Coghlan, Bailey named Rookies of the Year

Leave a comment

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.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
4 Comments

Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.