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2010 'Pitties: Diamondbacks Pitcher of the Year

Daniel Hudson, to no-one's great surprise, won Rookie of the Year by a landslide, in what was also easily the most popular poll of the off-season so far. Not a shock there, since it was the first of the "Big Three". Next up is the award for Pitcher of the Year, which is not called the Cy Young, since the BBWAA are, apparently, getting rather more territorial about that. Poor things, I guess they have to justify their otherwise questionable existence somehow.

I was going to name it the Randy Johnson award instead, to honor the greatest pitcher ever to don a Diamondbacks uniform. But not having his email address, I couldn't ask permissions - and I think having the Big Unit peeved at you, would be about ten million times worse than the wrath of the BBWAA. So, we'll just call it the boring, humdrum "Pitcher of the Year" award and have done with it. After the jump, the nominees.

Before quite getting to them, a few notes on how I selected them. It was interesting to note how far apart Fangraphs and Baseball Reference were with regard to the value of our pitching staff, both collectively and on an individual basis. Fangraphs had our hurlers at 7.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) combined, almost ten victories more than BR, who took a considerably more pessimistic view, saying they were two wins below replacement-level. The top five pitchers, as listed by each method, were as follows, along with their WAR values
Baseball Reference
1. Dan Haren: 2.5
2. Ian Kennedy: 2.4
3. Daniel Hudson 2.0
4. Edwin Jackson 1.8
5. Joe Saunders 0.9
1. Daniel Hudson 3.1
2. Ian Kennedy 2.7
3. Barry Enright 1.4
4. Dan Haren 0.4
5. Mike Hampton 0.2

Overall, BR numbers tend to pass the 'smell test' better, in terms of measuring actual performance in 2010. I just don't see how Haren's 141 innings at a 4.60 ERA can be worth more than the fifty extra innings and substantially-better ERA (3.80) provided by Kennedy. And at the other end of the spectrum, too: FG would tell me with a straight face that Chad Qualls and his 8.29 ERA were actually better than replacement-level. Yeah. About that... I'm firmly with BR, who rated him at -2.5 WAR. [Which is historically bad. Since the end of the war - and I mean the Great War - only three pure NL relievers have posted a worse WAR than Qualls did for us in 2010]

That said, BR really didn't like the Diamondbacks pitching staff last year. Outside of the five listed above, the only other arm ranked as better than replacement level was Carlos Rosa, at 0.1 WAR. And I'd be a little uncomfortable including Mike Hampton as a nominee on the basis of, 4.1 innings of work [4.1 extremely-solid innings they admittedly were]. So what I did was take both lists, but to quote Captain Hector Barbossa, they're "more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules." So, in other words: shut up and vote. [Note: a couple of these will look familiar. Having written up those concerned for the Rookie category, seemed to make sense to re-use those paragraphs!]

  • Blaine Boyer.
    The 2010 Diamondbacks became the first team in baseball since the 1981 White Sox to have no relievers who threw 25 innings with an ERA+ above 100. But in a bullpen which often resembled a convention of arsonists, Boyer quietly put together a decent season, posting a 4.26 ERA while appearing in 54 games. Blaine had a rocky start to the year, resulting in him being DFA'd on May 18th. But he was recalled three weeks later, and was much improved, with a 3.25 ERA in 40 appearances. Unlike many of his colleagues, Token Bullpen Guy Boyer kept the ball in the park, giving up only three home-runs over his 57 innings of work.
  • Barry Enright.
    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.
  • Daniel Hudson.
    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.
  • Ian Kennedy
    For someone with less than 60 major-league innings to his credit previously, Ian had a great season, falling just short of two hundred frames for the Diamondbacks. He came in to 2010 having walked 5.6 per nine and struck out 6.5 - his figures for this year were 3.2 and 7.8 respectively. Doubts about Kennedy's stamina were erased, as in his last nine starts, he posted a 2.13 ERA, including eight shutout innings of two-hit ball against the Giants. Brandon Webb is the only pitcher of Kennedy's age in franchise history, to have posted a lower ERA for a season, with a hundred or more innings pitched.
  • Joe Saunders
    Inevitably, Saunders will be compared to the man for whom he was traded, Dan Haren. And, truth be told, there wasn't much difference in their performances on the mound. Haren got about one extra out per start, but his ERA of 4.60 was higher than Saunders' 4.25. The Colonel pitched particularly well at Chase, where he averaged seven innings per start and had a 3.12 ERA, holding opposing batters to a .689 OPS in Phoenix. That included his August 3rd win over the Nationals, one of just three complete games thrown by a Diamondback in 2010 [and the sole one by a nominee, since the others were by Haren in Houston, and Edwin Jackson's no-hitter].