TLSBOE Hands Out Awards: Rookie of the Year (Part 1)

Over the next couple of days, I’m going to go through some candidates (as well as my personal picks) for various Baseball Awards such as Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award, MVP, etc.  These are the two-month versions, so they are obviously going to change by the end of the year, but posts like this are always fun to read and write.

For today, we’ll be looking at Rookie of the Year.  For each league, I’ll look at three guys who have strong cases, and then choose one of them and tell you why I think they’re more valuable/deserving of the award.

National League:

Danny Espinosa – He’s a Second Baseman for the Washington Nationals, and part of the young core that’s slowly rising through the National’s Farm, looking to give the D.C. Area something to cheer for.  He’s got a batting line of .217/.311/.461, with 10 Home Runs on the no-longer-young season, as well as 33 RBI’s and 4 Stolen Bases.  He’s doing a little bit of everything for this Nationals team, and Fangraphs also likes his glove a lot, with him being an above average defender so far.  His BABIP is .228, which is very low, especially compared to the ones he had in the minor leagues, which were all above .300, so his average and OBP is bound to rise a good amount.  Overall, he’s a very solid player, and valuable to any team.  He’s got good pop for a 2B, although he’s never going to be near the top of the Home Run charts, he’ll probably be at Juan Uribe-type levels, if not a little lower.

Craig Kimbrel – He’s a Relief Pitcher (and as far as I know, Closer) for the Atlanta Braves.  He’s got 15 saves so far (although he also had 4 Blown Saves) and he’s recording a lot of outs with the strikeout.  He’s striking out about 13 Batters/9 Innings, and also walking about 4 Batters/9 Innings.  He’s very similar to Chicago’s Carlos Marmol – wild, but very effective because of his ability to strike out anybody.  He’s got a 3.00/1.90/2.23 line (ERA, FIP, X-FIP), which is very solid.   For the most part, he’s shutting down opposing lineups, and securing wins for Atlanta.  He throws a hard fastball and a hard slider, and hitters have been unable to make any contact at all.  Atlanta appears to have their closer for the near future, and should they find an even better reliever, Kimbrel would easily serve as a good set-up man.

Darwin Barney – He’s also a Second Baseman, but he plays for the Chicago Cubs.  He took the starting job from former Dodger Blake DeWitt with his good glove and decent bat, and has hit well enough to hold onto it for the rest of the year.  He’s got a batting line of .310/.332/.391, with 1 Home Run, 25 RBIs, and 3 Stolen Bases.  Compared to Espinosa, he’s a better contact hitter, but that OBP has to concern you if you’re a Cubs fan, because it’s obvious that he’s not going to be taking many walks all year, which means his ability to get on base is almost completely tied to his ability to get hits.  His BABIP is close to his career average, so he’s not getting terribly lucky or unlucky, but if he ever does, both the Average and OBP are going to drop tremendously.  In addition, Fangraphs doesn’t care for his glove much, even though he has a reputation of being a great defender.  Overall, he’s a solid hitter who could use some patience at the plate.

My pick for the NL Rookie of the Year: Danny Espinosa.  I was originally going to pick Kimbrel, but after some thought, Espinosa seemed more valuable because he’s a complete player, but he’s not just a closer.  He plays in way more innings, so he has the capability to make a much bigger impact for his team.  Barney has a very empty batting line, so I liked Espinosa over him as well.  Espinosa is a complete player though.  He will hit for average when his BABIP rises, so his OBP will also increase, and he’s got good pop, especially for a Middle Infielder.  In addition, he’s got a good glove, and can probably steal a base whenever he’s called on to do so.  The one thing I want to point out, is that Espinosa has a Batting Average that is almost 100 points lower than Barney’s, but his OBP is only 21 points lower.  That’s pretty crazy.

There you have it.  Danny Espinosa is the NL Two-Month Rookie of the Year.  I had planned to break down the Al award in this post, but finding all the stats for those three players took much longer than I expected.  Although really, this post will probably be irrelevant in a month when Jerry Sands hits eleventy billion Home Runs and propels the Dodgers into first place.  What, you thought I could talk about NL Rookies without mentioning Sands?

Am I missing anybody (besides Sands)?  There’s a high chance that I am, so tell me who I left out with a comment!

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