In an effort to skip quickly to the more entertaining awards, I’ll just list my “Rookie” of the Year winners (and runners up) with minimal comments.
AL Hitter– Austin Jackson (.293 avg/.345 obp/.400 slg, 27 SB/6 CS, 3.6 WAR)
AL Pitcher– David Price (208.2 IP, 2.72 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 3.99 xFIP)
C.J. Wilson (204 IP, 3.35 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 4.20 xFIP)
Neither of these pitchers are conventional rookies, but Price only pitched about 60% of a season in 2009, and Wilson had never been a starter before this year. So I call them both rookies, and I give them their due respect.
NL Hitter– It’s a tie!
Jason Heyward (18 HR, .277/.393/.456, 4.9 WAR)
Buster Posey (18 HR, .305/.387/.505, 3.9 WAR)
Carlos Gonzalez (34 HR, .336/.376/.598, 26 SB/8 CS, 6.0 WAR)
Andres Torres (16 HR, .268/.343/.479, +21.5 UZR)
Torres is 32 years old and will not be considered for the true ROY award. But before 2010, he had never played more than 75 games in a season, and he had only recorded 164 games split up over five seasons since his debut in 2002. Cargo played 85 games for the A’s in 2008, and then 89 games for the Rockies last season, so his 145 games played this season represented his first true full season of play. Posey and Heyward tie for this one, though, being true rookies.
NL Pitcher– Matt Latos (184.2 IP, 2.92 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 3.36 xFIP, kid’s legit)
Tommy Hanson (202.2 IP, 3.33 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 4.04 xFIP, kid’s not quite as legit)
The Most Intimidating Hitter Award also coincides with The Ball’s Enemy Number One. This is the player that the pitcher—and the ball itself—fear the most. This player doesn’t hit the ball, he destroys it. Fortunately, much of the time, the ball then leaves the park and doesn’t have to take any more abuse. This player is also my AL MVP, Josh Hamilton. The Texas Outfielder hit 32 dingers in his injury-shortened season, including MLB’s longest homerun of the year at 485 feet. League average homeruns went just under 400 feet, at 103 mph off the bat. Hamilton’s averaged 421 feet at 107 mph off the bat. When Hamilton’s 6’4”, 235-pound frame gets in the batter’s box, shit gets real.
The Little League Baserunner Awards go to two players who exhibited baserunning “skills” that I liken to those of a 10-year-old. Nyger Morgan and Matt Kemp fought neck-and-neck for this one. Morgan was picked off a league-leading 11 times, while getting caught stealing 17 times and thrown out on the basepaths seven more times. His 17 CS was second in the league only to Juan Pierre…except Pierre stole twice as many bases. When your OBP is a sub-par .319, manufacturing 35 additional outs running the bases is not a good thing, if I understand how baseball works.
Kemp only created 29 extra outs for the Dodgers, but his OBP was .310, even less than Morgan’s. Kemp’s 15 times caught stealing was actually worse than Morgan’s 17 when you notice that Kemp only stole 19 bases. 56% is a terrible stealing percentage, and put him at dead last in the league from among the 87 players who stole at least 11 bases.
In the end, I have to give the award to both players for running their respective teams out of innings, and out of games.
On a more positive note, I give my Manliest Man/Tough Guy Award to Rickie Weeks, who at just 5’10” got plunked 3.3 times every 100 trips to the plate, for a league-leading 25 hit by pitches. Ryan Braun and his 103 RBI were very appreciative.
Chase Utley came in a close second, choosing to take pitches with his body instead of his bat a league-leading 3.5 times every 100 plate appearances. However, he only exhibited his tolerance for pain for part of the season, and thus didn’t take the manly bruising that Weeks did.
Least Intimidating Hitter Award: I almost thought I was going to have to give this award to Mariner, Chone Figgins. He had more sac bunt attempts than any player in the league besides my winner —including NL pitchers. Figgins’ 1 homerun and .259/.306 average/slugging combination are beyond laughable, but it was Elvis Andrus who beat him out for least intimidating hitter. The Texas shortstop, as mentioned, led the entire league in sac bunt attempts, probably due to the following totals:
1) ZERO homeruns—and no homeruns playing in that ballpark is a rare feat.
2) A .265 average with a .301 slugging percentage. In short, nearly all his hits were singles.
He also came in third for the Little League Baserunner Award, which did nothing to increase his intimidation rating.
On that note, the Least Intimidating Pitcher Award goes to Pirate Jeff Karstens. In 122.2 innings, he hit just one batter while throwing no wild pitches, scaring approximately 0.00 batters off the plate (there’s a regression analysis for that here somewhere…). His measly 5.3 K/9, and lofty 4.92 ERA also did nothing to strike fear in the hearts of his opposition. Karstens stands at 6’3” and just 185 pounds, so I might even be able to beat him up. In summary…he’s a wuss.
Ted Lilly takes the Inattentive Pitcher Award, allowing 20 stolen bases on the season, versus just one caught stealing. While some of the blame has to go to his catchers, Russell Martin and Geovanny Soto, it’s inexcusable for a LEFT HANDER to allow such a high percentage of stolen bases. His one pickoff on the entire season doesn’t look too good either…
The ADD Hitter of the Year was free swinger Vladimir Guerrero (as it probably would be most years). He obviously has more important things to do, taking the least number of pitches per at bat of ANY hitter in the majors this season. It probably won’t surprise you to know that he also leads the league in the following categories. The average major leaguer takes 28% of his strikes looking. But not Vlad; he’s got shit to do. He only watched 13% of all strikes, and was probably distracted in those instances by the old guy in the other team’s dugout making silly motions with his hands. Joe Schmoe swings at 26% of all first pitches, preferring to feel out the pitcher more often than not. Vlad says, “you’re wasting my time, ass hole.” He swings at the first pitch 48% of the time, also tops in the league. Vlad is doing his part to make baseball more exciting—though he’s probably doing it for his own, minimal attention span.
My Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn Award was a runaway. Edwin Jackson had very little contest from the rest of the league in motoring his way to his first of these awards. 63 percent of his pitches were for strikes, which is about league average, but it goes downhill from there. His 22 four-pitch walks tied with Javier Vazquez for the league lead, and tying anything with Vazquez this year is probably a bad thing. Jackson also recorded 20 wild pitches and five fielding errors, both good for first place in the entire MLB among pitchers.
Then there was his ridiculous start on June 25th against the Rays. The end result was a no-hitter, so pinpoint control, right? Well, only 41 of his 149 pitches (27.5%) were for swing-and-miss or looking strikes, and 70 of his pitches (47%) were for balls; the league average for called-balls per pitch is 37%. Not surprisingly, he walked 8 batters, hit another batter, and threw a wild pitch. He’d fit in the California PENAL league nicely. The Rays must have been so baffled by his wildness, that they were simply unable to concentrate on the ball. I would not, however, suggest pitching this way on the reg. Maybe he could use a hot pair of glasses like Ricky Vaughn.
Most Extreme Beard Award: This is a new one, and a little bit harder to figure out since there are no stats on beards…yet. The Giant’s bullpen duo of Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo tag-teamed the facial foliage challenge (FFC) during the team’s playoff run last week. There are now jungles thriving on their faces. Therefore they win. Any additions to the best beards list are welcomed in the comments.
Finally, after all this debauchery, we come to the Least Valuable Player Award. This is a player who, time and time again, screwed his team to magnitudes seen only by, well, Mariner fans. He wasn’t bad for just a week, or a month; he was bad always. Melky Cabrera tried to suck this much with his .671 OPS and his 16-runs below average UZR. You had to wonder if he can simultaneously walk and chew gum, yet he was still not the worst. Nor was Cesar Izturis, who somehow managed a .268 slugging percentage—even worse than his .277 OBP. By the way, league-average AVERAGE isn’t much lower than .268. No no, neither of them was this bad. Not even Scott Kazmir’s 5.94 ERA over 150 innings could top (or bottom, I guess) my Least Valuable Player’s “achievements.”
It is, as it really had to be, the M’s Ryan Rowland-Smith. I’m going to try to capture his futility in words and numbers that exist on this planet, if that’s even possible. As a starter this season, he threw 101.1 innings and recorded just 41 strikeouts with a whopping 41 walks and 7 hit batsmen. 3.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, one bruised batter every 14 innings. I sifted through my data from the last 20 years of all 2748 pitchers that have pitched at least 100 innings in a season. In short, Smith was on the verge of history. Only 70 pitchers recorded less K/9 than Smith. Of those, only 16 had walk rates at least as high. And once hit batsmen were added in, well, Rowland-Smith joined a class of just 4 pitchers. Guys with at most 3.6 K/9, at least 3.0 BB/9, and a plunker every 18 innings. These four pitchers represented 0.15% of the sample—1 in every 687. They were not good pitchers those years, and neither was Ryan Rowland-Smith in 2010. In fact, he was the worst. He allowed 88 runs, 78 earned, for a 6.93 ERA. One could argue that he single-handedly cost the Ms about 5 or 6 wins under a league average arm, but I won’t, because then I’d be beating a dead seaman.
I hope you enjoyed my 2010 Extremes. Stay tuned in about 362 days for episode 3.