It’s the final day of the regular season and the award ballots are due sometime before the first pitch of the postseason on Friday.
It’s time to revisit our offensive cast of nominees for the AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year award. If you’ll recall, last month I checked in with the rookies and decided my top choice would be Desmond Jennings with Dustin Ackley and Mike Carp second and third. Hosmer, was close to landing on my ballot, but was probably around the fourth or fifth best rookie.
I ended my post with this:
It’s possible Hosmer puts together a sweet September while his rivals falter and storms to the award. That would be ideal. There’s still plenty of baseball to be played…
Hmmm… Guess who had a killer September?
Time to revisit my table of rookie batters:
Interestingly enough, if you go back and look at my post from about a month ago, you will notice two things: First, nearly everyone on this list accumulated 100 additional plate appearances. And second, everyone except Hosmer and Jemelle Weeks saw their overall performance decline. The Hos is hitting .367/.379/.592 with five home runs in September.
Last time, I identified four pitchers who could earn consideration. Let’s look at them with their key numbers:
Ivan Nova – 16 wins, 3.70 ERA, 5.3 SO/9, 3.1 BB/9
Jeremy Hellickson – 13 wins, 2.90 ERA, 5.7 SO/9, 3.3 BB/9
Michael Pineda – 9 wins, 3.74 ERA, 9.1 SO/9, 2.9 BB/9
Jordan Walden – 32 saves, 2.73 ERA
Let’s dispense of the reliever… Greg Holland has been a better pitcher. And he’s not going to get a vote for this award. Moving on…
Of the remaining three, Pineda has been the most impressive. Although, both he and Hellickson have crazy low batting averages on balls in play (.258 for Pineda and .222 for Hellickson).
Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if Nova received some serious consideration for his wins. Old school, for sure, but he’s also playing on a winning team. The kind of voter who votes for wins, also votes for players on pennant winners.
The Jennings (Non) Factor
Remember how Jennings (my top pick) was in the stratosphere? Well, a .179/.278/.274 September has brought him crashing back to Earth. Overall, Jennings is hitting .271/.368/.470 in 275 plate appearances. Those are still excellent numbers. However, there are guys who have done as much in more plate appearances. Yes, I argued that playing time shouldn’t be a penalty in the balloting. My thought is if you play enough to lose your rookie eligibility, you should be considered for the award. However, if your rate stats are equal to another player and that player has double the plate appearances… I have to go with quality and quantity over just quality.
So while Jennings was my pick a month ago, he’s no longer on my ballot. This year’s rookie class is just too strong and his numbers no longer stand out. He’s dropped.
It’s time to play the elimination game…
Ben Revere – Notable for a 0.39 ISO. Notable because it’s historically bad. I suppose the 34 steals are nice, but his OBP is below league average. He’s out.
JP Arencibia and Mark Trumbo – Trumbo has the second highest slugging of this group, but the second lowest OBP. If he had been around league average, this probably would have been his award to lose. Arecibia has a lower slugging and an even lower OBP. Both are out.
Eric Thames – Meh. Low OBP. Out.
Jemile Weeks – Weeks has taken a hot September to push his batting average above the .300 mark. I’m not that interested in BA, but that will catch the eyes of a voter or two. Lacks power, but has speed to burn. Although a 67% success rate on stolen base attempts would suggest he has a thing or two to learn.
Mike Carp – He leads in slugging, but barely makes my arbitrary cutoff of 300 plate appearances. His .813 OPS and 129 OPS+ also lead this group. Intriguing.
That leaves two players standing – Dustin Ackley and Eric Hosmer.
Ackley has the advantage in OBP and TAv. Hosmer takes the edge in BA and slugging. They’re neck and neck in wOBA. Hosmer has the advantage in OPS (.807 to .780), but they’re tied with a 121 OPS+. According to Baseball-Reference, Ackley has 5.9 Runs Created per game, while Hosmer has 5.4 RC/9.
Ackley has a 2.9 fWAR, while Hosmer has a 1.6 fWAR.
As mentioned last week, the defensive metrics think Hosmer is a notch above those pervs on To Catch a Preditor on the what I will call the Scale of Evil. Meanwhile, Ackley plays a premium defensive position, and according to those same metrics that loathe Hosmer, he plays it quite well. That’s your difference.
This is tight. Damn tight.
Strange as it may sound, when the race is this close, I like the fact that Hosmer has almost 200 more plate appearances than Ackley. In a race like the ROY, as I mentioned, longevity counts and Hosmer’s numbers have been collected over a larger stretch of games.
Both players have deserving cases, and there’s no way I can begrudge Ackley a win. Voters have a difficult decision ahead.
My final ballot:
Call me a homer if you like, but I give the slight edge to The Hos.