Tag Archives: Rookie of the Year

NL Rookie of the Year Review

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

Chris Coghlan
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.

J.A. Happ
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.

Tommy Hanson
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.

Andrew McCutchen
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.

Casey McGehee
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.

Randy Wells
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.

Garrett Jones
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.

AL Rookie of the Year Review

Andrew Bailey was announced as the winner of the American League Rookie of the Year for 2009 yesterday.

In my predictions, I thought Bailey would win the award, but it was a lot closer than I thought it would be. The voting (first place in parentheses):

Bailey – 88 votes (13)
Elvis Andrus – 65 (8)
Rick Porcello – 64 (7)
Jeff Niemann – 21
Gordon Beckham – 10
Brett Anderson – 4

Andrew Bailey
Andrew spent the majority of the 2009 season as the closer for the A’s, and was 26-for-30 in save opportunities this year. But his dominance is better illustrated in his other stats: 1.84 ERA, 91 strikeouts, a .167 opponents batting average, and a 0.88 WHIP.  His numbers were extremely comparable to the elite players at his position:

Bailey: 1.84 ERA, 91 K, .167 Opp BA, 0.88 WHIP, 26 saves
Mariano Rivera: 1.76 ERA, 72 K, .197 Opp BA, 0.91 WHIP, 44 saves
Joe Nathan: 2.10 ERA, 89 K, .171 Opp BA, 0.93 WHIP, 47 saves

Bear in mind, that Bailey did not take over the closer role until early May, and could potentially have had a lot more saves on a more competitive team. Digging in a little deeper, there are a couple of concerns I have for the next season.

Bailey’s Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was a very low .234. Those same comps had .252 (Nathan), and .263 (Rivera), so I would be inclined to believe that some form of correction to the mean may occur next season. His Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) number was 2.56, almost a full run higher than his actual era. Again, not a huge problem necessarily for a reliever, but something to keep an eye on.

So, how did his competitors fare last season?

Elvis Andrus

Andrus was named the starting shortstop for the Rangers prior to the season. The Rangers thought so highly of him that they asked All-Star SS Michael Young to switch to 3B. Andrus definitely did not disappoint. He hit to the tune of .267/.329/.373 with 72 runs, 6 hr, and 33 sb. Andrus was also no slouch with the glove, as he compiled a 10.7 UZR rating at SS. A very good rookie season.

Rick Porcello
Porcello joined the Tigers out of spring training, and made the rotation. This was a huge surprise, considering that he had only pitched one year in the minors, and it was in A-ball at that. However, he made a very strong impact, compiling a 14-9 record with a 3.96 era, 89 strikeouts, and a 1.34 whip. They believed in him so heavily, in fact, that he was the choice to start the play-in game against the Twins on 10/6. Porcello should be a very good major league pitcher for years to come.

Jeff Niemann
Niemann made the Rays rotation out of spring training, after having a couple of starts in 2008. With a 13-6 record, Niemann was one of the few pitchers that the Rays could rely on throughout the season. He gave the Rays 180 innings, while compiling a 3.94 era, 1.35 whip, and 125 strikeouts. I frankly thought that Niemann would finish ahead of Porcello, but that could be partially due to Porcello pitching meaningful games in October. Niemann will be a solid #2-3 anchor for the Rays rotation in a system that is full of top-level pitching.

Gordon Beckham
Beckham was called up in May, and was the first player from the 2008 draft to have a meaningful impact in the Majors. He posted a very solid .270/.360/.477 line, with 14 homers, 58 rbi, and 7 steals. All while learning a new position in the major leagues. While he had some of the better stats of the season, I felt that he should be discounted slightly due to not being up for the whole season. Not really his fault, but that’s how it goes. Beckham will have another transition to make next season, as the White Sox announced that he would be moving to 2B to accommodate newly acquired Mark Teahen.

Brett Anderson
Anderson spent the whole season in the A’s rotation, and posted a respectable 11-10 record on a bad team. He really came on in the second half, going 6-4 with a 3.48 era, 86 strikeouts, and a 1.19 whip. If he puts together a full season like his second half, he’s going to be a very, very good pitcher for a long time.

Overall, this year’s AL rookie class was one of the strongest. Especially when you consider that the two top rookies in the AL at the beginning of the season aren’t here either. (Matt Wieters, David Price). This whole group should be interesting to watch for years to come.

My Award Winners for 2009

AL MVP – Joe Mauer (C – MIN)

Joe Mauer didn’t play in 24 games (almost a month worth), and still did this:

  • led the majors in batting average (.365)
  • led the majors in on-base percentage (.444)
  • led the AL in slugging (.587)
  • finished second in the majors in OPS (1.031), behind Albert Pujols
  • hit 28 homers, drove in 96 runs, and had 191 hits
  • pieced together a pitching staff decimated by injuries and inconsistency
  • helped lead his team to a division title

No way Minnesota gets where they did without him.

AL Cy Young – Zack Greinke (SP – KC)

Yes, he pitched for a bad team. But the award isn’t given to the best pitcher on a good team.
Zack Greinke:

  • led the majors in ERA (2.16)
  • led the AL in WHIP (1.07)
  • second in the AL in strikeouts (242)
  • Tied for third in the AL in wins (16)
  • second in the AL in complete games (6) and shutouts (3)
  • has 26 quality starts (out of 33)
  • could have had more wins potentially – in his 8 losses he got 15 runs of support, including being on the losing end of a 1-0 and a 2-0 loss.

A truly dominant pitcher throughout the year, in spite of his team’s struggles.

AL Rookie of the Year – Andrew Bailey (RP – OAK)
Andrew was an afterthought in the A’s bullpen at the start of this year, and came out with some very dominant numbers. He took over the closer role early on in the season, and never gave it up.

  • 1.84 ERA
  • 26 saves
  • 91 strikeouts in 83 innings

Yes, I’m biased towards the A’s. But I don’t think that Gordon Beckham coming up until June gives him a better shot at this award.

NL MVP – Albert Pujols (1B – STL)

Do I need to even explain this one?

  • 1st in NL in OBP (.443)
  • 1st in Majors in Slugging Percentage (.658)
  • 1st in Majors in OPS (1.101)
  • 1st in Majors in Runs (124)
  • 1st in Majors in Total Bases (374)
  • 1st in Majors in Homers (47)
  • 2nd in Majors in RBI (135)

And he led his team to the playoffs. Without any particular backing in the lineup until the arrival of Matt Holliday. We’re all going to look back in 20 years and marvel at how much better Albert Pujols was than every other player in this generation.

NL Cy Young – Tim Lincecum (SP – SF)

I actually saw Lincecum pitch against Philadelphia on August 1st. He was dominant that night, striking out 8 and scattering 7 hits in a 2-0 win.

  • Led the majors in strikeouts (261)
  • 3rd in the majors in ERA (2.48)
  • 4th in the majors in WHIP (1.05)
  • 1st in NL in Complete Games (4) and Shutouts (2)
  • 23 quality starts (out of 32)
  • Got a no-decision or a loss in 10 of those quality starts

He appears to me that in spite of his team, he pitched ridiculously well.

NL Rookie of the Year – Andrew McCutchen (OF – PIT)
When I first started writing this, I had Chris Coghlan down as my rookie of the year. But after looking at McCutchen’s stats, I was surprised at how much better they appeared than Coghlan’s.

  • 12 homers (Coghlan 9)
  • 22 steals (Coghlan 8)
  • 54 rbi (Coghlan 47)

And those are with a month less. (Coghlan was called up early in May, McCutchen in June). Coghlan definitely outhit McCutchen overall (Coghlan – .321, McCutchen – .286). It’s very close, and I think that McCutchen had a slightly better rookie season. But honestly, either choice would be a good one.