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.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.