KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 22: Relief pitcher David Hernandez #30 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on June 22, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ryan Roberts won Unsung Hero for the second time in three years - he also took home that 'Pittie in 2009, by coincidence winning exactly the same percentage of the vote, 47%, on each occasion. Chris Young and Micah Owings also received a solid number of votes, so receive honorable mentions. We now head to the mound, and the award for Pitcher of the Year. Here are the stats for the five nominees - more details of each are after the jump.
He's already won Rookie of the Year, and I'm tempted to copy and paste what I wrote there. But let's give you something new instead: his bWAR was the best for a first-season player in the NL this year or last, and trails only Brandon Webb's 2003 in franchise history. The man who, lore has it, developed his unusual overhand delivery by hurling tomahawks while growing up, proved an unexpected and stalwart addition to the Diamondbacks rotation, and was also the only Diamondbacks starter to beat the Brewers in the NL Division Series, allowing one run over seven innings in Game Three. Here's the highlights of that game.
Hernandez easily the busiest of any pitcher for the 2011 Diamondbacks, his 74 appearances a dozen more than the next man. He thew 69.1 frames, and became the first Arizona pitcher to strike out ten per 9 IP over that many innings, since Randy Johnson in 2004. His three blown eighth-inning saves, covering a mere two outs, were responsible for more than half his earned runs. Over the other 71, covering 68.2 innings, he had a 1.57 ERA, and he was a perfect 11-for-11 in ninth-inning save opportunities. David particularly stepped it up when replacing Putz: over 12 July games, he allowed two hits in 11.1 innings, with a 0.82 ERA. Here's a sample of his 8th-inning prowess, retiring all three batters faced to protect a one-run lead from May 1st against the Cubs
Daniel Hudson now has a 23-13 record and a 3.01 ERA for the Diamondbacks. His 133 ERA+ in the National League ranks him fourth among active pitchers with 300+ IP there through age 24, behind only Oswalt, Lincecum and Kershaw. In his first full season, Hudson showed no signs of fatigue, with an Aug-Sep ERA of 2.85, covering his last eleven starts and, if not that relevant here, won the Silver Slugger by batting .277, with a better RBI per AB ratio than Xavier Nady. He threw two complete games, allowing one run against both the White Sox on June 17, then the Dodgers, exactly one month later. Here's the latter: he had two hits, homered and drove in three runs as well.
Like Hudson, Kennedy got better as the year went on, posting a second-half ERA of 2.11 in 14 starts, anchoring the team's rotation to the NL West title. Kennedy's .840 win percentage was fifth-highest in National League history (min. 30 starts) - and it wasn't just run support, as Arizona scored four runs or less in 13 of his wins and two-thirds of his appearances overall. His April 25th shutout of the Phillies - the day after his wife gave birth - was already voted single-game performance of the year. Matching it in Game Score (at 91, among the ten best starts ever by a D-back) was this one against the Pirates on Sep 19: 8 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 12 K (including the last six batters faced!), 0 R.
It's no stretch to think that, without his DL stint at the All-Star break (during which time Hernandez notched seven saves), Putz would almost certainly have led the league in saves, and probably been the first Diamondback to reach fifty in a season. Instead, he had to 'settle' for 45, including a franchise record 24 opportunities converted in a row after his return at the end of July - during those 23.1 innings, he had a 0.77 ERA and a K:BB ratio of 28:3. It was the most innings Putz had worked since 2007, and he held all opposing batters to a minuscule .195 average, along with a .566 OPS. Here's him striking out the Nationals on June 5.
Who was the Diamondbacks' 2011 Pitcher of the Year?
Josh Collmenter (7 votes)
David Hernandez (27 votes)
Daniel Hudson (7 votes)
Ian Kennedy (307 votes)
J.J. Putz (14 votes)
362 total votes