There can be only one… No, really.
Well, I filtered through the comments – you people really aren’t very good at following instructions, are you? 🙂 But here are the people who seemed, more or less, to be mentioned in the highest number of comments.
A last hurrah for the beard, as he finally got to be the D-backs closer on Opening Day… only for Opening Day to be late July. After blowing his first save on July 26 (but getting the W), he went 6-for-6, despite an overall underwhelming 4.22 ERA. In his defense, most of the runs came in one outing against the Padres, where he allowed three runs but still got a save, after the tying run was thrown out at home. [Bradley was the first D-backs pitcher to do that since Willie Banks in 1998, who actually gave up four runs in his save!] Archie was dealt to the Reds at the deadline, but is now a free agent. You never know… This video is his first save on July 29, when he struck out the heart of the Rangers order in the ninth.
It’s surprising to me to realize Crichton actually made his major-league debut in 2017 as an Oriole. This year, he was the main beneficiary of the Bradley trade, taking over down the stretch – though saves were hard to come by for Arizona. He takes a hitless streak covering seven-plus games and 26 batters into 2021. Five of them saw Crichton get the save, as he ended the season with a 2.42 ERA and 23 strikeouts over 26 innings of work, to nine walks. He also proved to be capable of giving Arizona some length, working more than one frame in 7 of 26 outings. Here’s his first save as a major-leaguer, retiring both batters faced to preserve a 4-3 win against the Mariners.
As Wesley documented just the other day, while there may still be room for improvement, Gallen had an excellent season. He set a new MLB record, by beginning his major-league career with 23 consecutive starts, allowing three or fewer earned runs. That included his first eight this year, during which time he had an ERA of 1.80, striking out 54 batters over 50 innings. He certainly deserved a much better record than 3-2, considering that over the seven no decisions, Zac had a 1.88 ERA. He was responsible for nine quality starts this year; ever other Arizona starter combined managed only four. Below, his Sep 2 start against the Dodgers, already awarded Single-Game Performance of the Year.
All four other quality starts were provided by Kelly, whose season was cut short in untimely fashion by thoracic outlet syndrome. That restricted him to only five starts, but save the last – where the ailment was perhaps a factor – they were all very good. Kelly dropped his ERA from 4.42 in his rookie campaign, to 2.59 in 2020, while cutting his walk-rate in half, and upping his strike-out rate, to close to a batter per frame (29 K’s in 31.1 IP). Even with an abbreviated final outing, he still averaged 6.1 innings per start. Below, you can see his first appearance of 2020, where he became the only member of the Arizona rotation last season to record an out in the eighth inning.
Last month, I got to cover Mella in our player reviews, and declared him as “a good dark-horse selection potentially to have a breakout 2021 campaign,” largely on the strength of his wipe-out slider. Like Crichton, it’s surprising to realize he debuted in 2017, though this is the first time he has thrown even ten innings in a campaign. While the small sample size obviously limits the value, and it’s not as if he’s going to post a 1.80 ERA over the rest of his career, even the 3.39 FIP Mella allowed would make him a valuable reliever, especially considering he didn’t cost the team anything, signing as a free agent. I’m hoping we’re going to see more of the sliders below this year.
Below is the poll in which registered SnakePitters get to vote – or it’s linked here. There would seem to be a non-zero chance of this being the first ever unanimous choice in SnakePit Award history, though as the Hall of Fame voting shows, there’s almost always someone with a contrary opinion… But since you have to provide your username, be aware I reserve the right to publish the results.