Who should win the Rookie of the Year Awards? Who will?


Note: This post originally ran on October 2. With tonight’s announcement of the Rookie of the Year Award, it’s a good time to revisit and review.

Who should win the AL Rookie of the Year Award?

This race is super close, with two candidates with nearly identical credentials. In this case it’s even harder as the top two candidates are at the same position: Shortstop (apologies to Miguel Sano who, while hitting the daylights out of the ball hasn’t played nearly as much as the top two candidates and has no defensive value).

Carlos Correa burst onto the scene in Houston in early June at the tender age of 20 and proceeded to beat the living hell out of baseballs. His line: .277/.343/.504 with 21 homers and 63 driven in in a mere 96 games and an OPS+ of 130. That’s crazy power for a 20 (now 21) year-old and crazy power for a shortstop of any age.

Francisco Lindor burst onto the scene in Cleveland in mid June at the tender age of 21 and proceeded to beat the living hell out of baseballs. His line: .319/.357/.491 with 21 doubles, 12 homers and 51 RBI in a mere 96 games and an OPS+ of 125. That’s not quite Correa power but it’s better contact and on-base stuff and amazing production for a shortstop of any age.

Quite even to be sure, but the separator here is defense. Correa is no liability, but he’s pretty ordinary with the glove so far. Lindor, however, has been a superior shortstop both according to the numbers and to the naked eye. His arrival in Cleveland totally changed the game for the Tribe this year, transforming them from underachievers to a team that made a serious run for a playoff spot. If Lindor had been there all year it’s not crazy to think that they’d be in the wild card game next week.

Lindor’s offense is a bit of a surprise this year. He really wasn’t expected to hit like this right out of the gate. And he may not hit like this forever, in which case Correa may prove to be the better player going forward, be it as a shortstop or a third baseman, which is where I think he’ll ultimately end up. But the Rookie of the Year award is not about projections and potential. It’s about what the rookies did. And given there more or less even offensive contributions and Lindor’s superior leather, he’s the guy who should take the hardware home.

Who will win the AL Rookie of the year Award?

Historically there has been less narrative nonsense infecting Rookie of the Year award voting than other award voting. Prospect politics haven’t played into it too much. Very often Rookies of the Year come from losing teams — how else would they have gotten the opportunity for so much PT? — and thus the winning team narrative isn’t as prominent. This year, however, I feel like that stuff will be a bigger factor than in the past, mostly because so many rookies have played such a big part in pennant races.

The Indians entry into the wild card race came late and it came quite a bit after early season Astros Mania took hold. Sure, Correa joined the Astros after much of that mania took hold and even after the Astros themselves began to play a bit worse, but he’s been largely associated with the big surprise season in particular and the Astros’ bright future in general. Between that and Cleveland being one of the lowest profile teams in all of baseball year-in, year-out, it would not surprise me at all if some voters overlook Lindor a bit. For this reason I feel like Correa will win it, even if Lindor would be my guy.


Who should win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

This was a much closer race earlier in the year but Kris Bryant and his .279/.369/.475 line, 26 homers and, by the end of this weekend, most likely, 100+ RBI have separated themselves from the pack. It seems like ages ago that everyone was all in a tizzy about the Cubs leaving him in Iowa at the start of the season for service time manipulation purposes. Now all he is is a huge part of the Cubs’ big year and, by far, the highest profile and highest achieving rookie in the NL.

Not that he’s alone “in the conversation.” But that term is in quotes because it’s not truly a big conversation. Matt Duffy of the Giants has had a fine year and, before he went down with that ugly injury, Jung Ho Kang was having an equally fine year. Duffy, also a third baseman, is the better fielder than Bryant, but Bryant hasn’t embarrassed himself there, allowing his offensive advantages to give him the inside track to the award.

Who will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

Bryant. And I don’t think it’ll be a particularly close vote.

Spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws

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Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post reports that, according to three congressional officials familiar with current talks, an upcoming spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws. This is an issue we have spent some time covering here. A bill proposed in 2016, H.R. 5580, would have amended language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which would have made it so minor leaguers wouldn’t be protected under a law that protects hourly workers. There is also an ongoing class action lawsuit over unfair labor prospects.

As DeBonis notes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is among the representatives backing the measure. The provision specifically concerning minor leaguers didn’t appear in any of the draft spending bills, but DeBonis spoke to officials familiar with the negotiations under the condition of anonymity who said it was under serious consideration by top party leaders.

DeBonis got a comment from Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner. He said, “We’re not saying that [minor league pay] shouldn’t go up. We’re just saying that the formula of minimum wage and overtime is so incalculable. I would hate to think that a prospect is told, ‘You got to go home because you’re out of hours, you can’t have any extra batting practice.’ It’s those kinds of things. It’s not like factory work. It’s not like work where you can punch a time clock and management can project how many hours they’re going to have to pay for.”

O’Conner said as much in an interview back in December. It’s an extremely disingenuous deflection. O’Conner also said, “I don’t think that minor league baseball is a career choice for a player.” This is all about creating legislation that allows Minor League Baseball to keep money at the top, which is great if you’re a team owner or shareholder. If they could get away with it, every owner of every business would pay its employees as little as possible, which is why it’s important to have unions and people keeping an eye on legislation like this that attempts to strip laborers of their rights in the dead of night.

Minor league players need to unionize. Or, better yet, the MLBPA should open their doors to include minor leaguers and fight for them just as they would a player who has reached the majors. Minor leaguers should be paid a salary with which they do not have to worry about things like rent, electricity, food, and transportation. They should be provided healthcare and a retirement fund. And if anyone tries to tell you it’s not affordable, MLB eclipsed $10 billion in revenues last year. There’s plenty to go around.

The owners are banking on this legislation passing and labor still coming in excess due to young men holding onto the dream of making the major leagues. According to CNN, “far less than 10 percent of minor league players ever get the chance to make it to the major leagues.” Some of these players have forgone college to work in baseball. They arrive at the park in the morning and leave late at night, putting in far more than your standard eight-hour work day. Since their bodies are their vehicle for success, they have to exercise regularly and vigorously off the field while maintaining a healthy diet. (And teams are still reluctant to invest even the smallest amount of money to ensure their young players eat well.) Minor leaguers make tremendous sacrifices to pursue their dream and now Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress to legalize taking further advantage of them.