Given the ridiculous amount of debate and discussion the 2012 AL MVP race has given us, I felt it was only appropriate to hand out a few offbeat awards of my own. Of course, the floor is open to all suggestions for awards, as long as we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Leave ’em in the comments section, kids.
Anywho, without further ado: here are a dozen awards I’m proudly giving out.
Rick Vaughn Award – Given to the pitcher with the highest Wild Thing Score (3*WP + 2*HBP + BB). Congratulations to this year’s winner, Ubaldo Jimenez, a fellow Cleveland Indian, who racked up a 159 WTS in 2012.
Mr. Indecisive – Given to the pitcher who racked up the most appearances without recording a decision. Randy Choate, LOOGY extraordinaire, is your winner here, pitching in 80(!) games this season without a win or loss, besting Trever Miller‘s record of 76 back in 2007.
Greg Jennings Award – Simply put, the player who puts the team on his back the most often in a season. For my purposes, that will mean games with a WPA (Win Probability Added) greater than or equal to 0.20. This time around there’s a tie between Allen Craig of the Cardinals and reigning Cy Young champ Justin Verlander, both of whom accomplished this feat 17 times in 2012.
Mendoza Maverick – The most valuable player that hits at or below .200 in a season. Brendan “Whole Lotta Glove” Ryan takes home the title this year leading the way with 3.3 WAR, and it wasn’t even close:
In fact, Ryan’s 2012 campaign is the best season of all-time for those hitting at a Mario-esque clip.
Joe Carter Award – The worst player with 100 or more Runs Batted In in a given season. Hunter Pence of the Phillies and Giants managed to only scrape together 0.7 WAR while knocking in 104 runs. Interestingly enough, it’s a career high in RBI and career low in WAR for Mr. Pence.
Pitcher on the Precipice – The pitcher with the biggest FIP/ERA disparity. We have a repeat winner, which is a major statistical anomaly, as BAbip and the like should fluctuate year to year. That being said, a round of applause to Jeremy Hellickson for defying the odds not once, but twice. His FIP was an ugly 4.60, but managed a cool 3.10 ERA, a full run and a half lower, and good for 6th in the American League.
Pop Snyder Memorial Award – Given to the player with the lowest walk rate that still qualified for the batting title. Alexei Ramirez walked in only 2.6% of his PA (16 for 621), significantly lower than his still-poor 6.0% previous career rate. Pop Snyder, for your information, played in the late 19th century, and boasted an 18-year career while only walking 2.2% of the time.
Big Fish in a Small Pond – The player who had the lowest WAR to lead a team, surprisingly enough not a member of the Astros, although Lucas Harrell was close (2.8). This year’s winner is Rafael Betancourt, who led Colorado with a 2.6 WAR, the bright light in their otherwise bizarre and poor-performing pitching staff. Betancourt, by the way, is certainly one of the more underrated relievers of the last decade (probably due to not being a closer for the bulk of the time). Let’s go to WAR:
Fine Wine Award – The player who gets better and better with age. Darren Oliver, folks, has posted a 176 ERA+ in his age 37-41 seasons, most notably his 2012 campaign where he put up a 207 ERA+. Also, 5.4 WAA in those five years, whereas between the ages of 22 and 36, he put up a meager -1.7 WAA. Strangely, in the years that should have been his peak (27-33), he did the opposite of his recent years, limping to a -5.4 WAA while bouncing around (presumably painful for someone who’s been limping) to 6 teams in that span.
Jim Levey Award – Given to the player with the lowest WAR that still qualifies for the batting title. Also called the “Bench ‘im Already!” Award. To the frequent HHS reader, you’ll know instantly that the winner(?) here is none other than Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur. Due to a refusal to take pitches and sudden trouble with the leather (-14 fielding runs in ’12, +68 from 2005-11), he put up -2.7 WAR. Remember when he was a hot prospect and graced the cover of Sports Illustrated? That’s far off in the rear-view mirror, my friends.
The Pacifist – Given to the player that makes your humble writer anti-WAR. Let’s be honest here: Wins Above Replacement is an imperfect statistic, but as far as putting a number to a player’s overall contribution, it’s hard to beat. It’s better than, say, RBIs–if we blindly put faith in them, Juan Gone (Igor?) is a Hall of Famer. Although some people are really behind his candidacy.
But I digress. WAR is quite worthwhile, but there are certain players that put up such lofty totals that would make one question its validity. For instance, which MLBer has the most WAR from 2009-12? Well, ummm, errrr…it’s none of these guys. Leading the way with 26.6 WAR, is none other than Ben Zobrist of the Rays.
The traditionalists look at the “classic” slash line and can’t comprehend why Zobrist is so highly valued. Their response can be found here. Seriously though, how can a player who averages 19 HR, 83 RBI and a .268 BA be a great player, let alone an MVP-caliber one? Because he does the little things. He can run well, draw a bunch of walks and play top-notch defense wherever you put him. That being said, would I consider the Zorilla among the 5 best players in baseball or the best AL position player in 2 separate seasons? Not a chance. Below, a breakdown of those last four seasons (offensively) and possibly his phone number in the last column:
And finally, the most ridiculous award of all…
American League MVP – Not Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera or Robinson Cano. Instead, I’m going with this little known, yet key part of the Baltimore Orioles’ success this season. One could say that’s an 11-WAR talent right there.
For whatever reason, I have a feeling that none of the players will step forward to claim their award. Except maybe Randy Choate. He seems like a decent guy.