Griffiin: Blue Jays individual awards handed out
There were not many surprises when the Toronto Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America announced the Blue Jays list of player awards for 2011.
The Jays' Player-of-the-Year was right fielder Jose Bautista, 31, who led the major leagues in home runs with 43 and in many important offensive categories like walks, slugging percentage and OPS which combines on-base plus slugging. It was his second consecutive season as the Jays' best player, finishing third in AL MVP voting.
The Pitcher-of-the-Year was Ricky Romero, 27, who was 15-11, with a 2.92 ERA, pitching 225 innings as the opening day starter and the ace of the staff. Romero, a native of East L.A., was 8-3 after the all-star break with an opponent batting average of .193.
The Jays' Rookie-of-the-year was catcher J.P. Arencibia, 25, who took over as the No. 1 receiver from John Buck and improved in all aspects as the season progressed. The 24-year-old Miami native was third among AL catcher in home runs with 23 and fourth in RBIs with 78, while playing his first full season with 129 games. Arencibia ranks tied for third in major-league history with the Cubs' Giovanni Soto for homers by a rookie catcher.
The Most-Improved-Player was judged to be righthanded reliever Casey Janssen, who by the end of the year had inserted himself into the conversation for Jays' bullpen closer in 2012. The 30-year-old California native was 6-0, with a 2.26 ERA in 55 games. Janssen was the first Jays' pitcher since '85 to win at least six games without a loss.
The John Cerutti Award, given to the member of the Jays' organization that best exemplifies the goodwill, cooperation and character of the late John Cerutti, was awarded to righthander Dustin McGowan who persevered through two shoulder surgeries and three full calendar years away from the major-league game to make his return in September. He remained always optimistic and available to discuss his tribulations until his arrival back in the major leagues. It's a rare comeback story conducted with grace and dignity.