And the Winner of the 2007 Andy Sisco Award is... Andy Sisco

Back in February, inspired by a diary by daveyork, Royals Review named the pre-season nominees of the 2007 Andy Sisco Award, an honor given to the Royal pitcher who most horribly regresses and lets us down after a promising season the year before. While we could certainly break this down in greater detail, Sisco became the award's namesake for the following:

Andy Sisco ERA as a Royal:

2005: 3.11
2006: 7.10

Sisco's epic meltdown sabotaged a bullpen that wasn't very good to begin with, contributing to the Royals amazing 971 runs allowed in 2006, the 21st highest total not in team history, not in AL history, not since 1968, but ever.

In the spirit of the Sisco Award you needed to have a) done well the previous year b) been a Royal the previous year and c) prompted a fair amount of hope from the fans. Despite such a poor staff, there were a few guys that the Royals Nation, Confederacy, Loose Affiliation of Indepedent City-States who Agree to a Common Defense were excited about as the Royals broke for Spring Training in 2007. Neverthless, they obviously also had to give us reason to consider they might not be up to steam in 2007, which is why they were Sisco Nominees and not sleeper picks for the Cy Young. Those nominees were:

- Luke Hudson: As strange it may be to recall, people were pretty high on this obscure journeyman just a few months ago. Hudson had some horrible starts in 2006, but opened his season with a 3.16 ERA in July and a 4.02 ERA in September, with a season ERA of 4.85. Pretty much right on the dividing line between not-the-end-of-the-world and bad. Given Hudson's track record he could have been this year's Brian Bannister or this year's Odalis Perez.

- Joe Nelson: Nelson came out of obscurity to post a 4.43 ERA out of the 'pen in 2006 and had an ERA as low as 1.11 as late as August. Nelson did well in the vaunted closer's role, and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings against the Tigers in the season finale to boot. Like Hudson in many ways, Nelson really offered no reason to believe he might be an elite player, and he mixed long stretches of good pitching with a mostly disastrous month.

- Todd Wellemeyer: Stop me if you've heard this before: Wellemeyer emerged around mid-season as an effective pitcher for the Royals for short-stretches of time. Wellemeyer had worn many uniforms prior to donning the blue and white... Wellemeyer had a career year with the 2006 Royals, posting his best ERA+ ever, despite an awesome 1:1 K to BB ratio (33 of each). Still, we were pretty starved for guys that could get strikeouts back then (still are actually) so it all seemed pretty nice.

Last winter, I listed the pre-season odds as such:

The 2007 Andy Sisco Awards Final Breakdown:

Luke Hudson: 50%
Joe Nelson: 20%
Todd Wellemeyer: 15%
Someone Else: 15%

So what happened?

Well, Hudson and Nelson both got hurt and pitched a total of two innings combined for the Royals in 2007. (Hudson made four starts in AA and AAA combined, as well as a brief Royal cameo, Nelson didn't pitch at all.) While certainly disappointing, this isn't quite part of the Sisco path. Pitching like garbage is. In this way the question is akin to the old theological debate about whether God would rather punish us with annihilation or eternal torture. Nelson was the obliteration, with Sisco the hellfire.

Which brings us to Wellemeyer.

The many faces of Wellemeyer.

As both the Sisco Preview and numerous comments point out, no one was really excited about Welly, which meant he would have to be extraordinarily bad, possibly as a very regular player, to really snag the award. Back in 2005 we actually were excited about Andy Sisco and thought he was a major find for some guy named Allard Baird (remember him?). Not quite so with Welly.

Well, Wellemeyer was awful, but was he awful enough? I hate to go all subjective and BBWAA on ya, but he just doesn't feel like a Sisco Award winner to me, no matter what the fancy numbers say. Yes, the numbers are overwhelmingly bad: a 10.34 ERA as a Royal, but in just 15.7 innings. More than that, he was off the team after May 10th, which was before Sweeney's second DL stint of the year, before Buddy had ever buried Huber or hit Costa cleanup and before Gordo had pulled his average above .175. Thats too early a divorce to be a Sisco winner, because not enough damage had been done. As you will recall, Sisco lasted the entire 2006 campaign in that award-defining season, appearing in 65 games. Which, perhaps appropriately, brings us to the 2007 Award Winner:

The Winner of the 2007 Andy Sisco Award is Andy Sisco

The fact that the White Sox acquired Sisco via trade indicates they believed in him, at least a little bit. Many observers, myself included, believed that the bullpen would be one of the strengths of the ChiSox, with Sisco, MacDougal, Jenks, etc offering a variety of live-arms that Cooper and Ozzie would deploy wisely, ala 2005. Just like the Royals had done the year before, the White Sox saw the promise of Sisco's 2005 season. Moreover, many Royals fans, puzzled and annoyed by the Gload trade, remembered the promise of Sisco with perhaps too much ardor.

Instead, Andy posted an even worse than before ERA of 8.36, all in April and May, when the White Sox went a combined 24-25, serving notice that they would not be a contending team in 2007.

Because the 2006 Royals produced so few legitimate candidates for the Award, and because those that did were both inherently weak and hardly pitched at all, we should consider 2007 a special year. Almost like the 2000 Presidential Election, Robert Southey being named Poet Laureate, the year Steely Dan won Album of the Year at the Grammy's for Two Against Nature or that time Barry Larkin won the NL MVP, I am proud to name Andy Sisco the winner of the Andy Sisco Award.

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Who are the favorites for 2008? Please don't tell me Soria is one of them...

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