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Carpenter takes 2010 Vicente Palacios Award

Intended only in fun, this award honors the highest level of hitting futility by a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher in a season.

Chris Carpenter (AP/Al Behrman)Hitting stats for St. Louis Cardinals pitchers in 2010 were already presented in the earlier article, “Wainwright repeats as Allen Watson Award winner”. Chris Carpenter’s .288 OPS brought up the rear as the worst mark by more than 100 points for those Cardinals pitchers with at least 30 plate appearances.

Against righties, Carp was absolutely terrible with just five hits and no walks in 65 plate appearances for a .191 OPS. His only home run and all four RBI were accrued in his 19 plate appearances versus left-handers, making for a .650 OPS. Further, most of his 2010 success was experienced while hitting eighth (.479 OPS versus just .126 when batting ninth).

In originally selecting the award’s namesake, I first had to unearth the worst yearly performance with the bat by a pitcher in team history, post-1900. Of the hundreds of Cardinals hurlers with at least 30 plate appearances in a season, only two posted a .000 OPS.

They are Vicente Palacios in 1994 and John Fulgham in 1980.

To break the apparent tie, I dove into the specifics.

In his season of futility, Fulgham, in his second of two career MLB seasons, had exactly 30 plate appearances. He had three sacrifices, therefore had only 27 official at-bats. He fanned 17 times, but managed to score once.

Palacios had 36 plate appearances in 1994 and also had three sacrifices. He struck out 15 times, but also ground into a double play. Palacios did not cross home plate.

Therefore, Palacios broke the close tie as having the worst hitting season by a Cardinals pitcher since at least 1900.

Here are the worst ten in team history, courtesy of the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.

Rk Worst OPS pitcher Yr OPS
T1 Vicente Palacios 1994 0.000
T1 John Fulgham 1980 0.000
3 Ron Taylor 1963 0.063
4 Bob Purkey 1965 0.084
5 Jose DeLeon 1991 0.087
6 Bill Doak 1913 0.095
7 Bill Doak 1923 0.104
8 Curt Simmons 1965 0.109
9 Paul Dean 1936 0.118
10 Mike Morgan 1996 0.121

Here are those who would have been the Palacios Award winners over the last decade plus one year. Note that Carpenter is the only name listed twice, let alone three times. Fortunately his pitching keeps him coming back.

Year Worst OPS pitcher OPS
2010 Chris Carpenter 0.288
2009 Todd Wellemeyer 0.256
2008 Kyle Lohse 0.238
2007 Anthony Reyes 0.154
2006 Chris Carpenter 0.254
2005 Chris Carpenter 0.211
2004 Jeff Suppan 0.156
2003 Jason Simontacchi 0.289
2002 Chuck Finley 0.250
2001 Dustin Hermanson 0.206
2000 Garrett Stephenson 0.162

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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