Sunday, November 14, 2010

Funky Buttloving! The AL Rookie of the Year Award

Baseball's Award Week is upon us.  Tomorrow, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) will announce the AL and NL Rookie of the Year awards.  Both awards look to be pretty competitive this year with at least two front running candidates expected to get the majority of votes in both leagues.  Since awards won't be announced until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., I'll make my predictions as to who will win each award.

American League

Runner-up:  Austin Jackson

Let me start out by saying that Austin Jackson did something pretty amazing this season.  He somehow found a way to maintain a near .300 batting average despite striking out 27.5% of the time.  He was able to prop up his batting average due to a .396 BABIP and 24.2% line drive rate.  Are those rates unsustainable?  Sure.  If his strikeout rate remains around the 27.5% level, should we expect his batting average to remain near .300?  Of course not.   He's a pretty clear candidate for regression to the mean, but that doesn't make what he did anymore amazing.  Jackson is an above average defensive center fielder with good speed.  If he can maintain a line drive rate around 20%, he should be able to consistently accumulate 40 doubles and 15 home runs as he gets used to the league.  I do have concerns about his walk rate, but he's only 23.  For his age, a 7.2% walk rate is hardly a concern.   

Winner:  Neftali Feliz

Where Austin Jackson was good, Neftali Feliz was better.  Yes, Jackson put up a better WAR (3.8 to 1.7).  Yes, Jackson played every day at a physically demanding position, while Feliz only pitched an inning every  other game or so.  I agree, but there were few pitchers in baseball that were as dominant as Feliz.  This season, Feliz put up the following numbers:  9.22 K/9, 3.94 K/BB, 2.96 FIP, 11.9% whiff rate, and 0.88 WHIP.  When the Rangers needed a reliever to shut down a rally, they had one.  That's why it was so frustrating for me to watch Ron Washington turn to inferior relievers in the most crucial of situations.  In 2010, Feliz was one of the two or three best closers in baseball.  His stuff is electric.  His control is outstanding.  Feliz is about as good as they come.

Update (11/15/2010):  Neftali Feliz won the award. 

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