Happy holiday season!

Every year at this time we do some supplemental, statistically-driven MLB awards. These will salute some of the leaders in specific areas of our recordkeeping. Here are the 2023 winners:

The Hard Hitter Award

Sports Info Solutions charts every batted ball as hard-, medium- or soft-hit, based on the ball’s location and velocity (note that this differs from how Statcast tracks hard-hit rate).

The winner of the Hard-Hitter Award is the player who had the highest percentage of batted balls that were hard-hit among batters with a minimum of 350 plate appearances in 2023.

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge won the award for the 2nd straight year, recording a hard-hit ball in 53.8% of his at-bats. No one else reached 50%. J.D. Martinez (49.0%), Corey Seager (48.4%), Ronald Acuña Jr. (46.1%), and Yordan Álvarez (45.0%) ranked 2nd through 5th. For those curious, recent Dodgers signee Shohei Ohtani ranked 8th (42.9%).

The top 5 teams were the Braves (38.3%), Rangers (36.7%), Rockies (34.8%), Cardinals (34.6%), and Dodgers (34.5%).

The Contact Minimizer Award

The Contact Minimizer goes to the pitcher who most limited hard contact in 2023 (minimum 100 innings pitched).

The winner was Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, who allowed a hard-hit ball in 24.9% of at-bats against him. He was followed by Nick Martinez (25.1%), Kyle Bradish (26.9%), Mike Clevinger (26.9%), and Justin Steele (27.8%). Perhaps the most interesting finish was Zack Greinke placing 9th (29.0%) despite posting a 5.06 ERA in 2023.

The team leaders were the Padres (29.6%), Orioles (31.0%), Mariners (31.0%), Mets (31.0%), Phillies (31.3%), and Cubs (31.3%).

The Flat Bat Award

The Flat Bat Award is given annually to the best bunter of the year. To determine the winner, we look at run value–run expectancy gained or lost–for both successful and unsuccessful sacrifice bunt and bunt-for-hit attempts for each player.

The runaway leader this year was Reds outfielder T.J. Friedl, who had an MLB-best 17 bunt hits (against 5 failed attempts) and 8 successful sacrifices (versus 1 failed sacrifice).

The runner-up for the 2nd straight year was Blue Jays outfielder Daulton Varsho, who had 11 bunt hits (5 failed attempts) and 1 sacrifice (no failed attempts).

Click here to read about the methodology behind the Flat Bat Award.

The Vacuum Cleaner Award

SIS Video Scouts also track what are known as “Good Fielding Plays,” which are often those that lead to the unlikely recording of an out. Those can be broken up into different subtypes, including one just for groundballs. The leader in Good Fielding Plays on groundballs is the winner of our Vacuum Cleaner Award.

This year’s winners are Guardians second baseman Andrés Giménez, and Mets first baseman Pete Alonso. Each had 19 such Good Fielding Plays, one more than Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner and Brewers/Pirates first baseman Carlos Santana. Giménez was rewarded at season’s end with a Fielding Bible Award and the Platinum Glove Award.

 The Fly Swatter Award

The Fly Swatter Award is a similar award to The Vacuum Cleaner, except it’s for Good Fielding Plays resulting in outs on fly balls and line drives.

This year’s winners were Rockies center fielder Brenton Doyle and Cardinals outfielder/infielder Tommy Edman, who each had 17 Good Fielding Plays on flies and liners. That’s one more than Blue Jays outfielder George Springer. Doyle won a Gold Glove Award this season and finished 2nd to Kevin Kiermaier in Fielding Bible Award voting for center field.

Stolen Base Stopper

The award for the Stolen Base Stopper goes to the catcher and pitcher who had the most Stolen Base Runs Saved in 2023. This year’s winners were Diamondbacks catcher Gabriel Moreno (7 Stolen Base Runs Saved) and Mets pitcher David Peterson  (4 Stolen Base Runs Saved).

Moreno threw out 21 baserunners and had 2 pickoffs, netting a caught stealing percentage of 38% in a season in which it became much more challenging to throw out potential basestealers. That was a big reason why he won the Fielding Bible Award as baseball’s best defensive catcher.

Peterson allowed 4 stolen bases, but his catchers caught 2 would-be basestealers and he caught 3 himself. He also had 3 successful pickoffs.

 The Hall of Framer

The Hall of Framer award goes to the catcher who had the best pitch-framing numbers in 2023. In our world, that means the catcher who had the most called strikes above expectations (Strike Zone Plus-Minus).

We split this award between 2 catchers. Francisco Álvarez of the Mets had an MLB-leading 92 more called strikes than expected. So did Pirates and Rangers catcher Austin Hedges, who had the most on a per-pitch basis (1.82 per 100 pitches).

To learn more about our pitch-framing methodology, read the paper from our award-winning presentation at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.