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2006 SBN Awards: Cy Young Awards

Introduction

Recently, we here at all of the SportsBlogs Nation baseball blogs voted for the very first time in the network end-of-season awards for baseball. The idea was brought up in August or September to have an awards series where each team's blog would be given two ballots, and the bloggers would, on these ballots, cast their choices for the awards that the BBWAA gives out at the end of every year, MVP, Cy Young, ROY, and MOY. We didn't do the Gold Gloves or Silver Sluggers, because that would have been too complicated, but the four core award categories were voted upon in late September and early October by the network bloggers, before the start of baseball's playoffs. Each voter was given three choices for ROY, MOY, and Cy Young, and ten for the MVP, and based on how they ranked their choices for those categories, the player or manager would receive a the number of points exactly opposite how they were ranked on that scale. For example, if you put Derek Jeter number one on the ballot, that would count as ten points for him. Just the same, a 10th place vote would count as one point.

Jacob and I represented DRaysBay in these highly successful first awards, casting our ballots for the AL choices. The overlying rule was that AL Bloggers cast ballots for AL choices; NL bloggers did so for NL choices. Once the votes were tabulated, the results were released internally, at which point the individual sites could decide when to publish the results. I chose later than most, because I wanted to compare my choices and Jacob's, as well as the network's, to the actual award winners. And starting now allows me to get the actual choices in the same piece. This piece will run as part of a series (famous last words from me, I know), that will include all four SBN awards categories and their results. The last part of the series, which runs through Tuesday, will be devoted to our own awards here at the Bay, the DRaysBay Awards. I hope you enjoy the work of SBN's collective brain trust, and special thanks must go out to Martin Gandy of Talking Chop, who organized the whole thing, kept on us about getting our votes in, and tabulated the results. He really was excellent through the whole process.

A bit of a note on the scheduling. Tomorrow will feature a double-header of awards articles due to other content. Obviously R.J. had his roster article today that I thought had enough merit to warrant the top spot for Monday evening, but also I have an interview that I will post following this. Matt probably also has an article slated for tomorrow, but generally I want to space this out so each writer gets some fair time for their content to be featured. So we'll see what shakes out tomorrow, but right now I am planning on posting those two articles.

Series
Thursday-Manager of the Year
Friday-Rookie of the Year
Today-Cy Young Award
Tomorrow-DRB Awards
Tomorrow Night-MVP Award

Cy Young Award

The SBN choices once again paralleled the BBWAA's, as Johan Santana blew out the competition as expected to win the AL award, while Brandon Webb won in a closer contest, but still comfortably, in the National League.

Santana absolutely destroyed the competition in the AL voting, winning all possible first place votes and finishing with 90 out of a possible 90 points in the running. Far behind in second place was Toronto ace Roy Halladay, who garnered 43 points, while Chien-Ming Wang finished very far behind in third place with six points, one more then three players that split with five points each.

The National League, as mentioned earlier, was much closer, as Brandon Webb finished in first place, 27 points ahead of second place finisher Roy Oswalt of the Houston Astros. Chris Carpenter finished a respectable third place, with 48 points in the voting.

SBN Postseason Awards Winners
SBN AL BBWAA AL Patrick (AL) Jake (AL) SBN NL BBWAA NL
Manager of the Year Jim Leyland DET Jim Leyland DET Jim Leyland DET Jim Leyland DET Joe Girardi FLA Joe Girardi FLA
Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander DET Justin Verlander DET Francisco Liriano MIN Justin Verlander DET Hanley Ramirez FLA Hanley Ramirez FLA
Cy Young Award Johan Santana MIN Johan Santana MIN Johan Santana MIN Johan Santana MIN Brandon Webb AZ Brandon Webb AZ
MVP Award Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday Ryan Howard PHI

For more on the Cy Young choices, the SBN voting, and expanded comments on Jacob and myself's choices, please follow the jump.

AL Cy Young Award

In perhaps the most obvious decision of not only this year, but the past several years, Johan Santana dominated the voting to win the SBN Awards' AL Cy Young Award. The network bloggers' choice agreed with that of the BBWAA, and both Jacob and I cast first place votes for Santana in the unanimous decision.

The year's award combined two elements that made it nearly impossible to choose anyone BUT Santana. First of all, the choices in this year's pool outside of the Minnesota ace were unusually weak, and Santana was unusually dominant in winning his second Cy Young Award in three years. Santana has clearly taken the mantle of the best pitcher in baseball. He led the Minnesota pitching staff this year as the Twins won their fourth AL Central crown in five years. The lefty was just plain filthy, striking out over nine batters for every nine innings while walking less than two. While he certainly benefited from the presence of Francisco Liriano for half a season, he carried the torch for a rotation that was with an unusually mediocre year from Brad Radke.

Roy "Doc" Halladay, who finished in second place in the voting, had a decent year, although his strikeout rate sharply declined. Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees finished in third after a year in which he at some times carried the pitching staff. He didn't get by on strikeout rate, but his penchant for getting groundballs at a consistent rate contributed to his success in New York. Rounding out the voting was a number of players, including Justin Verlander (Detroit), Jon Papelbon (Boston), Francisco Rodriguez (Anaheim), C.C. Sabathia (Cleveland), John Lackey (Anaheim), Barry Zito (Oakland), Justin Duchscherer (Oakland), Mike Mussina (New York), Jered Weaver (Anaheim), and Francisco Liriano (Minnesota).

Still, those two and the rest of the Cy Young class paled in comparison to the Twins southpaw. Going into 2007, Santana can't be considered anything less than the odds-on favorite to win the award again, and his presence in the American League for many years to come will make Scott Kazmir's battle to ascend to the top of the Cy Young voting an uphill one.

Jacob Says-Santana is one of the best pitchers of our generation. I'll be telling my kids and grandkids that I watched Johan Santana pitch.

Patrick Says-What can you say? Johan Santana dominated the American League this past year. His ERA was exemplary, he blew away hitters, he had control, he kept the ball down, and he pitched the Twins to the AL Central title. What more could you possibly want?

SBN Cy Young Award Voting-AL
First Place Votes No. of Ballots On Total Points
Johan Santana, MIN 18 18 90
Roy Halladay, TOR 0 15 43
Chien-Ming Wang, NYY 0 4 6
Justin Verlander, DET 0 3 5
Jon Papelbon, BOS 0 3 5
Francisco Rodriguez, ANA 0 3 5
C.C. Sabathia, CLE 0 2 2
John Lackey, ANA 0 1 1
Barry Zito, OAK 0 1 1
Justin Duchscherer, OAK 0 1 1
Mike Mussina, NYY 0 1 1
Jered Weaver, ANA 0 1 1
Francisco Liriano, MIN 0 1 1
18 Total Ballots Cast

NL Cy Young Award

Brandon Webb used an improved infield defense led by Orlando Hudson to finally elevate his stats to award recognition, as he swept both the SBN and the BBWAA NL Cy Young Awards. Roy Oswalt of the Astros finished a solid second with 72 points, 27 points behind Webb. Finishing in third place was last year's Cy Young Award winner, Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals.

Webb won the award despite posting a 3.10 ERA, higher than one would expect from a Cy Young award winner, but was helped by the weak class in the National League this year. The groundball specialist thrived in Arizona as a workhorse this year, making 33 starts and racking up 235 innings worth of work. He has been above 200 innings in each of the last three years, and is rapidly becoming the successor to Livan Hernandez in that regard, except much better. Webb didn't have a great strikeout ratio, but it was about seven for every nine innings, which is pretty decent, but also limited his walks, under two for every nine innings, to come out ahead.

Where Webb really succeeded, however, was in working with his usual ground ball specialty. He gave up a 0.57 HR/9 ratio in hitter-friendly Bank One Ballpark Chase Field, a product of his 4.07 groundball/flyball ratio. He effectively retired hitters using this without the need for strikeouts, and the addition of Hudson to improve the infield defense obviously helped in this regard with his overall performance. Let's hope that more teams use this model in the future to boost the effectiveness of pitchers. Teams like the Rays with question marks in the four hole ought to give more weight to defense in the equation.

Finishing behind Webb was Oswalt, the Houston ace, who put together a good case for the award, posting a lower ERA than Webb, but his strikeout and walk rates were in line with that of his compatriot, and his G/F ratio and HR/9 were much worse. Carpenter, the 2005 winner, traded his award last year for a ring this year, so I don't think he is reeling too much from being an also-ran in this category. Also getting a fair amount of votes was San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman, while John Smoltz (Atlanta), Billy Wagner (New York), Aaron Harang (Cincinnati), Carlos Zambrano (Chicago), Cla Meredith (San Diego), and Bronson Arroyo (Cincinnati) received token votes.

SBN Cy Young Award Voting-NL
First Place Votes No. of Ballots On Total Points
Brandon Webb, AZ 13 27 99
Roy Oswalt, HOU 9 20 72
Chris Carpenter, STL 4 20 48
Trevor Hoffman, SD 2 6 18
John Smoltz, ATL 0 2 4
Billy Wagner, HOU 0 1 3
Aaron Harang, CIN 0 3 3
Carlos Zambrano, CHC 0 2 2
Cla Meredith, SD 0 2 2
Bronson Arroyo, CIN 0 1 1
28 Total Ballots Cast