Baseball has an affinity for awards with names, dating back to the Chalmers Award. The predecessor of the Most Valuable Player Award, the Chalmers Award was named after a car company, Chalmers Automobile, and was awarded annually from 1910 to 1914, with the inaugural award fomenting one of the biggest controversies in the game’s history. There have been a number of other awards named after prominent players. The Cy Young Award dates back to 1956 and, true to its namesake, has often been awarded to the pitcher with the most wins and the 60th best ERA. The Roberto Clemente Award, named after the Pirates outfielder and humanitarian, honors the player “that shows the most sportsmanship and kindness,” including Pete Rose (1976), Steve Garvey (1981), Sammy Sosa (1998), and Curt Schilling (2001). The Hank Aaron Award has been given to the top hitter in each league since 1999, and it’s named after the non-detestable player with the most career home runs. And, of course, the Silver Slugger award, given to the top hitters at each position in each league, is named for PECOTA developer/Baseball Prospectus writer/mover-on to bigger things Nate Silver.
To this constellation we add the Vogelsong Awards. Vogelsong hadn’t appeared in the BP Annual since 2008 when he returned from a five-(!)-year major-league hiatus to go 13-7 in 28 starts for the 2011 Giants, compiling a 2.71 ERA and 3.63 FIP over 179.2 innings. His entry in the 2012 Annual began, “Vogelsong wins the award for best player unmentioned in the 2011 BP Annual.”
The Vogelsong Awards honor the best batter and pitcher overlooked by the Annual. With the 2016 edition covering nearly 2,000 players in its 594 pages, there are a limited number of players to appear each season who aren’t in the Annual. But some do, and the Vogelsong Award identifies the best of them. 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. Note that foreign players who sign with major-league team after the Annual’s deadline are not eligible for the award, because they almost certainly would’ve been in the Annual had they signed earlier. So sorry, Kenta Maeda, nothing for you!
For April, MLB named Manny Machado and Bryce Harper the American League and National League Players of the Month, respectively. Jordan Zimmermann and Jake Arrieta were AL and NL Pitchers of the Month. Nomar Mazara was American League Rookie of the Month, and Trevor Story was National League Rookie of the Month.
To this list, we add:
APRIL FULL VOGELSONG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Jeremy Hazelbaker, St. Louis. Somewhere there’s a lab where the Cardinals clone outfielders. Hazelbaker replaced another former under-the-radar Cardinals outfielder, Thomas Pham, who’s out with an oblique injury. A 28-year-old rookie, Hazelbaker batted .317/.357/.683 in 23 April games, tying for the team lead in homers with five. He also struck out in 31 percent of his plate appearances and had a .395 BABIP, so his success may not continue, but his 0.6 April WARP and Vogelsong Award will last forever.
APRIL FULL VOGELSONG PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Dan Straily, Cincinnati. The Reds pitching has been kind of a dumpster fire, but don’t blame Dan Straily. He’s started and relieved three games each, compiling a 3.45 ERA as a starter and 3.24 as a reliever. On the plus side of the ledger, he’s struck out 23 percent of the batters he’s faced and gotten batters to chase on 31 percent of his pitches outside the zone. On the minus side, he’s walked one in eight batters he’s faced, his FIP is 4.62, and his BABIP is an unsustainable .193. But pitching for a team with a 5.42 April ERA, he’s second on the club with 0.5 Baseball Reference WAR. (BP’s DRA-based WARP hasn’t been released yet.)
Actual, real-life dialogue between BP Annual editors last September, regarding whether or not to include Straily:
JW: The thing with Straily is that he had a 5-1 K:BB in PCL at 26, though he also gave up hits and homers. If his name were Stan Draily, we'd say "hm, intriguing" and consider a Lineout. I don't know what I'm getting at.
SM: Straily sucks.
APRIL LINEOUT VOGELSONG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis. Filling in for the injured Jhonny Peralta, Diaz (excerpted Annual comment: “Diaz hasn’t impressed since signing a four-year, $8 million contract prior to the 2014 season.”) he put up a .423/.453/.732 slash line in 22 April games, with as many home runs as strikeouts (four each) and leading the majors in WARP.
APRIL LINEOUT VOGELSONG PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Tyler Chatwood, Colorado. A Rockies starter? Yes, a Rockies starter. Chatwood (excerpted Annual comment: “Recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, Tyler Chatwood made two rehab starts with Asheville in September.”) accumulated 1.2 Baseball Reference WAR by going 3-2 with a 2.73 ERA in five April starts (two in Colorado, two in Arizona, one in Chicago). It probably won’t last—his FIP is 3.85, and he’s struck out only 16 percent of the batters he’s faced, but his walk rate is an excellent 5.7%, and he has the 14th highest chase rate (32 percent) in the league.
Congratulations to our winners! They can preorder next year’s Annual, in which they are virtually certain to be mentioned, after the season ends.
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