PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 05: Chris Young #24 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a two-run home run in the seventh inning of Game Four of the National League Divison Series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
We're back to the landslides again, as Josh Collmenter won the 'Pittie Award for Rookie of the Year at a canter, getting two-thirds of all ballots cast. Paul Goldschmidt was second, on 29%. I expect things will be a good deal tighter for this award - simply due to its very nature, there is no obvious candidate, because if there was an obvious candidate, he probably wouldn't be eligible as an 'Unsung Hero'. This award is for those who made a contribution to the team or deserve recognition, while not receiving the recognition which perhaps they deserve. It's a bit of a vague, subjective category, but you'll find details of the five nominees after the jump...
115 PAs wouldn't normally get you any nomination, but the Sean Burrough story is far from normal. As is now a matter of record, this former Little League World Series winner and first-round draft pick was basically down-and-out on the streets of Las Vegas, before cleaning himself up and getting an invite to spring training. From Reno, he basically forced his way onto the roster (he hit .412 for the Aces this year), and though he struggled initially - as you'd expect after four years out of pro-ball - he found his groove, hitting .340 in his last 36 games, and with a crucial hit in Game 5 of the NLDS. A far more deserving Comeback Player of the Year than Lance Berkman.
Micah was the Swiss Army knife of the 2011 Diamondbacks. Need a starter? Sure. Work out of the bullpen? Not a problem? Heck, he even pinch-hit for Arizona. But it was his pitching that was his forte, and he was very effective for most of the season - on August 26, his 2.50 ERA was the lowest on the club. The team won all four of his spot starts, Micah went 3-0 with a 3.54 ERA, including five shutout innings of two-hit ball (below), as he beat Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies. Owings ended the year with an 8-0 record - albeit thanks to RyRo's walk-off grand-slam against LA - becoming only the eighth player in NL historyy to with eight or more games without any losses.
RyRo ended the year third among third-baseman in the NL by bWAR, and tied for first by fWAR. Not bad for a guy who was about the last guy on to the 25-man roster out of spring training, and only made it because of an injury to Geoff Blum. He hit .313 with five home-runs in April, and ended the year with 19 long-balls, almost twice as many as Ryan had in his career prior to this season. He also made regular season starts at second-base and in left-field. As well as his walk-off slam against LA, Roberts hit safely in all five post-season contests, going 7-for-20 with a 1.050 OPS, two home-runs and six RBI, including a grand-slam in Game Four. Here's his two-HR game from April vs. CIN.
Saunders delivered his best ERA since 2008, a 3.69 figure that continued to defy sabermetric expectations. Joe was probably the most consistent Arizona starter: his worst Game Score all season was 25, compared to Daniel Hudson's 16 and Ian Kennedy's 8. [Saunders' 37 consecutive starts with a GS of 25+ is the eighth-longest active such streak in the majors] 61% of Joe's outings were quality starts, considerably above the league average of 54%, and he certainly deserved a better record than 12-13 - in those thirteen losses, the offense gave Saunders an average of just 2.8 runs in support. Here is Joe's start from June, when he shut-out the Nationals for seven frames.
Sitting between Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra and MVP-candidate Justin Upton in the Arizona outfield, Young quietly chalked up another very good season, leading the team's hitters in bWAR with 4.8 and finishing second to Upton in fWAR (4.6). Over the past two years, Young is 4th by bWAR or 6th in fWAR at his position in the majors, but there was no All-Star game spot for him at Chase in 2011. Young has missed only 56 games since the end of 2006, and has played 80 more than anyone else for the Diamondbacks in that time. He homered three times in the NLDS and was named the MLB.com Postseason Performer at CF
Who was the Diamondbacks Unsung Hero of 2011?
Sean Burroughs (13 votes)
Micah Owings (52 votes)
Ryan Roberts (136 votes)
Joe Saunders (25 votes)
Chris Young (62 votes)
288 total votes