After a good, robust discussion in the nomination thread, here are the five finalists. Typically, the split has been two starting pitching, one relief pitching, and two offense, but it appears nobody could even be bothered to mention anyone from the bullpen. Given their overall performance this year, I find myself at peace with that decision. We had three starting pitching performances nominated which turned red, so we can fit all of those onto the ballot instead. There’s also the one offensive performance which reached the rec threshold, leaving one slot open to be chosen through executive order, i.e. by me. So, these are your five candidates:
May 20: Josh Rojas, three HR in Wrigley Field
When the wind is blowing out in Chicago, it can become just as much a hitter’s haven as Coors Field. So it was on this day, and Rojas took full advantage. He became the first Arizona hitter to hit three home-runs in a game, or achieve 12 total bases in any combination, for over four years (A.J. Pollock vs. LAD on April 30, 2018) and the first to do so on the road, on in consecutive at-bats, since J.D. Martinez’s four-HR 2017 game in Los Angeles. Rojas did come up in the ninth with a shot at matching J.D., but struck out looking. Perhaps most remarkably, he had not gone deep in his previous 211 plate-appearances, a 52-game stretch going back to August 15 the previous year.
Aug 14: Christian Walker, 4-for-5, TPL shy of cycle, four RBI
Walker was one carom away from being the first Diamondback to hit for the cycle in over a decade (Aaron Hill did it twice in June 2012). He doubled in the first, then homered in the third, a 460-foot shot which was then the longest of the year for Arizona (Walker would go 12 inches further the next day). Christian then singled in the fifth, and came up with two outs in the ninth needing a triple. He hit the ball on the screws (exit velocity = 101.4 mph) and got it over the head of the Rockies’ center-fielder, to hit the outfield fence on the fly. Unfortunately, the rebound back came right to the defender, and Walker had to hold up at second, ninety feet short of becoming the second AZ 1B to cycle (Greg Colbrunn in 2002).
Sept 5: Ryne Nelson, seven scoreless innings in MLB debut
One of the finest debuts in Diamondbacks history, he became the first to throw more than six scoreless innings in his MLB debut for Arizona, and the seven strikeouts tied the msrk for most by a D-backs pitcher in his first game (set by Zack Godley in 2015, and Max Scherzer out of the bullpen in 2008). Even more impressively, only one other pitcher in all of baseball history had previously had a debut where they had thrown seven-plus scoreless innings with no walks and at least seven K (Nick Kingham for Pittsburgh in 2018). After a leadoff double, Nelson settled down, holding a powerful Padres offense to three singles the rest of the way, for an entrance that would be unmatched for... Um, all of ten days.
Sept 15: Drey Jameson, seven scoreless innings in MLB debut
Seven shutout innings in a debut are rare in the majors: they happen about once a year (21 times over the last 20 seasons, though the last before our pair was June 2019). Twice for the same team? You need to go back to 2002, when the Tigers’ Mike Maroth and Andy Van Hekken did it - though not ten days apart! Like Nelson, Jameson frustrated the Padres for seven innings, keeping them to a pair of hits - both of them off the bat of former D-back, Brandon Drury - and one walk, while striking out five batters. The results were almost identical in terms of Game Score, Jameson just edging it by a single point (77 vs. 76), as well as strikes and balls (62:28 vs 61:26).
Sept 22: Zac Gallen, 13 K in eight innings @ Dodgers
2022 was the year that Gallen finally became the ace we hoped, ever since the trade from Florida in July 2019. And few games cemented that development better than his dominant outing in Los Angeles, facing a team which scored 40 more runs than any other this season. You wouldn’t know it from this, Gallen dominating them over eight innings, with a career-high 13 strikeouts, including five in a row. It had been more than four years since any visiting pitcher to Dodger Stadium had that many K’s (Justin Verlander, 8/3/18), He did allow an earned run, but the resulting game score of 87 was a full four points higher than anyone else managed for the team this season. Of course, he got a no-decision, because bullpen.
The poll (or link)
As usual, open only to registered SnakePitters, to prevent box-stuffing. Results will be announced on Saturday, with the poll probably closing at some point on Friday, so I can get it all written up.