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2023 SnakePit Awards: Rookie of the Year nominations

Presented in alphabetical order...

World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v. Texas Rangers - Game Two Photo by Ron Jenkins/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Despite concerns nobody would bother, we actually did come up with five nominees in the open thread, all of which received multiple recs. There were actually six, but no matter how much anyone might want it to be so, Gabriel Moreno is not a rookie, using the rules set down by the BBWAA. So Gaby is not on the final ballot. It might have been interesting if he had been, for the BBWAA. Might he have split the vote with Corbin Carroll? Or could we have ended up, potentially, with #1 and #2 being on the same team? I was going to say, that couldn’t have happened often, but then remembered that last year, Michael Harris and Spencer Strider of the Braves did exactly this feat. Never mind. And, on to the nominees!

Dominic Canzone

Canzone may have only played 15 games this year, but he became an important piece in a key trade at the deadline, as Arizona opted to utilize their depth of left-handed hitting outfielders. He was a component in the swap with Seattle, that brought Paul Sewald to the Diamondbacks, giving them a much needed closer to stabilize the back end of the bullpen. It’s likely no exaggeration to say that without this deal, the D-backs likely do not make the post-season or the World Series. Dominic ended up appearing in 44 more games for the Mariners, putting up similar numbers at the plate (OPS+ 81 here, 80 there). And, as 1AZfan1 noted, he did have a very nice smile!

Corbin Carroll

There’s not much more that needs to be said. Never mind on the team, Carroll was expected to be one of the front-runners for the MLB Rookie of the Year award, and he proved to be exactly that. Corbin batted .285 with 25 home-runs and a remarkable 54 stolen bases. His 5.4 bWAR was, far and away, the most in franchise history by a rookie position player, with only Brandon Webb beating that figure among rookie pitchers here. He fully deserved to be the unanimous choice among the BBWAA for their rookie award, becoming the first Diamondback ever to win it. He followed that up by coming fifth in the NL voting for Most Valuable Player, the best for Arizona since Ketel Marte’s 4th-place in 2019.

Ryne Nelson

In an ideal world, Nelson would not have ended up being the pitcher who started the third-most games for the Diamondbacks this year. His 27 starts trailed only Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. The latter is the only other Arizona rookie pitcher over the past decade to make as many starts, and that season likely deserves a * since Merrill was aged 32, five years older than Ryne. Nelson did a yeoman’s job of keeping the team in those games, with the D-backs going 12-15 in his 27 starts. He was particularly good in late June, posting successive starts on the road against the Giants and Angels, recording 21 and 22 outs respectively, while allowing only one earned run in each.

Brandon Pfaadt

Much the same goes for Pfaadt, who in an ideal world, would have preserved his rookie status going into 2024. A combination of injury and ineffectiveness forced the D-backs’ hand in this matter however, Brandon being pulled into the rotation barely a month into the season. There were multiple options back to Reno, but every time Pfaadt returned, he was a little bit better. He showed up when the team needed him most, posting a 3.27 ERA across five starts in the playoffs, including three heroic outings in the Division and Championship Series, where Brandon allowed two runs across 14 innings. If there was a post-season Rookie of the Year award, it would probably go to him.

Andrew Saalfrank

What are the odds? I think these are the only two players in D-backs history with the rare “aa” in their name, and they make the Rookie of the Year shortlist in the same season. Before this year, few had likely even heard of Saalfrank, a 6th-round pick back in 2019, who started the season down in Double-A Amarillo. But after becoming a September call-up, he proved highly impressive, not allowing an earned run over ten games. He then followed that up by working in more post-season contests than any other Arizona pitcher, with a 3.18 ERA across his eleven appearances, against some of the best offenses in the majors. All told, that’s a 1.12 ERA in his first 21 MLB games. He’s set to be a key player in the 2024 bullpen.

Here’s the form, or it’s linked here. The winner will be announced on Saturday. I’m sure you’re all breathless with anticipation to find out who it is. :)