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October 13, 2010

Checking the Numbers

The Meaningless Awards

by Eric Seidman

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While the postseason is in full bloom, the winners of the regular season awards will be revealed next month. At that juncture some fans will cheer, some will cry, and others will inevitably write articles about how the BBWAA messed up by not voting Justin Morneau as sixth in the AL MVP race, or why James Shields deserves Cy Young consideration because his predictive numbers were much better than his ERA would indicate; as the co-creator of SIERA, I think I can joke about its usage in award voting. I know from experience what it’s like to write such articles, as I once nastily opined that it was a sham how Roy Halladay finished out of the top three on the AL Cy Young Award ballots of some writers in 2008. Then again, even if Cliff Lee deserved the award, how in the world did Halladay fall out of the… never mind, this is no time to dwell.

The awards everyone look forward to are the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year. Honestly, the latter two mean very little to me, which is why I generally tend to dodge questions asking for my opinion on either, but I certainly look forward to learning who gets to take home the other two pieces of hardware in each league. However, there are other awards that don’t seem to get any publicity at the end of the season, mainly because I made them up strictly for this article. My awards are designed to honor the lesser-heralded players or roles that achieved greatness in one way or another throughout the season. Without further adieu, I present ‘The Meaningless Awards.


The term LOOGY refers to left-handed, one-out guys and is therefore used to categorize the southpaw specialists of the world. This particular breed of pitcher does not really bring home much bacon but serves a valuable role: he is relied upon in the later stages of a game to retire the more threatening lefty hitters. Just ask Jesse Orosco, who pitched until the age of 74 based on a perceived ability to get Barry Bonds out. Evaluating LOOGYs is very tricky because their appearances are often restricted to a batter or two, where one mistake can cause an ERA to balloon even if most of the other appearances were spotless.

With that in mind, I wrote about a method for determining the year’s best specialists in March 2009. The method first involves determining which pitchers are actually LOOGYs. To fulfill that task, I pooled together all left-handed pitchers and calculated the percentage of appearances that lasted three or fewer batters. Anyone whose rate matched or exceeded 66.7 percent—two-thirds— qualified as a lefty specialist. Here is the list for 2010:


G w/PA <= 3



Joe Thatcher




Randy Choate




Randy Flores




Trever Miller




George Sherrill




Jose Mijares




JC Romero




Joe Beimel




Tim Byrdak




Arthur Rhodes




Dennys Reyes




Pedro Feliciano




Boone Logan




After finding out which pitchers should be studied, the next step involved aggregating their statistics against every lefty hitter they faced. With that data in tow, the most important step compared the statistics for the batters a certain LOOGY faced to how those same batters performed against all other southpaw pitchers. For example, if Arthur Rhodes faced 10 lefty hitters and produced a .650 Raw TAv against them, of interest is how those same batters performed against all other lefties. The reasoning can be related back to the aforementioned Bonds; someone who faces the best lefty hitters an inordinate amount of time will show, without context, poorer numbers. But their numbers might be much lower against those hitters than the entire pool of southpaws that faced them.

The table below shows the Raw TAv against for each pitcher, the Raw TAv those hitters produced against all other lefty pitchers, and the difference between the two:


Raw TAv



Boone Logan




JC Romero




Randy Choate




Pedro Feliciano




Joe Thatcher




George Sherrill




Trever Miller




Tim Byrdak




Jose Mijares




Arthur Rhodes




Joe Beimel




Randy Flores




Dennys Reyes




As you can see, Boone Logan was by far the best LOOGY of the year, and he will take home Top LOOGY honors for the 2010 season. His success might also help explain how he finished last in LOOGY Rate, as his performance was so stellar that Joe Girardi wanted to use him more often and for longer amounts of time. My mantra is that context is key and evaluating LOOGYs requires the use of context in order to accurately gauge how this type of pitcher performed. Lefty hitters produced a fairly low Raw TAv off Arthur Rhodes this season, but most lefty pitchers held those same batters in check, so he doesn’t rank as high when compared to his peers. This year, nobody was better than Logan, who also takes home the award for the name that most sounds like an action movie star.

Utility Providing the Most Utility

The term utilityman is tossed around rather often in the game of baseball, and it is intended to identify the players who are nomadic in their primary position. These players might not start for a team, but they provide ample depth at several positions while only taking up one roster spot. For the purposes of this award, utilitymen must have played 15 games at three or more positions. Special consideration is given to those with 15 games at four positions. This season, a few players met the original criteria, but only Omar Infante played four positions for at least 15 games: second base, third base, shortstop and left field.

The fact that he also produced 4.3 WARP is icing on the cake. Without question, the controversial All-Star selection is this year’s Utility Providing the Most Utility.

Can I Get Some Help Here?

Arguably the most important thing a hitter can do is get on base, but not everyone who reaches base will be lucky enough to cross home plate. Either through being erased on fielder’s choices or double plays or simply being stranded at their eventual destination, certain runners will inevitably see a good amount of their baserunning opportunities squandered through no real fault of their own. Sure, if they were a tad faster they could beat a throw to a force base, but all too often being stranded is the primary reason for their lower runs total. To that end, this particular award will go to the player who reached base but did not get to score the most often.

To calculate the numbers, I subtracted home runs and runs from the sum of hits, walks, and times hit by a pitch; (H+BB+HBP-HR-R) in other words. The leaders are below:


OPPS Wasted

Ichiro Suzuki


Daric Barton


Nick Markakis


Billy Butler


Chone Figgins


Ichiro’s season also ranks as the 30th-highest total since 1954. If we restrict the sample to the wild card era, his season ranked as the fifth-highest. He also has the highest total in the wild card era when he didn't get any help in this department 206 different occasions during the 2004 season. Not shockingly, Bonds has the second- and third- highest total in this span, as the batters slotted in the lineup to protect him during his torrid 2001-04 stretch often didn’t get the job done. Then again, his slower speed in the later years likely contributed just as much to the wasted opportunities.

Two Places At Once Award

At the start of the season, one of each team’s hopes is that their players will remain healthy and each position on the field will boast a unique leader in games played. Best-laid plans don’t always come to fruition, however, and players occasionally must pull double-duty, splitting their time between multiple positions. What gets really interesting is when a player leads his team in games played at multiple positions. Such a feat doesn’t actually tell us anything that matters, but it feels strange. How is it even possible? It must mean that the team either stunk and was forced to use a variety of players before one stuck at two different spots on the field. Players accomplishing this odd feat don’t surface every single year, but the 2010 season was lucky enough to have two such examples.

The Two Places At Once Award for the 2010 season goes to Rajai Davis, who led the Athletics in games played in both center and right field, and Garrett Jones, with the more unique games played lead at first base and right field. Past winners include Conor Jackson and Ichiro (2008), B.J. Upton and Jacque Jones (2007), Nick Swisher (2006), and Craig Monroe (2005).


 A hearty congratulations goes out to all of the winning players and those who finished near the top. Are there any other awards that you think should be given out?  

Eric Seidman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Eric's other articles. You can contact Eric by clicking here

21 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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How about a most 'Replacement Level' player award?

I'd think luckiest and unluckiest hitter could be interesting but my gut tells me the answers are pretty surely going to be Austin Jackson and Aaron Hill.

Oct 13, 2010 05:57 AM
rating: 0

A couple of ideas:

Best Benchwarmer: given to the player who had the highest VORP (or WARP or pick your stat, I'd suggest a full-season rather than rate stat but don't feel strongly about it) while not starting a majority of games in which he appeared

Best Long Reliever: the reliever who had the most appearances (and/or WHIP, SIERA, whatever) in stints lasting at least three innings

Thanks for doing this -- it'll give me something more creative to think about than sitting in my office watching inane PowerPoint "training" presentations...

Oct 13, 2010 06:30 AM
rating: 5
Mike Fast

Fun stuff, Eric, and I like Bill's ideas, too.

Oct 13, 2010 06:56 AM
rating: 1
Randy Brown

How about the Frank Thomas award for the player whose offensive suffered the most when playing DH instead of playing the field. I suspect Pat Burrell may be the lucky winner of the 2010 award.

Oct 13, 2010 07:08 AM
rating: 3

Nice stuff. Good to see my subjective opinion about Logan (monster year, in the context of who he is/has been and what his role is) appears correct.

Oct 13, 2010 07:09 AM
rating: 0

So how did Javy Lopez not fit into the LOOGY conversation?

Oct 13, 2010 09:32 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Because he's a catcher? Just kidding, Javier Lopez made 77 appearances, 30 of which lasted 4+ batters. He did not qualify as a LOOGY. He is just a good left-handed reliever. Not all lefty relievers are LOOGYs.

Oct 13, 2010 15:20 PM

Wait, so JC Romero was among the best LOOGY's this year? Eric, I believe you're a Phils fan, and you know we rake this guy over the coals every time he steps on the mound. Should we actually thank Charlie when he brings him in to face a lefty?

Oct 13, 2010 10:07 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Dude, I rechecked the numbers like 10 times when I saw he ranked second. He actually ranked first across 2007-08 as well. I think the issue is that we as fans have trouble reconciling the context. So Romero has certainly had his moments, but he left lefties to a very, very low line this year, a .217/.323/.277 line, and it just so happened that the same lefties he faced did much better against other lefty pitchers.

Oct 13, 2010 15:17 PM

What about the Helping Hand Award to the reliever that did the best job of stranding inherited runners?

Oct 13, 2010 10:07 AM
rating: 2

Eric, aren't you penalizing for HRs by subtracting them in "can I get some help?"? A HR results in a Run, so why subtract it from the total instead of just subtracting Runs?

Oct 13, 2010 10:37 AM
rating: 2

The "rust never sleeps" award, given to the player on the 25-man roster for the entire 2010 season (with no DL stints) who either pitched to the fewest batters, or had the fewest plate appearances.

Oct 13, 2010 11:40 AM
rating: 7
John Collins

Aka the Ralph Houk Memorial Award

Oct 13, 2010 12:01 PM
rating: 3

A couple more ideas:

The Mark Belanger Award: to the player who derives the largest fraction of his total value (use VORP and consider negative VORP values to be 0.1 to avoid dividing by zero,negative number, etc.) from defense. I suspect Brendan Ryan has this one sewn up, but could be surprised.

The Vince Coleman Award: same thing but for baserunning. No idea who gets this one.

The Mike Marshall Rubber Arm Award: pitcher who has the best SIERA (or similar metric) while pitching on zero days rest.

Oct 13, 2010 12:17 PM
rating: 2

For Rubber Arm, Matt Belisle pitched 92 innings. Not sure how he did on no rest, though.

WRT the Mark Belanger Award, do Brandon Wood, Josh Bell, Scott Sizemore, Taylor Teagarden, or Chris Davis provide any value with the glove? Brendan Ryan had a *much* better offensive year than any of them :-).

Then there's always Adam Everett and Jack Wilson...

But seriously, given the way they were used this year and their defense (and offense), I wonder if the Giants' Nate Schierholtz or Travis Ishikawa would be in the running.

WRT "The Vince," I went to my spreadsheet of end of season 5x5 mixed league values and looked for the player whose stolen bases were the largest percentage of their overall value (which I think is what the award would be for).

Greater than 100% means they were net negative on runs, home runs, rbi, and average. I only looked at players with a positive net value, and I recognize this is "only" rotisserie scoring, but kind of interesting. Some I expected, but wouldn't have guessed the "leader."

And the bottom 20 are...

Rajai Davis (67% of overall roto value from SB)
Jamey Carroll (69%)
Coco Crisp (71%)
Elvis Andrus (72%)
Juan Pierre (74%)
Corey Patterson (77%)
Ronny Cedeno (77%)
Michael Bourn (80%)
Cliff Pennington (81%)
Erick Aybar (87%)
Jimmy Rollins (94%)
Chone Figgins (97%)

These guys were negative without their SB:

Omar Vizquel (116%)
Nyjer Morgan (125%)
David Eckstein (137%)
Trevor Crowe (140%)
Carlos Gomez (235%)
Adam Kennedy (318%)
Brian Roberts (1,050%)
and...Jason Kendall (1,860%)

Oct 14, 2010 09:42 AM
rating: 0

I think he's subtracting them because he's showing the effect batters behind you once you've reached base, not just the rure runs scored or not scored when you've hit.

Oct 13, 2010 12:25 PM
rating: 0

But then he should subtract (R-HR) to get the right value. If some one is 1/2 with a homerun, his calculation will yield -1 (one hit - one homer - one run)

Oct 13, 2010 15:15 PM
rating: 0
John Douglass

How much would Chone Figgins have benefitted, I wonder, had he and Ichiro Suzuki been flipped in the order?

How much would the Rockies and Cardinals have benefitted, I wonder, had they decided to not carry two LOOGYs?

Oct 13, 2010 16:22 PM
rating: 0

I agree regarding the batting order. Many people seemed to agree at the beginning of the season that the order should have been Figgins/Ichiro. Seeing how they both ranked in the top 5 for the CIGSH Award, and how damning this is to the 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup, it probably wouldn't have made *that* much difference.

Oct 13, 2010 18:41 PM
rating: 0
John Douglass

I'd bet that Ichiro would have remained in the Top 5, and Figgins would drop out of it. Harder to move Suzuki around w/ a Figgins walk than it is to get Figgins to 3rd on an Ichro single. I think the 3-4-5 would then hold the responsibility for Ichiro being stranded, while Ichiro could get some credit for helping Figgins touch home.

Oct 14, 2010 10:19 AM
rating: 0


Feb 18, 2011 05:21 AM
rating: -1
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