The IPI Awards: Least Valuable Indian
By Jim Piascik
October 13, 2012
To celebrate the conclusion of another baseball season, we here at Indians Prospect Insider have decided to give out our picks for the major awards. Tomorrow, we will wrap up our award season by rolling out our pick for Most Valuable Indian.
IPI writers Charlie Adams, Jeff Ellis, Tony Lastoria, Sean Mahon, Adam McGavin, Stephanie Metzger, Steve Orbanek, Jim Pete, Andrew Zajac, and yours truly all voted on these awards. Not all of them supplied write-ups, but those who did are listed below.
A team must have plenty of candidates for least valuable player in order to approach 100 losses as the Indians did. It is not pleasant to run through all the players that were responsible for the Tribe's nightmare season, but we have to in order to set the scene for this award.
The favorite for Least Valuable Indian would have to be pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez's 2012 season (9-17, 5.40 ERA, 5.06 FIP) was about as far from ace-level as possible. Those 17 losses led all of baseball, and Jimenez's ERA was third-worst among qualified starters. When your calling card is a FIP that was only the fifth-worst in the majors, you qualify for least valuable status.
So are there any other Indians who can come close to Jimenez? First baseman Casey Kotchman puts together a decent case, as his .229/.280/.333 slash line, 12 home runs, 55 RBI, and -1.5 fWAR made him one of the worst players of 2012. Kotchman was not supposed to provide any adequate production at first base, but he could not even manage that.
Maybe blaming Kotchman is the wrong path. One could argue that first baseman Matt LaPorta's disappointing career and 2012 are the only reason Kotchman was on the Indians' roster in the first place. LaPorta only played in 22 games in 2012 and did not play well, posting a .241/.267/.328 slash line and 17:1 SO:BB while only hitting one home run. At this point, the crown jewel of the CC Sabathia trade is more likely to get designated for assignment than make the Opening Day roster next year.
Pitcher Justin Masterson did not pitch as poorly as Jimenez in 2012, but after his breakout season in 2011, much more was expected of him. Masterson managed to top 200 innings, but that does not count for much when you have an 11-15 record, 4.93 ERA, and 4.16 FIP as the top pitcher of a major league rotation.
IPI's Least Valuable Indian is... Ubaldo Jimenez
It should not be much of a surprise that Jimenez ran away with this vote, taking six of the ten ballots. Kotchman managed to finish with two votes, while LaPorta and Masterson each garnered one. I expected a lot out of Jimenez in 2012 (and the numbers pointed to plenty of positive regression after his disappointing 2011), but he simply forgot how to pitch and lost it. Jimenez was not the only problem with the Indians, but it there is little doubt that he was the Least Valuable Indian of 2012.
Here is what the rest of IPI has to say:
Charlie Adams: Casey Kotchman. He was awful and he played a lot. He literally does nothing well, except for defense, which basically has no impact at first base. Also, Ubaldo Jimenez was not only awful when he played from an absolute perspective, but he also was the largest disappointment in terms of expectations. He threw 176 innings at league-average level and the Indians needed him to be a legit ace. I will be happy when he stops getting the ball every 5th day.
Jeff Ellis: I know almost everyone is going to have Ubaldo Jimenez, but we all went into this year unsure about him. He was never counted on as a cornerstone by most fans. On the other hand, Masterson was supposed to be our ace, one of the top up-and-coming pitchers in baseball, and instead he was nearly as bad as Ubaldo and posted numbers that were below replacement level. This is why he is the least valuable player to me, because he had such a huge fall. He was expected to bring a lot and instead brought basically nothing and lead to some questioning if maybe his long-term future is in the bullpen.
Tony Lastoria: I know I have been hard on the guy since he arrived, but I’m not just piling on here. The season Ubaldo Jimenez had was one of the worst I have ever seen from a starting pitcher deemed to have front-of-the-rotation stuff. He was a mess all season and at times did not look like he even cared. His acquisition has been a train wreck since Day 1 and in a lot of ways his demeanor on the mound is representative of everything that is wrong with the organization. Buyout or not, if I were GM, I’d just decline his option this offseason, wipe my hands clean, and be done with him. If he returns next season it will be his last no matter what, so just save us all the agony of watching him for another season and cut the cord now.
Sean Mahon: It's never fun throwing a guy under the bus, but Ubaldo Jimenez was a malignant brain-ache that played a major factor in the firing of both pitching coach Scott Radinsky and manager Manny Acta. Jimenez had the opportunity to anchor a staff that so desperately needed an ace of some sort and completely fell apart to the role of Fausto Carmona Hernandez 2.0.
Adam McGavin: Oh, where to start. First there’s Travis Hafner, who hit .228 over just 66 games due to injuries, while collecting a team-high $13 million salary. Then you’ve got the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona, who got busted lying about his name and age, which led to a short but painful season that featured a 7.53 ERA over just three starts. Aaron Cunningham, one of the many Indians players who got the all-too-common-this-season DFA tag, had an exceptionally bad .175 batting average, while supplying indispensible late-inning defensive help. Any one of those three would be worthy of least valuable, but this squad had two players, who just stole the show. Grady Sizemore made $5 million, while not appearing in a single game this season, further amplifying the genius of his agent, who got him a contract that was insanely higher than what the market would have dictated. Sadly, Ubaldo Jimenez would’ve been more valuable to this team had he not pitched this season; at least then he wouldn’t have been able to record a 5.40 ERA, 95 walks, and 16 wild pitches. Furthermore, Jimenez represents an unequivocally failed trade, so he is the least valuable on both the micro and macro levels.
Steve Orbanek: This may seem a little outlandish considering there are certainly other candidates, but Casey Kotchman was absolutely terrible from an offensive standpoint. It was so agonizing to hear about how he was saving us runs; what about all the runs he was costing us because of his inability to ever hit consistently? Plain and simple, Kotchman is one player I will not miss next season.
Jim Pete: You are getting two for the price of one. The first is a guy that should have never been on a major league roster in 2012, if ever. To be honest, the simple fact that he WAS on the roster is a fireable offense to me with regards to Chris Antonetti. The second guy is likely the true LVP, as he's been counted on to be an MVPish player and has been nothing of the sort. The first guy is Aaron Freakin' Cunningham. Seriously, he was the worst major league player in baseball, and while I'm sure there's an idiotic SABER-stat for that, it better read Aaron Freakin' Cunningham. He couldn't hit...or throw...or lead...or do anything that makes him valuable to any big league club. He may be a great guy, but I know plenty of great guys that have jobs they are good at. As for the real LVP, while I'm sitting here staring hard at Casey Kotchman, I can honestly say that he performed about how I expected him to. No, the least valuable Indian is Ubaldo Jimenez. He's not the worst player on the roster, and he looked good for stretches, but he was brought in to be an ace and he isn't even close. He needs to thank Josh Tomlin or I'd say he's the worst pitcher on the roster right now...so when you are expected to be an ace and are battling Josh Tomlin for the rights to be the WORST PITCHER ON THE TEAM (and I'm not even mentioning that Tomlin was injured for much of the season...oops...guess I just did), you are the clear LVP.
Coming tomorrow: IPI's pick for Most Valuable Indian. The final IPI award ends on a high note, as we vote on which Indians player was the best in 2012.
If you want to follow Jim, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at email@example.com
There were many...and Ubaldo, Kotchman, Aaron Freakin' Hernandez, Johnny Damon, Grady Sizemore, Dan Wheeler, Jack Hannahan...and at times...really...ANYONE on this roster minus perhaps a guy like Michael Brantley...who was generally consistent from the start.
But WHY WRITE ABOUT IT!
IPI's Farting Rainbows and Flowers...part 1...
(sorry folks...feeling a bit feisty today...my best friend is an Indiana grad, and I've been listening to his tOSU bashing all day long)
I think this award just comes off more awkward than usual this year because there are so many choices. I would agree that Ubaldo wins a "most disappointing" award, but I'd have had to go with Kotchman as "least valuable" since he played every day, while Ubaldo only sucked once every 5 days ... Kotchman's lack of value was totally expected though
Leave the cynicism to the message boards.
No reason for it.