Sunday, November 14, 2010

Funky Buttloving! The NL 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.

Runner-up:  Buster Posey

This was a really tough one.  Buster Posey had the kind of year most rookies dream about.  He was called up on May 29th after dominating AAA pitching over the first two months of the season.  Within a month, the Giants traded their starting catcher (Bengie Molina) to the Texas Rangers, and handed the starting catcher job over to Buster Posey.  All Posey did was hit .308/.357/.505 ( .368 wOBA) with 3.9 WAR, while playing the most defensive challenging position on the diamond.  Oh, and did I mention that he helped lead his team to the franchise's first World Series championship since they moved to San Francisco?  (Yes, I know the voting is done before the playoffs, so playoff success doesn't factor into the awards process.)  In most years, that would be more than enough to win the award.  This year?  Not so much.  That shouldn't be seen as a slight to Posey.  The (projected) winner was really just that good this year.  Had Posey played the entire season in the big leagues, his performance might've been enough to sway my vote.  Alas, he did not.  Instead the award will go to...

Winner:  Jason Heyward

Heyward is the type of player scouts and GMs dream about.  He's a true five tool player with Ken Griffey Jr's ceiling.  At age 20, Heyward put up .277/.396/.456 (.376 wOBA) and 5.0 WAR in 142 games while playing above average defense in right field.  For such a young player, Heyward showed impressive plate discipline (14.6% walk rate), and solid power (18 home runs and 29 doubles).  I do wonder how his mid-season slump due to a thumb injury will affect his otherwise invincible case for the award, especially considering how strong Posey's rookie campaign finished up.  That said, I'm sticking with Heyward as my NL ROY in a tight race.  I have a feeling this isn't going to be the last time we hear Heyward's name called during Award week.

Update (11/15/2010):  Buster Posey won the award.

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