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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Danny Espinosa reportedly skipped Nationals Winterfest because of Adam Eaton

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Danny Espinosa #8 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after teammate Chris Heisey #14 (not pictured) hits a two run home run in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.

A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.

Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.

Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.

Nick Cafardo: Red Sox should deal Pomeranz, not Buchholz

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on September 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-4. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.

The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.

Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.

Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.