National League 2011 MLB Awards: The True Winners

September 11, 2011

With only a few games left in the 2011 Major League Baseball season, it is time now to announce this year's National League award winners.  Although some of our winners may not end up as the official recipients at year's end, we believe they are the most deserving.

It should be noted that while numbers played a role in determining some of the winners, player statistics were not the only factor considered.  Contrary to the practitioners of Moneyball and their numerically-restricted disciples, we also included the eyeball test in our assessments.  In other words, intangibles, athleticism, and skill assessments were part of the criteria.

Here are the winners of the DSH's 2011 NL Awards:

Rookie of the Year

Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
Vance Worley, Philadelphia
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
Javy Guerra, Los Angeles

Winner? Vance Worley.  For all the talk about Hamels, Halladay, Oswalt, and Lee, has any pitcher been more important to the Phils than rookie righty Worley?  Stepping in for injured fifth starter Joe Blanton,  Worley shut out the Mets on 2 hits over six innings and has not looked back since.  Worley has locked down that fifth spot in the rotation, going 11-1 with a 2.88 ERA.  He has not lost since May, and the Phils have won the last 14 games he has started.

Considering he only had two big league starts prior to this season, and that he started the year in the minors, Worley's surprise emergence and outstanding play are worthy of this year's NL Rookie of the Year award.

Freeman and Kimbrel have put the Braves at the front of the Wild Card race with their consistent play.  Freeman has stepped in at first base and produced from the jump, hitting .296 with 19 blasts, and showing a decent glove.

One could easily make the case that rookie closer Kimbrel has been even more impressive than anyone, as he has converted 43 of 49 save opportunities, while posting a 1.78 ERA. With 116 K's in only 70 innings -- that's more strikeouts than Worley in 40 less innings of work -- Kimbrel has demonstrated that he has the stuff to be a fearsome closer for years to come.

The Dodgers Guerra is another good young reliever, as he has converted 18 of 19 save opportunities, while maintaining an ERA of 1.99.

Manager of the Year

Kirk Gibson, Arizona
Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia
Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee

Winner? Kirk Gibson.  Gibson has taken a team with Justin Upton and little else, and propelled them to the top of the NLWest.  A fiery and intense competitor during his playing days, Gibson's attitude has translated to the Diamondbacks.  Gibby's leadership has rubbed off on ace Ian Kennedy, who is putting up Cy Young numbers and having a career year. He has also juggled the bullpen well, and has gotten good production from his role players.

Considering that the defending champion Giants also reside in this division, Gibson's accomplishment has been no easy feat.

Manuel has dealt with lackluster hitting and injuries, but the Phils haven't blinked an eye, as they have the best record in the NL.  Of course, their starting rotation of superstar arms certainly has helped.  Roenicke deserves praise for getting the young and talented Brewers to play to their potential.

Cy Young

Roy Halladay, Philadelphia
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
Ian Kennedy, Arizona
Cliff Lee, Philadelphia

Winner? Clayton Kershaw. With the circus that is the Frank McCourt era, it is easy to overlook Kershaw's accomplishments. But quite frankly, no other pitcher has been as dominant or exciting this year.  His numbers alone speak for themselves: 18-5, NL-best 2.36 ERA, 231 K's in 213 innings.

Blessed with a live fastball, a wicked curve, and an expanding array of go-to pitches, Kershaw's stuff compares well with anybody.  But what sets the Dodger lefty apart this year has been his competitive spirit and professionalism.

With LA out of the playoff hunt and essentially playing for nothing, Kershaw hasn't had the luxury of competing in exciting games with playoff implications. Nevertheless, he performs like a true number one when he takes the hill, as seen by his three consecutive head-to-head wins over Giants ace Tim Lincecum.  And he does it while getting so-so run support from the Dodgers anemic lineup.

Halladay is still the gold standard, and Lee and Kennedy have put up great numbers for winning teams, so all three deserve consideration. However, Kershaw's performance in an environment of absolute chaos sets him apart this season.


Prince Fielder, Milwaukee
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
Jose Reyes, New York
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles

Winner? Matt Kemp. The vast potential that everyone has projected onto Matt Kemp has finally arrived, with Kemp firmly establishing himself as the best player in the NL. Whatever the cause -- newfound maturity, mentoring by Dodger legend Davey Lopes -- the light bulb has gone off inside Kemp and there is no turning back.

A true five-tool guy, Kemp is hitting .319 with 32 blasts, 38 steals, 107 RBI's, 95 runs scored, a .399 OBP, a .563 slugging percentage, while leading all center fielders with 11 assists. And he has done it with zero help surrounding him in the Dodgers pathetic lineup, other than the now-injured Andre Ethier.

Critics might claim that the Dodgers are out of contention and that Kemp's numbers have not translated into winning. However, given the lack of talent on the roster and the 24/7 distraction of the Frank McCourt bankruptcy case, it is frightening to think where the team might be without Kemp. At the very least, certainly not at the .500 mark where the club currently stands.

Reyes has had a great bounce back year for the Mets, but lacks the power numbers to compete with Kemp. Fielder is a premier power hitter producing big numbers for a playoff-caliber team, but still is not a five-tool guy like Kemp.

Fielder's teammate, Braun, has numbers comparable to Kemp in that he hits for average, power, and steals bases, but he also has better hitters around him, and therefore, benefits by seeing more quality pitches.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for The Daily Sports Herald

1 comment:

  1. agree with everything but ROY. I go with Kimbrel


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