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

Stephen Strasburg unlikely to pitch in the NLDS

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals walks off the field after an injury in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday that starter Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the NLDS against the Dodgers, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic reports. Strasburg hasn’t pitched since September 7 due to a strained flexor mass.

Strasburg was pitching well before a few poor starts prior to being shut down in August. He currently holds a 3.60 ERA with a 183/44 K/BB ratio in 147 2/3 innings.

The Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension in May. This was obviously not how they invisioned his 2016 campaign going.

A.J. Cole fined, suspended five games for throwing at Jung Ho Kang

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Home plate umpire Jordan Baker ejects A.J. Cole #22 of the Washington Nationals in the third inning during the game at PNC Park on September 25, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Nationals starter A.J. Cole has been fined an undisclosed amount and suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally throwing at Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Cole is appealing his suspension.

Kang faked a tag on Bryce Harper, who was coming into third base on a triple. The fake-out caused Harper to slide awkwardly, injuring his left thumb. The Nationals took exception to this and Cole threw a fastball that ended sailing behind Kang’s back during his next at-bat. Cole was ejected and both benches emptied. There was some yelling and some light pushing and shoving, but nothing beyond that.

Cole will remain active until his appeal is heard, which may allow him to make one more start before the end of the regular season. He’s carrying a 5.09 ERA with a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 35 1/3 innings over seven starts this season.