Ladies and gentlemen, put on your finest tuxedo and get “Golden Globe” drunk – it’s time for the culmination of a year’s worth of Stuff reports – The Stuffies! While the Stuffies currently have less cache than some of baseball’s more talked about awards – like the MVP, there’s no room for philosophizing about what “valuable” means. Like a Mark Shapiro-led front office, these awards are data driven. Here at the BBSWAAC (Baseball Stuffies Writers’ Association of America…or Canada) we’ve taken the time to break down the Stuffy Awards into Starting and Relieving categories. There won’t be any funny business where we pit a 60-inning reliever against a 200-inning starter.
In the trend of having awards shows with great hosts; the Billy Crystals, and Neil Patrick Harrises of the world, the Stuffies would like to welcome Nick Dika to provide his insight into the MLB’s most (and least) Stuffiest performances.
The Stuffies will consist of awards for:
Rookie of the Year Stuff – Starter
Rookie of the Year Stuff – Reliever
Best Starting Rotation Stuff
Best Bullpen Stuff
Top Reliever Stuff
Top Starter Stuff
We’ll also present the “Not-so-Stuffies” for the pitcher who, despite lacking in the Stuff department, still managed to churn out innings on the season.
To have the best Stuff – it isn’t about catching lightning in a bottle. You can’t just show up one day, throw the lights out, and claim you had the best Stuff in the MLB. That’s just not how the world works! To be eligible for the Stuff awards, I wanted those in the top 25% of innings pitched on the season, for both starting pitchers and relievers. This meant pitching 156 innings for Starting pitchers, and 46.1 innings for relievers. For rookies, those numbers were 63 innings for starters, and 24 innings for relievers.
The Stuff metric is unfair to knuckleball pitchers, so they were removed from the analysis.
And without further ado, let’s begin… the 2016 Stuffies!
The big E as they call him down in Miami, put up great numbers in his rookie season. His sub 3 ERA matched up well with his 97mph fastball. Perhaps Jeffrey Loria will build a nasty stuff statue in centerfield at Marlins park to honour this historic performance? Despite his awesome stuff, Easy E struggled with his command at times.
Brandon Phillips is over Brian Ellington’s fastball. I would be too at that velocity. pic.twitter.com/n6Ck5rSKxT
— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) August 19, 2016
With the Silver Stuffy, we have Matt Bush. Matt Bush is featured prominently in the Stuffy awards – and if you watched Game 3 of the ALDS, you already know why. He has nasty, nasty Stuff. His fastball can get up into triple digits, and he separates his pitches by nearly 18″. That’s a lot of ground to cover at a high speed.
Here at the Stuffies we don’t discriminate against small market, west coast or non-contending teams when we hand out our hardware. And that’s why Mauricio Cabrera is taking home a Stuffy this season. If you don’t recognize his name you will soon. Pitching for the retooling Braves means you’ll know him as “the top reliever available at the 2017 trade deadline”
— Pitcher List (@ThePitcherList) August 24, 2016
While it’s a bit later in his career than we may have predicted, Dylan Bundy takes home a bronze Stuffy for Rookie Starter. Bundy’s combination of electric stuff and pitching for the Orioles means that he will almost undoubtedly turn into an ace when he is traded to a different team for spare parts at some point in the future. That or he will sit unused in the Bullpen while division rivals deposit baseballs in the outfield bleachers, eliminating them from the playoffs.
Kenta Maeda has the lowest velocity of anyone on the Stuff lists, but he has elite separation between his pitches and his change in velocity is close to the top of all of the MLB. This is a pretty impressive rookie performance for a command type pitcher.
— Michael Grace (@LowOutsideCurve) September 26, 2016
Finally, Jon Gray takes home the Gold Medal for Rookies! Gray has an elite fastball and paired that with elite change in speed and above average pitch separation. He had a great season for the Rockies – which amounts to a super amazing awesome season for a pitcher anywhere else. His beard is already elite, but now he’s the Stuff Rookie of the Year. Congrats, Jon Gray!
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So, a huge congratulations go out to Jon Gray and Mauricio Cabrera. You both had great rookie seasons, and showed the MLB what your Stuff was made of. Next season, maybe your team might give you a hand and you can win some games.
When the Stuffies return – we’re going to look at what starting rotations and bullpens had the best Stuff of the season!