Rookies of the Year to be announced today

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Bobby Crosby. Bob Hamelin. Jason Jennings. Kazuhiro Sasaki.  Immortals all, each of whom got their start with the Rookie of the Year Award.  Who will join their esteemed ranks today, as the major post season awards begin to be rolled out?

AL:  Multiple candidates here. Elvis Andrus probably deserved a Gold Glove this year. And though his bat wasn’t anything to write home about, it wasn’t an embarrassment, and at 21 there is every reason to expect a bright future. But the Rookie of the Year Award is less about projectablitiy than it is about what happened in year one.  Rick Porcello is just as young and just as projectable as Andrus, but probably had a better season in a playoff race.  Gordon Beckham overcame his own manager’s initial reluctance to play him and, before it was said and done, was about the only reliable guy in the lineup.

Beckham has won a couple of non-BBWAA rookie awards so far this postseason. If I had to bet, I’d say he takes home the official Rookie of the Year Award as well.  None of those three would be a bad choice.

UPDATE: I somehow left Andrew Bailey out of this discussion. Aaron’s smarter than me about these things anyway, so you should probably just read his post. I still think they’ll give it to Beckham, though.

NL: Four guys have an argument: Tommy Hanson, J.A. Happ, Andrew McCutchen and Chris Coghlan.  Because the latter two get way less attention due to their Pittsburghality and Floridaness, I think it will come down to the two pitchers.  Happ and Hanson had a similar number of innings and a similar ERA, but Happ was up earlier and pitched from the pen some, which may make him seem more valuable and versatile and all of that to the voters.

I’d clearly want Hanson long term — better arm, better stuff — but I think Happ probably gets it by virtue of the key role he played on a division winner (remember: the votes came in before the playoffs started, so the postseason doesn’t enter into it).

Overall, there’s always way less to argue about with the Rookie of the Year Award than there is with the other awards that’ll come out in the next eight days. None of the folks mentioned here will be silly choices. Indeed, hardly any Rookie of the Year choices ever seem silly at the time.  As the Hamelin and Sasaki choices show, It takes some years for the true humor to reveal itself.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.