Craig took issue with Jon Heyman’s MVP ballot earlier this afternoon. I’m not really looking to pile on here, but I was just as disturbed by Heyman’s choice for AL Rookie of the Year:
1. Jordan Walden, Angels RP. This 100-mph thrower has 26 saves for pennant contender.
Walden already got a nod to the AL All-Star team because of that big fastball. Can we just leave it at that?
Walden’s 26 saves rank tied for 17th in the majors. His nine blown saves, on the other hand, rank first in the majors. Carlos Marmol and Matt Capps are next with eight.
Now, Walden has pitched better than that. A couple of those blown saves have been pretty cheap, and the Angels have won four of the nine games in which he’s been charged with blown saves.
Still, the only reason anyone would notice Walden as a ROY candidate is because he’s a closer, and the fact it that he hasn’t been all that good at closing. Among rookie relievers alone, Chris Sale, Aaron Crow, Vinnie Pestano and Greg Holland have been about as valuable as Walden.
The way I see it the AL Rookie of the Year candidates are Jeremy Hellickson (11-9, 3.01 ERA), Michael Pineda (9-8, 3.71 ERA), Ivan Nova (14-4, 3.96 ERA) and Mark Trumbo (.256/.294/.475). Arguing for anyone else just doesn’t make much sense, and Heyman is way, way overvaluing the closer’s role if he’s honestly putting Walden first and then not rounding out his ballot with Sale and Crow or Pestano.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: