Yesterday’s post announcing the Allen Watson Award of hitting excellence by a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher met with such wild, unrestrained interest, I was inspired to write part two of the story.
Because 2009 marks the first semi-official Watson Award, there actually is no history to report. Yet there are batting results from each season about which to reminisce.
Adam Wainwright is the 2009 winner, but his .515 OPS was the lowest of any annual team leader this decade. Had there been a Watson Award before now, these top-hitting pitchers would have been the annual honorees.
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Not surprisingly, Rick Ankiel was the best hitting pitcher on the Cardinals in 2000. Once he stepped aside, first Woody Williams then Jason Marquis led the staff in OPS in each of the following five seasons.
Looking at Williams’ and Marquis’ career numbers tend to suggest there may be something to the increased focus the Cardinals put on their pitchers being able to handle the bat.
In the table below, compare the two’s OPS marks as Cardinals compared to the entire body of their respective careers, including their time with St. Louis. Each has about a 100 point edge in OPS while with the Cardinals.
Before anyone gets too excited about this phenomenon, Kyle Lohse and Chris Carpenter did not follow the trend. In all fairness, Carp only had 14 plate appearances with Toronto, though Lohse’s hitting has declined as a Cardinal.
The final table shows the top OPS seasons by a Cardinals pitcher post-1900 with a minimum of 30 plate appearances. Bob Forsch has three of the top ten seasons of all time, while Mark Mulder’s 2006 season was the second-best of all time. That still won’t bring Dan Haren back, however…
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