As I mentioned earlier this week, this is the awards week for the Baseball Writers Association of America. The Rays did pretty well this year, taking away two of the three American League awards and collecting a third place in the third. Now, the MVP has not been announced yet, but no Rays have any chance to place near the top.
Jeremy Hellickson was the first and probably biggest award winner. He took away the American League Rookie of the Year after an amazing rookie season. He cemented himself into the third spot in the rotation behind James Shields and David Price. Hellickson went 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA in 2011, which is great as a third starter.
Joe Maddon also won an award, winning the Manager of the Year award. Maddon and the Rays had an impressive season, completing one of the best comebacks in baseball history when they came back from nine back to beat the Red Sox and win the Wild Card. . Maddon won the award for the second time after taking a team that was supposed to be on an off season after loosing so many players in 2010 to the playoffs. The Rays had low expectations this season and Joe Maddon kept the Rays in it, even after their horridly bad start.
While he did not win the award, James Shields also had an impressive showing, finishing third in the Cy Young voting. Shields would have been a bigger contender in the voting if it wasn’t for Justin Verlander‘s amazing year. Shields finished third behind Verlander and Jered Weaver of the Angels. Shields had a great bounce-back year after a bad 2010 season, going 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA as the Rays ace.
Overall, the Rays come away winners from awards week. To win two of the four AL awards is great and to add a third to that just showed how good a season the Rays and their pitching staff had. It will be interesting to see if any Rays come in the top 10 in MVP voting, but it will probably be close to the bottom if they do, since no one Ray really had an astounding season on offense.