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.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).