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2014 AZ SnakePit Awards: Unsung hero

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There wasn't much singing being done at all this summer at Chase Field, especially if we followed the old football taunt: "You only sing when you're winning". But there were still those whose quietly rendered services deserve credit.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

I liked the whole "open nominations" thing. It seemed to work out well, with a lot of suggestions. comments on the suggestions, recs for the suggestions, and five conveniently red candidates [discounting both "the fans" and AZDC's sycophantic suggestion!]. I also get to throw in a wild-card suggestion of my own: that almost went to Daniel Hudson (who would deserve the Comeback Player of the Year award, if we had one, simply for coming back) but I went with another choice. So, here are the six nominees. Some blurbs re-posted from the Rookie of the Year vote!

Chase Anderson

Not even on the radar as a potential starter pre-season, he ended up throwing more innings for Arizona than anyone bar Josh Collmenter and Wade Miley.. Called up from Double-A in mid-May, Chase won his opening five major-league appearances, becoming the first player to do that since Jared Weaver in 2006, and 14 starts into his career, he was 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA. Anderson did seem to flag down the stretch, not lasting more than six innings after July, and was rested for his final scheduled start. But for someone who came out of nowhere, his overall performance was more than satisfactory.

Bronson Arroyo

In terms of stress on the body, pitching is about the most violent and unnatural motion in all sport, and doing so at the highest level of the major leagues is only possible in prime physical condition. Unless you're Arroyo, that is, who completely torn his ulnar collateral ligament at some point while throwing a complete game against Washington on May 13 - and then made six more starts. He said, "When I woke up the next morning it was very stiff. But I've had that plenty of times in my career, so I didn't think anything alarming of it." However, as it steadily took longer for his arm to recover, Arroyo finally had to have surgery. But in those six starts with a torn UCL, he went 3-2 with a 3.99 ERA.

Ender Inciarte

Inciarte was called up in late April, as Roger Kieschnick proved an unsuitable replacement for Mark Trumbo. He took some time to find his feet: after 19 games, he was hitting .111 with one walk and no extra-base hits. But the team persevered and Ender's game [hohoho] improved. His defense was stellar, and both bWAR and fWAR have his fielding value more than twice as much as the next-best Diamondback. His bat came around too; he had his first multi-hit game on June 4, and thereafter, his line was a thoroughly respectable .293/.335/.384, culminating in two four-hit games during the final week and a 15-game hit streak.

Evan Marshall

Marshall was called up from Reno after J.J. Putz had to go on the DL with forearm tightness, and got the win in his major-league debut against the Brewers in Milwaukee. But perhaps his most memorable outing of the season also came versus Milwaukee, on June 17, when he first threw behind and then hit Brewers' slugger Ryan 'Fedex' Brain, getting him ejected and earning himself a high-five from Kirk Gibson. He struck out more than a batter per inning, and his 2.74 ERA was the lowest (min 40 IP) among Diamondbacks' rookies who did that, since Jose Valverde in 2003. He finished strong, posting a 1.35 ERA over his last 24 appearances.

Vidal Nuno

Received from the Yankees in exchange for Brandon McCarthy, Nuño's winless streak became the stuff of legend, as he couldn't buy himself a W, right from his debut where he threw seven scoreless innings and got a no-decision. He also had the biggest Win Probability performance of the year for us, at +43.8%, and was still not involved in the final result. That wasn't even his best game of the year, which came on August 20, as he retired 20 batters in a row against the Rockies (below), and gave up two hits in eight innings. The result? A loss. At 14, Vidal broke the National League record for starts in a season without a win, set by Stump Wiedman, all the way back in 1880.

A.J. Pollock

Second on the team by bWAR or fWAR, despite appearing in only 70 games (in 10 of which he had 3+ hits), we can only wonder what might have happened had his season not been rudely interrupted during the last game in May, when he was hit on the hand by a pitch from Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto. A.J. was hitting .316/.366 /.554 at that pont, but missed 79 before coming back for the final month of the season. He ended the season with a 134 OPS+, trailing only Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen among all major-league center-fielders (min 250 PA). Here's a nice bit of smarts, scoring from third on a dropped third strike after the Giants throw to first.