The PBA sent out ballots for Player of the Year last night and as you might expect, the decision this year is extremely tough.
Ballots were sent out to the entire PBA membership as well as a small group of veteran PBA observers (i.e. media) and are due back by midnight on Nov. 11. The winners will be announced at the PBA Clash on Dec. 10 but that special made-for-television show won’t air until Dec. 23.
The PBA’s Player of the Year ballot has the top 12 players on the PBA Tour points list from this season. However, the credentials for most of those 12 are not as strong as the top contenders.
The ballot includes, in alphabetical order, Andrew Anderson, Dom Barrett, Jason Belmonte, Jakob Butturff, Marshall Kent, Bill O’Neill, Kris Prather, Anthony Simonsen, Tom Smallwood, EJ Tackett, Kyle Troup and Stuart Williams.
After reviewing all of the statistics of the 12, there are three bowlers who jump out above the rest in terms of their success on the lanes this season – Anderson, Simonsen and Tackett.
Let’s look at each of those three and narrow it down from there.
Anderson competed in 19 events, cashing in 16; Simonsen competed in 21 events, cashing in 19; and Tackett competed in 20 events, cashing in 18. So, that’s pretty much a wash between them.
On the points list, which really is a true indicator of success, Anderson led the PBA Tour with 24,195 points, Simonsen was second with 20,909 and Tackett was third with 19,842. That’s a big stat in Anderson’s favor.
Tackett made eight shows this season, while Anderson and Simonsen made seven, so that’s a very slight edge for Tackett.
Now we get into where it really counts – titles. Tackett had three titles, while Anderson and Simonsen each had two. However, not all titles on the PBA Tour are created equally and when the race is this close you really have to analyze each victory.
Each of the three won a PBA Xtra Frame Tour title, so those cancel each other out because they are all relatively similar shorter duration events.
Simonsen and Tackett also both won the shorter events at the FloBowling PBA Fall Swing. Simsonsen won the Wolf Open, while Tackett won the Bear Open. Those events consisted of just 12 games of qualifying to make the show, so they are similar to PBA Xtra Frame Tour events.
Tackett also won the PBA Xtra Frame Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles with Liz Johnson, which moves him ahead of and past Simonsen for Player of the Year in my opinion. So, Simonsen is out.
That leaves us with Anderson’s biggest accomplishment, winning the United States Bowling Congress Masters, a major on the PBA Tour.
Ultimately, for me, it comes down to Anderson’s major vs. Tackett’s Bear Open and Mixed Doubles titles. In my book, a major is more impressive than those two titles combined, though others may look at it differently.
If you also want to look at performances in majors, it’s pretty close there as well. Tackett and Anderson both made two shows, but the stat that really stands out is Tackett’s 188th place finish at the USBC Masters, while Anderson’s worst performance was 67th at the PBA Players Championship.
In a close race, everything matters, and in this case, my vote will go to Anderson for PBA Player of the Year. His breadth of work over the course of the season was simply stronger and he earned it based on winning a major.
Lucas Wiseman is the senior editor of FloBowling. He has covered bowling around the world for more than two decades. Follow him on Twitter @Lucas_Wiseman.