Is Happ the NL Rookie of the Year?

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After tossing seven innings of
one-run ball in a 4-1 win over the Mets on Saturday night, J.A. Happ
improved to 10-2 with a 2.59 ERA (4th in the NL) and 1.17 WHIP (10th).
He has the lowest earned run average by rookie pitcher since Hideo
Nomo’s 2.59 ERA mark in 1995. Even more impressive,
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com found
that only 10 rookie pitchers in the past 50 years have finished the
season with an ERA lower than the 26-year-old southpaw. From a
franchise perspective, the last Phillies rookie have an ERA lower than
Happ’s was Eppa Rixley (2.50) in 1912.




Now, it must be pointed out that has
gotten a bit lucky behind a .225 batting average against aided by a
.251 BABIP. He has held the opposition to a .125 clip with runners in
scoring position, resulting in a stingy 85.7% strand rate (nearly 16
points above the league average). Naturally, it’s no surprise to see
his FIP sitting at 4.15. But while the one-time ROY favorite Colby
Rasmus has faded over the last two months (.230 with six homers and 13
RBI), Happ has pitched his best ball of the year (5-2 with a 2.20 ERA
over his last 10 starts).




Here’s a quick look at the top National League rookies (batters & pitchers) according to VORP:



1. J.A. Happ (PHI) – 44.9

2. Randy Wells (CHC) – 32.4

3. Dexter Fowler (COL) – 22.6

4. Tommy Hanson (ATL) – 22.6

5. Garrett Jones (PIT) – 22.5

6. Andrew McCutchen (PIT) – 20.2

7. Seth Smith (COL) – 20.1

8. Brian Sanches (FLA) – 18.5

9. Everth Cabrera (SD) – 17.9

10. Casey McGehee (MIL) – 17.7



Wells (9-6, 2.84 ERA) is easily
Happ’s biggest competition at this point, and certainly deserves
consideration regardless of whether the Cubs make the playoffs, but if
the Phillies lock down another NL East crown, I just can’t see the
Rookie of the Year award going to anybody else.




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Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.