BBA Awards: Goose Gossage & Walter Johnson

Our next round of awards voting for the Baseball Bloggers' Alliance is upon us and we're examing the Goose Gossage Award and Walter Johnson Award. The Gossage award highlights the best relievers from each league over the past year, and the Walter Johnson award showcases top starting pitchers.

AL Goose Gossage:

Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees
Jose Valverde - Detroit Tigers
David Robertson - New York Yankees

Initially my colleagues and I had Valverde first and Mo second. However, some digging into each pitchers' statistics bore out some interesting facts. Although Papa Grande (Valverde) led the league in saves and didn't blow any of them, he also didn't have any inherited runners during any save opportunity. Rivera completed his tenth career season of 30 saves with an ERA under 2. He was vintage Mo and has continued to maintain that aura of invincibility. As closers go, the AL was Rivera, Valverde, and then the rest of the pack. Robertson may be an uncommon pick, but his numbers this year were amazing. He was tied for the lead league in holds, boasted a 1.08 ERA, and had an outstanding 100 strikeouts in only 66.2 innings pitched.

NL Goose Gossage:

John Axford - Milwaukee Brewers
Craig Kimbrel - Atlanta Braves
J.J. Putz - Arizona Diamondbacks

All three of our NL Gossage nominees were instrumental in either getting their teams to the playoffs or keeping the team near the top of the division all season long. Since breaking into the league in 2009, Axford has continued to improve, and seemingly put it all together this past season. With only 2 blown saves the whole year, he was instrumental in Milwaukee making the postseason. Speaking of playing in October, although the Braves are not, Kimbrel's achievement is no less amazing. To tie for the league lead in saves as a rookie is an amazing accomplishment. He dazzled and dominated hitters all season, striking out an astounding 127 in 77 innings. Were it not for a shaky September, most likely due to fatigue, he may have made our top spot. A journeyman of both leagues, J.J. Putz has come back to his form of five years ago when he was a dominating closer in Seattle. He helped lead a Diamondbacks team that was not expected to fare as well as they did. If he remains injury free, he can certainly continue to be a great closer for the D-backs.

AL Walter Johnson:

Justin Verlander - Detroit Tigers
C.C. Sabathia - New York Yankees
Jered Weaver - Anaheim Angels
James Shields - Tampa Bay Rays
C.J. Wilson - Texas Rangers

The only question surrounding Verlander (which has been beaten to death) is whether he should be named the top pitcher in the league and the top overall player as well. He won the pitching triple crown, leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA. No brainer he should be the Walter Johnson Award winner. After JV, the debate opens up for spots 2 and 3 where interchanging Sabathia and Weaver is perfectly acceptable. We picked Sabathia as he had one more win, and 32 more strikeouts. Weaver had the better ERA and nearly the same amount of wins. Big Game James Shields hits the fourth spot with his first season having an ERA sub 3.00. He also had 11 complete games, a ridiculous number by today's standards (next highest 5). Wilson rounds out our top five and is the only remaining hurler to have 200 strikeouts and ERA under 3.00.

NL Walter Johnson:

Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers
Roy Halladay - Philadelphia Phillies
Cliff Lee - Philadelphia Phillies
Ian Kennedy - Arizona Diamondbacks
Cole Hamels - Philadelphia Phillies

Our final award is the NL Walter Johnson for best pitcher. Kershaw is the only one on our list not to make the postseason, however like Verlander, he achieved the pitching triple crown in the NL. Kershaw seems to keep getting better as this marks his 3rd consecutive season with 30 starts and an ERA under 3. He was outstanding this year and won 20 games for what will probably be the first of many times to come. Everyone knew the Philly aces were going to live up to their hype. Halladay turned in another beastly season just missing 20 wins, striking out 220, and producing a sub 2.50 ERA. One pitching mate, Cliff Lee, turned in 2 mind boggling months (June and August) where his ERA was under .50. These are numbers among the best of any pitcher ever. Lee started very slow, prompting me to call him a disappointment earlier this season. He made me eat my words, but the slow start and shaky July probably cost him the pitching hardware. Kennedy was the other 20 game winner, and many may suggest he was the league's best pitcher. I can't dispute that the argument can be made for that, but we found the outstanding months from Lee and the overall domination of Halladay were just a hair more impressive to us. Rounding out the top five is another Philly ace, Cole Hamels. After winning his World Series MVP, Hamels took a step backwards in 2009. Since that season, however, Hamels has been electric. He suffered from poor run production last year, but this season he put together an outstanding all around campaign.


  1. Living in NYC and getting to see Robertson pitch often, I have to say that he was QUITE impressive. I'd still give it to Mo, though, because Mo is Mo.



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