Time for another round of Baseball Bloggers Alliance award voting — if you were wondering, Ron Washington (AL) and Bud Black (NL) were announced as the winners of the Connie Mack Award. You may remember that Jim Breen of Bernie’s Crew and myself had Bud Black in third place on our ballot.
Today, ballots for the Willie Mays Award are due, and I’m again working with Jim for this vote. The Willie Mays Award is given to the best rookie, and considering we can only vote for three players, this may be the toughest vote. When it comes to the best rookie in the NL, there really is no wrong answer between Jason Heyward and Buster Posey, and after that you have a large group of rookies that probably would have won the award if this were any other year. This is the ballot that we’re submitting as the Milwaukee chapter.
1. Jason Heyward, Atlanta – We won’t be upset if Posey wins, but to us, Heyward is a clear #1. What he was able to do as a 20-year old who played in just three games above Double A — .277/.393/.456, 131 OPS+, 5.0 fWAR — was simply incredible. The fact that he was this good at 20 years old is just flat-out scary, and when you factor in what looks to be above-average defense, Heyward finishes just ahead of Posey.
2. Buster Posey, San Francisco – With all that said about Heyward, Posey was still incredible for a rookie. His numbers — .305/.357/.505, 129 OPS+ in 108 games — are extremely good before you even consider he primarily played catcher. Posey was extremely hot down the stretch in the regular season, and the Giants probably don’t make the playoffs without him, but it’s not quite enough to overtake Heyward.
3. Jaime Garcia, St. Louis – This is probably the toughest spot on the ballot, but we have Garcia barely beating out names like Gaby Sanchez, Ike Davis, Starlin Castro, or even Stephen Strasburg here. In the first half of the season, you probably couldn’t find a pitcher that was getting better results. Despite not having eye-popping stuff or peripheral stats, Garcia was so effective thanks to an ability to strike out enough batters (7.27 K/9) and keeping the ball on the ground (55.9% GB%) and in the yard (0.50 HR/9, 8th best in MLB). We both agree that it’ll suck seeing him in the division for at least the next 5 years.