It’s the Last-of-the-Year Vogelsong Awards!
This monthly award is named in honor of Ryan Vogelsong who, in 2011:
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 (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 player 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 (sorry, Kenta Maeda) are ineligible for the award.
Enough suspense. Here are the winners for September (and the first two days of October).
SEPTEMBER FULL VOGELSONG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: T.J. Rivera, Mets. After losing to the Giants 8-1 on August 19, the Mets were 60-62, third in the NL East, 12.5 behind the Nationals, 5.5 out of the second Wild Card. That day, they put pitcher Steven Matz on the disabled list with what would turn out to be a season-ending shoulder injury. The next day, after four days off, Neil Walker played what turned out to be his fourth-to-last game of the year at second base as a herniated disk ended his season. The team subsequently lost infielder Wilmer Flores, who joined Mets stars David Wright, Matt Harvey, Walker, and Jacob deGrom on the disabled list.
And all the team did after August 19 was go 27-13, the best record in the majors. They’ll host the Giants on Wednesday at Citi Field with the fourth-best record in the league. And a key reason was second baseman T.J. Rivera, who, filling in for Walker, had a .358/.378/.552 line in September, third on the team in OPS during the month.
Rivera has the kind of pedigree that gets you ignored in the Annual. The Mets signed him as an undrafted free agent in June 2011 after Rivera graduated from Troy University in Troy, Alabama on the recommendation of his college coach, former Met Mackey Sasser. He played at A-ball in 2012 and 2013, reached AA in 2014 and AAA in 2015. The Mets didn’t add Rivera to their 40-man roster last winter, and nobody selected him in the Rule 5 draft, so we’re not the only ones who whiffed on him. He got the call-up after hitting .353/.393/.516 at hitter-friendly Las Vegas. And now the undrafted free agent whom nobody took in the Rule 5 draft and didn’t get mentioned in the BP Annual enters the postseason with the second-highest TAv on the Mets.
SEPTEMBER FULL VOGELSONG PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Matthew Bowman, St. Louis. Bowman appeared in the 2015 Annual, but after a 5.53 ERA and 1.5 K/BB ratio in Las Vegas the Mets give up on him, and the Cardinals grabbed him the Rule 5 draft. St. Louis used the 25-year-old Princeton grad (Econ., ’12) cautiously at first, as his average leverage index was 0.34 in April, 0.43 in May, and 0.97 in June. But he pitched more innings than any Cardinals reliever other than closer Seung Hwan Oh after the All-Star break, with an average leverage index of 1.26. In September, he had a 0.82 ERA (10th in the NL, minimum 10 IP), 1.60 FIP (ninth), 10:1 K/BB (tied for 10th) and 65.7 percent groundball rate (sixth) to go with four holds (tied for 13th) as the Cardinals competed for the postseason through Game 162.
Actual Editor discussion about Bowman:
Editor 1: I'd think about Matt Bowman, decent prospect with bad numbers at LV (but it's LV) who could contribute next year, plus Princeton
Editor 2, Editor 3: /Totally ignored suggestion
SEPTEMBER LINEOUT VOGELSONG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Tommy Joseph, Philadelphia. Joseph, drafted as a catcher, is the last player left standing of the three the Phillies got from San Francisco in the Hunter Pence trade. He had to move from behind the plate due to a series of concussions in 2014 and 2015, as reflected in his comment in the Annual: “Tommy Joseph spent his season playing catch-up from time lost to post-concussion difficulties that will bump him off catching and over to first base. That he got 175 plate appearances at all was far more important than the lackluster offensive performance that accompanied them.”
Concussions aside, Lehigh Valley was his Kryptonite—he hit .209/.264/.358 at the Phils’ AAA affiliate in 2013 and .193/.220/.301 in 2015—but he apparently fashioned a lead shield over the winter, batting .347/.370/.611 in 100 plate appearances there this year, earning a May call-up. He’s been the Phillies’ primary first baseman, though he was limited to only 13 starts in September due primarily to the Ryan Howard Farewell Tour. During the season, he led the team in OPS+ and was second in TAv. In September, he batted .295/.371/.557, walking in 10 percent of his plate appearances and striking out in just 16 percent. He even out-OPS’d Pence (.307/.373/.500)! (Note that if you’re eager to follow Joseph on Twitter: He’s @_TommyJoseph_ because there’s a guy who hasn’t tweeted since 2010 squatting on @tommyjoseph.)
Actual Editor discussion about cutting Joseph entirely:
Editor 1: Tommy Joseph is on the 40-man but does not seem essential to me.
Editor 2: I would include Joseph. Two teams’ fans are interested in him, at least, and he has that rehab slash line at rookie ball, and he had a top five disastrous prospect season this year.
SEPTEMBER LINEOUT VOGELSONG PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Robert Gsellman, Mets. Gsellman, like Full Vogelsong Player of the Month T.J. Rivera, is one of the reinforcements from Las Vegas that powered the Mets to the postseason. His 2.06 ERA in September was the sixth-best in the majors among ERA qualifiers, his 2.46 FIP the ninth-lowest, and his 59 percent groundball rate the fourth-highest. You don’t always see a pitcher called up from AAA after compiling a 1-5 record and 5.73 ERA in 48 2/3 innings, but then, most pitchers don’t have to pitch in the PCL in general and Las Vegas in particular.
His Lineout comment noted what made the 23-year-old uniquely qualified to replace the injured Jacob deGrom in the rotation: “Robert Gsellman doesn't throw hard enough to make headlines, but a gorgeous curveball and plus-plus, voluminous hair could keep him a starter all the way to The Show. He's already bullied his way to Double-A ahead of schedule.” [Italics mine]
Congratulations to our winners! They can preorder next year’s Annual, in which they are virtually certain to be mentioned, after the season ends. And we’ll be back during the awards season with the coveted Vogelsongs of the Year Awards!
April Full Vogelsong Pitcher: Dan Straily, Cincinnati
April Lineout Vogelsong Player: Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis
April Lineout Vogelsong Pitcher: Tyler Chatwood, Colorado
May Full Vogelsong Pitcher: Joseph Biagini, Toronto
May Lineout Vogelsong Player: Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee
May Lineout Vogelsong Pitcher: Michael Feliz, Houston
June Full Vogelsong Pitcher: Buddy Boshers, Minnesota
June Lineout Vogelsong Player: Sandy Leon, Boston
June Lineout Vogelsong Pitcher: Bud Norris, Atlanta
July Full Vogelsong Pitcher: Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota
July Lineout Vogelsong Player: Ryan Schimpf, San Diego
July Lineout Vogelsong Pitcher: Junior Guerra, Milwaukee
August Full Vogelsong Pitcher: Matt Strahm, Kansas City
August Lineout Vogelsong Player: Scott Schebler, Cincinnati
August Lineout Vogelsong Pitcher: Chris Devenski, Houston
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