The PBA Player of the Year race is the toughest in recent memory, however, the PBA Rookie of the Year race may be even more complicated for voters.
Ballots for both awards were sent out Monday night and voters consisting of the entire PBA membership and veteran PBA observers (i.e. media) are to make their decisions by Sunday night.
The race for top rookie is complex and will surely cause issues for some voters who may not think any of the candidates are worthy. The winner will be announced Dec. 10 at the taping of the made-for-television PBA Clash.
There are five rookies on the ballot – Annop Arromsaranon, Kamron Doyle, Mitch Hupe, Rafiq Ismail and Nick Pate – but really only two of them will be seriously considered by most voters.
According to the voters I spoke with, the decision is coming down to Thailand’s Arromsaranon and Doyle. And neither is a great candidate. Some are even opting to vote “none of the above” even though it’s not technically an option.
I checked with the PBA and they said the award will go to the highest vote-getter and even if “none” got the most votes, it wouldn’t matter.
That being said, it’s an interesting forced decision between Arromsaranon and Doyle.
Arromsaranon is the only eligible rookie who actually won a title this season. He beat an extremely limited field of PBA Tour stars to win the Busan Cup in Korea.
The Thai bowler only competed in three events this season and all of them were PBA International events. In addition to winning in Busan, he also competed in the Storm Lucky Larsen Masters and the World Bowling Tour Thailand event.
Doyle, meanwhile, bowled in more events this season than any other rookie (15) and cashed in nearly half of them (7). He also finished 40th on the points list and finished third at the PBA Xtra Frame Gene Carter’s Pro Shop Classic. He had six Top 20 finishes this season.
While Arromsaranon did not compete in any PBA Tour majors, Doyle finished tied for 13th at the United States Bowling Congress Masters, a significant accomplishment.
The bottom line is this: Did Doyle have a great year worthy of being named Rookie of the Year? Probably not. Should Arromsaranon win the award given he never stepped foot in the U.S. to compete in a PBA Tour event? No.
But when it comes down to it, a pick has to be made, and my vote will go to Doyle simply because he put in the time and effort to bowl on the tour on a full-time basis.
He did have some limited success and had he finished the season stronger at the FloBowling PBA Fall Swing and U.S. Open, this would have been a much easier decision.
Ultimately, the PBA could have decided not to award Rookie of the Year this season as they did in 2005. However, their decision to send out a ballot makes the conversation very interesting.
We’ll find out soon enough who the voters pick to win the award.
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.