Year-end player awards: Best position player in major league role

This category may be slightly less of a formality than the previous, in which Johnny Cueto took Best MLB pitcher in a landslide.

While the Reds' pitching this season was - by most yardsticks - below average or well below average, it was different with the hitting. The hitting was good. The team may have been shut out in nine games (the Red Sox were blanked 11 times) and colossally horrible with the bases loaded (.169/.246/.264), but in the main they hit well - tying the Rockies for second-most runs in the National League. And while their raw scoring totals may have been aided some by the home ballpark, they ranked highly in park-adjusted or mostly park-blind categories: 4th in the NL in OBP, 5th in OPS+, 4th in wRC+. 

The defense was praise-worthy too. The Reds' overall FanGraphs' WAR - 5th in baseball - benefitted considerably from the gloves, which registered the 4th highest UZR/150 in all of baseball.  Brandon Phillips turned in another gold glove season, punctuated by several plays whose memories will outlast 2011. Joey Votto was visibly improved at first base - enough to put himself in the Gold Glove conversation. There were very few clear minuses on the field across multiple fielding indicators.

Still, the field for best position player in 2011 is pretty top-heavy. Which might support the theory that teams "need stars." And its corollary: don't trade them away lightly.

To present the awards:

Delamtri Young, the long-lost Young brother whose name - despite what you might think - is not a hybrid of his two baseball-playing brothers', but an homage to the Scottish band Del Amitri

Jon Losantiville, host of the cable access show An Uncut Live Feed of My Shed in Delhi

DELAMTRI YOUNG

Just listened to Some Other Sucker's Parade again. What a great album, including songs like "Funny Way to Win," "Mother Nature's Writing," and "What I Think She Sees."

JON

I don't know man. You've got the Mayan calendar and if you take that and run it through this code that I uncovered by combining Reds, Bengals and Cincinnati Stuff box scores, well, I don't think I have to explain the situation we're facing.

ME

Our worst presenters yet.

MELVIN LEVETT

Hey.

ME

American-born basketball player, record-holder for most 3-pointers in a game in University of Cincinnati history and certified dunk-a-holic Melvin Levett! What are you doing here?

MELVIN LEVETT

I'm here to slam dunk.

ME

OK, great. Let's all enjoy this "Melvin Levett Incrdeible [SIC] Putback dunk" while voting for the Reds' best position player this season.

Joey Votto

Was this really a "down year" for Joey Votto, compared to his 2010 MVP campaign? His season-ending slump probably answered that question definitively, but his improved defense may have picked up some of the slack. Votto remained an elite player even while his power numbers took a noticeable dip. He hit his 100th home run in Baltimore, in June, and lead the league in doubles, OBP and walks.

PA AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Joey Votto (2011)  719  .309 .416 .531 155 6.9 6.5

Brandon Phillips

After seasons in the shadow of 2007's 30/30 campaign, Phillips found another gear. His late-season surge carried him to the first .300 season of his career, while a parade of dazzling plays helped to confirm that he hadn't lost a step in the field. This was not only likely the finest season of BP's career, but it earned him the distinction - for this season at least - as the NL's best second baseman.

PA AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Brandon Phillips (2011)  674 .300 .353 .457 119 6.0 4.1

Jay Bruce

Bruce's power has emerged steadily over his 4 seasons in the majors. This year, he crested the 30 mark to lead the team in home runs. Charges of streakiness often seem to discount Jay's brilliance at the plate altogether, while noise in his defensive metrics almost certainly mask the fact that his true talent as an above-average right field defender with a great arm.

PA AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Jay Bruce (2011)  664  .256 .341 .474 116 3.3 1.2


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