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

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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.

A ‘Mystery Team’ may be in on Gerrit Cole. What does that mean?

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“Mystery Team” is a term invented by Jon Heyman at the 2010 Winter Meetings in Florida. That’s when he published a rumor in Sports Illustrated that then-free agent pitcher Cliff Lee was being courted by “the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and a third mystery team.” He added — and I am not making this up — that “the mystery team remains a mystery and is also seen as a long shot.” That’s a heck of a line.

The whole “Mystery Team” thing was initially seen as a joke — and by some as Heyman trying to sound plugged in when he didn’t know anything — but he showed all of us when, the very next day, Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies who were, in fact, the “Mystery Team.”  With that a meme was born, and Heyman has owned it since then, mostly ironically, but certainly as a part of his personal brand. I’ve long been critical of Heyman for a lot of things, but the “mystery team” thing is kind of fun, actually. Takes some of the seriousness out of all of this. It’s certainly put his own stamp on his beat.

Welp, we got another one today:

I like to poke fun at the concept of “Mystery Team,” but given where the bidding is already, I don’t think that Cole needs a phony rumor of another bidder in order to inflate his market. He’s gonna make bank. As such, I’m willing to believe that there is, in fact, an unnamed team in the bidding.

I feel like we’ll find out soon.