This is one of the few quiet times of the year for baseball. Free agency for the national pastime is different than the NBA or NFL because there is never a big Day One signing. There will be a few trades or pickups for the next month, but the hot stove probably won’t be reactivated until the winter meetings in December. Fortunately, it should be at least semi-warm through mid-February then.
Never fear, we have awards season to fill the gap. While classic honors like MVP, Cy Young and Rookie Of The Year are still fun to speculate over, there has been an influx of new awards in recent years. Does anyone care about who wins a prestigious Esurance Award? No? I thought so.
But here’s my problem: I’m a slave to trends, so I created my own batch of awards. Here is the inaugural 3rd Rate Awards ceremony.
The Mold Glove — Worst Fielder and The Tin Slugger — Worst Hitter
Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room: Mold Glove is a far better pun than Tin Slugger. I’m sorry I’m not clever enough to come up for a rhyme for silver. [Editor’s Note — I would have accepted Tarnished Slugger — KC].
So like the actual Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards, here are the worst fielders and hitters at each position in 2016. Everyone played at least 500 innings in the field and had 250 plate appearances.
The Adam Dunn — Best All Or Nothing Hitter
Dunn was a little before his time. Had he broke into the majors today with today with players like Joc Pederson, Chris Carter and Todd Frazier, his strikeouts probably would have been forgiven and he would have been celebrated more. After all, the man clubbed 462 homers and walked in 15.8 percent of his career plate appearances.
Nobody better exemplified his all or nothing approach to the plate this year than the Padres’ Ryan Schimpf.
Schimpf, a 28 year old rookie second baseman, had the best season nobody paid attention to in 2016. In just 89 games and 330 plate appearances, he racked up 20 homers, an .869 OPS and a 129 wRC+ (if he had come to bat enough times, that would have ranked in the top 30 in all of baseball). Forty-two of his 60 hits were for extra bases.
He did strike out 105 times and only hit .217, but if you needed quick offense, not too many people did better than Schimpf.
The Brandon McCarthy — Best Twitter Account
In a day of age where all fans care about is if you can throw 100 MPH and make them laugh in 140 characters, few people have done better than McCarthy over the past few years.
This year, the Pirates finally got a guy who was legitimately funny on Twitter in Trevor Williams.
I met Williams in July on a trip to Indianapolis, and I had to compliment him for his solid social media game. He said he takes pride in it and it shows.
The Alex Stumpf — Or The ‘Way To Go, Dummy’ Award
Like Forrest Gump once said, “I am not a smart man.” When you send out thousands of tweets a write over 100 articles a year, you’re bound to say some pretty stupid stuff every once in awhile.
The worst thing I said this year were my playoff predictions, where I picked the Cubs to lose all three times.
I mean, I was right on every other series. That has to mean something, right?
The Clint Barmes — Best Walk-Up Music
This pick is obviously biased because a) I haven’t heard every walk-up song used this year, and b) I’m obviously going to pick a song that I like.
So the winner is Adam Frazier for his two selections this year: “Pony” by Ginuwine and “Let’s Groove” by Earth, Wind & Fire. Why? Because I like both songs. You can’t do better than batting 1.000.
For the record, I preferred “Let’s Groove.”
The Dave Littlefield — Worst Trade
Littlefield had a knack for turning a bad situation into a disaster. While I wanted to make the Reds’ trade of Chapman to the Yankees the winner, I’ll give Cincy a bye because Chapman’s value was significantly lowered because of his impending suspension.
Instead, let’s point and laugh at former Arizona Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart one more time for the completely boneheaded trade for Shelby Miller.
Arizona decided this past year that they wanted to be contenders, so they gave Zack Greinke the highest AAV in history and made a stupid trade for Miller, giving up Ender Inciarte (worth 3.6 fWAR in 2016), Dansby Swanson (the number one pick in the 2015 draft) and Aaron Blair (a young righty who cracked the majors in 2016). Miller was awful, going 3-12 with an ERA over 6 in 101 innings and spent a large chunk of the year in AAA.
Ironically, the worst part of this trade is that Miller still has some value. This is a terrible market if you’re trying to buy pitching, and Miller could probably still bring back a B-list prospect or two. The cruel joke is the D’Backs can’t make that trade because they gave up so much to get him. They have to hold onto him and pray he rebounds, unless the new GM Mike Hazen feels confident enough to bury this mistake and lay it on the previous regime. Considering Miller’s best season was worth just 3.4 fWAR, they may be in serious trouble.
The Mike Trout — Being The Best Ball Player On The Planet
Trout is going to be robbed of an MVP for the fourth time in five years this season. Even though he was 1.6 fWAR higher than his nearest competitor (Mookie Betts had 7.8. Trout had 9.4), he’ll probably finish just in the top three again because the Angels sucked.
Because after all, it’s completely Trout’s fault that the Angels’ rotation was AA quality.
So Mr. Trout, please enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that I think you are still the best player in baseball, and it’s not even close. Now if you could just return my calls…