The All NL Central Awards

Here’s Blog Red Machine’s final installment of the year-end awards for the NL Central. There are four awards we will present:

Sparky Anderson Award for Best Manager
Bill Virdon Award for Top Rookie
Bob Gibson Award for Top Pitcher
Ernie Banks Award for Top Player

As each award is announced, there will be the usual explanation of each and how the voting was conducted. No, there won’t be a quiz afterwards. Granted, these awards are our own, but it’s always fun to do such.

No more time to waste. Here we go!

Sparky Anderson Award

The voting for the Anderson is based on each ballot listing their top three choices. The points awarded for each are on the 5-3-1 basis (5 points for a first place vote, etc.). After receiving five ballots, ther results were not as close as I expected, but not surprising either

Ron Roenicke

I honestly thought Roenicke would be chosen as the Anderson recipient. Also it was no surprise that he named on all five ballots receiving three fist-place votes and a pair of seconds. Roenicke, in his first year at the helm of the Milwaukee Brewers, guided a team that was viewed by some as the favorite to win the NL Central. The Brew Crew finished the regular season with a 96-66 record, a 19 game improvement upon 2010 (77-85). The surprising fact to me is that he was the only manager on all five ballots.

What aided Roenicke’s initial campaign in Milwaukee was the additions of Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and a mid-season acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez.

Second place was St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa who snagged one first, two seconds and a third place vote. Here’s the full vote by the BRM crew.

Bill Virdon Award

The same guidelines for the Virdon are those of the Anderson: top 3 with the points as 5-3-1. And as with the Anderson, the winner of the Virdon was th eonly one namesd on all five ballots garnering three first-place votes and a pair of second-place nods.

Darwin Barney

In what some would term a disappointing season for the Cubs, Barney was one of very few bright spots on the Chicago roster. At one time, there was a slight uptick for Barney to be selected to the All-Star Game. That would have been a major accomplishment for the former Oregon State Beaver with the likes of Rickie Weeks and Brandon Phillips at the position. His numbers at the break were enough to at least garner consideration (.306 BA). Barney showed he is the Cubs second sacker and could be for a long time to come.

Barney did suffer a second half slide as the length of a major league season did catch up to him. With a full season now under his belt, I do expect bigger and better things from him in 2012. Yes, there can always be that sophomore jinx, but all Barney has to do is look over to his shortstop (Starlin Castro) and see that a very good second season in Chicago is in the offering.

Finishing second to Barney was the Cards Daniel Descalso. The vote went as such…

Bob Gibson Award

The Gibson vote is a little different in that each ballot consisted of the voters top 5 pitchers. The vote was not restricted to only starters as relievers and closers could also receive votes. Points were allotted as follows: 10-7-5-3-1. That system made this vote the closest of any of the awards.

Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo was the only pitcher to receive votes on all five ballots (seeing a developing trend here…), but won the nod despite receiving only one first-place vote. That is indicative of how close the voting was. But Gallardo does have a couple of reasons for being the top guy.

Of all the qualified starters among NL Central teams, Gallardo led the NL Central pitchers in wins (17) and strikeouts (207). The 2011 season marked the third campaign in which Gallardo owned 200 or more strikeouts. He also eclipsed the 200-innings mark for the first time in his career with 207 IP solidifying himself as a key cog on a staff that is among what is noted as a darn good starting staff.

Finishing second was the Brewers closer John Axford…by three points. Axford was not named on all five ballots. If he had been and had he received a third place vote on that one, he would be your Gibson winner. A fourth place vote would have resulted in a tie…literally. See for yourself…

Ernie Banks Award

For the Banks, the list grew to the top 7 players and was not restricted to position players. Pitchers could receive votes as well. As you can imagine, a wide number of players received votes for the Banks. The points were as follows: 13-10-8-6-4-2-1.

Ryan Braun

A quick little shout out here. Heather, here ya go! Okay…

To me, there’s no question Braun gets the nod here. He posted a 30/30 season (33 HR/33 SB). Hit well over .300 (.332). Drove in over 100 runs (111 RBI). Scored over 100 runs (109). Led the National League in slugging percentage (.597) and OPS (.994). When I reveal the complete vote, you will notice one thing. I was a bit surprised that Braun did not receive a top three on one ballot, he was awarded a fourth place vote. As expected, he was on all five ballots.

So were second place and Brewers teammate Prince Fielder (who was among the top 3 on all ballots and receiving the other first-place vote) and third place finisher Joey Votto of the Reds. The results are this…

I hope you have enjoyed seeing all of our views on the top among the NL Central. We will do a preseason team prior to next season.