clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Previewing the Barney Nugent Award

New, 187 comments

The prediction that matters exactly as much as every other prediction

Last year's winner, seen here during last year
Last year's winner, seen here during last year
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of every spring training, Giants players, coaches, and trainers vote on the "player in his first big league camp whose performance and dedication in Spring Training best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit." So I thought, hey, wouldn't it be fun to try to predict the winner? And that's what I'll try to do!

Disclaimer: I tried this last year. I tried and I was wrong. I was so wrong that not only did Matt Duffy, who I didn't realize was eligible, win, but the Giants even changed the name of the award, presumably because they wanted both to honor former trainer Barney Nugent and to spite me. I admire and respect both of these motives.

The former winners of this award, by year:

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
2015
- Matt Duffy

So who's eligible this year? Well, if we look at this year's list of non-roster invitees, compare to the previous year's list, and then find everyone on the 40-man roster who wasn't on it last year, we'll come up with a hopefully not wrong list of everyone who's eligible:

Pitchers

Tyler Beede
Samuel Coonrod
Ian Gardeck
Chase Johnson
Derek Law
Josh Osich
Jake Smith

Catchers

Trevor Brown
Matt Winn

Infielders

Ryder Jones
Rando Moreno

Outfielders

Junior Arias
Ryan Lollis

Here are the guys I think I could be wrong on: Albert Suarez, a castoff from several minor league systems, appears to have been in camp with the Rays in 2012, but  I'm not sure if he was officially part of camp or a minor leaguer called up for four different days; Derek Law, who was on the 40-man last year but injured, so I don't think he counts as having been in camp; Josh Osich, who seems like he would have gotten a big league invite at some point; the other one who I forgot and will end up winning and making me look stupid. That last guy's my favorite!

But assuming my list is right, let's see who we can knock out right away. Matt Winn was in Augusta last year and Ryder Jones wasn't especially impressive in San Jose; neither is likely to make that big an impact in camp. Rando Moreno, despite being the official Some Rando Infielder Who Will Rake In The Majors of MCC, isn't actually very good, and neither is Junior Arias, who's mostly around in case his tools decide to start panning out.

Each of the other players has a plausible shot at winning, but Smith and Gardeck are a little handicapped by being relievers (who usually don't win) who are farther from the majors than Derek Law and likely to get fewer chances to impress the team. Coonrod just got to San Jose for the playoffs last year, and the three full levels between him and the majors would seem to reduce his chances too.

That leaves us with Beede, Johnson, Law, Osich, Brown, and Lollis. Beede, while he has the talent to turn it around anytime, had a disappointing stint in AA last year, so it's reasonable to expect the staff to continue tinkering with him, making it less likely he'll win. To an extent, the same goes for Johnson, whose time in San Jose was longer and in some ways more impressive (TWSS), but his three starts in Richmond weren't much good either.

Now, last year I said that:

the award has consistently gone to a guy who, if the rosters expanded to 26, would have a good shot at making the team.

And while that doesn't not describe Derek Law – if he's all the way back from Tommy John, then he has an excellent shot at being on the roster at some point this year – the guys that really fit the description are the ones who were actually on the major league roster last year.

You know who Josh Osich is. After battling injuries for years as a minor leaguer, he got called up to the majors last year and was an excellent pitcher out of the bullpen. It would be easy to predict that success would carry over into spring training, but I'm not going to do that? Why? Certainly not because I forgot he was eligible until the last minute and wrote the entire article, then hastily edited this paragraph in. Ha ha, no, that's not why at all.

Ryan Lollis had a phenomenal 2015 minor league campaign, hitting .340/.402/.472 across three levels. He was called up to the majors twice and eventually DFA'd when the Giants traded for Alejandro De Aza, who is an actual player who I promise was on the Giants last year. Lollis is a hard worker and a very good defensive outfielder (poor small sample size major league performance aside), but he's been inconsistent offensively in the minors, so it's hard to know that his improvement last year was for real.

Trevor Brown had a decent offensive year in Sacramento in 2015, but he really shined with the glove. That didn't change when he got called up in September to replace the injured Everyone, and the team got a good look at him, starting him for the last couple weeks of the season. Pitchers and coaches were extremely impressed by his work behind the plate, and that's what the team emphasizes for a catcher. And it's because of that ability that I'm predicting Trevor Brown will win the 2016 Barney Nugent award. Prove me right, Trevor. Prove me right.

/award goes to Rando Moreno

AW FIDDLESTICKS