Monday, November 8, 2021

TJ's AL Awards, and full season All-Stars

Howdy folks. It was a great season for our guys, but a strange season in the AL, as seven teams won 90 or more games, and there were really only two absolute dogs in the league. The Orioles lost 110 games, and Texas lost 102. No other team lost 90 or more. The Blue Jays great, and all around really fun, season is a big reason I got off my ass to do these posts. Let's dive in.

First the boring stuff. This is based only on the regular season. 10 slots for the MVP Award, 5 each for the Cy Young Award, the Jackie Robinson Award, and the Mariano Rivera Award. There are 32 spots on each league's full season All-Star team. 7 starting pitchers, 5 relief pitchers, and 20 position players, and the one player per team rule for the All-Stars is out the window. Alright, let the torching of Tom's apartment, and the pitchforking of said occupant commence.


  1. Shohei Ohtani, DH/SP, LAA
  2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, TOR
  3. Jose Ramirez, 3B, CLE
  4. Aaron Judge, RF/CF, NYY
  5. Carlos Correa, SS, HOU
  6. Marcus Semien, 2B/SS, TOR
  7. Brandon Lowe, 2B/LF, TBR
  8. Matt Olson, 1B, OAK
  9. Robbie Ray, SP, TOR
10. Gerrit Cole, SP, NYY

Sorry fellow Blue Jays' fans, but in 2021, there was Shohei Ohtani, and there was everybody else. I've never seen a wider gap between 1st and 2nd in the time I've been doing this. I have him as the number 3 position player, behind Vlad, and Ramirez, and the number 8 pitcher, behind Robbie Ray, Gerrit Cole, Lance Lynn, Carlos Rodon, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Bassitt, and Lucas Giolito. That makes him an easy choice for MVP. It's not even close despite Vladdy's heroics. It kind of fits in with the multiple post-game press conferences I saw, throughout the year, with opposing players (and probably teammates), mouths agape saying "I'm not sure you understand how unique/special this is", or "What he's doing is insane", or "He's making the game look ridiculously easy".

One of the asinine comments I keep hearing from those that are supposed to be in the know about these things, is "What are we supposed to do, hand him the MVP every year for the next decade?". Don't. Be. Dumb. Please. Seriously, how can you have been watching baseball all this time, and not know that injuries, performance, luck etc, always come into play, and that one season does not necessarily carry over to the next? 

The best historical example of the difference in results, year over year, that I can think of, off the top of my head, is Bret Saberhagen. From the time he came up in 1984 through 1989, his bWAR fluctuated wildly. In the odd number years, he was in the discussion for the Cy Young Award, and in the even number years, he was average to slightly above. 1984: 1.5 bWAR, 1985: 7.1 bWAR, 1986: 2.0 bWAR, 1987: 8.0 bWAR, 1988: 3.8 bWAR, and 1989: 9.7 bWAR. Shohei's performance will fluctuate, and he will not necessarily win the award every year people. In the meantime, enjoy the once in a century show, for goodness sake.

The thing that surprised me about this list was how low Semien came out. I had to check out his WPA about ten times to make sure it was right. He was #39 in that stat in the AL. I seem to recall enough huge hits to put him much higher than that, but I guess those overshadowed the times he didn't get it done in the big spots. Such a steady player, day in, day out though. He was actually #5 in WPA, on the Blue Jays, behind Vlad, Bo, Teo, and Springer. I guess that's why we have stats. To overrule our biases, and eyeballs.

For the "pitchers (not named Shohei Ohtani) cannot be named MVP" folks out there, remove Ray, and Cole, and slide Bo, and Cedric Mullins up. Either way we get 2, 6, and 9. Including Ray, it's four of the top eleven, and I've got Teo at #21. You already know the placement of the five pitchers for Cy Young, but let's flesh it out anyway, with a shot of Mr. Tight Pants in action.


  1. Robbie Ray, SP, TOR
  2. Gerrit Cole, SP, NYY
  3. Lance Lynn, SP, CHW
  4. Carlos Rodon, SP, CHW
  5. Nathan Eovaldi, SP, BOS

Robbie Ray and Gerrit Cole, then a step down to Lynn, and Rodon, and another step down to Eovaldi is how I see this one. Ray was remarkably consistent, and consistently excellent this year. He allowed four runs or more in just 4 of his 32 starts. The main reason for that was the emergence of his control. I say emergence, because walks have always been a bit of a bugaboo for him, but not this year. His career numbers, coming into this season, featured a 4.26 ERA, 103 ERA+, 4.12 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 8.2 H/9, 1.3 HR/9, 4.3 BB/9, 11.1 K/9, and 2.60 K/BB. This year, he put up a 2.84 ERA, 154 ERA+, 3.69 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, 1.5 HR/9, 2.4 BB/9, 11.5 K/9, and 4.77 K/BB. It's amazing what finding your control can do for all your other numbers. He led the AL in ERA (2.84), GS (32), IP (193.1 - Somewhere Wince just trashed his device), ERA+ (154), WHIP (1.04), and MLB in K (248). 

All that work with our Pitcher Whisperer paid huge dividends for him, and now he's gonna deservedly earn an absolute truckload of money in free agency. I've said it elsewhere, that you don't necessarily have to bring back the same personnel. Just put a winning team on the field Sharp Kittens. Sure, you'll get roasted by Blue Jays' fans if he doesn't return, but nobody will give a damn, if big things happen in 2022. Would I love to see him return? Absolutely, but just give us a contender, and we'll be thrilled. Just give us a chance to dance, man.

Rodon is another one who bet on himself this year. Ray took a 1 year/$8M deal, while Rodon took $5M less. Both stand to get significant contracts in free agency, but Ray has a much better health record in his career so far, so he's the safer bet to score a huge payday. Rodon was brilliant when he pitched, but pitched just 132.2 innings in 24 starts. Amazingly enough, he allowed 4 runs or more in 5 of his 24 starts, so despite having better rate stats than Ray, from an overall perspective, Ray kept his team close, more often than Rodon. Consistency man. It's a beautiful thing.

Jackie Robinson Award (ROY):

  1. Randy Arozarena, LF/RF, TBR
  2. Wander Franco, SS, TBR
  3. Garrett Whitlock, RP, BOS
  4. Luis Garcia, SP/RP, HOU
  5. Emmanuel Clase, RP, CLE

Seriously? Really? Fuuuck. Arozarena, and Franco for however much longer they're in the Sunshine State, look set to terrorize us. Probably more than any other team, because Tampa Bay always murtalizes us. Our system is gonna have to continue to produce like mad. The good thing is, it looks like it's set up to do just that. Two new, young, dynamic everyday players to contend with. Then you've got the Sux, and the Yankee$. Oh well, at least we're used to it by now. Thankfully, Baltimore haven't completed their rebuild yet. But, they're getting there if you take a look below the major league level, despite the 110 losses. Certainly a lot better than they were looking before Mike Elias got there.

The man with the career .354/.436/.760/1.197 line in the postseason to go with 11 HR in 110 PA, picked up right where he left off, after last year's coming out party in the playoffs. Arozarena put up a .274/.356/.459/.815 line, which was good for a 128 wRC+, and then continued to trash postseason pitching with a .333/.474/.600/1.074 line. He scored 94 runs, smashed 32 doubles, 20 HR, and stole 20 bases. He was caught 10 times though. That could use some work, and he also struck out 170 times, so, at least, there are some weaknesses. 

Wander Franco scares me much more. For one thing, Arozarena is six years older than him. Franco did not look out of place at all, at the age of 20, and he plays a premium position. There doesn't appear to be anything he can't do, aside from steal bases. Project his numbers out over 650 PA, and you come away with 112 R, 38 2B, 11 3B, 15 HR, 51 BB, and an incredibly low 78 K, with a slash line of .288/.347/.463/.810, which was good for a 127 wRC+. At age 20. This kid is special. Just wait 'til he gets his man muscles. Please get him out of our division. Pretty please?

This was a fantastic rookie crop, and hopefully it'll continue that way because young players are really fun to watch, as we found out with our guys this year. Whitlock had a sub-2.00 ERA, and a sub-3.00 FIP. Garcia pitched 155.1 innings in his first full season, with a 3.48 ERA, and a 3.63 FIP. I wonder how long he can continue to fool the hitters with the rock-a-bye baby delivery though. A bit gimmicky, so we'll have to see. Clase only averaged 100.4 MPH on his fastball. That's not, hit 100 MPH on a few fastballs, that's averaged half a tick over 100. Hay-zus!

Mariano Rivera Award (Reliever of the Year):

  1. Jonathan Loaisiga, NYY
  2. Raisel Iglesias, LAA
  3. Jordan Romano, TOR
  4. Drew Steckenrider, SEA
  5. Liam Hendriks, CHW

Loaisiga, the 26 year old Nicaraguan, at first glance doesn't look like he belongs in this category. He doesn't have the crazy strikeout rates of his peers, in a game where you want your big guns out of the 'pen to have elite swing and miss stuff. 

That's not really his game, as he was average to a tick below average among his AL relief pitcher peers, with an 8.79 K/9 rate. But pull back a bit, and check out the elite GB rate (60.9%), which helped lead to his ridiculous 0.39 HR/9 rate. Remember, his team plays in the $2.3 billion bandbox known as Yankee Stadium 81 times a year, and given that he's a righty, he should be higly susceptible to that goofy RF wall. Now, throw in the lowest BB/9 rate of his career (2.05), and you're starting to see why he was so effective. So, not walking people, surrendering a miniscule amount of HR in a HR happy home ballpark, with the right amount of luck can overcome that average strikeout rate eh? Who knew? 

Do I think he could do that again over a full season? Maybe. Interestingly enough, he had the lowest strand rate of the five guys listed, at 79.1%, so it wasn't all luck. Would I assign him as my closer because he projects to be one of the best relievers in the game in the future? Probably not, but as we saw with our in season bullpen makeover, having some variation down in the 'pen is a really nice thing to have. The question that we're asking here though, is who was the best reliever in the AL was in 2021? My answer to that question is Jonathan Loaisiga.

Both Liam Hendriks and Raisel Iglesias get it done with elite K/BB rates. Liam struck out 113, and walked 7 in 71 innings, while Iglesias struck out 103, while walking 12 in 70 innings. Utterly ridiculous. Both gave up 11 homers though, and dingers are devastating in the latter stages of any game. Romano's walk rate was a titch high (3.57 BB/9, which is actually league averageish for relievers...Of course walks in the late stages of any game, are extremely stressful for all involved), but everything else was solidly above average, and he was incredibly steady throughout the year. 

He led the league in WPA at 3.73, and looked like he could be a big part of the bullpen going forward. Keep in mind how difficult it is to project relievers into the future though. It is the most volatile position in the game, and a very important one, or have we forgotten the periods when we only had one trustworthy reliever this season, despite the bullpen looking like a strength heading into the year?

On to the All-Stars, but first, a picture of Bo, brought to you by the Bo Flow Fanclub, which is headed up by day one member, Dabbles. I mean Bo is on the All-Star team, so why not?

Not the flowiest Bo pic ever, but oh my, the swagger. The cockiness. The bat drop. The "I am the best player on this field, and don't you forget it bitches" self assuredness. The Bo-ness. Right then, where was I? Ah yes...The All-Stars...

American League All-Stars:

Starting Pitchers:

      Robbie Ray, TOR
      Gerrit Cole, NYY
      Lance Lynn, CHW
      Carlos Rodon, CHW
      Nathan Eovaldi, BOS
      Chris Bassitt, OAK
      Lucas Giolito, CHW

Relief Pitchers:

      Jonathan Loaisiga, NYY
      Raisel Iglesias, LAA
      Jordan Romano, TOR
      Drew Steckenrider, SEA
      Liam Hendriks, CHW

Position Player Starters:

DH/SP/Baseball Demi-God: Shohei Ohtani, LAA
  C: Salvador Perez, KCR
1B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR
2B: Marcus Semien, TOR
3B: Jose Ramirez, CLE
SS: Carlos Correa, HOU
OF: Aaron Judge, NYY
OF: Brandon Lowe, TBR
OF: Cedric Mullins, BAL

Position Player Reserves:

  C: Yasmani Grandal, CHW
1B: Matt Olson, OAK
2B: Jorge Polanco, MIN
2B: Jose Altuve, HOU
3B: Rafael Devers, BOS
SS: Bo Bichette, TOR
SS: Xander Bogaerts, BOS
SS: Tim Anderson, CHW
OF: Kyle Tucker, HOU
OF: Teoscar Hernandez, TOR
OF: Byron Buxton, MIN

I like to try to put players at their primary positions on the All-Star teams. You'll notice I had Max Muncy, and Trea Turner at 2B on the NL team. The only second baseman I felt was worthy in the NL, was Jonathan India. I started with four first basemen, one second baseman, three third basemen, and four shortstops. Both Turner, and Muncy started quite a bit at 2B during the season though, so I shifted them to 2B to fill in the gaps, and to ease the congestion at 1B, and SS. 

In the AL, I had eight middle infielders, and five outfielders. Brandon Lowe started in LF for the Rays, so I shifted him out there to patch up that hole. Positional flexibility seems to be the name of the game these days, and those positions needed adjusting, so I covered them. It also allowed Lowe to be an All-Star starter, which was completely warranted, given his crazy good year.

There you have it. My AL Awards, and full season All-Stars. Let's hear yours in the comments section.