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

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.