The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

(Brief) History of the Cardinals Allen Watson Award


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.

Year Team leader OPS
2009 Adam Wainwright 0.515
2008 Adam Wainwright 0.636
2007 Kip Wells 0.717
2006 Mark Mulder 0.880
2005 Jason Marquis 0.786
2004 Jason Marquis 0.672
2003 Woody Williams 0.670
2002 Woody Williams 0.640
2001 Woody Williams 0.619
2000 Rick Ankiel 0.674
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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.

Year Player OPS PA
StL Woody Williams 0.585 221
Career Woody Williams 0.489 617
StL Jason Marquis 0.646 252
Career Jason Marquis 0.518 552

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.

Year Player OPS PA
StL Kyle Lohse 0.335 117
Career Kyle Lohse 0.363 230
StL Chris Carpenter 0.271 315
Career Chris Carpenter 0.277 329

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…

Rank Pitcher Year OPS
1 Allen Watson 1995 0.975
2 Mark Mulder 2006 0.880
3 Clyde Barfoot 1922 0.862
4 Curt Davis 1939 0.855
5 Bob Forsch 1987 0.842
6 Bob Forsch 1975 0.803
7 Harry Gumbert 1941 0.798
8 Al Grabowski 1930 0.788
9 Bob Forsch 1980 0.787
10 Bill Sherdel 1923 0.786
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