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Previewing the Harry S Jordan Award

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This sure isn't pointless

Who will join Mark Minicozzi on the hallowed list of Giants greats?
Who will join Mark Minicozzi on the hallowed list of Giants greats?
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Sports Prediction business is a lucrative gig. You give lots of opinions and people pay you for them and then at the end of the year when you're wrong, no one cares. That's how you get people predicting MVPs and Cy Youngs and Managers of the Year before the season starts, and then somehow retaining their credibility when the only ones they get right are Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout, picks that would be academic for a blind lemur on Neptune. It's an easy job. It's an easy, meaningless job, devoid of any value to anyone, existing only to put words on the page whose ephemeral nature is a betrayal of the entire ethos of journalism.

I want in.

The problem is, you don't start with the big ones. You don't just show up at Sports Illustrated's offices one day and say "Hey guys, the Nationals are gonna win the World Series and the Phillies will be awful" and get money thrown at you. No, you have to work your way up, starting small, proving you can write words about things, before anyone will allow you to pick anything major. And so here I am, at the bottom of a ladder that's sinking into the mud, previewing the Harry S. Jordan award.

Every year at the end of Spring Training, the Giants players, coaches, and training staff vote on the Harry S. Jordan award, given to the "player in his first big league camp whose performance and dedication in Spring Training best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit." Here is the list of past winners, which I stole from this article, and then I added Mark Minicozzi so that it looks like I did some work.

1988 - Joe Kmak, Francisco Melendez
1989 - James Steel
1990 - Eric Gunderson
1991 - Mark Leonard
1992 - John Patterson
1993 - Greg Brummett
1994 - J.R. Phillips
1995 - Joe Rosselli
1996 - Marvin Benard
1997 - Dante Powell
1998 - Russ Ortiz
1999 - Damon Minor
2000 - Ben Weber
2001 - Pedro Feliz
2002 - Felix Escalona
2003 - Jason Ellison
2004 - Brian Dallimore
2005 - Scott Munter
2006 - Derin McMains
2007 - Tim Lincecum
2008 - Brian Bocock
2009 - Joe Martinez
2010 - Darren Ford
2011 - Brandon Belt
2012 - Dan Otero
2013 - Brock Bond
2014 - Mark Minicozzi

But who is going to be eligible to even win the award this year? If you look at the non-roster invitees, and then cross-reference with last year's non-roster invitees mumble mumble mumble I don't technically "know" what cross-reference means but they say it on TV, and that's good enough for me. So we come up with something like this:

Pitchers

Adalberto Mejia
Steven Okert
Chris Stratton

Catchers

Aramis Garcia
Ty Ross

Infielders

Christian Arroyo
Mitchell Delfino
Kelby Tomlinson

Tomlinson's a little iffy, because he played in some games in the major league part of camp last year, but he never got the formal invite to stay and eat nice food and keep his distance from the peons in minor league camp, so he stays on the list. Nik Turley was in big league camp last year with the Yankees, and Braulio Lara was as well, with the Rays, so they're out. Otherwise, it's all pretty cut and dried. Three pitchers and five hitters.

What does history tell us about who's likely to win? Well, since 1996, position players have won 13 times out of 19. This means nothing, as each player was selected based on his own individual merits by a different group of people, but historical precedent is an important thing to mention in an awards preview article, so I did it. Wow, look at all that history. Very precedented, if you ask me.

While the pitcher/hitter divide is meaningless, the award has consistently gone to a guy who, if the rosters expanded to 26, would have a good shot at making the team. This seems to be part of the definition of the award, so it seems reasonable to take that into account. Therefore, we can get rid of Garcia, Ross, and Arroyo, who are all talented young players, but nowhere close to major league ready. Of the remaining five, I'd probably throw out Stratton, the former first-round pick whose prospect star is fading, and Mejia, whose upcoming suspension makes his entire situation iffy. So we are left with Delfino, Tomlinson, and Okert.

In some ways, Tomlinson is actually a worse bet than Stratton; Stratton's had a good year in the minors, while Tomlinson hasn't. Still, he makes it to the finals because the organization sees something in him they like, and also three finalists is a more dramatic number than two. Delfino is, again, highly thought of by the front office, and he's been a decent hitter and a solid defender, but he hasn't had eye-popping numbers. So while it's possible a hot spring from either of them could win the award, it's not the most likely scenario.

No, the most likely scenario is Steven Okert. Last year, he dominated the Cal League, then got promoted to Richmond and barely skipped a beat. He was spectacular in the Arizona Fall League, throwing 12 innings with a 0.75 ERA and a 17/1 K/BB ratio, and I have it on good authority that his hair naturally smells like lavender.

Okert is a guy who, assuming he performs well, will be talked about as "a dark horse to make the roster" even though there isn't really any room for him. He even had a Rotographs article written about him last year, so yeah, you know he's good. And since baseball is an incredibly predictable sport, award predictions are meaningful, so he will definitely, undoubtedly, for sure win the 2015 Harry S Jordan Award.

Unless he doesn't, in which case please forget everything about this article.