Chris Coghlan was announced as the winner of the National League Rookie of the Year award for 2009 yesterday.
In my predictions, I noted that I thought Andrew McCutchen would win, but that it wouldn’t surprise me if Coghlan won instead. The voting for this award was much more spread out than its AL counterpart:
Votes (first place)
Coghlan – 105 (17)
J.A. Happ – 94 (10)
Tommy Hanson – 37 (2)
Andrew McCutchen – 25 (2)
Casey McGehee – 18 (1)
Randy Wells – 3
Garrett Jones – 2
Everth Cabrera, Dexter Fowler, Gerardo Parra, Colby Rasmus – 1 each
Coghlan joined the Marlins on May 8th, and from there just hit and hit and hit. In 128 games, he hit .321/.390/.460, with 9 homers, 8 steals, and 84 runs scored. This while also learning a new position (LF) that he had never played before. While there were definite growing pains associated with learning this new position, Coghlan’s bat more than made up for it. He should only get better as he matures.
Happ really made a huge impact this season, making the roster in the bullpen out of spring training, and when injuries hit transitioning into a starting role. He finished the year with a 12-4 record, a 2.93 era, 3 complete games (2 shutouts), and a 1.24 whip. I doubt highly that the Phillies would have made the postseason if not for the contributions of Happ. Apparently I had completely forgotten about him when making my predictions, because he would definitely have been ahead of McCutchen had I remembered.
Hanson did not make his debut until June 7th, but it was definitely worth the wait. He finished the season with an 11-4 record, a 2.89 era, a 1.18 whip, and 116 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings. Hanson is the next great Braves starter, and I am really looking forward to what he can do in a full season. A player that I discounted somewhat because of not being up for the full season, but probably should have included as well.
McCutchen did not debut until early June either, but went on a tear once he was there. He finished with a .286/.365/.471 line with 12 homers, 54 rbi, 22 steals, and 74 runs. While the trade of Nate McLouth was extremely unpopular with Pirate fans, it allowed them to really showcase McCutchen, who didn’t disappoint. I think that he would have won this award hands down if he had been up for the full season. He’s going to be really interesting to watch, and hope that the Pirates can keep him long term.
McGehee was actually put on waivers at the end of last season by the Cubs, and they are going to regret letting him go. The Brewers used him as a sort of super-utility, trying to get his bat in the lineup while trying him at multiple positions. He played 2B, 3B, and even 1B for them last season, while hitting the cover off the ball to the tune of .301/.360/.499 with 16 homers and 66 rbi. Hopefully next season the Brewers will pick one position to let him play, and leave him there. But that could prove interesting with the return of Rickie Weeks, and the promotion of top prospect Mat Gamel.
Wells did well this season, and really helped to solidify the Cubs rotation. He compiled a 12-10 record, with a 3.05 era, 1.28 whip, and 104 strikeouts in 165 1/3 innings. Originally drafted as a rule 5 player by the Blue Jays, he was returned to the Cubs during the 2008 season. While the season for the Cubs was lost, Wells was a bright spot on an otherwise poor starting rotation.
Jones was never really considered a top flight prospect, especially since he was 27 when he was called up for his first real length of time in the majors. But he hit. .293/.372/.567 with 21 homers in just 82 games. While it remains to be seen what he can do with a full season, he should be very interesting to watch, especially since he is likely to get consistent playing time in 2010.
Overall, another group where not every top prospect made an impact. At the beginning of the season, Rasmus, Hanson, Fowler, and Cameron Maybin were all mentioned as top candidates, and only Hanson really had a showing worthy of the award.