2 big league innings under his belt before this season. Amazing.
#2. John Axford (Milwaukee Brewers) *3 POINTS
Axford comes in a very close 2nd. He posted a 2-2 record with 46 saves, a 1.95 ERA & 1.14 WHIP. With a WAR of +1.9, Axford was a big reason why the Brewers are where they are today (the playoffs in case no one is paying attention anymore). He was no slacker when it came to strike outs either, striking out batters to the tune of 10.51 per 9 innings (86 K). There was one stat that almost swayed my mind to make Axford #1 on my list and that's blown saves. He only had 2 all season long, pitching in a park that is a little more homer friendly than the average park. But Kimbrels overall numbers won me over.
#3. J.J. Putz (Arizona Diamondbacks) *1 POINT
Putz had a nice little bounce back season. With only 58 IP in 60 games, Putz was more of the 1 inning or a couple outs type of closer. He had some injury issues this year, but still managed to save 45 games. His BABIP was .247, the 4th lowest among NL closers. He still managed a +1.7 WAR on the season and posted a 2.17 ERA & a very nice 0.91 WHIP.