Coghlan, Bailey named Rookies of the Year

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This morning I laid out my Rookie of the Year picks, choosing A’s reliever Andrew Bailey in the American League and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen in the National League.
This afternoon the Baseball Writers Association of America announced their actual selections, agreeing with me on Bailey for the AL award while going with Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan for the NL honor.
I’m certainly not surprised that the BBWAA tabbed Coghlan, whom I placed third behind McCutchen and Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ. Coghlan led all NL rookies in playing time by logging 565 plate appearances in 128 games, had a .321 batting average, and hit exceptionally well over the final two months.
Ultimately lots of playing time, a big batting average, and a prolonged hot stretch are more than enough to get the BBWAA’s votes, because my guess is that not many of the 32 writers who cast ballots cared that Coghlan beat McCutchen by only 14 points of OPS or spent a lot of time factoring in Coghlan’s poor defense in left field compared to McCutchen’s good defense in center field, let alone making positional adjustments for their offensive production.
Remember, one BBWAA member who covers the Marlins repeatedly described Coghlan’s rookie season (which included a relatively modest .850 OPS, nine homers, and just 47 RBIs) as “historic” and last year Edinson Volquez received three second-place votes in the Rookie of the Year balloting when he wasn’t even eligible for the award. Baseball analysis has come a long way in recent years, but for 32 beat reporters casting ballots batting averages and headlines still carry the day.

Kyle Seager is in The Best Shape of His Life

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Kyle Seager had the worst year of his big league career in 2018. He hit .221/.273/.400 (86 OPS+) and saw his home run total decline for the second straight year. In response, Seager has reported back to camp in Peoria . . . in the best shape of his life.

This story about it in the Seattle Times has it all: the poor production and nagging injuries that led to a change of habits in the offseason. A new diet, new exercise routines, a focus on flexibility, the epiphany that an injury was the result of conditioning and, as the payoff, the scene on the first day of workouts when his uniform was too baggy and he had to get a new one.

The proof, of course, will not come from the eating, but in the production.