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The IPI Awards: Most Valuable Indian

The IPI Awards: Most Valuable Indian
Vinnie Pestano (Photo:
October 14, 2012
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To celebrate the conclusion of another baseball season, we here at Indians Prospect Insider have decided to give out our picks for the major awards. Today marks the end of award season here at IPI, but if you want to see our previous honorees, you can do so here:

Previous awards: AL Rookie of the YearNL Rookie of the YearAL Cy Young AwardNL Cy Young AwardAL MVPNL MVP, Least Valuable Indian

IPI writers Charlie Adams, Jeff Ellis, Tony Lastoria, Sean Mahon, Adam McGavin, Stephanie Metzger, Steve Orbanek, Jim Pete, Andrew Zajac, and yours truly all voted on these awards. Not all of them supplied write-ups, but those who did are listed below.

The Indians may have had a season that fell short of expectations, but there were still plenty of players worth getting excited about. While the Indians did not have any MVP-level players, they have quite a bit of young talent that established itself at the big league level in 2012.

Leading the way for the Indians' youth movement was second baseman Jason Kipnis. Kipnis endured a debilitating slump midseason, but despite the struggles, Kipnis' first full season really could not have gone much better. A .257/.335/.379 slash line, 14 home runs, 76 RBI, 86 runs scored, 31 steals, and 3.1 fWAR put the 25-year old Kipnis among the best second baseman in baseball.

Another Indian who played well despite struggles was catcher Carlos Santana. Even with a rough start to the season and a midseason concussion, Santana managed to end the season with a .252/.365/.420 slash line, a team-high 18 home runs, 76 RBI, and 3.4 fWAR. Many people are disappointed that Santana did not become elite this year, but he still managed to be one of the better catchers in the league.

Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is not one of the younger Indians but he still played at a high level this year. Choo was arguably the best hitter on the Tribe, posting a .283/.373/.441 slash line, 16 home runs, 67 RBI, 88 runs scored and 21 steals. Now, Choo looked terrible in right field at times, leading to his lower 2.6 fWAR, but there is no doubt that the Indians will be worse off in 2013 if they trade Choo's impact bat.

Finally, the Tribe's bullpen duo of Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez locked down many of the 68 wins the Indians managed this year. Pestano was not as overpowering as he was in 2011 (he "only" had 9.77 SO/9), but his 2.57 ERA and 36 holds were more than enough to keep Pestano as the closer of the future. The man Pestano is gunning for, Chris Perez, also had a great year, rebounding from a down 2011 to save 39 games with 9.21 SO/9, 2.50 BB/9, and a 3.59 ERA.

It is often hard to argue that relief pitchers log enough innings to matter more than a position player who goes out there every day, but without any overwhelming hitters, Pestano and Perez actually have a decent case.

IPI's Most Valuable Indian is... Carlos Santana

We saved the closest race for last, as Santana only received three of ten votes. Luckily for him, the rest of the ballots were split, with Pestano at 2.5 votes, Choo at two, Brantley at 1.5, and Perez at one (one voter awarded co-MVIs). Personally, I voted for Santana because I feel if you look at his body of work, he is already hitting at a very good level and is a key building block for the future.

I was surprised that there were no first-place votes for Kipnis, my favorite current Indian, but that does not take away from Kipnis' impressive season. He remains one of the hardest workers in the organization and should continue to improve headed into 2013.

Here is what the rest of IPI has to say:

Charlie Adams: Carlos Santana. Slim pickings. He played average defense at a tough spot and was tied for the best hitter with Choo. Kipnis was the front-runner but badly ran out of steam. Kipnis and Santana will compete for this title for several more seasons to come.

Jeff Ellis: Shin-Soo Choo. He lead the team in WAR and was one of only two consistent starters for the Tribe, along with Michael Brantley. Choo continued to put up good numbers, leading the team in WAR, runs, OPS, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, doubles, and strikeouts ( I know not a great thing to lead in). He was second in walks and home runs. I think we all would have  liked to see Choo have a strong last month and get his home run total up, yet Choo is the best player in baseball to not make an all-star game.  He would find a way to start on every team in baseball and there is a very good chance he won't be with this team by this time next year.

Tony Lastoria: This may be a bit of a surprise to most considering the distraction he was all season off the field with his comments, but of all the Indians this season I really felt that Chris Perez was the most valuable to the team from a performance perspective. Without his 39 saves and the work he did along with Vinnie Pestano at the end of games, the Indians may have lost well over 100 games this season. Perez was also the most consistent player all season, whereas the entire starting rotation was up and down (mostly down) and just about everyone in the lineup had inconsistent seasons or did not meet expectations. A case could be made for Vinnie Pestano or Michael Brantley, but I sided with the guy that closed out a good amount of Indians victories this year.

Sean Mahon: Vinnie Pestano/Michael Brantley. It's never been more difficult to pick an Indians MVP. Jason Kipnis was a star for the first half but faded. There was rarely a clutch performer like Asdrubal Cabrera was last season and Shin-Soo Choo was absolutely dominated by left-handed pitching. Carlos Santana's season started fine, went sour midway through, and ended nicely, but was too inconsistent to be considered MVP. As a reliever, Pestano often would be in the role of unsung hero, yet I think fans and the Operations department know his value and appreciate what he does so well. He's among the elite relievers in all of baseball and while his 2011 may have been better as a whole, it was a pleasant sight when Pestano entered a game because you knew the Indians were in the lead and likely going to keep the lead. Brantley is my co-MVI because he proved the CC Sabathia trade was not a complete flop. He showed he can play at the big league level as an everyday player and really provided a solid season, hitting .288/.348/.441 in 2012.

Adam McGavin: This is a tough call, as it is difficult to weigh the contributions of a setup man versus a position player. But even when taking into consideration that relievers are on the field much less, Vinnie Pestano was the most valuable Indian this season. His remarkable 2.57 ERA, .179 average against, and 0.83 WHIP are all team bests, not to mention his American League leading 36 holds. Great cases can be made for Jason Kipnis (.303 average with RISP, 14 homers, 76 RBI, 31 stolen bases) and Michael Brantley (.288 average, 60 RBI, 53:56 walk to strikeout ratio), as they led the team in clutch hitting and overall batting average, respectively. In spite of their still young age, both players brought a consistent professionalism to their at-bats and effort levels, hopefully foreshadowing future roles as team leaders. Asdrubal Cabrera accrued a .270 average, 16 homers, and 68 RBI, but posted a concerning number of errors, 19, while recording a mediocre .251 2nd half average. On the other hand, Carlos Santana notched a .281 average and .887 OPS after the All Star break, hopefully indicating that the Tribe backstop has corralled his long swing.

Steve Orbanek: It's hard to believe that Santana deserves this honor, especially considering his utterly despicable first half, but he really did show his worth from the All-Star break on. From that point on, Santana hit .281/.389/.498 with 13 home runs, 46 RBI, 45 walks and 41 strikeouts. Now if only the switch-hitter could put forth that type of production for an entire season...

Jim Pete: Well...I could give it to Chris Perez or Vinnie Pestano and not feel one bit bad about it. I know the save is a bit overrated, but Perez has 39 saves, and the Indians have 68 wins. I'd say that saving 57% of the Indians wins is more than impressive. With that said, I just feel like I have to give it to a guy that is out there every day...and I'm picking Michael Brantley. No, he doesn't have the best WAR on the team, but I just don't care about that stat as many others do. If you watch him today...he's not frustrated...he's not unfocused... and he's definitively not quitting. Michael Brantley is still playing hard...and still playing like it means something. He's a big part of the future of this team, and while I loved him coming into this season, I now see him as a potential leader in the future. I can't fathom where this team would be in 2012 without him.

That will conclude the 2012 IPI Awards. We here at IPI hope you enjoyed reading them as much as we had voting on them. Stay tuned to IPI throughout the offseason as we stop looking back with awards and the like and start looking forward to 2013 and beyond.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

October 15, 2012 - 8:50 AM EDT
Since the Indians aquired Santana the people around the Tribe has been trying to make him out to be the next coming of Johnny Bench, but after watching him play I don't think he's even the next coming of Johnny Romano
October 14, 2012 - 1:36 PM EDT
I believe the Feller Award will go to Salazar. They usually use it to hype a guy....and Salazar is a guy they will hype this offseason as a starting pitching option later next season. If not him, then I expect it to be Kluber.
October 14, 2012 - 11:17 AM EDT
Santana played his best as the rest of the team stunk it up. His throwing seemed much improved. The only problem I have with him are the perhaps unreasonable expectations I had for him as he entered the bigs. A question: does he get beat up more behind the plate than other catchers or does he not have the durability?
October 14, 2012 - 11:03 AM EDT
as a tid bit of information that only an indian fan would think of
the Bob Feller award lately has gone to a pitcher with both feet on a banana peel so to speak. CC Lee Alex White, and go back and do your research and you will find that in almost every intstance either they got severely injured or lost complete effectiveness. With that in mind i am gonna make the assumption that the 2012 Bob Feller goes to T.J. McFarland due to his 16 victories between akron and columbus
October 14, 2012 - 9:41 AM EDT
I'm leaning towards Choo, not only because he was the best every day player, but because they moved him around in the batting order and he didn't miss a beat. They even moved him to leadoff and he responded very well. I think he was hitting leadoff most of the time the Indians were in first place.

Santana's best work came after the Indians fell out of contention, which marks him down in my book in terms of "valuable". He was like the QB who threw three interceptions but then put up 250 yards after halftime when his team was behind 42-0.

Perez would be a good choice and I'm torn between him and Choo, but in the end I have to go with the guy who's on the field every day. Toward the end of the season he started hitting to the opposite field against lefties with much better results, so I'm optimistic about next year.
October 14, 2012 - 8:33 AM EDT
Think I go along with Jim on this one. Perez is likely the best player and Santana is the top position player with Choo just behind. But Brantley is the most valuable. He did very well in replacement for the Sizemore fiasco offensively and defensively. Given the organization, he was about as irreplaceable in CF as any player in the league. For most of the year, Cunningham was his only backup which is like no backup at all. Although he should never be considered a middle of the order hitter, he performed far more consistently in the middle than anyone had a right to expect. This team was crappy with him. What would it have been like without him? He is the only bonafide ML player from the Sabathia trade but where would they have been without him.
October 14, 2012 - 1:52 AM EDT
Manny Acta for putting up with and staying positive with a team that was non-competitive.
And he was patient.
"Despicable" = contemptible.

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