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.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.