First-third awards – NL Rookie of the Year

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I’m tempted to just skip this one, as no one is worth of the honor. Not
one NL rookie pitcher ranks in the league’s top 40 in innings pitched.
Here are the ERAs of everyone to have made at least seven starts:

Kenshin Kawakami – 4.63 ERA in 58 1/3 IP
Josh Geer – 5.44 ERA in 48 IP
Shairon Martis – 5.62 ERA in 57 2/3 IP
Jordan Zimmermann – 5.71 ERA in 52 IP
Felipe Paulino – 6.21 ERA in 42 IP

That’s it. But it’s no less impressive than the list of position players. Here’s the top 10, according to VORP.

1. Joe Thurston – 7.3
2. Ryan Roberts – 7.3
3. Ryan Hanigan – 5.1
4. Edwin Maysonet – 4.9
5. Jason Jaramillo – 4.7
6. Micah Hoffpauir – 3.7
7. Dexter Fowler – 3.6
8. Drew Macias – 3.4
9. Colby Rasmus – 3.3
10. Tyler Greene – 2.9

That 7.3 figure puts Thurston 57th overall among NL position
players. Seth Smith comes out a little higher at 7.8, but he doesn’t
technically qualify as a rookie after spending too much of last season
on Colorado’s bench.

Fowler does deserve additional credit for his defense, but he’s been
a well below average regular since his five-steal game made headlines
in late April.

So, basically, the NL Rookie of the Year candidates through one-third of the season are mostly relievers.

The top pitchers, according to VORP.

1. J.A. Happ – 14.1
2. Randy Wells – 13.3
3. Mark DiFelice – 11.6
4. Ronald Belisario – 10.6
5. Juan Gutierrez – 9.0
6. Luke Gregerson – 8.2
7. Jason Motte – 7.2
8. Dan Meyer – 6.9
9. Bobby Parnell – 6.4
10. Jesse Chavez – 6.3

Ramon Troncoso is ineligible because of the time he spent in the majors last year.

I prefer Happ for the rest of the season, but I think Wells deserves
the nod here, even if he’s gone 0-2 while posting a 1.69 ERA in his
five starts. He allowed three runs over seven innings in his worst
outing to date, and it’s hardly his fault that Kevin Gregg and Aaron
Heilman keep letting him down.

First-third NL Rookie of the Year

1. Wells
2. Happ
3. Fowler

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

billy beane getty

I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.