Bryce Harper

2012 midseason awards: NL Rookie of the Year


If the NL is going to narrow the talent gap with the AL in the coming years, it doesn’t really show up here. Sure, there’s a likely superstar playing well in Bryce Harper, but the AL can seemingly cancel him out with Mike Trout, who is playing a whole lot better. Beyond Harper, it’s a weak class of rookies in the NL.

The candidates:

Zack Cozart (Cin): .250/.298/.403, 8 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB in 308 AB
Yonder Alonso (SD): .257/.338/.355, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 2 SB in 276 AB
Kirk Nieuwenhuis (NYM): .275/.335/.414, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 3 SB in 244 AB
Bryce Harper (Was): .276/.349/.478, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 8 SB in 228 AB
Norichika Aoki (Mil): .292/.355/.440, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 10 SB in 209 AB
Todd Frazier (Cin): .273/.342/.552, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 1 SB in 165 AB
Wilin Rosario (Col): .247/.280/.533, 14 HR, 36 RBI, 3 SB in 182 AB
Andrelton Simmons (Atl): .323/.364/.495, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB in 99 AB

Lucas Harrell (Hou): 7-6, 4.56 ERA, 65/35 K/BB in 102 2/3 IP
Wade Miley (Ari): 9-4, 2.87 ERA, 66/19 K/BB in 94 IP
Randall Delgado (Atl): 4-8, 4.52 ERA, 64/39 K/BB in 79 2/3 IP
Michael Fiers (Mil): 3-2, 2.29 ERA, 41/8 K/BB in 39 1/3 IP
Jared Hughes (Pit): 2-0, 1 Sv, 2.20 ERA, 21/14 K/BB in 41 IP

And here’s how Baseball-reference WAR ranks them:

2.2 – Miley
2.2 – Simmons
1.6 – Cozart
1.5 – Harper
1.4 – Fiers
1.2 – Aoki
1.2 – Frazier
0.8 – Nieuwenhuis
0.7 – Rosario
0.4 – Hughes
0.3 – Harrell
-0.2 – Delgado
-0.4 – Alonso

Yeah, WAR is that wild about Simmons’ defense. Most seem in agreement that he’s already one of the game’s best glovemen at short, and he’s been surprisingly productive offensively. Still, he’s played in all of 28 games this season, so I don’t think he belongs on the Rookie of the Year ballot just yet.

Like WAR, I think it comes down to Miley, Cozart and Harper. Frazier and Rosario are putting up great power numbers, but they’ve received only limited action and both could be called defensive liabilities. While Rosario has been above average at throwing out basestealers, he’s committed a major league-high eight errors behind the dish.

Miley gave up eight runs last time out, but he’s allowed one or no runs in eight of 13 starts. The Diamondbacks have scored a total of five runs in his four losses.

Cozart is miscast as a top-of-the-order hitter, but he’s been solid enough offensively and defensively. I don’t think he has much of a ceiling, but just being an average regular is good enough to get him a spot on the ballot right now.

And then there’s Harper. He’s not a superstar yet, but he’s been a whole lot better than I figured he’d be as a 19-year-old. He’ll probably show a bit more power in the second half, and he has to be regarded as the favorite to win the hardware in the end-of-season balloting. Right now, though, he’s the runner-up.

My ballot
1. Miley
2. Harper
3. Cozart

2012 midseason awards: AL Rookie of the Year

2012 midseason awards: AL Rookie of the Year

Mike Trout

Thanks to a league ruling restoring a certain Angel’s eligibility, the AL Rookie of the Year race is pretty much a batter for second place. But what a battle it might be.

The candidates:

Mike Trout (LAA): .340/.396/.552, 10 HR, 36 RBI, 22 SB in 241 AB
Will Middlebrooks (Bos): .298/.335/.538, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 3 SB in 171 AB
Yoenis Cespedes (Oak): .270/.330/.486, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 4 SB in 185 AB
Quintin Berry (Det): .295/.388/.394, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 12 SB in 132 AB

Yu Darvish (Tex): 10-5, 3.59 ERA, 117/53 K/BB in 102 2/3 IP
Tommy Milone (Oak): 8-6, 3.73 ERA, 63/24 K/BB in 101 1/3 IP
Wei-Yin Chen (Bal): 7-4, 3.64 ERA, 73/30 K/BB in 99 IP
Matt Moore (TB): 5-5, 4.17 ERA, 93/45 K/BB in 95 IP
Jarrod Parker (Oak): 5-3, 2.46 ERA, 61/39 K/BB in 80 1/3 IP
Scott Diamond (Min):  7-3, 2.63 ERA, 41/11 K/BB in 72 P
Robbie Ross (Tex): 6-0, 1.03 ERA, 26/8 K/BB in 43 2/3 IP
Ryan Cook (Oak): 2-2, 7 Sv, 1.54 ERA, 37/21 K/BB in 35 IP

Here’s how they rank according to Baseball-reference WAR:

4.1 – Trout
2.6 – Parker
2.3 – Darvish
1.9 – Chen
1.6 – Cook
1.6 – Ross
1.5 – Diamond
1.0 – Berry
0.9 – Milone
0.6 – Middlebrooks
-0.3 – Moore
-0.4 – Cespedes

Now, it’s a bad idea to take WAR as gospel anyway and especially so midway through a season, but I find myself in agreement with the way it lines up the top guys here. Trout isn’t only the Rookie of the Half-season, but he’s going to be in the running for MVP honors if he keeps that up.

After Trout, the pitchers dominate. Darvish has 10 wins and is third in the league in strikeouts. Still, I think Parker rates the edge at this point. In his 13 starts, he’s allowed no runs three times, one run six times and two runs twice. Darvish is working deeper into games and pitching in a tougher ballpark, but he’s allowed two runs or fewer in a comparatively modest seven of his 16 starts. Chen is actually closing the gap on him.

It’s worth mentioning the bullpen guys, too. Ross and Cook have been about as valuable as any AL relievers thus far. I think Cook has the better chance of keeping it up, though his walk rate is a concern.

My ballot
1. Trout
2. Parker
3. Darvish

Are future awards out of the question for Ryan Braun?

ryan braun wide getty

Buster Olney posed an interesting question on Twitter and then in his column this morning:

If Ryan Braun is suspended for his positive drug test, will writers never again consider Braun for any award during his playing career? In other words, if he’s suspended 50 games this year, then passes all subsequent tests and hits 60 homers in 2015, would they leave him off their MVP ballot because of what transpired in 2011/2012?

To be clear: Olney has come out staunchly against the BBWAA reconsidering Braun’s award and is on record opposed to Hall of Fame voters turning themselves into the morality police. So in this I take that Olney would be decidedly against anyone treating Braun differently in the future for awards purposes.

But would they do such a thing?

My gut on this is no, Braun would not face some sort of defacto discipline from awards voters as a result of what looks like it will be a 50-game drug suspension in 2012.  The biggest reason: the different voting pools for the Hall of Fame and the postseason awards.

Awards voters are active, working baseball writers. Primarily beat reporters who skew younger, smarter and more open-minded than the Hall of Fame electorate as a whole. As I’ve said before, I wish these men and women had the Hall of Fame vote to themselves too, but alas they don’t.  Maybe I’m wrong about that. The awards electorate does not strike me as a body that would mete out some sort of moralistic justice against Braun. If he put up another MVP-worthy season I presume, absent any future PED questions, he’d get his plaque just like he did this year.

Bonus Braun stuff:  There have been rumors floating around about what may have caused Braun’s positive test. It has been said by some that got a false-positive caused by a treatment he’s receiving for a “private medical issue.”  A rumor has started to spread about what the private medical issue is.  I don’t like to get into fanning the flames on such rumors, but if there is some scientific or medical fact that we can throw into the mix to at least make such rumors more informed, that can’t be a bad thing.

To that end, I direct you to a blog post by long, long long-time reader Paul Sax — who is a doctor and who is the Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital — in which he talks about what could have led to Braun’s positive test and what it means for those rumors that are floating around.  Upshot: if the rumors are right, Braun has a right to be pretty mad at his doctor.

Matt Wieters headlines 2011 class of “Fielding Bible Awards”

Matt Wieters Getty

It’s tough to take the Gold Glove awards too seriously these days. Fortunately we also have the Fielding Bible Awards around to recognize the best defensive players at each position.

For those unfamiliar, the Fielding Bible Awards are voted on by a 10-person panel of experts, including Bill James, Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski, John Dewan and the Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) scouting team. This is the sixth edition of the awards, which recognizes players from both leagues.

Below are your 2011 winners:

C – Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B – Albert Pujols, Cardinals
2B – Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
3B – Adrian Beltre, Rangers
LF – Brett Gardner, Yankees
CF – Austin Jackson, Tigers
RF – Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
P – Mark Buehrle, White Sox

Hard to find much to complain about here, as all are considered elite defenders. The biggest news here is that Wieters supplants Yadier Molina, who won the previous four Fielding Bible awards at catcher. Mark Buehrle takes the prize for a third straight year while Troy Tulowitzki and Brett Gardner also repeat at their respective positions.

By the way, we won’t have to wait too long to find out who the Gold Glove winners are. While MLB has traditionally announced them via press release, ESPN2 will unveil the winners for each league with a live one-hour telecast tomorrow night at 10 p.m. ET. Finalists for each position were announced earlier today, presumably in an effort to increase the drama, which is yet another first. Of note, last year’s Gold Glove award winner Derek Jeter is not among the finalists for shortstop in the American League while 2011 Fielding Bible award winners Albert Pujols and Justin Upton were also left off.

No Bartolo?! Lance Berkman, Jacoby Ellsbury win Comeback Player of the Year awards

Bartolo Colon

Major League Baseball just announced that Lance Berkman and Jacoby Ellsbury have won the Comeback Player of the Year Awards.  Obviously they both had great years after (a) a lost year for Ellsbury due to injury; and (b) a mostly lost year for Berkman which, due to a trade that didn’t work out well and general ineffectiveness, had people thinking his career was over or at least in steep decline. Instead, each of them will get a lot of MVP votes this year.

But I can’t say I agree with the pick of Ellsbury.  The award, voted on by the beat writers, is “presented annually to one player in each League who has re-emerged on the baseball field during the season.”  Yes, Ellsbury re-emerged after a season on the disabled list.  But Bartolo Colon re-emrged from the freaking dead, didn’t he? I’m rather shocked he didn’t win.

It’s not about who had the better season. Ellsbury obviously did. But with his age and his pre-injury track record, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Ellsbury was productive this year. Indeed, it would have been a bigger story if, at age 27, he had yet another injury-marred season and was nearing the end of his career.  That he bounced back with health is awesome — and that he performed at such a high level is surprising — but is his story one of a promising player having a breakout year or the story of a true comeback?

Meanwhile, yes, Colon’s second half fade and injuries certainly put a damper on the enthusiasm for his comeback.  But what a freaking comeback it was! Given his age, conditioning, the nature of his injury and the fact that he dropped off the face of the Earth for the 2010 season, I’d say that it was more likely that we’d see him elected Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico than we would to see him in the rotation of a playoff contender, let alone an effective member of that rotation for much of the year.

No, this isn’t important. Yes, it’s totally subjective. But they pay me to argue about unimportant and subjective crap all the time, so here we are.  And I can’t shake the notion that while Jacoby Ellsbury came back nicely, Bartolo Colon was more or less resurrected. Shoulda been him.