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SnakePit Round Table: Awards week

Torey Lovullo got Manager of the Year, but once again, there was no MVP joy for Paul Goldschmidt.

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Paul Goldschmidt finished 3rd in the MVP voting. Was he unjustly robbed, or was it fair enough?

James: I don’t think he was necessarily robbed, but I do think the wrong person won the award. By WAR, Goldschmidt was behind both Stanton and Votto. Votto was the better hitter in 2017. I personally think Arenado also was given the short stick in this year’s voting though. It’s hard to imagine that Votto contributed anything of real value to Cincinnati. Had he not been on the team all season long, perhaps they love 100 games instead of 92 (though I doubt it). Either way, they are in dead last in the NL Central. Though the case is not as extreme for Stanton, I also don’t see hitting home runs at a prodigious rate as, alone, warranting the award. He is an average fielder and an average runner. His all-around batting ability is slightly above average, but for a guy with so much raw power, he doesn’t have the OBP one would expect. He also played for a team with no chance of winning anything, and may have contributed even less to Miami’s “success” than Votto did to the Reds’ campaign.

Jay: I’m fine with it. I feel like Goldy had it until September. Maybe his elbow had something to do with it. I do wonder how Goldy can win a Silver Slugger over Votto, yet be so far behind him in MVP race. Was Votto’s defensive that much better than Goldy’s? Of course not.

Keegan: Realistically, 6-8 different players could have won this award and that would have been fair enough. Am I upset that Goldschmidt did not win? Absolutely. Am I upset that Giancarlo Stanton won? Absolutely not. How spoiled are we that we get the chance to watch this many talented players take the field for different teams all at the same time? Perhaps the most gratifying aspect about that is that Goldy has been one of the best among all of them for the past 5 years as has been pointed out earlier. Him not winning this year should not come as a disappointment by any means. The voters are different for the Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and MVP, so we were given high hopes when Paul took the first two.

Jim: To me, “Valuable” is not the same thing as “best”. I’ve got to ask, how “valuable” to his team was Stanton, given they almost traded him at the deadline? He and Votto were both the difference between their teams finishing below .500... and finishing further below .500. Yeah, I get that it’s wrong to penalize a player for the failings of his team-mates. But if you’re going to simply resort to WAR as your god instead, then abolish the entire BBWAA and replace them with a pocket calculator. Which I’d be entirely fine with, actually.

Makakilo: Paul Goldschmidt was the most balanced player, contributing at the highest level in defense and offense. How good was Goldy?

  • His defense was arguably the best. His Gold Glove Award reflected his 15 Total Zone Runs (first in NL), and 10 Defensive Runs Saved (second in NL).
  • His offense was awesome plus. His Silver Slugger Award reflected his offensive stats: 117 runs(third in NL), 120 RBIs (fourth in NL), .404 OBP(fifth in NL), and .966 OPS(fifth in NL).

He should have won MVP because his balance of top defense and awesome offense, combined with his positive impact on the team that exceeded what could be measured by statistics.

What would your ballot have been, and why?


  1. Goldschmidt
  2. Arenado
  3. Blackmon/Votto
  4. Votto/Blackmon
  5. Rendon
  6. Stanton
  7. Harper/Bryant
  8. Bryant/Harper
  9. Seager

I don’t think that a winner needs to come from a playoff team. However, if the player isn’t coming from a competitive team, then the numbers need to be so overwhelmingly one-sided that there can be no other option even considered. Given that Stanton and Votto finished 1 and 2, with one of the narrowest margins in history, I’d say the stats don’t support the overwhelmingly one-sided argument.

The award does seem to be taking on a new meaning though. Instead of “most valuable”, it seems like the voters are now looking at handing the award to the “best player”. Of course, if they truly held to that, then Trout and Harper would both have more hardware on their mantles and be the prohibitive favourites for winning again next season.


  1. Stanton
  2. Goldy
  3. Votto
  4. Blackmon
  5. Arenado
  6. Who Cares
  7. Who Cares
  8. Who Cares
  9. Who Cares

Stanton’s season was good enough that his team performance didn’t matter. There was actually a time in late August that the Marlins looked like a real Wild Card threat. Blackmon and Arenado kind of split their votes in my mind. Votto was great, but his team was weak.

Keegan: Tough to say what I would actually do if put in the position. It would be difficult for me not to give it to Paul watching him day in and day out. I would have put Goldy, Stanton, and Arenado all ahead of Votto, but I’d be unsure of which order. Rendon would round out my top 5 followed by Bryant and Seager. Again, my bias puts Blackmon at towards the back of the pack watching how the Diamondbacks were able to limit him towards the end of the season.


  1. Goldschmidt
  2. Rendon
  3. Arenado
  4. Bryant
  5. Turner
  6. The field

The BBWAA do specifically list among their criteria, “General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.” While it’s likely a result of being in Arizona, that’s the area which, to me, separates Goldschmidt from the rest of the pack. I’m sure the rest are all very nice people, but I have literally never heard a bad word said about Goldschmidt’s character, disposition, loyalty or effort. For someone under the spotlight of public scrutiny every day, that’s impressive.


  1. Goldschmidt (Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, Luis Gonzalez award for talent/spirit/heart, high impact on team)
  2. Stanton (best offensive WAR for position player, best total WAR, best in home runs, best in RBIs, second in slugging percent, and second in total bases)
  3. JD Martinez (best in slugging percent, second in homers, high impact on team)
  4. Scherzer (best in pitching WAR, best in hits per 9 innings, second in strikeouts per 9 innings, second in ERA)
  5. Ray (fourth in ERA, best in strikeouts per 9 innings, second in hits per 9 innings)
  6. Bradley (ERA+ was a staggering 278 with a FIP of 2.61. The Internet Baseball Writers Association voted Archie Bradley into third place in NL relief pitchers. High impact on team.)
  7. Arenado (first in win probability added, second in RBIs)
  8. Greinke (gold glove, pitches in hitter friendly Chase field, and yet he is fourth in pitching WAR)
  9. Blackmon (best in batting average, runs scored, and total bases)

J.D. Martinez finished 14th, while Zack Greinke and Archie Bradley also got mentions. Thoughts?

James: It’s nice that hometown writers can pad the stat page of team and fan favourites. While I can almost buy J.D. Martinez sliding in at #10. However, with only half a season to work with, it’s very difficult to justify putting him any higher, despite his astounding September. As for Greinke and Bradley, it doesn’t really hurt anyone to use them to fill in the final slots on a ballot.

Jay: Why not? Greinke carried this team during the dog days of summer that didn’t go well. Bradley was massively important. Perhaps a stretch for them, but who cares?

Keegan: It isn’t that often we see a second half as dominant as the one had by Martinez, and don’t forget that for the first few weeks or so he spent with us he was hitting somewhere around .230 (I’m too lazy to get the exact number) when everything was a home run or strikeout. Then he went on that monster tear that we have never seen in the second half here in the Valley before. He is deserving of the mention he received. Not particularly shocked by the mentions of Greinke and Bradley either. Archie needs to take this back end of the bullpen role and run with it. He could be a highly sought after free agent in a few years with more seasons like that.

Jim: That’s one more player than we had listed on MVP ballots in 2001! Definitely in the “token gesture” category, it has to be said, but I wonder where Martinez might have placed, if there was just one award for all of the majors? They’re a trio who certainly were valuable to the team, so seem in the spirit of the award.

Makakilo: Robbie Ray deserved mention.

Torey Lovullo did take home Manager of the Year. Did he deserve it?

James: I think so. Had the award gone to Bud Black, I would not have complained. I think it was fairly clearly between the two of them. The BBWAA seems to think it wasn’t even really a contest though. I do think Dave Roberts finishing ahead of Bud Black smells a bit large-market fishy.

Jay: Yes. His instincts were great all year. His catcher choices in the postseason didn’t pan out. But we are talking regular season for the award.

Keegan: Lovullo earned it, but I really think that our old friend Craig Counsell really got snubbed here. I get it that his team did not make the playoffs, but the Brewers were in it all season and led the NL Central for most of the season as well. This was supposed to be a near bottom feeding team with probably less talent than the Diamondbacks have. I would have been ok with CC winning the award, but Lovullo is deserving as well.

Jim: The D-backs had the biggest improvement of the year, and contended in a season they were never expected to compete, with limited resources. That’s pretty much the trifecta of factors in getting MotY votes, so this wasn’t a surprise. But it’s always hard in these cases to know how much of the improvement is down to the manager. Lovullo said he regarded it more as an organizational award, and he’s probably right there.

Makakilo: Yes! Although there are many reasons he won the award, let’s consider just one amazing facet of his coaching - emotional expression. That facet is interesting because to consistently play at the top levels, players must control their emotion.

Torey Lovullo’s experience has taught him that emotional expression is “helpful and beautiful” and without it baseball performance can be hindered. He did not suppress emotion expression, and he gave his players freedom to express their emotions. His players had “...freedom and the ability to perform with a mind that is empty with no barriers … to make them be at their best every single day.”

From a fan-perspective, the team has an emotional personality that is interesting and delightful.

Former D-back Max Scherzer won the Cy Young again. Do you wish we’d kept him?

James: I wish the Diamondbacks had explored other ways to either keep him or increase the value of the return in the trade. As it is, it is not as though Arizona was left with nothing of value. It’s just a bit of irony that the team traded Scherzer because of injury concerns, only to have him go off and stay relatively healthy, while Daniel Hudson wound up coming in and blowing his arm out. Scherzer was always going to be a very good pitcher. There is plenty of room for questioning whether or not he would have ever developed into the pitcher he has if he had stayed in Arizona though. Justin Verlander’s tutelage was an integral part of Scherzer blossoming the way he did. Even if he did become the ace he is today though, with his performance and with Scott Boras as his agent, he would be long gone by now anyway. I think what hurts more than trading him away is knowing that the biggest reason he was traded in the first place was that Ken Kendrick is that Arizona has cheap ownership. A team running a league average payroll probably finds a way to keep him around, and then builds around him. Then, if he blossoms the way he did, if the team is rebuilding, they get an even better return.

Jay: This question makes me want to make “The Scherzer” cocktail. Two parts bourbon, one part Pepto, with a splash of peppermint schnaps to bring out the Pepto’s peppermint. Shaken not stirred. Also works if you need a hair of the dog.

Keegan: Every time I see Max Scherzer that trade brings me agony. I am not exaggerating either. Remember when his arm was supposed to fall off? Yeah. Still waiting. Just keep reminding yourselves that we got Robbie Ray from the Tigers a few seasons after, and everything will be okay.

Jim: It would be interesting to speculate about an alternate timeline where we hung on to him for longer, that’s for sure. He’d have been under team control through the end of 2014, which would have included his first Cy Young award in 2013. That season, the bottom of the D-backs’ rotation, Tyler Skaggs, Zeke Spruill and Ian Kennedy, combined for 30 starts and -2.3 bWAR. Scherzer was worth +6.7 bWAR, so replacing them with Max gives us nine wins more. Adding that to the team’s actual 81 wins, that would have brought them to 90, good enough to tie for the second NL wild-card that year (and possibly better, depending on who lost the wins we gained). Who knows?

Makakilo: It is what it is. As a smaller market team, with a lower budget, the D-backs need to emphasize player development to build a consistently winning team.

Which, if any, Diamondbacks will be traded between now and Opening Day

James: It really is difficult to say, especially given the payroll constraints that Mike Hazen is going to have to work with. Derrick Hall’s comments seem to confirm that, for a third year in a row now, the fans can wonder where all the television revenue is going. Despite increasing payrolls around all of MLB, Arizona looks like it is going to continue to remain stagnant on that front. Because of this, I think Patrick Corbin is the most likely player to be traded. He’s an average left-handed starter entering his final year of team control and is going to cost in excess of $8 million. I suspect the team will also explore trading one of their middle infielders, probably Owings or Drury. Neither one of them brings much in the way of payroll savings though, so a trade of one of them would be more about adding to the organization’s depth elsewhere than anything else.

I do think the team will listen to offers on Lamb and Pollock. Ultimately however, I doubt either of them is moved. Lamb is still a potent left-handed bat that flashes all-star potential, even if it is becoming clear he may never reach that potential. He would be hard to replace, even if they moved Drury back to third and gave more at-bats to Marte. Similarly, any trade of Pollock requires the team to then replace Pollock either in the trade itself, or via free agency. Trading Pollock for another center fielder makes little sense, and his level of production (even the reduced level) would be far more expensive coming from a free agent than what Pollock is going to make. For his cost, the team is simply not going to do any better in center field.

It might be possible that the team moves Chafin or Delgado, but I think the bullpen already raises enough questions that the team will stick with both of them. For the most part, I don’t expect many trades.

Jay: I don’t have a clue. Maybe Owings or Ahmed? A salary dump deal for Tomas if the D-backs are serious about Martinez. I think most guys stay though.

Keegan: I think the names that are most likely to be discussed at the Winter Meetings will be Corbin, Pollock, Lamb, Ahmed, Owings, and Drury. That is not me saying that all of them are going to be traded, but perhaps maybe one or two. Corbin may be the most likely to be moved out of those names. In an ideal world, I would like to see Corbin, Ahmed, and Tomas packaged together to dump most if not all of Tomas’ salary, and then Tomas will opt out of his player option with his new team and troll us all one last time. Corbin would probably fetch a decent return on his own as would Pollock. Hazen is going to figure out what the future is moving forward with those two and then make a decision. The center fielder of the future is not evident in the minor league system at this time, so if this is Pollock’s last season in Arizona a move needs to be made to bring that player back. I truly feel that this is where Mike Hazen is going to do his best work even though he is handcuffed by ownership.

Jim: If the rumblings about payroll are true, seems like the team will have to shed some of the upper end salaries to make weight. The gains through arbitration and contract obligations outweigh the losses of free-agency. The big guys - Greinke and Tomas - are likely not going anywhere, due to the difficulty of getting true relief. It would not surprise me if Patrick Corbin was gone; Pollock seems more likely to stay, simply because he would be harder for the team to replace. But if the Corbin deal brings us back a young CF, then Pollock may also end up being shopped. I think Ahmed may also be deemed surplus to requirements, with Jack Reinheimer able to fill the role of a lightly-hitting slick defender for less.

Makakilo: Although second, third, and shortstop were a weak area, (ranking below average in MLB), that weakness may be deceptive. Developing players could bloom into All-Stars. If the group of depth players stay healthy, playing time may become scarce for players able to play at the Major-League level.

In summary, player development and good health could make possible a trade involving one of Lamb/Owings/Ahmed/Drury. With budget limitations, that trade could possibly be the only way to fill a hole in next year’s roster.