As we documented previously, there is no particular consensus about who were the best pitchers on the 2016 Diamondbacks. Though in this case, “best” is perhaps another way of saying “least worst”. For the D-backs didn’t just have the worst overall ERA in the majors this year, edging out the Twins in the third decimal place, 5.091 to 5.089. There has only been one higher figure posted over the last seven seasons; the 2012 Rockies reached 5.22.
It’s safe to say no Arizona pitcher covered themselves with glory in any consistent way this year. Oh, there were pitchers who had good games, sometimes even good months. But there was no-one, in the rotation or out of the bullpen, who generated the solid sort of comfort you want to experience as a fan, where good performance is expected, and anything else is an unpleasant surprise. I mean, let’s just review the history of this award over the years, and the stats posted by the winners.
- 2007. Brandon Webb (18-10, 3.01)
- 2008. Brandon Webb (22-7, 3.30)
- 2009. Dan Haren (14-10, 3.14)
- 2010. Daniel Hudson (7-1, 1.69)
- 2011. Ian Kennedy (21-4, 2.88)
- 2012. Wade Miley (16-11, 3.33)
- 2013. Patrick Corbin (14-8, 3.41)
- 2014. Josh Collmenter (11-9, 3.46)
- 2015. Brad Ziegler (30 saves, 1.85)
Every winning pitcher has an ERA of better than 3.50. But nobody with more than two starts this year had a lower ERA than Rubby De La Rosa’s 4.26, and he spent two-thirds of the season on the disabled list. But let’s see what we can find. Because of the disparate results from bWAR and fWAR, I’ve taken shoe’s approach and averaged the two figures, to get a composite estimate, and selected the top four players by that measure. Here are the stats for them.
Archie Bradley (0.7 bWAR, 1.8 fWAR = 1.3 average)
In reviewing Archie’s performance, his .340 BABIP did him no favors, and it’s worth remembering this was still only his age 23 season. For perspective, only one pitcher his age or younger has ever thrown as many innings for the D-backs as Bradley did this year (Patrick Corbin in 2013). Brandon Webb, for example, spent his age 23 season almost exclusively in Double-A. Bradley shaved more than three-quarters of a run off his ERA, and slightly more (0.86) off his FIP, as he jacked up his K-rate, striking out more than a batter per inning (143 over 141.2 IP). He was particularly tough on right-handed batters, holding them to a .235 average and .666 OPS this season.
Zack Greinke (2.3, 2.2, 2.2)
The highest overall WAR goes to our Opening Day starter, and Greinke’s 13 wins were five more than anyone else on the team. His 4.37 ERA was the best of any regular starter, and Zack was dominant in the middle of the season, before having to go on the DL at the beginning of July with a left oblique strain. Over his ten starts from April 30 through June 18, Greinke went 8-1 with a 2.41 ERA and a .559 OPS against, and was the ace the team wanted when they signed him. That peaked with his three-hit complete-game shutout of the Rays on June 7. Oh, yeah, and Greinke also hit above the Uecker Line for the fifth consecutive season, batting .212.
Robbie Ray (0.7, 3.0, 1.9)
Ray’s strikeout rate of 11.25 was 22nd all-time in the majors, among pitchers with at least 140 IP. The worst ERA by any of the 21 men ahead of him was Chris Sale’s 3.41 in 2015, almost a run and a half better than Ray’s 4.90. For Robbie was utterly BABIP’d to death: his figure of .355 was fifteen points worse than any other qualifying pitcher and the highest such in the majors since Kevin Millwood in 2008 (.358). The 43 batters he fanned in July was the most by a D-back in any calendar month for over six years. From June 17 through August 2, Robbie struck out 7 or more in nine consecutive games, the longest streak by a D-back since Curt Schilling in 2002.
Brad Ziegler (1.1, 0.5, 0.8)
#GoneButNotForgotten Ziegler extended his run of consecutive saves to 43, a franchise record and now the 8th-longest streak in baseball history. That included arguably the greatest save ever by a Diamondback, and even the end of the streak was more a result of the jam he inherited than his own fault. At the time of his trade to Boston in early July, Brad was on pace for 34 saves and had a 2.82 ERA. That was the lowest this year by a Diamondback with 20+ innings pitched, and more than half a run better than anyone else. He leaves as the D-backs leader in pitching appearances, his 348 currently being almost a hundred more than anyone else.
None of the above
By popular request, from eel, who asked ‘Can "No winner" be one of the nominees?’ Ask, and ye shall receive. For you can argue, with the team’s leading bWAR provider coming in a paltry 72nd in the majors by that metric, that there was no-one whose name deserves to go alongside those mentioned in the intro. We’ve already had one award this year end up with a ‘No award’, rookie of the year being sidestepped, albeit as much the result of ballot-box shenanigans as the lack of worthy winners. Let’s see if the popular vote thinks the same should apply here!
As with the previous category, voting is open to registered SnakePitters only. And yes, I do check. :) Voting will be open through this point Friday, with the winner announced then.