Posted by Brady
Last year’s award season was pretty cut and dry. 3 of the award winners were known without even thinking. Mauer. Pujols. Greinke. No question, no issue, no need to second guess. This year, there are no sure things. Especially when it comes to the American League rookies. There are a few guidelines when deciding on the Rookie of The Year. 130 at bats or 50 innings pitched. The qualifications are simple enough, but, what do you vote for?
Results? What you see on the field. The quantifiable, visible, obvious contributions. Hits, steals, strikeouts, home runs, batting average, shutouts.
Or ability? The things that you can’t quite see, but it makes a player special. UZR, BABIP, FIP, blah, blah, blah.
I don’t really know how to answer that question, but, I do know this: Only a few rookies have really stepped up, and made the most of their first full year in the big leagues.
Netali Feliz, as of right now, is my favorite to win the Rookie of The Year award. No matter what baseball belief system you subscribe to Feliz is impressive. His fastball whizzes by at about 96 mph, and his change up loose 10 mph. Add that to a curve ball that goes 80. His slow stuff is fast. And it’s not just what he does with his pitches, its that hitters don’t hit him. His WHIP is at a staggeringly low 0.966. His 34 saves shouldn’t hurt him. What could hurt him? Andrew Bailey, another closer won last year.
Not A Bad Choice
Austin Jackson, the young center fielder who came over to Detroit in exchange for Curtis Granderson, is tied with Carl Crawford with 8 triples in the American League. He has speed to boot, with 21 stolen bases. He leads all
American League rookies (who qualify in batting average)at .305. But a lot of that is luck. He’s riding a .417 BABIP, and he’s leading the AL in strikeouts. He’s a solid defender posting a UZR of 1.6 in center field. He’s come back down to Earth after a start that nobody had ever seen before, and everybody knew it wouldn’t last. But, back to Earth for Austin Jackson is still impressive.
A Very Dark Horse
The Twins seemed to have found their long term man at the hot corner in Danny Valencia. He is doing everything that Austin Jackson is doing, including posting a better WAR (2.1 for Jackson, 2.2 for Valencia) and he’s done it in fewer plate appearances. Every time he comes up he hits the ball hard. Almost 30% of hits hits have
been for extra bases. He hasn’t been up very long, but he is absolutely raking. .332/.375/.447. Not only that, but, there are a lot of cool things about him. His first big league home run? A grand slam. Off Zack Greinke. To the opposite field. His second home run? it broke up a duel shut out between Scott Baker and Jered Weaver. And that’s it for the young third sacker, as far as home runs go. The power is there. In the minors he defintley flashed a big stick from time to time. But, not only is there potential power, he flashes the leather quite well. UZR of 5.1. He hasn’t shown any signs of cooling down either. If Valencia can continue this incredible hot streak through the rest of the season, he’ll end up with about 360 plate appearances. If he is still batting around .320 at that time, it is going to be very hard to vote against this young man.