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2016 Arizona Diamondbacks Unsung Hero: Poll

Honoring those who did their jobs, quietly and without the fanfare they might have deserved.

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Chicago Cubs v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Not much in the way of additional suggestions offered - at least, once you filter out the sarcastic ones! Though hard to argue we fans count as long-suffering after this dismal excuse for contention, we did at least have the ability to change the channel or go outside - and, personally, did so with quite disturbing frequency. By the end of the year, pretty much the only games I watched were the ones I was recapping. Others got a casual tune-in, before heading off to Netflix or wherever. I don’t honestly feel I deserve any kind of award for this. Similarly, the much rec’d Shelby Miller choice for Unsung Here would be a bit like, oh, I dunno - giving the 1945 Nobel Peace Prize to Adolf Hitler. Yeah, sure, the end result could have been worse - but I’d rather not have gone on the journey at all.

Therefore, we’re restricting it to players, and nobody bothered to submit a serious additional suggestion there. I did consider throwing Jake Barrett into the mix, but previous events have shown he’s hardly unsung... I did also think about throwing Rickie Weeks in there, but my heart just wasn’t in it. So, we’ll just go with the four candidates mentioned in the original post, and talk about each of them in a little more depth. It was a year where flexibility reined supreme. The 2016 Diamondbacks started ten different left-fielders and nine right-fielders this season, and Tomas in RF (80 games) was the only player to start at either more than one-third of the time. Those who gave their best shot will feature large among these nominees.

Randall Delgado

Since the start of the 2014 season, when transitioned to an almost full-time reliever, no pitcher has been seen more often for the Diamondbacks than Delgado. His 190 appearances is twenty above the second-placed pitcher (Brad Ziegler) and nobody else is within fifty of Randall’s workload. Even including starting pitchers, only Robbie Ray has more strikeouts over that time. In 2015-16, Delgado’s 147 IP ranks sixth among NL relievers, and three of those above him made nine or more starts. This season, Delgado reached a career high, pitching in 79 games; that’s second all-time for Arizona, and the most since Oscar Villarreal’s 86 appearances in 2013. Here he is, getting Yasiel Puig to ground out with the bases loaded in the 12th inning.

Brandon Drury

Even before the season, the team discussed moving Drury to the outfield, in response to injury issues. Chip Hale said, "He and Jake Lamb are both darn good players, and we have a lot of middle infielders, so at some point we’re going to have to find at-bats for Drury." So it proved, with Brandon starting 52 times in left and another 27 in right, despite zero professional outfield experience. He still ended up third (min 200 PA) on the team in BA, fourth in OBP and fifth in SLG and OPS, and got more PA and home-runs than any Arizona rookie since Chris Young in 2007. He finished particularly strong: over his last 30 games, Drury hit .365/.416/.609 for a 1.026 OPS. Here’s his 9/18 game, where he reached base six times, including delivery of a walk-off hit.

Chris Herrmann

Herrmann became the first NL player even to appear at catcher AND all three outfield positions in a season since Eli Marrero in 2006. In terms of starting at those four spots like Chris, before Marrero you have to go all the way back to Johnnie Bench in 1970. Herrmann set career MLB highs in most categories, matching his entire previous tally with six home-runs. His .284 batting average was over a hundred points better than his career figure before 2016, and his 118 OPS+ trailed only Paul Goldschmidt and Jean Segura among all D-backs this year. Despite only appearing in 56 games, Herrmann was fifth among all Arizona position players by fWAR (1.5) . His catcher’s ERA of 4.34 was better than both Welington Castillo (5.04) and Tuffy Gosewisch (6.35). Here’s his 5/8 game, where he had two HR, including a go-ahead shot in the 11th.

Chris Owings

Before this year, his previous OF experience was one start in left as a 19-year-old for Visalia. Chris seems to have forgotten that, saying he last played it in high-school, tho’ box-score don’t lie. But due to A.J. Pollock’s injury, Owings ended up there on Opening Day for Arizona - no doubt, whistling John Fogerty. He impressed coach Dave Mackay: "A lot of it comes natural to him, He’s going to get to a lot of balls because he’s as quick or quicker than anybody in this organization." He made 47 starts in center, before the team signed Michael Bourn, and Owings could return to the infield. He led the league in triples, set new career highs in hits, extra-base hits and RBI, and upped his batting average by 50 points and his OPS by 144 over last year’s figures. Here’s his four-hit game against the Rockies from 9/3.