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.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.