Adam LaRoche gets an honorable mention, but it will be Stephen Drew who gets to take home the 2010 Unsung Hero award from AZ SnakePit. It can sit on Drew's mantelpiece along side the 2006 Rookie of the Year 'Pittie - or would, if both were not entirely non-physical awards. However, it's still appropriate, as the next category up is that same Rookie of the Year.
Eight players made their major-league debuts for the Diamondbacks this year, one down on the 2009 number. In alphabetical order, they were Cole Gillespie, Zach Kroenke, Jordan Norberto, Konrad Schmidt, Daniel Stange and Cesar Valdez. But there were also players, not in their first season, who still had a significant impact for Arizona, and qualified as "rookies" under the standard definition. [Note, Ian Kennedy pitched 59.2 innings for the Yankees prior to this season, so had too many to qualify, albeit by less than ten frames]
After the jump, we'll highlight four of the best young players the Diamondbacks had in 2010, the nominees for the AZ SnakePit award for Rookie of the Year
A third-round A's pick in 2007, he came to Arizona in the Conor Jackson trade, and made his major-league debut with a scoreless inning against the Red Sox at Fenway on June 16. In 37 innings, he struck out 33 batters, a rate higher than 8 per nine IP and ranking Demel #13 among all first-year pitchers (min. 30 IP). His overall ERA was hurt by a bad (4 ER, one out) game in San Diego. In Demel's other 36 appearances, he had a 4.42 ERA. He picked up his first big-league save on August 10th, closing out a one-run lead against the Brewers in Milwaukee, with Aaron Heilman unavailable.
Enright was pulled up directly from Double-A, getting a chance only because of the failed Dontrelle Willis experiment. But he had among the best openings ever to a major-league career, with a 2.44 ERA in his first dozen games, all starts, allowing three runs or fewer in each. [Steve Rogers, with the '73 Expos, was the last to open with such a streak] From July 20-August 27, Enright went undefeated in nine consecutive outings, with eight quality starts and a 2.13 ERA. He flagged in September, perhaps understandably, as he threw a total of 192.2 innings, almost thirty more than his previous season high.
Hudson appeared in eleven games for the Diamondbacks; all eleven were quality starts, and he had an ERA of 1.69 in that time. He struck out 70 batters in less than 80 innings for us, while holding opposing hitters to a line of .183/.237/.294. Daniel was part of the deal which sent Edwin Jackson to the White Sox, and the 1.69 figure is the lowest in franchise history by any pitcher with 75 IP (beating Byung-Hyun Kim's 2.04 ERA from 2002). Only two other 23-year olds during the last century had a better NL ERA than Hudson's number: Dwight Gooden in 1985, and as with Enright, Rogers in 1973.
I was surprised to discover that Ryal appeared in 104 games for the Diamondbacks this year - more than Miguel Montero or Tony Abreu - albeit with only 41 of them as a starter. That did seem to suit him better, as Ryal batted .274 in the role, with an OPS 165 points better than when coming off the bench. He hit .305 as a first-basenman, but proved also versatile, getting starts at both corner infiield spots as well as in left-field, as needed. Rusty enjoyed his best performance of 2010 against the Mets on July 21, when he had his first ever four-hit game, including a home-run.
And the 2010 AZ SnakePit Award for Rookie of the Year goes to...
Sam Demel (5 votes)
Barry Enright (41 votes)
Daniel Hudson (196 votes)
Rusty Ryal (9 votes)
251 total votes