Haren, to no great surprise, cantered to victory in the Cy Young award, notching a thoroughly-convincing 86% of votes. Here's to the contest being a little closer in 2010, with Webb and Scherzer perhaps pushing Haren with their own pitching performances. We now move on to the final award: Most Valuable Player for the Diamondbacks in 2009.
You're kinda lucky this isn't just five players' name with a one-line summary such as ': hit the ball hard.' For yesterday, I came down with something rather nasty, stomach bug-wise - I'll spare you the details, but it was like a re-enactment of the Mr Creosote sketch from Monty Python's Meaning of Life. It was not a pleasant night. However, I am a bit better this morning [thanks go to Mrs. SnakePit and her NyQuil, hot sweet tea and damp towels for my forehead], so after the jump, we'll review the five top candidates for Diamondbacks MVP. I can not promise, however, that it will be entirely cut-and-paste free. Hey, I'm still not well...
I've also included the WAR [Wins Above Replacement] value from fangraphs.com, though obviously these do not take into account 'intangibles' such as leadership, etc. which may be considered important when deciding who is 'Most Valuable'. Will Haren's clear lead in this category be outweighed by his absence from the field of play four days out of five? It certainly doesn't seem to have hurt Brandon Webb, winner in both 2006 and 2007. He won't be a factor in this year's poll, and I'm thinking it could be quite close, as you could make a credible case for the majority of the nominees listed. After the jump, we'll list the names and put forward the cases.
Dan Haren: 6.1 WAR, 229.1 IP, 3.14 ERA
Haren posted his fifth straight 200-inning season in 2009, one of only four pitchers with such a streak (alongside Vasquez, Buerhle and Arroyo). Dan was also the best pitcher in the National League over the first-half of the season, with a 2.01 ERA, and a K:BB ratio better than 8:1. He had 18 quality starts in his first 19 outings, including seven straight where he went 7+ innings and allowed two or less runs - there hasn't been a longer streak in the NL since 2001. While Haren cooled off after the break, he still set career highs for IP, K and ERA+ and came within one measly hit of becoming the first NL starter in four years to have a WHIP below one.
Miguel Montero: 3.3 WAR, .294/.355/.478, 16 HR
One of the more pleasant surprises in 2009. Montero produced the best season ever offensively by an Arizona catcher (min. 150 PAs): his OPS of .832 broke Robby Hammock's record set in 2003, as Miggy became one of the top-hitting catchers in the National League. He tied the franchise high for both hits and home-runs at the position, and got more PAs in the majors than over the previous three seasons combined, taking over as our everyday starter behind the plate. Montero held his own against both left- and right-handers, and his defensive abilities grew noticeably better as the season went on. Montero's emergence ensures that catcher is not a position we'll need to worry about in 2010.
Mark Reynolds: 3.9 WAR, .260/.349/.543, 44 HR
Special K lived up to both halves of his nickname, becoming the first Diamondback since 2003 to drive in a hundred runs, and smacking 44 home-runs, including some of the most majestic ones seen in the majors all year, while smashing his own single-season record for strikeouts. Reynolds also developed into a clubhouse presence, not afraid to call out team-mates for their lack of effort, while giving the maximum himself. This showed up in his defense, including some spectactular plays made with wilful disregard for his own safety, but which improved considerably by most objective measures. This was the year when Reynolds truly came of age.
Max Scherzer: 3.2 WAR, 170.1 IP, 4.12 ERA
Questions about Scherzer's stamina coming into 2009 were largely answered: the 25-year old threw over three thousand pitches, ranking him between Cole Hamels and Zach Duke, and gradually stretched out, to the point where he averaged 6.60 IP/start in September, a career high. He also ranked 13th in the league for strikes, at 65%, ahead of Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. Scherzer had a 2.16 ERA in June, which included his best outing, 7.2 shutout innings against the Giants. Not helped by his defense - the 16 unearned runs allowed was an NL high - Scherzer simply did it himself, fanning more than a batter per inning.
Justin Upton: 4.5 WAR, .300/.366/.532, 26 HR
Only four qualifying 21-year olds in the expansion era have had a better OPS than Upton produced for us in 2009: Pujols, A-Rod, Griffey and Cesar Cedeno. At his age, it would have been impressive enough for J-Up simply to justify his position, but to lead the team in BA, play in the All-Star Game and get an MVP vote, is an amazing achievement. While he still made his share of mistakes (the 420-foot single; the faked ball-toss), he also delivered more than his share of jaw-dropping moments in virtually all aspects of his game, with some dazzling defensive plays, showcasing the JUpzooka, as well as a prodigious bat.