Congratulation to Gerardo Parra, who romped away with the Rookie of the Year 'Pittie, with 68% of the overall vote. I'm a little surprised it was quite as wide a margin, because by objective measurements like WAR or VORP, Parra was a good deal less credible a candidate than Juan Gutierrez. For instance, by WAR, Gutierrez came in at 1.5 wins, while Parra was all the way down at 0.3 wins. That puts him behind Rusty Ryal (0.6) and (0.4) and only fractionally ahead of Trent Oeltjen (0.2). However, by the time this was mentioned to me, Parra already had what was basically an unsurmountable lead.
To be honest, I've got a feeling this penultimate award is going to prove even more one-sided - and in this case, I don't think there will likely be much argument from the sabermetric community. Frankly, a chunk of me is tempted to toss up the obvious nomination and then go back to gnawing on honey-baked ham [which is basically what I'll have been doing for the past 24 hours or so] . However, that would be an abdication of my responsibilities. And, perhaps more important, merely typing the words "honey-baked ham" made me feel slightly nauseous. So, after the jump, we'll go through the five names on the ballot. And remember, it's an honor simply to be nominated...
Doug Davis: 203.1 IP, 4.12 ERA
After three seasons of DD, we're used to it by now. He's up to sixth on the all-time franchise list for innings pitched, and hit 200 IP for the first time in Arizona. His WHIP of 1.505 was also the lowest it has been with the Diamondbacks, despite Davis leading the league in walks (103). However, Davis was then insanely good with men on base, posting a line of .215/.310/.321. Davis certainly deserved a better record: in the past fifteen seasons, only four qualifying NL pitchers have had a W-L% below .400 and a better ERA+ than Doug's 111 [Brandon Webb's 2004 leads that list]. If this was his last hurrah in Arizona, he can leave with his head held high.
Dan Haren: 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.
Chad Qualls: 52 IP, 3.63 ERA
In his first year as full-time closer, Qualls ended the season with 24 saves in 29 opportunities, good for sixth on the franchise all-time list. He'd likely have finished third, except he blew out his knee and missed the last month, following the pitch which secured his final save. That came as a pity, because he'd posted a 2.90 ERA over July and August. Qualls showed excellent control, walking just seven batters all year (he had almost as many double-plays: five), while fanning 45 hitters. 69% of all his pitches were strikes, and pitching in Chase didn't bother Chad at all: his ERA here was 2.63, with opponents held to a .657 OPS.
Max Scherzer: 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.
Clay Zavada: 51 IP, 3.35 ERA
Left-handed relief has often been a problem for Arizona, but Zavada's ERA+ of 136 was the best by such a player for us since 2000 (min 40 IP). Zavada set a franchise rookie record of nineteen consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run, which was also the best streak ever to start a career in the NL. Curiously, he was particularly brutal on right-handers, holding them to a .205 average, and faced 98 batters before allowing a home-run in the majors, during Zavada's 25th outing. His off-field contributions were perhaps as important: he energized the bullpen, the dugout and the fan-base like no-one else on the 2009 roster.