MLB Year-End Awards

December 28, 2020

MLB Year-End Awards

December 23, 2020





As 2020 ends, it seems like an appropriate time to give out some statistically-driven baseball awards for the past year. These will round out the awards already given by the BBWAA in November.

The Hard-Hitter Award

Sports 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 150 plate appearances.

The 2020 winner is the player featured on The 2021 Bill James Handbook cover, Fernando Tatis Jr. He had a hard-hit ball in 55% of his at-bats and tops Corey Seager (52%) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (51%). The next three players included a couple of surprises–Jesse Winker and Teoscar Hernández–along with Justin Turner (each at 49%).

The Dodgers (42%) and Padres (38%) were the leaders in team hard-hit rate, with the Braves (36%), Rangers (35%) and Giants (35%) behind them.

The Contact Minimizer Award

The Contact Minimizer goes to the pitcher who limited hard contact best in 2020 (minimum 40 innings pitched). The winner was one of the top pitchers in the AL this year, Kenta Maeda of the Twins, who allowed hard-hit balls on only 22% of the batted balls against him.

Maeda beat out Zack Wheeler of the Phillies (23%), Max Fried of the Braves (24%) and his former Dodgers teammate, Hyun-Jin Ryu (24%).

The Twins (29%) had the lowest hard-hit rate among teams, just ahead of the Reds (29%), Brewers (30%), Dodgers (31%), and Yankees (31%).

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 Flat Bat goes to Cedric Mullins of the Orioles.

Mullins led MLB with nine bunt hits (and only one unsuccessful bunt hit attempt). His four sacrifices (on four bunt attempts) were one shy of Austin Hedges for the MLB lead. Garrett Hampson of the Rockies finished second for the Flat Bat. He had seven bunt hits and three sacrifices.

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


The Vacuum Cleaner Award

SIS 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 resulting in Ground Ball Outs is the winner of our Vacuum Cleaner Award.

This year the award is shared by Rockies shortstop Trevor Story and Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers, each of whom had nine Good Fielding Plays resulting in Ground Ball Outs. Isiah Kiner-FalefaJosé Altuve, and last year’s winner Nolan Arenado tied for third with seven such plays.

The Fly Swatter Award

This is a similar award to The Vacuum Cleaner, except it’s for Good Fielding Plays resulting in Fly Ball Outs. The player with the most in 2020 was Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. with eight. Delino Deshields and Lourdes Gurriel each finished second with six.

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 2020.

Roberto Pérez was the leader among catchers with 3 Stolen Base Runs Saved. That was a product of his throwing out 9-of-13 basestealers and recording a pickoff as well. Tyler AndersonMax Fried, and Kyle Hendricks tied for the lead among pitchers with 2 Stolen Base Runs Saved. Anderson and Fried tied for the MLB lead in pickoffs (4). Hendricks allowed no stolen bases in four attempts in 81 1/3 innings pitched in 2020.


The Hall of Framer

The Hall of Framer award goes to the catcher who had the best pitch-framing numbers in 2020. This is measured by looking at extra strikes gained on a per-100-pitches basis. Austin Barnes of the Dodgers (1.6 extra strikes per 100 pitches) wins this award, edging out a pair of White Sox, Yasmani Grandal (1.5) and James McCann (1.2). McCann parlayed his offensive and defensive standout season into a four-year deal with the Mets this offseason.

For more statistical leaders, check out the 2021 Bill James Handbook , which makes a great holiday gift.



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