The Baseball Bloggers Alliance, of which I am a proud member, bestows its annual Stan Musial Award on the best player in baseball by a vote of the group’s members. This is my first year casting a ballot for what is the equivalent of the Major League Baseball most valuable player awards, and it’s a tall order.
How on earth does anyone decide who’s the best player in the game? I’m giving it a go here with equal parts direct observation at the ballpark, heavy doses of TV and radio broadcasts, reading, statistics, coin flips and gut-level calls.
1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers – The leader of the Brew Crew, high average, monster slugging percentage, 33 home runs and 33 stolen bases. One heck of a year, edging out:
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers – Best average in baseball, formidable power, 108 walks and the driving offensive force for the AL Central champs, edging out:
3. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers – This guy led the National League in homers and RBIs on a Dodger team with an otherwise anemic offense. Amazing.
4. Jose Reyes, New York Mets – Even in an injury-shortened season, this guy did his job getting on base, stealing and generally pestering the heck out of pitchers.
5. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays – Led the game in homers. Again.
6. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees – Best overall performance in pinstripes, just nudging out:
7. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees – A fine all-around year.
8. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox – Powerful season squandered by the team’s stretch drive collapse.
9. Michael Young, Texas Rangers – Great year at the plate.
10. Hunter Pence, Houston Astros/Philadelphia Phillies – He made a big difference with the Phillies in the second half of the season.
Let the kvetching and bickering begin. I’m leaving off Albert Pujols, for goodness sake, all pitchers, Joey Votto and Alex Gordon and on and on.