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2019 MLB Year-End Awards

December 20, 2019
We’re nearing the end of the year, so this seems like an appropriate time to bestow some statistically-driven baseball awards for 2019. These will round out the awards already given by the BBWAA a few weeks ago. Without further ado…


The Hard-Hitter Award

Baseball Info Solutions charts every batted ball as hard-, medium- or soft-hit, based on the ball's location and velocity. The winner of the Hard-Hitter Award is the player who had the highest percentage of batted balls that were hard-hit among those batters with a minimum of 250 plate appearances.

That honor goes to Aaron Judge of the Yankees (54%). He beats out Miguel Sanó (53%) and Nelson Cruz (52%) of the Twins. A third Twins player, Jason Castro (52%), placed fifth, two-tenths of a percentage point behind Joey Gallo of the Rangers (52%).

The Contact Minimizer Award

The Contact Minimizer goes to the pitcher who limited hard contact best in 2019 (minimum 100 innings pitched). The winner may come as a surprise: Orioles rookie John Means, who allowed hard-hit balls on only 28% of the batted balls against him. Means edged out Eduardo Rodríguez of the Red Sox (29%) and 2018 award winner Noah Syndergaard of the Mets (29%).

Among relief pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched, the leader was Aaron Bummer of the White Sox (25%). Bummer also allowed an MLB-low 11% line drive rate.

The Flat Bat Award

The Flat Bat Award is given annually to the best bunter of the year. To determine the winner, we look at run value -- run expectancy gained or lost -- for both successful and unsuccessful sacrifice and bunt-for-hit attempts for each player. This year’s winner is Kolten Wong of the Cardinals. Wong had an MLB-leading 11 bunt hits (versus five unsuccessful bunt hit attempts) and six successful sacrifices with no failed sacrifices. Wong also excelled in the field this season, winning a Fielding Bible Award at second base.

If you would like to read about the methodology behind the Flat Bat Award, click here.

The Vacuum Cleaner Award

BIS Video Scouts also track what are known as "Good Fielding Plays," which are often those that lead to the unlikely recording of an out. Those can be broken up into different subtypes, including "Ground Ball Outs." The leader in Good Fielding Plays on Ground Ball Outs is the winner of our Vacuum Cleaner Award.

The winner is Nolan Arenado of the Rockies who had 31, five more than Matt Chapman of the Athletics. The two third basemen shared the award last season and also share an alma mater, El Toro High in Lake Forest, California.

The Fly Swatter Award

This is a similar award to The Vacuum Cleaner, except it’s for Good Fielding Plays on "Fly Ball Outs." The player with the most in 2019 was Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar with 18. Pillar, now a free agent after being non-tendered, won easily, finishing five ahead of the next-closest player, Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Braves.

The Stolen Base Stopper

The award for the Stolen Base Stopper goes to the pitcher and catcher who had the most Stolen Base Runs Saved in 2019. The top pitcher was Zach Plesac of the Indians with three. Plesac allowed one steal and had five pickoffs and one caught stealing in 115-2/3 innings. Catcher featured a runaway leader. J.T Realmuto of the Phillies had 10 Stolen Base Runs Saved. No other catcher had more than four. Realmuto threw out an MLB-best 43% of would-be basestealers.


The Hall of Framer

The Hall of Framer award goes to the catcher who had the best pitch-framing numbers in 2019. This is measured by looking at extra strikes gained on a per-100-pitches basis. Austin Hedges of the Padres gained 2.1 extra strikes per 100 framed pitches, the best rate in MLB among those with at least 500 innings caught.

For more statistical leaders, check out the 2020 Bill James Handbook, which makes a great holiday gift. 


COMMENTS (2 Comments, most recent shown first)


I assume--someone please correct me if I'm wrong--that the umpire's call is compared to some supposedly objective measure, e.g. by Pitchcast or Statcast or something similar.

As has been pointed out ad nauseam in Reader Posts, there is no objective measure of the objective measure, thus whether the margin of error is more or less than 2.1 calls per 100 pitches is very much up in the air.
5:29 AM Dec 21st
2.1 extra strikes per 100 pitches.
Does someone watch every pitch and if the umpire calls a strike when it is really a ball then he gets credit?
1:29 AM Dec 21st
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