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The 2009 Mark Redman Award
Crashing Down after a Strong Start

by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
January 21, 2010

For those that are new to the Mark Redman Award, it is given annually to the pitcher in each league that most personifies crashing back down to earth after a strong start to the season.  Although I can't find any official word of Mark Redman's retirement, he did not pitch last year and isn't listed among the available free agent pitchers on MLB.com nor on ESPN.com.  It should be safe to say that Mr. Redman will retire with a career 5.17 second-half ERA and 6.04 ERA after August.

Can any pitchers beat those marks this year?  Let's find out.

Past Redman Award Winners: 2008 | 2007 | 2006
Origin of the Mark Redman Award

American League Candidates

Brian Bannister W-L IP ERA K BB WHIP HR
Pre-All-Star 6-7 98.1 3.66 62 32 1.26 8
Post-All-Star 1-5 55.2 6.63 36 18 1.56 7

You might think that Bannister is a no-brainer for this award after a quick glance at his splits.  He has some extenuating circumstances, however.  His season was going just fine until a five start stretch in which he averaged 111.4 pitches per start. After having averaged just 95.1 pitches per start over his first 15 games of the season, Bannister may have been victimized by that sudden increase in workload.  He went 0-6 with a 9.29 ERA over his final six starts before getting shut down in early September with a right shoulder injury.

This really isn't the case of someone playing over his head and then crashing down to earth; it is rather the poor decision of an inept franchise that ruined Bannister's season and perhaps his career.

Jarrod Washburn W-L IP ERA K BB WHIP HR
Pre-All-Star 6-6 112.1 2.96 72 28 1.09 11
Post-All-Star 3-3 63.2 5.23 28 21 1.37 12

Washburn was 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA when he got traded to the Detroit Tigers for the promising Mauricio Robles and the not-so-promising Lucas French.  He went 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA in eight starts for Detroit, playing a large role in their missing the postseason.  Not too many people were shocked to see Washburn struggle once parted from Seattle's first-class outfield defense and pitcher's paradise, but Adam Everett, Curtis Granderson, and Comerica Park generally treat pitchers pretty decently themselves. 

The real difference in Washburn's splits is his strikeout rates: 5.8 K/9 before the break, then 4.0 thereafter.  Those should only be nominally affected by a change in ballpark and defense.  He said in September that he had been battling a knee injury "for about three or four months;" perhaps that contributed to his downfall.  Still, before we hand Washburn the Redman hardware, we need to take a closer look at one of his late-season teammates.

Edwin Jackson W-L IP ERA K BB WHIP HR
Pre-All-Star 7-4 121.2 2.52 97 35 1.06 10
Post-All-Star 6-5 92.1 5.07 64 35 1.53 17

We generally don't like to give the Mark Redman Award to pitchers that had a good season overall, but sometimes those pitchers merit consideration.  There is a precedent for the award going to such a pitcher.  John Maine went in 15-10, 3.91 in 2007 and even Redman himself had a good year once (14-9, 3.59 in 2003).  So after Edwin Jackson similarly went 13-9, 3.62 this year, he has to be considered eligible for the award if he does well in the other criteria. 

And does he ever!  His second-half ERA was more than double his first-half ERA, which is always a great place to start when you're gunning for a Mark Redman Award.  It's very clear that his first-half performance was much further removed from his historical norm than his second-half performance was.  Although his strikeout rate, walk rate, and home run rate were all better than he had shown in his two previous full seasons, his ERA was still far lower than what would be predicted using those peripheral stats.  Certainly, he was benefiting from a good defense behind him, but he was also pitching into some pretty good luck.

Jackson also suffered from abuse like Bannister did.  He threw a preposterous 132 pitches during his 9th start of the season and averaged 115.4 per start in July.  The case isn't as clear-cut as it is for Bannister, whose velocity dipped as the season went along whereas Jackson's remained steady.  But I'd be willing to bet that fatigue cost Jackson some command in the second half.

Jackson can't fully blame his usage the way Bannister can, nor can he point to a change in teams the way Washburn can.  He's our man for 2009, and I finally get to pat myself on the back for correctly predicting a Redman Award winner in the preseason.  I'd actually forgotten that I had chosen him and what my reasoning was... all I remember is that I changed my selection from Zack Greinke to Edwin Jackson at the last minute!

2009 American League Mark Redman Award Winner - Edwin Jackson

Also, check out the Mark Redman Award Winner Follow-Up to get an idea of what the Diamondbacks can expect from Jackson this season.

National League Candidates:

Zach Duke W-L IP ERA K BB WHIP HR
Pre-All-Star 8-8 126 3.29 65 32 1.20 12
Post-All-Star 3-8 87 5.17 41 17 1.47 11

Duke's poor strikeout rate in the first half waved red flags for the kind of second half he'd have.  The strikeout rate got even worse in the second half, plus the team around him got worse after Pittsburgh's annual garage sale.  Considering all of that, his dropoff wasn't as precipitous as you'd expect.  His ERA got a lot worse, but somehow his WHIP wasn't too badly affected by the absence of Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez.  His record also worsened, but the Pirates scored fewer runs per game in the second half as well.   All in all, Duke is a solid Redman candidate, but not quite Redmany enough.

Jason Marquis W-L IP ERA K BB WHIP HR
Pre-All-Star 11-6 123.1 3.65 58 40 1.31 9
Post-All-Star 4-7 92.2 4.56 57 40 1.48 6

For his career, Jason Marquis is 60-39/4.16 before the break and 34-44/4.88 thereafter.  So it isn't surprising to see him as a Redman candidate here for the second time in three years.  His splits were far more disparate in 2007, so if he didn't win then, he's not going to win this year.

Dan Haren W-L IP ERA K BB WHIP HR
Pre-All-Star 9-5 130 2.01 129 16 0.81 12
Post-All-Star 5-5 91.1 4.62 94 22 1.26 15

Haren's another pitcher we see here all the time.  As usual, his unparalleled decline is offset by the fact that he had a terrific year overall.  Whereas Edwin Jackson and John Maine won Redman Awards despite good seasons, we can't give Haren a Redman despite a great season.

Chad Billingsley W-L IP ERA K BB WHIP HR
Pre-All-Star 9-4 125.1 3.38 119 55 1.23 9
Post-All-Star 3-7 71 5.20 60 31 1.48 8

As Jeff Foxworthy might say, if you get bumped out of the playoff rotation by Vicente Padilla, you might just be a Redman.  But seriously folks, Billingsley's late-season struggles got way overblown by LA media.  The man had a 3.21 ERA and a .658 OPSA in the month of August.  Sure, he struggled in July and in September, but that was no reason to throw away the NLCS and destroy this young man's confidence, particularly since his peripheral stats remained solid. 

Between this handling of Chad Billingsley and trying to turn Clayton Kershaw into Rick Ankiel, Joe Torre may have destroyed the future of the Dodgers' franchise.  I'm serious.  If Billingsley and Kershaw don't recover their confidence, what does that leave for the Dodger rotation?  35-year-old Hiroki Kuroda, knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, and Eric Stults?  Don't be shocked if the Dodgers wind up in the NL West cellar in 2010.

Chris Volstad W-L IP ERA K BB WHIP HR
Pre-All-Star 6-8 107.1 4.44 77 30 1.22 17
Post-All-Star 3-5 51.2 6.79 30 29 1.88 12

Volstad went 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA in April and did not allow more than four runs in any of his first dozen starts.  This had come on the heels of a 2.88 ERA rookie campaign in 84.1 innings despite a lousy 1.44 K/BB ratio.   That K/BB ratio was far better to begin the 2009 season, but he regressed to his high walk, low strikeout ways in the later months.  In his final 17 starts, he had a 6.56 ERA, .312 BAA, and .900 OPSA.

As much as I appreciate when poor peripheral stat players get their comeuppance, Volstad may yet have a bright future.  He is just 23-years old, and had he been playing for any organization but Florida, Kansas City, Washington, Pittsburgh, or Baltimore, the former 1st-round pick likely would not have made his major league debut yet.  Volstad was rushed to the majors, and despite that, he has had some success.

Nevertheless, he has become the first Marlin to win the Mark Redman Award.

2009 National League Mark Redman Award Winner - Chris Volstad




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at keith@baseballevolution.com.

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