Year-end player awards: Best pitcher in a major league role

Welcome back, Corder?

UPDATE: I should mention also that we can probably call it for Devin Mesoraco. With 44% of the vote he's your Minor League Postion player of the Year!

However much you think this particular category is a joke, it's still your baseballo-civic duty to, in the words of the cloyingly obvious theme to Robert Altman's Tanner '88: "Exercise your right to vote/Choose the one you like the most." You'll also get to see yellow horizontal bars go up. As far as I know, you don't get that kind of immediate gratification in real voting.

The Reds pitching staff packed more punchline than punch in 2011, ranking 12th in the NL in ERA, below league average in WHIP, second-last in SO/BB and tied for second-last (with the ROCKIES) in HR/9. But there were a handful of stand-out performances.

To introduce the nominees:

Tyler Davidson, guy that happens to have the same name as the fountain

Maggie Ledgerdmain, the last person who still thinks Baseball at Broadway Commons could still happen

TYLER

Pitching is hard. You can have a lot of pitchers and maybe your best one could get injured and most of the other ones will end up being kind of bad or almost basically terrible. So cut 'em some slack?

MAGGIE

That's why I think we should consider locatingthe Reds' ballpark  at Broadway Commons. This study I commissioned out of pocket suggest that wind patterns and geothermal energy would reduce the number of HRs given up by Reds' pitching, as compared to the riverfront site. Although, the difference is within the margin of error. Back to the drawing board for old Mags.

She leaves.

TYLER

The nominees for least worst pitcher are...

Johnny Cueto

The main thing you can dock Cueto on, in the hopes of making this a more competitive category, is that the portions were small. If you'd treated 2011 like an assigned novel in high school lit class, tuning in just at the beginning and end, you might not have known JC was even on the team. Cueto pitched 156 innings in 2011, 6 less than the number required for an ERA title. If he'd pitched 6 more innings, allowing one earned run, he would have tied Clayton Kershaw (by rounding up) for lowest ERA in the NL.

Cueto made his leap forward this season by becoming a more fielding-dependent pitcher and coaxing balls where his defense could get to them. Despite the second-lowest K-rate of any regular starter on the team, Cueto had the lowest HR rate and lowest Hits/9. Getting his Tiant on worked to great effect for Cueto, who became the absentee ace of the staff. The peripherals might send up red flags for some, but that's a question for another season.

IP K ERA+ WHIP BB/9 SO/9 FIP SIERA
Johnny Cueto (2011)  156 104 169 1.090 2.7 6.0 3.45  3.78

Mike Leake

What Mike Leake lacked in rate stats, he made up for with the counting kind. And, after an initial hiccup, in dependability also. Leake's season started off looking like a carry-over from 2010's second-half struggles, but after a brief trip to the minors (his first ever) Leake righted the ship. He finished the season first on the staff in wins, strikeouts and tying Bronson for lowest BB-rate, while trailing only him for most innings pitched.

IP K ERA+ WHIP BB/9 SO/9 FIP SIERA
Mike Leake (2011)  167.2  118 101 1.175  2.0 6.3 4.22  3.61

Sam LeCure

Not long a go, he was known for little more than being an ironic bobble-head selection and an exceedingly affable, mustachioed guy with a Twitter account. This season, he was a vital cog in the Reds' pitching staff, filling in as a spot starter, long-reliever, mop-up guy and middle/late innings weapon. His lack of overpowering stuff and status as a recently-converted starter may have masked how good LeCure was this season - especially in his peripherals - and how useful he was from preventing the staff from becoming a complete train-wreck due both to regressions and bullpen workload. LeCure lead the team in WHIP, ranked third in K-rate, fourth-lowest in walk-rate and third in hits/9.

IP K ERA+ WHIP BB/9 SO/9 FIP SIERA
Sam LeCure (2011)  77 73 106 1.004 2.4 8.5 3.79  2.86

Francisco Cordero

Cordero was much-maligned after last season, his worst in three years to date as a Red. But he followed-up that trough with a season that rivaled his best (2009) - and certainly bested it from the standpoint of control and base-runner prevention. There are well-founded reservations around the talk of bringing a 36-year old CoCo back on a two-year contract, especially with how shaky he can be when called upon on consecutive days. But that doesn't negate the fact that, by most any standard, he was the Reds' best reliever this season.

IP K ERA+ WHIP BB/9 SO/9 FIP SIERA
Francisco Cordero (2011)  69.2 42 160 1.019 2.8 5.4 4.02 3.76
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