TLSBOE Hands Out Awards: Rookie of the Year (Part 2)

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.

American League:

– Jeremy Hellickson – Hellickson is a hard throwing Right-Hander for the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Rays kind of ridiculous when it comes to their ability to draft and develop good major-league starting pitching, and Hellickson is the newest product of Andrew Friedman’s abilities.  Hellickson has a 2.80/3.82/4.35 ERA/FIP/X-FIP line.  While the ERA is a nice 2.80, FIP and X-FIP suggest his ERA should regress quite a bit.  This is because his strikeout rate has dropped quite a bit since his major-league cup of coffee last year, and his numbers in the minor leagues.  Before this year, his Strikeout/9 innings ratio was 8 or higher.  This year, his ratio is 6.44/9.  His Walk rate has also jumped, from 2.75/9 or lower to 3.78/9.  His BABIP is just a tad lower than his career average, so his ERA will rise a little bit if/when his BABIP rises, but that’s not the big contributor.  The higher FIP comes down to strikeouts and walks (because FIP calculates it’s number with Strikeouts, Walks, and Home Runs only) but I think his numbers will rise to about a 3.50ish ERA.  He’s got a good defense behind him, and he’s shown that he can make that K/BB ratio better.

– Mark Trumbo – Simply put, Trumbo is a monster.  He’s a huge First Baseman for the Los Angeles Angels.  He’s a big man who can swing a bat pretty well for a rookie.  His Batting Line is .255/.305/.467 (Batting Average/OBP/Slugging Percentage) which doesn’t look like it’ll change much during the rest of the year.  He’s got 10 Home Runs and 28 RBI’s, and even has 5 Stolen Bases (You know you play for Mike Scioscia when you’re 6-4, 220 pound 1B has 5 Stolen Bases).  At first, it looked like he’d simply be keeping the First Base Bag warm for Kendy Morales, but now, with Morales out, it looks like Trumbo will be playing all year.  He’s been producing well so far, and as I said, his batting line will probably remain similar for the rest of the year, because his BABIP is very similar to his career average.  His OBP is a bit low, but the Angels have guys in front of him who can get on base consistently enough, and Trumbo has shown the ability to drive them in.  Overall, a pretty solid 1B, who could get better as the year goes on.

– Michael Pineda – Pineda is a hurler for the Seattle Mariners, who, along with Justin Smoak, has given the Mariners a reason not to consider trading King Felix Hernandez just yet.  Pineda has even been good enough to be crowned Prince, alongside King Felix.  Pineda throws absolute gas, with his fastball consistently sitting in the very high 90’s.  He’s got a 2.30/2.68/3.18 line, with a high strikeout rate of 9.34 Strikeouts/9 Innings, and a very low walk rate of 2.56 Walks/9 innings.  He dominates hitters with his high velocity fastball, and his viscous slider and changeup.  The only concern so far looks to be his workload, as he’s never thrown more than 140 professional innings, and he’s already thrown 70 this year.  But assuming he’s not overworked (and unless Seattle somehow stays in the playoff race, I don’t see the Mariners allowing for Pineda to be overworked) he should remain a very good pitcher for years to come.

My pick for the AL Rookie of the Year: Michael Pineda.  While I do value position players much more than pitchers, Pineda has been something else this year.  He’s outclassed Jeremy Hellickson in all but one way, and that’s quality of opposition (Hellickson pitches in the AL East, Pineda does not.)  But that difference doesn’t justify Hellickson’s lower numbers.  Hellickson is a good pitcher, but he hasn’t dominated opposing hitters the way that Pineda has.  Trumbo hasn’t hit well enough to deserve this award either.  Neither league really has any complete Rookie Hitters, but the AL especially is lacking in that regard.  Trumbo and Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia have been pretty good, but neither come close enough to matching Pineda’s dominance.  Compared to the NL award, this was a very easy choice.

Two months into the season, your Rookies of the Year are Washington’s Danny Espinosa, and Seattle’s Michael Pineda.  Espinosa (so far) is the complete package, doing everything well enough to help Washington become a young, solid team.  Pineda on the other hand, has thoroughly dominated the hitters he has faced so far, and looks to help speed up Seattle’s rebuilding process.  Next, we’ll look at Cy Young Award Winners.

Did I miss anyone in the AL?  Tell me who and why with a comment!

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