Revisiting the NL ROY race

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Though there isn’t much drama in the
National League’s divisional races, the field for the Rookie of the
Year Award is more competitive than at any point this season. Last
month, I favored southpaw J.A. Happ for the award with Randy Wells as his closest competition
down the stretch.




Here’s just a few of the notable performers since my last check-in:



J.A. Happ



Season: 10-4 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.19 WHIP):



Since August 23: 0-2 with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP over three starts.



Happ missed two starts with an
oblique injury. He was pulled from Friday’s start for precautionary
reasons, but should be fine for his next start. Some individual
hardware would be
nice, but the Phillies clearly have the bigger picture in mind.



Randy Wells



Season: 10-9 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.28 WHIP



Since August 23: 1-3 with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP over five starts



Wells has been uncharacteristically
wild of late, walking 14 batters over his last 26 2/3 innings,
including a career-high five in a 7-4 loss to the Brewers last week.




Tommy Hanson



Season: 10-3 with a 2.65 ERA and 1.18 WHIP)



Since August 23: 1-1 with a 0.82 ERA and 0.86 WHIP over four starts



While the other favorites have
faded, Hanson has pitched some his best baseball recently, having gone
17 innings without allowing a run, including back-to-back scoreless
outings against the Astros and Mets.




Chris Coghlan



Season: .310/.380/.450 with nine homers, 42 RBI and 74 runs scored



Since August 23: .381/.431/.558 with two homers, eight RBI and 22 runs scored in 113 at-bats



Coghlan already created quite a buzz
last month with a 12-game hitting streak, including eight straight
mulit-hit games, but his recent success has vaulted him into serious
ROY consideration. Coghlan leads the majors with 30 hits in September.
Only Derrek Lee (19) has scored more runs than Coghlan (17) this month.




Here’s the National League rookies ranked by VORP (batters and pitchers):



1) Happ (PHI) – 46.2

2) Hanson (ATL) – 33.5

3) Wells (CHC) – 30.2

4) Garrett Jones (PIT) – 28.5

5) Coghlan (FLA) – 27.9

6) Casey McGehee (MIL) – 26.0

7) Andrew McCutchen  (PIT) – 23.5

8) Ronald Belisario (LAD) – 22.4

9) Dexter Fowler (COL) – 20.4

10) Everth Cabrera (SD) – 20.1



Many people forget that Jones leads
all major league rookies with 19 home runs. As you can see, Happ still
looks like the heavy favorite, in large part because of the three
complete games and his strong showing as a reliever (2.49 ERA and 1.06
WHIP in 21 2/3 innings) before joining the rotation. While Coghlan is
an intriguing spark plug at the top of the Marlins lineup, I view
Hanson as the biggest threat to Happ at this point, especially if the
Phillies continue to be cautious in preparation for the postseason. But with only a couple of starts left after Sunday, Hanson is running out of time to make his mark.




If you still think there’s still a little room for some baseball talk on this football Sunday, feel free to follow me on Twitter.

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday

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This Sunday three players will be honored in Cooperstown as Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez become the 313th, 314th and 315th members inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Executives Bud Selig and John Schuerholz will be inducted as well, making it 316 and 317.

Raines was quite possibly the NL’s best player in a five-year span from 1983-87.  WAR thinks so, placing him ahead of Mike Schmidt, Tony Gwynn and Dale Murphy, all of whom got more plaudits at the time. Raines hit .318/.406/.467 during that period and averaged 114 runs scored and 71 steals per year. During those five years, only Rickey Henderson scored more runs (572-568) and only Wade Boggs had a better OBP (.443 to .406). That Raines had to wait until his last year of eligibility was in large part due to him being a very similar player to Henderson. Which is kind of an unfair comparison — Henderson is one of the best players of all time — but that’s how the voters operate sometimes.

Bagwell likewise had to wait a bit longer than he should’ve, mostly due to thus far evidence-free beliefs that he used PEDs. On the merits, Bagwell was one of the best first basemen of all time, with a career line of .297/.408/.540, 449 homers and 1,529 RBI. Between 1994 and 2001, he averaged — averaged! — a line of .306/.428/.589, 37 homers and 120 RBI while playing in perhaps the worst hitters park in history in the Astrodome.

People whispered about Rodriguez and PEDs just as much as they did Bagwell, but he got in on the first ballot, suggesting that the BBWAA is getting over its hangups. He is also clearly deserving of induction. Rodriguez, the 1999 AL MVP, was named to 14 All-Star teams and he won 13 Gold Gloves. He finished his career with a .296/.334/.464 line, 311 homers and 1,332 RBI. His 2,427 games caught is a major league record. He was, without question, the best defensive catcher of his era and many believe he was the best of all time. If he’s not, he’s in the top two or three.

As for the executives: we’re long on record as believing that Bud Selig’s induction is a disgrace. It was nonetheless a foregone conclusion, as the Hall of Fame has tended to view induction as part of retiring commissioners’ severance package. If there was any remaining doubt about him getting in, the fact that the committee which elected Selig was, more or less, hand-picked by people loyal to Selig and/or Major League Baseball put it to rest.  John Schuerholz is clearly deserving as he was one of the top executives of the past half century, starting out with the Orioles and then building winners in both Kansas City and Atlanta, sustaining those organizations’ success for far longer periods than most teams experience it.

Beyond those two, ESPN’s Claire Smith will be on the stage to accept the 2017 J. G. Taylor Spink Award, given to baseball writers. She is the first woman to be given baseball writing’s highest honor.  Athletics broadcaster will be honored as the Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting. Smith passed away in 2005.

The ceremony will be held on a big lawn a mile south of the Hall of Fame. If you’re in the neighborhood, admission is free and lawn chairs and blankets and things are welcome. If you’re not in the neighborhood, the festivities will be broadcast live on MLB Network and will be shown via webcast at http://www.baseballhall.org.

Aaron Judge broke a tooth celebrating the Yankees walkoff win

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Brett Gardner hit a walkoff homer last night, giving the Yankees a dramatic 11-inning win. A grand celebration ensued. And then a trip to the dentist presumably ensured for Aaron Judge.

Seems that Judge broke a tooth during the scrum, as Gardner’s helmet — which was bouncing around, not on Gardner’s head — bounced up and smacked Judge in the mouth. Judge quickly went to the clubhouse and wasn’t available for comment afterward. If he was, he likely would’ve said “Thith wath a great win. Gardner juth looked for hith pitch and put a good thwing on it.”

Judge is expected to make the start tonight for the Yankees.