July 3, 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen, It's the June 2016 Vogelsongs!
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 detail 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.
JUNE FULL VOGELSONG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Whit Merrifield, Kansas City. Whit Merrifield batted .286/.316/.411 in June. The American League (excluding pitchers) batted .272/.334/.448. American League second basemen batted .295/.345/.468. So Whit Merrifield was below average! Why does that bring him the hardware? Four reasons:
· Playing time: Merrifield had 117 plate appearances. He, Robbie Grossman (.234/.385/.404) and Chase d’Arnaud (.250/.308/.321) are the only batters who didn’t appear in the Annual with over 83 plate appearances in June.
· Defense: Advanced metrics like him. He’s accumulated 1.1 FRAA, 2 DRS, and 1.2 runs of UZR so far this year. He adds value in the field at a right-side-of-the-spectrum position.
· Clutch, or whatever you want to call it: His 0.40 WPA in June was second on the Royals behind Salvador Perez.
· Succession: His emergence has moved Alcides Escobar and his .282 OBP out of the leadoff spot and Omar Infante off the team altogether. As of the most recent All-Star Game voting results, this means Merrifield’s outdone the no. 2 shortstop and the no. 4 second baseman in the American League!
JUNE FULL VOGELSONG PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Buddy Boshers, Minnesota. Per Baseball Reference, it’s “bo-SHEERS.” In June, among pitchers not in the Annual, only Boshers, his teammate Brandon Kintzler, Texas’s Anthony Barnette, and Milwaukee’s Jacob Barnes pitched 10 or more innings with an ERA below 4.45. Of the quartet, Boshers was the only one with a strikeout rate above 25 percent and a walk rate below 5 percent, and his 1.80 ERA and 45 percent chase rate were easily the best. He’s also the only one of the four with a positive WPA for the month, getting credited with two wins and a hold. The 28-year-old lefty’s path to the majors has been interesting. The Angels drafted him in 2008, and he pitched in 25 games for them in 2013. He was a free agent after the 2014 season and signed with Colorado, which released him in March 2015. To some, the phrase “pitcher the Rockies can’t use” is tantamount to “end of the line,” but he struck out 71 in 54 innings with a 1.00 ERA for Somerset of the independent Atlantic League last summer and had a 1.79 ERA in 40 1/3 innings for Caracas in the Venezuelan winter league. That earned him a contract with the Twins, and after posting a 1.42 ERA and 21/5 K/BB ratio in 19 innings in Rochester, he’s led the Twins (granted, low bar) in ERA and FIP and is second in DRA (minimum 10 IP) in his first major-league stint in three years.
JUNE LINEOUT VOGELSONG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Sandy Leon, Boston. Why should a guy with only 35 plate appearances in June get the award? Well, June was a tough month for batters who got Lineouts this year, as only prior winners (and therefore ineligible) Almedys Diaz and Jonathan Villar (a) had over 50 plate appearances and (b) didn’t suck. And in his plate appearances, Leon hit .467/.543/.700 (best OPS in the majors in June, minimum 35 PA), a .418 TAv, giving him 0.6 WARP. That’s eighth on the Red Sox for the season and the best among the team’s catchers, which of course isn’t saying much. His comment in the Annual described him as “a 70-grade defender and a 20-grade everything else.” He hasn’t shown much so far with framing, but he’s thrown out five of eight attempted basestealers.
Let me try that again: The Braves’ Bud Norris was one of the top pitchers in the majors in June.
To get a sense of how out of place that sentence is, consider that Bud Norris, who’d started at least 27 games for five straight years heading into 2015, managed a 6.72 ERA, 5.02 FIP, and 4.70 DRA in 83 innings split between Baltimore and San Diego last year. That warranted him this comment in the Annual: “After flopping in Baltimore as a starter, Bud Norris went to San Diego, where he flopped as a reliever and shared some controversial thoughts with USA Today on how baseball players of certain ethnicities should behave; he’s a regular Bud of all trades.” Joining the worst team in the National League, he started five games in April, allowing an 8.74 ERA by way of a .340/.398/.580 line against him. Basically, he turned every batter he faced into the 2016 version of Daniel Murphy (who, to put that in perspective, has turned every pitcher he faced into the April 2016 version of Bud Norris). Switched to the bullpen in May, he allowed a 2.08 ERA, yielding a .228/.353/.263 line. Returned to the rotation in June, he actually improved: Same 2.08 ERA, but batters hit .194/.248/.241 against him. He turned every batter he faced into the 2016 version of Jake Marisnick! His OPS allowed of .489 was the sixth best in the majors in June, sandwiched between Max Scherzer’s .484 and Carlos Martinez’s .518. His 3.6 K/BB in the month was 56 percent better than his career average. Ladies and gentlemen, Bud Norris. As far we know, he hasn’t uttered anything about people who “come into our country and make our American dollars,” let alone “a cultural thing or an upbringing thing.” And now he’s a Dodger.
Congratulations to our winners! They can preorder next year’s Annual, in which they are virtually certain to be mentioned, after the season ends.
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