Since 2013, Paul Goldschmidt has been unbeatable when it comes to the ‘Pitties. He has taken home three consecutive MVP awards, and it hasn’t been particularly close. In 2013, when we had a 5-3-1 system, he got all but one of the first-place choices. In 2014, he fell just short of an overall majority, at 49%, but still ended up with more than twice the votes of his nearest rival, despite missing the last third of the season. And in 2015, it was a complete and utter landslide, Goldschmidt receiving 80% of the ballots.
This year, it might be different. For Jean Segura had one of the most surprising seasons in franchise history. How unexpected was it? He improved his batting average by 62 points. His on-base percentage by 87 points. His slugging percentage by 167 points. Overall, in bWAR, he went from replacement level in 2015 to 5.7 wins above replacement last year. Segura led the team in both bWAR and fWAR, though particularly in the latter, the margin over Goldschmidt was less than conclusive (5.0 to 4.8). But there may be intangibles to consider as well, with Goldschmidt a linchpin of the team on and off the field - will that and the goodwill he has generated over the past few years be a factor in voting?
Here are the five candidates for the final category, a look at their strengths over the past season, and video clippage of their best game in 2016.
.297/.411/.489, 4.8 bWAR, 4.8 fWAR. Only by the insane standards which we’ve come to expect from Paul, would 2016 be considered disappointing. I mean, “only” hitting .297, with 24 home-runs, 95 RBI and an on-base percentage surpassed by just two qualified NL batters? Oh, and don’t forget a fourth consecutive All-Star appearance, MVP mentions, and a finalist for the Gold Glove. He dominated the Win Probability rankings for Arizona, finishing at +398%, which was 125% better than anyone else on the team, and behind only Joey Votto in the league. He also became the first man EVER at his position with 32 or more stolen-bases and over 20 home-runs in a year.
Game of the year: two home-runs against the Pirates, including a game-tying shot in the ninth, worth +59.0% in Win Probability
13-7, 4.37 ERA, 2.3 bWAR, 2.2 fWAR. Greinke gave the team a quality start in 16 of his 26 appearances: despite missing six weeks that was still easily most on the team, with no-one else even reaching a dozen. After a shaky start, Grienke settled in, and was delivering a strong series of outings when a strain in his ribs stopped him. Over the 12 starts to that point, Greinke was 8-1 with a 2.76 ERA and had held opponents to a .229 average. He also picked up the team’s only Gold Glove this year, Zack’s third in a row, and here’s a fun fact: bar Oscar Hernandez’s 11 plate-appearances, Segura was the only position player with a lower strikeout rate than Greinke’s 15.0%.
Game of the year: Greinke tosses the D-backs’ only nine-inning complete-game shutout of the year, with a three-hitter against the Rays.
.249/.332/.509, 2.6 bWAR, 2.5 fWAR. Lamb’s season was insanely good until the break, with a legitimate case he should have gone to the All-Star Game. To that point, he was hitting .291/.371/.612, and had put up 2.9 fWAR, a figure which put him among the top ten hitters in the National League. Since 2011, there have been 42 qualified batters with a first-half OPS above .960: only Lamb didn’t make an All-Star team. Though his numbers did fall away in the second-half, he still finished in the NL top ten for extra-base hits. He also hit two game-tying homers with two outs in the ninth, and has as many homers in his 17 pinch-hit PA (three), as the rest of the team had in 249 PA.
Game of the year: Has to be the one which already won Lamb Performance of the Year, where Jake tied the game in the 9th, and scored the winner in the 12th.
Owings qualified for an MVP nomination as Unsung Hero, taking over as the D-backs Opening Day center-fielder, despite never having played the position until a couple of days earlier. He played 403 error-free innings there, before returning to his more normal shortstop position. Owings won the second annual Luis Gonzalez Award, given to the player who “best exemplifies the talents, spirit and heart of the D-backs”, as voted on by players, coaches and staff. He led the Majors and set a club record with a 91.3 SB%, going 21-for-23, and finished strong, batting over .300 in his last 52 games, by going 63-for-209. Owings improved his OPS by 144 points over the 2015 figure.
Game of the year: Owings matched his career high with four hits against the Rockies on September 3, his first four-hit game since May 2014.
.319/.368/.499, 5.7 bWAR, 5.0 fWAR. Where to start? Segura became just the second player in team history with 200+ hits in a single season (203), joining Luis Gonzalez (206 in 1999). He led the league in hits and 3+ hit games (24), was tied for second in singles and multi-hit games (57), ranked fifth in average and tied for fifth in stolen bases. His 20 home runs out of the leadoff spot were second-most in franchise history (Chris Young, 21 in 2007), and Jean’s 37 hits in April were tied for second most in club history, behind PG’s 40 in 2014. That bWAR was the highest-ever by a Diamondback second-baseman, and since 2011 trails only Matt Carpenter’s 2013 among NL 2B.
Game of the year: Against the Padres on Aug 19, Jean became the second player in team history with 5 hits and 3 SB in a single game.
Slight variant on the voting here. No form. Just post a comment to vote. The subject line MUST be one of the five nominees, and that only: anything else will be regarded as a spoiled ballot. But feel free to explain in the body of the comment the reasons for your choice. Voting will close at midnight Thursday.