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

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.