Yesterday we took a look at the Atlanta Braves team hitting MVP and LVP, and there was a lot of disagreement about naming Jason Heyward the team MVP. I figured that would happen, since Martin Prado had such a good year. Both are great choices, and hopefully both players will be cornerstones of this Braves team for years to come.
Today we'll take a look at the best and worst pitchers on the team. I think these selections will be a bit more cut and dry.
Perhaps the bullpen should have a separate award here, because both Billy Wagner and Jonny Venters deserve serious consideration as the team pitching MVP. My knock on Wagner, if I could reach to find one, is that he did blow seven saves this year. Most of those blows the Braves came back to win, but it's a stat that sticks with me, even though blowing that many saves seems to be the norm for closers. Venters was terrific, but is a setup man really the most valuable pitcher on the team? I'm sure someone could make that argument, but I won't.
I actually really strongly considered Tommy Hanson here. Yes, the 10-11 win-loss record isn't pretty, but Hanson was a victim of having the most unearned runs on the team, and some very lopsided run support. While he had ERAs of 3.05 or below in July and August he came away with only one win between those two months.
Still, Hanson wasn't as good as Tim Hudson, our 2010 Braves pitching MVP. Some may say Huddy was a recipient of a lot of luck this year, what with his ERA of 2.83 and his FIP of 4.09 -- over a run between the two, and a higher FIP than even Derek Lowe (3.89). But Hudson's game is about ground balls and letting the batters get themselves out, so his advanced rate stats don't really accurately describe what kind of pitcher he is and how much he relies on his defense behind him. As far as putting up good starts time after time, Hudson was right there with the elite pitchers in the National League. His 25 quality starts are tied for the league lead with Cy Young contenders Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, and Ubaldo Jiminez, as well as other top pitchers in the league.
#15 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jul 14, 1975
|2010 - Tim Hudson||17-9||35||34||1||0||0||0||228.2||189||74||72||20||74||139||2.83||1.15|
The LVP after the jump...
This one is pretty cut and dry, and luckily there were not many candidates for this dubious honor. One could pick the chaff from the bullpen (and there wasn't much), and luckily the Braves pawned off Jesse Chavez on the Royals. Derek Lowe was saved from this award for the second year in a row by his September renaissance. Kyle Farnsworth certainly wasn't spectacular once he came back to Atlanta, but it's a testament to the (mostly) great staff that Frank Wren put together that there's really only one pitcher who stands out as the worst.
Kenshin Kawakami was just the pits in 2010. Yes, that would be only one win his 18 starts, in not even 90 innings of work. Sure he was unlucky, and he didn't get much run support, but he was already just so terrible that even with the bad luck not factored in he would have been a losing pitcher. He consistently labored through early innings, and rarely went deep into games, only once completing seven innings in a start. The Braves and Bobby Cox seemed to lose all faith him as the season wore on, and after being exiled to the bullpen, and then to the minors, he was rarely called on to pitch. His last appearance of the season was on September 9th, and that may be the last time we see him in a Braves uniform.
It's weird how the Braves just gave up on this guy. There must have been some non-public problems because during games in which he pitched, Bobby Cox was clearly perturbed more than normal when Kawakami would run into problems. It makes me think that they tried to get him to change something in his delivery, and he wouldn't do it, but that's only speculation on my part (though it certainly seems to fit).