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2020 SnakePit Awards: Most Valuable Player nominations

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The final contenders in the last award for the 2020 season

Houston Astros v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Thanks to those who chipped in with their nominees previously. Two names received multiple votes, though as usual there was some confusion i.e. Zac Gallen was already on the final ballot. Read the instructions, people. :) Anyway, Kole Calhoun and Christian Walker were deemed to be the two players most deserving of joining the Pitcher, Unsung Hero and Rookie of the Year winners on the final ballot. Details of all five candidates are below along with the usual poll. It will be interesting to see if the “Pitchers can’t win MVP” argument (one which I admit, I tend to generally favor) prevails, in the light of Gallen’s very strong performance for the Diamondbacks this year. Anyway, results will follow on Sunday.

Kole Calhoun

Calhoun was the most productive position player for Arizona this year. His average WAR works out to 4.2 wins, if pro-rated to a full season. That could well have been the best campaign in Calhoun’s, surpassing the 4.0 bWAR he put up as a rookie in 2014. While the batting average was a little low at .226, he made up for that with solid plate discipline (an OBP of .338) and excellent power. Pro-rated again, his 2020 numbers come out at 43 home-runs and 108 RBI. Only Luis Gonzalez in 2001 has reached those numbers in both homers and men driven in for the Diamondbacks [Mark Reynolds in 2009 had 44 HR, but fell short in RBI, at 102]

Pitcher of the Year: Zac Gallen

As Wesley documented just the other day, while there may still be room for improvement, Gallen had an excellent season. He set a new MLB record, by beginning his major-league career with 23 consecutive starts, allowing three or fewer earned runs. That included his first eight this year, during which time he had an ERA of 1.80, striking out 54 batters over 50 innings. He certainly deserved a much better record than 3-2, considering that over the seven no decisions, Zac had a 1.88 ERA. He was responsible for nine quality starts this year; ever other Arizona starter combined managed only four. Below, his Sep 2 start against the Dodgers, already awarded Single-Game Performance of the Year.

Unsung Hero: Tim Locastro

“Tim Locastro was the sixth-best hitter on the D-Backs, and the fifth-best on a per-game basis. A lot of this was the HBP and the walks, but did you know he slugged .464? That’s higher than any other player on the D-Backs except Kole Calhoun. Yep, “light-hitting” Timmy out-slugged both Martes, Christian Walker, and David Peralta. Pro-rated to a full season, he would have been worth 1.6 WAR playing in center field. Not bad for a quad-A fourth outfielder the D-Backs got for nothing. He’s a big reason (along with Varsho and maybe Ketel Marte) that the team is looking for an outfielder this winter and not a center fielder.” — Jeremy C. Young

Rookie of the Year: Daulton Varsho

Picked the round after Pavin Smith in 2017, Varsho was the most-used rookie for Arizona this year, appearing in 37 of the 60 games played. His positional flexibility was particularly notable, completing the rare double of starting games in the same season at both catcher and center field. His sprint speed of 28.3 ft/sec was second only to Tim Locastro, and would be the fastest catcher in the majors this year. After some early struggles at the plate, he found his feet towards the end of the season, with an .822 OPS over his final nineteen games and three HR in 64 at-bats. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was also when Daulton saw his most consistent playing time.

Christian Walker

In a year when so many of the returning Diamondbacks provided disappointing returns, Walker delivered another solid season for Arizona at first-base. His OPS+ was almost identical to the one Christian achievedin 2019, dropping just one point from 111 to 110. That represented another good value season from a player who won’t even be arbitration eligible until 2022. His Win Probability of +79% was second on the team behind Calhoun, and he was considerably better than Kole when we needed him to be, according to Fangraph’s “Clutch” metric. Walker scored a +0.62 there, compared to Calhoun’s -0.22.

The ballot form is embedded below or linked here. As usual, it’s open only to registered SnakePitters.