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The 2008 'Pitties: Least Valuable Person

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It's awards week here at SB Nation, and we'll be covering the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP nominees and voting results over the next three days. But, the apparently eternal process of the 'Pitties continues to rumble on too, though last week's voting, for Performance of the Year was the closest to date. Four candidates received between 18% and 34% of the vote, but Jackson's selflessness, running through a certain cycle, won voters' approval, with Drew's actual cycle deserving of honorable mention.

We now move on to a new, somewhat painful award: Least Valuable Person. I'm not going to lay out a definition for this one, as it all really depends on what factors you want to take into account. Expectations, cost, impact [or lack thereof], positive contributions to offset the bad: these are all the kind of things which could factor into one's individual decision. And the nominees for this category are:

Chris 'sub-Uecker' Burke
Burke's contribution is not just his .194 average or a .582 OPS: it's that these were achieved over almost 200 trips to the plate. He was seen in more games than not, despite his poor performance, thanks to position flexibility: in other worse, he sucked, more or less, at six different position plus as a pinch-hitter. His OBP of .310 was respectable, but that was largely due to almost one-third of his walks being intentional ones to reach the pitcher. Given our hurlers batted .160, it was almost a wash.

Eric 'Hamstrung' Byrnes
Including the signing bonus, Byrnes got paid $8m this season: that's more than $186,000 per hit, $347,000 per RBI or $1.33 million per home-run. The face of the franchise, newly signed to a three-year extension, started credibly [his BA was .314 after the first 17 games], but then fell off the planet, hitting a mere .154 from April 20th on, before his hamstrings gave out entirely. Rarely seen around the dugout after his injury, he finished the season by getting into a public spat with Conor Jackson over locker-room smack talk that didn't stay in the locker-room.

Tony 'Veteran Presence' Clark
The Dodgers got Manny Ramirez before the trade deadline. The D-backs got Tony Clark - a player we let go before the season started. Any surprise who won the division? Clark seemed intent on proving the original decision to let him go was the right one. In 63 at-bats he hit into more double-plays than Stephen Drew did in 611 at-bats, and had fewer extra-base hits with Arizona (four) than twin killings (six). He imploded utterly down the stretch, with one hit in the final thirty-five games.

Chip 'The Windmill' Hale
Earlier, I wrote "Hale is not going to be opening a hospice in the near future, since he firmly believes in sending everybody home to die." When you notice the third-base coach at all, it's rarely good, and at times there seemed no base-running decision which Hale would not get wrong. In particular, he seemed to possess unbounded optimism about the speed and stamina of our pitchers and catchers. But infamously, Augie Ojeda also ran through a Hale stop sign, and scored easily. Given our clutch struggles down the stretch, issues from the coach's box were the last thing we needed.

Bob 'Mismanagement' Melvin
Since he was given credit for our 90 wins last season, and named 'Manager of the Year,' one presumes he bears responsibility for the barely-.500 results this year. With a bigger budget, a shiny new #2 starting pitcher and a year's more experience from the young players... What the heck happened? The bullpen imploded, Melvin showing an uncanny knack for putting in the wrong arm; his line-up construction baffled everyone; and the false dawn of April apparently led to a 'Crisis? What Crisis?' attitude as things unfolded thereafter. By the time change came, it was too little, too late.

Jon 'The Biggest Loser' Rauch
As far as I can tell, no pitcher in the history of baseball has ever thrown so few innings and lost so many games for a team, as Rauch did for the Diamondbacks. In just 23.1 innings, he had an 0-6 record - losing all six in the space of just twelve frames of work. Even if we'd won half of those, we'd have taken the division, so you could argue Jon Rauch was every bit as crucial to the Dodgers taking the title as Manny Ramirez. Heard some doubtful things about his clubhouse presence, though no-one who refused AZWILDCATS an autograph can be all bad.