Midseason Awards: AL Rookie of the Year

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The AL ROY class looks a little stronger now than it did a third of the way through the season, when I had Rick Porcello edging out Elvis Andrus
for the top spot, but it’s all because of the pitchers. The rookie
position players have been a truly dreadful lot. According to VORP, not one AL rookie hitter has been worth one win over a replacement player:

1. Brett Gardner – 8.9
2. Elvis Andrus – 6.5
3. Nolan Reimold – 5.8
4. Oscar Salazar – 5.7
5. Clete Thomas – 5.3

Salazar made the list based on all of 33 plate appearances. VORP
doesn’t account for what Gardner and especially Andrus have done
defensively, but it’s still an exceptionally weak class.

Matt Wieters, for what it’s worth, currently comes in at 2.5. Gordon Beckham is at 2.7.

So, any current AL ROY ballot has to be comprised entirely of
pitchers. Fortunately, there are some nice ones to choose from. Let’s
start with VORP, in order to fairly compare them with the hitters:

1. Ricky Romero – 27.7
2. Brad Bergesen – 24.5
3. Andrew Bailey – 21.3
4. Scott Richmond – 18.0
5. Jeff Niemann – 17.7
6. Alfredo Aceves – 14.6
7. Josh Outman – 13.2
8. Sean White – 12.3
9. Darren O’Day – 12.3
10. Rick Porcello – 11.9

Porcello can still figure into the race, but a run of short, mediocre outings have hurt his candidacy.

Moving on to the more traditional numbers of the top five candidates:

Romero – 7-3, 3.00 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 69/30 K/BB in 87 IP
Bergesen – 6-4, 3.54 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 53/25 K/BB in 104 1/3 IP
Niemann – 8-4, 3.73 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 52/38 K/BB in 91 2/3 IP
Richmond – 6-5, 3.69 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 71/30 K/BB in 85 1/3 IP

Bailey – 4-1, 10 Sv, 1.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 60/19 K/BB in 51 2/3 IP

Richmond has pretty much matched Romero aside from ERA, but the runs
are what matter and Richmond has allowed eight more (six of them
earned). It looks like VORP has the top three correct: Romero, Bergesen
and Bailey in some order.

In comparing Romero and Bergersen, Bergesen has advantages in
quantity and in strength of schedule. He’s also amassed his numbers in
front of a weaker defense. Romero’s remaining advantage is that he’s
given up no unearned runs to Bergesen’s three. I think Bergesen’s
performance rates the edge, though I definitely prefer Romero for the
rest of the season.

Bailey is currently on pace to throw 97 innings, and he’s dragged
his ERA back under 2.00 while working on a string of 11 straight
scoreless appearances. What does need to be held against him is that
he’s blown four saves, three of which have resulted in losses for the
A’s. He wasn’t a closer early on, so it’s not at all fair to judge him
on his 71-percent save percentage. Also, two of his blown saves came in
games in which he didn’t give up a run. Still, I don’t think he’s been
quite as valuable as Romero and Bergesen. It’s close, but I’m placing
him third.

Midseason AL ROY

1. Bergesen
2. Romero
3. Bailey

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.