Bryce Harper was named the National League Rookie of the Year this evening by the BBWAA, beating out finalists Wade Miley and Todd Frazier. He received 16 first-place votes compared to 12 for Miley, three for Frazier and one for Wilin Rosario. It was a very close vote, as Harper and Miley were ultimately separated by just seven points. It would have been even closer if Miley wasn’t left off one ballot.
Mike Trout winning the American League Rookie of the Year has been a foregone conclusion for months now, but there was actually a bit of uncertainty in the National League coming into today, as there wasn’t really a bad choice among the field. However, voters ultimately went with Harper, who delivered a historic season relative to his age. In fact, only Dwight Gooden was younger — by one month — when he won the Rookie of the Year award in 1984.
While Harper didn’t make his major league debut until April 28 in Los Angeles, he ended up living up to the considerable hype by putting together one of the best seasons ever for a 19-year-old. The 2010 No. 1 overall pick batted .270/.340/.477 with 22 home runs, 59 RBI, 18 stolen bases and an .817 OPS for the National League East champion Nationals while playing excellent defense in the outfield and winning over fans and his peers with his all-out style of play. Oh, and he also had one of the more memorable quotes of the year. Harper hit a bit of a wall during the dog days of July and August, opening the door for the likes of Frazier and Miley to take home the ROY, but he finished strong by hitting .341 with 10 home runs and a 1.098 OPS over his final 34 games.
As noted by our own Aaron Gleeman last month, here’s where Harper ranks compared to the best age-19 seasons of all-time:
Total bases (254): 1st
Extra-base hits (57): 1st
Runs (98): 2nd
Homers (22): 2nd
Doubles (26): 2nd
Walks (56): 2nd
Steals (18): 2nd
Slugging percentage (.477): 3rd
OPS (.817): 3rd
Plate appearances (597): 4th
Hits (144): 4th
Triples (9): 4th
Games (139): 5th
RBIs (59): 5th
If Harper’s impressive rookie season was any indication, there’s every reason to believe that the best is yet to come.
Complete voting results for the National League Rookie of the Year award can be found at BBWAA.com.
Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.
Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.
Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.
It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.
After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.
The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.
Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.
The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.
Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.
Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.
After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.
According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.
The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.