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June 2, 2017

Flu-Like Symptoms

The Vogelsong Awards: May

by Rob Mains


This monthly award is named in honor of Ryan Vogelsong who, in 2011:

1. Had a 2.71 ERA, fourth in the National League, and a 3.63 FIP

2. Tied for the 12th-most wins in the league and the seventh-best winning percentage

3. Was an All-Star (didn’t appear) and tied for 11th in the Cy Young voting (one fifth-place vote)

4. Did not appear in the Baseball Prospectus Annual

For more details on the award, click here.

The Vogelsong Award goes to the best hitter and pitcher who were given little or no attention in the Annual. There are two types of Vogelsong Awards. Full Vogelsongs are awarded to players who aren’t mentioned in the Annual at all. Lineout Vogelsongs go to players whose Annual entry is limited to a short Lineout description given to less prominent players. Prior winners (see list below) and foreign players who signed after the Annual’s deadline are ineligible for the award.

Enough suspense. Here are the winners for last month:

MAY FULL VOGELSONG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Brock Stassi, Philadelphia Phillies. “Wait,” you’re saying. “Brock Stassi? Seriously? He hit .200/.314/.267—two-sixty-seven!—in May. That’s the best you’ve got?”

Well, yes, it is. There were only three players with 20 or more plate appearances in May who weren’t in the Annual. One, Detroit’s Jim Adduci, won the award last month and isn’t eligible to be named again. The other, Arizona center fielder Reymond Fuentes, batted .139/.162/.194. So yeah, Brock Stassi. True, he had just one extra-base hit in the month, but among 350 players with 30 or more plate appearances, his 5/6 BB/K ratio was tied for 34th-best in the majors!

Stassi is a 27-year-old rookie in his seventh year in pro ball. In April, our Mike Gianella wrote:

At the age of 27, Stassi finally earned a big-league shot, breaking camp with the Phillies on Opening Day. He quietly put up two solid seasons in the minors in 2015 and 2016, although he was old for his level. Stassi made some legitimate improvements in the minors with the bat and certainly earned his shot but thus far has looked overmatched in the bigs.

He was drafted by the Indians in 2010 but didn’t sign, choosing to stay at UNLV, and the Phillies selected him the following year.

Fun fact: Stassi, who’s appeared in 35 games for the Phillies through the end of May, has played in more major-league games than his little brother, Astros catcher Max Stassi, has in parts of four major-league seasons.

MAY FULL VOGELSONG PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Dinelson Lamet, San Diego Padres. Padres rookies can be indistinguishable—13 have played so far this year—so you, like the authors of the Annual, are OK if you overlooked Lamet. (It’s din-El-sun la-MET, according to Baseball-Reference.) Called up on May 25, he started against the Mets that day and the Cubs five days later. He lasted five innings and surrendered a homer in each start, but in his 10 innings he allowed only six other hits, three walks, and struck out 16.

He’s induced an excellent 35 percent chase rate and 31 percent whiff rate, giving him a 2.77 DRA to go with his 2.70 ERA and 3.68 FIP. Our Tim Finnegan gave him a Buyer’s Guide rating of Buy at the end of month, noting: “Lamet’s performance has been too eye opening to ignore. His ability to miss bats with premium velocity and a nasty slider looks super legit, and he’s flashed a changeup that might be able to keep lefties off his fastball.”

Lamet was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 for $100,000. He pitched in A-ball in 2015 before advancing through three levels last year and performing well in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League through eight starts (3.23 ERA, 50 strikeouts in 39 innings) this year. It’s not like he’s joining an elite pitching staff in San Diego (he’s fifth on the team in pitcher WARP through the end of May, after two starts and 10 innings), so his strong two May starts should yield plenty of additional opportunities.

MAY LINEOUT VOGELSONG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers. Among 88 National League batting title qualifiers in May, Taylor’s .941 OPS, which led the Dodgers, ranked 16th. He hit .322/.430/.511 in the month, compared to a .234/.289/.309 line in parts of three major-league seasons before this year. He started games at second base, third base, and center field as the Dodgers rolled to a National League-best 19-9 record in the month.

Taylor started the year in Triple-A Oklahoma City and was called up in April after Logan Forsythe broke his toe, and he’s remained with the club since Forsythe returned on May 23. With Joc Pederson and Justin Turner, among others, on the disabled list, Taylor seems likely to stay up for a while, as Forsythe’s hit only .160/.344/.320 since his return. He won’t maintain his May performance, but his approach this year is noteworthy: He has a 17 percent chase rate, lowest in the majors among 230 players with 500 or more pitches seen this year, which drove a 15.9 percent walk rate in May compared to a league average of 9.0 percent.

Taylor was drafted by the Mariners in 2012 and appeared in 86 games for the club before being traded last June for Zach Lee, whom Seattle waived after the season. His Lineout comment: “The acquisition of Chris Taylor has to be considered a wild success on the basis of how Not Zach Lee he is.”

MAY LINEOUT VOGELSONG PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Ryan Tepera, Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays vaulted themselves back into contention in May after an execrable April. The team’s 18-10 May record trailed only Houston’s 22-7 in the American League. Tepera, who ended April with a 5.93 ERA, appeared in 13 May games, pitching 16 2/3 innings during which he surrendered 17 baserunners while striking out 18, allowing a minuscule 0.54 ERA and .421 OPS.

And this wasn’t in garbage time. Only four of his appearances had a leverage index below 1.00; his average was 1.25. In nine of his 13 games, he entered with the Blue Jays trailing by a run, tied, or ahead by one or two. He inherited five runners, and none of them scored. His May WPA of 0.92 was eighth in the American League. In his Lineout, we wrote, “Ryan Tepera actually seems to have taken steps to become a viable major-league reliever, trading control and missed bats, but is still far down on the bullpen pecking order.”

Suffice it to say that he’s moved up.

***

Congratulations to our winners! They can preorder next year’s Annual, in which they are virtually certain to be mentioned, after the season ends.

Past Winners:

April Full Vogelsong Player: Jim Adduci, Detroit Tigers

April Full Vogelsong Pitcher: Craig Breslow, Minnesota Twins

April Lineout Vogelsong Player: Manny Pina, Milwaukee Brewers

April Lineout Vogelsong Pitcher: Andrew Triggs, Oakland Athletics

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

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