Rich in Rookies

Which of these three rookie starters’ seasons is best?

  • Player A: 17-9, 3.63 ERA (125 ERA+), 1.33 WHIP, 60 BB, 124 K
  • Player B: 14-6, 3.30 ERA (122 ERA+), 1.28 WHIP, 58 BB, 142 K
  • Player C: 16-8, 4.52 ERA (108 ERA+), 1.46 WHIP, 70 BB, 127 K
  • Player D: 13-6, 3.40 ERA (128 ERA+), 1.21 WHIP, 85 BB, 233 K
  • Player E: 17-13, 3.76 ERA (120 ERA+), 1.28 WHIP, 82 BB, 224 K

Ok, now which of these rookie relievers’ seasons is best?

  • Player A: 78.1 IP, 1.72 ERA (261 ERA+), 26 BB, 72 K, 0 HLD, 23 SV
  • Player B: 62.2 IP, 3.16 ERA (145 ERA+), 31 BB, 78 K, 0 HLD, 37 SV
  • Player C: 93.1 IP, 2.41 ERA (188 ERA+), 43 BB, 107 K, 5 HLD, 19 SV
  • Player D: 73.1 IP, 1.19 ERA (379 ERA+), 17 BB, 63 K, 29 HLD, 4 SV

And finally, which of these middle infielders’ rookie seasons is best?

  • Player A: 633 AB, .292/.353/.480 (116 OPS+), 17 HR, 59 RBI, 56 BB, 128 K
  • Player B: 545 AB, .239/.319/.426 (91 OPS+), 22 HR, 64 RBI, 58 BB, 141 K
  • Player C: 567 AB, .287/.338/.451 (96 OPS+), 17 HR, 73 RBI, 29 BB, 100 K
  • Player D: 455 AB, .285/.394/.382 (98 OPS+), 4 HR, 37 RBI, 73 BB, 80 K
  • Player E: 581 AB, .323/.394/.445 (120 OPS+), 9 HR, 57 RBI, 62 BB, 48 K

A case can be made that the last player in each list is having the best rookie season. Of course, those lines are the 162-game projections of the current totals for Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima and Dustin Pedroia. The kicker is that the other seasons are from the players in that position to win the Rookie of the Year award for either league in the last 10 years (I provided the links).

Matsuzaka is on pace to have the best season by a rookie starter since Kerry Wood (Player D). His ERA is slightly higher, but still well above average, and his WHIP is on the low end of the list. What really puts him over the top is the number of strikeouts, far above Verlander (A) and Willis (B), who otherwise have similar rate stats. Yet expectations for him were so high that I bet most people would be surprised to know it.

Okajima’s a bit tougher. No middle reliever has ever won the ROY, so we can’t compare the operative stat, holds. Still, his walks and Ks, never mind his insanely low ERA, compare favorably to Street’s and Sasaki’s. No one touches Williamson’s rookie campaign (C), but Okajima has a chance thanks mostly to the surprising nature of his candidacy.

Pedroia is a second baseman amid a host of shortstops. Still, he’s outperforming Hanley Ramirez, who had a terrific season last year. Particularly impressive is the OPS+ number. Most infielders who win the ROY are decent sluggers with terrible on-base skills, presumably because they’re still young. They end up near or slightly below league average overall. Furcal (Player D) and Pedroia seem to be the exceptions. Pedroia’s BA and OBP, meanwhile, are far superior to the others, and his slugging — thanks mainly to his mass of doubles — holds its own, so he’s comfortably above even the best ROY infielders. Also, note the projected strikeouts. Basically half as many as any other comparable ROY winner.

So any of the three has a legitimate — if not compelling — case for Rookie of the Year. Who should it be? Who else should be considered? (Hint: Joba Chamberlain isn’t eligible ;-)

67 replies on “Rich in Rookies”

Given the quality and longetivity of most ROY of the past, I hope all three tie for first :)

i’m just glad that we YFs won’t be seeing player a from the middle infielders list 19 times a season for the next 15 years.
(preemtive disclaimer: that isn’t a knock on the trade, i’d have to weigh it more closely before i do that. i am honestly glad that he isn’t in the AL east… heck, the AL in general.)

Hehe, Andrew, I noticed that doing this research. Starting pitcher ROYs do pretty well, but the hitters, wow. Crosby, Berroa, Furcal. But then, you look at thhe stats and they weren’t that impressive. Pedroia at least is putting up very good numbers (better than Jeter in his rookie season *ducks*).

I gotta say that I dont agree with the characterization that Pedroia is out performing Hanley’s rookie season. Sure he has an edge in projected OPS+ but one needs to account for the 51! SBs that Ramirez had as well. Ramirez had an additional 1.5 RC/G which is another important indication of his performance for the year.
This isnt to say that Pedroia isnt necessarily putting up ROY-worthy numbers, I think he has a very good shot at it. Also it should be said that these awards of course also reflect the quality of the rookie class in a given year so year-to-year comparisons are not necessarily that informative.

OK, this is really dumb, but I can’t for the life of me remember if Pedroia got the starting job out of ST or not? And I’m too lazy to look it up…

i gotta agree with westboro. I dont believe that the veterans from Japan should be ROYs. Matsui didnt win his rookie year so maybe that ship has sailed.

I agree with you guys, that they shouldn’t be considered for the award.
It’s also a cultural slap in the face to the very league we are trying to actively build closer ties with, both the Yankees and Red Sox.

I too agree with Westboro. If Godzilla couldn’t win, then veterans from Japan should be ineligible.
Then again, when have the writer’s ever been consistent?

Most Writers are Hometown FanBoys like the rest of us.
They just try not to admit it.

Was he officially deemed intelligible? I forget, or did he just not win and that was the excuse some of the writers used? I’m really asking, I just forget.

No, Matsui finished second and lost to Berroa, whose stats are linked in the opriginal post and are actually not bad.
Matsuzaka and Okajima are eligible, and are considered rookies by MLB.
Good point about the speed, Sam. That’s a big factor I overlooked.

He did not win but was eligible.
Many writers didn’t even put him on their ballots on principal.

He did not win but was eligible.
Many writers didn’t even put him on their ballots on principal.

By many writers, Westboro, you mean two right? Nit-picking of course, since if they’d listed him anywhere Matsui would’ve won IIRC.
Berroa’s lack of production since has, to some degree I think, made people believe that Matsui should’ve won in a landslide. Don’t forget that Jet—sorry, Berroa was playing awful defense at a premium position.

Yes, of course, he was technically eligible but many writers didn’t vote that way. And they should at least be consistent with this rookie class. If so, Gutherie or Bannister plus Pedroia seem to be the top candidates.

It would be interesting to know how those two writers voted, or if they voted, for Hideo Nomo, Kazuhiro Sasaki and Ichiro Suzuki when they won the ROY award.

Two writers left him off the ballot completely.
But how many devalued his stats and thus didn’t rank him as highly as they should have?

theres no doubt that a japanese player should in eligible in light of robinsons prior experience in the negro leagues.

Two writers left Berroa off completely too.
That’s a good question though Woosta, but I have to think, if you’re going to include them on the ballot at all, that means you’re considering them as eligible as any other player and thus would rank them accordingly. Obviously we aren’t in those writer’s heads, so we don’t know.
I do agree with the writer though, he said he has far to high an opinion of the Japanese league to consider a player with 6 years experience there a rookie.
That’s basically what I said with regard to slapping Japan in the face.

2000 Kaz Sasaki
2001 Ichiro
1995 Hideo Nomo
So prior to Hideki’s bid for the R.O.Y the writers had no issue with giving Japanese/experienced players the award. This instance was simply and purely Yankee bias. But if you look closer and take your Yankee-ness (that’s not a knock, I am guilty of that as well sometimes) out of consideration, Berroa did have a very good season. My point is at second glance the it’s not as much of a travesty as I first thought. But to use the excuse about him having prior experience and not being a true rookie is just dumb.

Penalty flag for John! He used the word “dumb”! Someone call John a ‘dick’! Quick, close the comments down!
Nomo and Ichiro won for different reasons. Nomo was a revelation (236 K in 191 IP with a 2.54 ERA – 150 ERA+) and Ichiro was the MVP his rookie year (and still wasn’t a unanimous choice for ROY). Suffice it to say, they’re not relevant to the current discussion.
Sasaki (37 saves) won because his closest competition was Terrence Long.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say Pedroia wins this year.

Meanwhile (for lack of a better thread to post this on), the Herald reports:
Jon Lester has been sent down to Double A Portland, clearing the way for reliever Javy Lopez to be called up. Julian Tavarez will start Sunday’s game against the White Sox.
Glad to have Lopez back. Alarmed by return of Joolian of Mordor to the rotation.

By the way, thanks for making me do that research. I forgot how good Nomo was his first year. Now when SF’s say this off-season that Matsuzaka will be even better next year, I’ll have two words:
Hideo Nomo-san!

Great, we trade away Gabbard for Gagne because Lester is ready. Now Lester is being sent down to AA, not AAA. Tavarez is back in the rotation and we have a hole in the 5 spot.

The Herald article said they only chose AA because it lined up better with his existing schedule in the rotation. Suggests to me that they may bring him back up soon enough.

I’m not too happy with Tavarez starting either, but remember, with Lester’s run support he would have won easily on Sunday against the Angels.

It’s not a demotion, these are just the minor moves in order to set up the post-season roster we have been hearing about.

I don’t think it’s fair to call it anti-Yankee bias, Trisk. More likely it was cultural bias or simply a difference of opinion. These awards can swing on just a couple of writers doing something marginally defensible or just plain stupid. The thin margin of Matsui’s loss isn’t evidence of any general bias, I don’t think that is reasonable. Pedro was famously left off an MVP ballot, costing him greatly, and that was an inconsistent vote from a writer who said pitchers didn’t deserve MVP trophies ever, though he had voted for them in the past. Was this anti-Sox bias, hypocrisy, both? I have no clue, beyond the hypocrisy.

“costing him greatly”
What was it – the Nobel Peace Prize with 1 million attached?

I’m dying to know if and how those two writers had voted on the previous Japanese ROYs.
Anyone know where I can find that?

“Nomo and Ichiro won for different reasons. Nomo was a revelation (236 K in 191 IP with a 2.54 ERA – 150 ERA+) and Ichiro was the MVP his rookie year (and still wasn’t a unanimous choice for ROY). Suffice it to say, they’re not relevant to the current discussion.”
“Sasaki (37 saves) won because his closest competition was Terrence Long.”
The current conversation was Japenese/experienced players winning the R.O.Y. award correct? The conversation was discussing should Japenese/experienced players be allowed into the consideration for R.O.Y correct? Regardless of the year the player had, they ALL came to the ML with experience at a higher level then AAA. So if a player has an average year, but still the best rookie out there it’s ok not to vote, but if they have a record breaking year that’s another scenario and you must vote for them.
And I was calling the writers dumb for using the excuse of prior experience, not anyone at this site. Must you ALWAYS be a fire starter? Seriously grow up.

SF that should have read
“At first glance this instance was simply and purely Yankee bias. But if you look closer and take your Yankee-ness (that’s not a knock, I am guilty of that as well sometimes) out of consideration, Berroa did have a very good season. My point is at second glance the it’s not as much of a travesty as I first thought.”
My point being Berroa had a great year, but you don’t see that until you take the time to look at the numbers. I felt like it was stolen from him at the time, but last year I believe it was Paul who urged me to look closer at the numbers, low and behold he was correct.
I am on baby duty so I have to type and run, I didn’t read before I hit post.

In other news, god is in the process of punishing the entire Midwest for being, well, the Midwest.

There you go again, John. Tone it down, will you?
You said:
“So prior to Hideki’s bid for the R.O.Y the writers had no issue with giving Japanese/experienced players the award. ”
But the problem with that statement is the three instances you cited were not even close. They were the best candidates by far. And since the rules didn’t exclude Japanese ballplayers, I’d say the writers had no other choice. But I do think it’s interesting that neither Nomo or Ichiro won the award unanimously. Nomo at least had competition from Chipper Jones (.265 .353 .450 109 OPS+) but a 150 ERA+?
Godzilla had a closer race. I don’t think that was Yankee bias especially because by the time Hideki came over, Japanese ballplayers as rookies were old news. Combine that with Berroa giving the writers another choice (that they didn’t have in 1995, 2000, and 2001)and there you have it.
Now lighten up.

Trisk, just some silliness on my part. Saw the words “hit” and “run” in the final sentence of your post and you were obviously pointing out that because you were in a hurry not all letters(=signs) in your post might be correct. But they were, thus no botched “hit and run”.

I am done addressing you. Go back to NoMaas and spew your venom there. You can talk about Chris Britton and Edwar Ramirez until you are blue in the face.

Woosta, although I was one of the first to attack you for your style, which is repugnant for the most part, I have seen flashes of a sincere and normal human being. I just don’t understand how you can possibly not see that you are the one that is wrong when these situations arise, not wrong once or twice, wrong every single time.
“Penalty flag for John! He used the word “dumb”! Someone call John a ‘dick’! Quick, close the comments down!”
Are you serious? You don’t see the fault in this? You don’t take even slightly more caution after you have been warned, repeatedly, by the authors of this site, Yankee Fan and Red Sox fan alike?
It just baffles me, I mean do you really enjoy being a nuisance that much?
Every person that runs this place has warned you that you’re risking being banned, from a place you obviously enjoy being a part of, that doesn’t concern you one bit?
I know we have had our differences and I have been one of the more outspoken critics of you, but I have also seen that you can be a nice person to discuss baseball with and this great rivalry, albeit in tiny flashes, can you turn it around? Can you stop?

Woosta, PLEASE can you just add to the intelligent conversation? This was a nice, polite thread before you jumped in.

Lockland extends the olive branch, and Woosta continues to open his mouth. I miss the days when things didn’t always get escalated to anger.

THere’s a guy named The Farns calling everyone “pussies” in the Sox Gamer thread. Woosta by another name?

You do realize, Atheose, that it’s a lot easier to listen to someone’s advice when they don’t call you a “dick”? Right?
And in this community not one person called him out on it.
But I rile people up for calling Wakefield’s contract “dumb”.
(And nope – I’m a bit more creative than using that blanket term.)

Am I the only one who saw that Woosta was kidding about the “John called someone ‘dumb’!” thing? Might not have been the funniest joke in the world, but jesus, people really do need to lighten up. And I agree with him, Ichiro, Nomo and Sasaki won because they were by and far away the best choices. The fact that many writers, not just two stupid ones, intentionally left Matsui off their ballots is telling. It’s a stupid argument anyway: Matsui conintues to produce at a high level, while Berroa is almost out of baseball. I think I’ll take that over a stupid, meaningless award any day.

But Andrew, only two writers left Matsui off their ballots. Where is this “many” stuff coming from?

Why do you come to our community if it offends you so much?
As Lockland said, you obviously have a fine knowledge of the game, but your rhetorical devices are, to say the least, off-putting. You’ve successfully ticked off both SFs and YFs alike, today you’ve gotten both YF and Trisk, two (almost insanely!) even-keeled guys to show their anger. And, we’ve had to close down two (nearly three, one we decided to leave open against our better judgment) threads in which your participation was one of the, if not the, main root of difficulty. Realize that none of these decisions are made unilaterally — closing threads is done via communication between YF and myself, and only if we are in agreement on this action. We’ve had to close like three threads in four years, and that’s two in three days. That’s bad math.
We’ve had our finger on the “ban” trigger (and that means ALL of us), and haven’t pulled it, because much of what you say regarding the game itself is insightful. But the tone that you use is not promoting an atmosphere that we have cultivated on this site over several years. It’s just not a coincidence that many of our posters have been drawn into downward-spiraling discussions (yours truly included, I am not immune and for that I have apologized) following your involvement.
Consider this not only a warning (though it is, in a way, that) but a piece of advice — stick to baseball.
And to repeat, just to be eminently clear: this is on behalf of all of us who write the site. No team biases involved.

Can someone with first-hand knowledge of the Mariners (attackgerbil, you live out there?) please edumicate me on how they have won so many games.
Other than Ichiro, none of their hitters seem to be having big years and they don’t have great speed. Vidro is the only other guy hitting over .300. Clearly they must have a very balanced lineup since, even without big individual averages, the team is second in the AL in BA, but with no standouts other than Ichiro, I would expect they’d still need very strong pitching to amass so many wins and I just don’t see it. They have Jeff Weaver in their starting rotation (he’s 6-10, which is about as crappy as I would expect him to be – he’s not even their fifth starter, right?) and unless I am mistaken, none of their starters can be called dominant.
Even if they have a great bullpen capped off by Putz’s great year, I just don’t understand how it is that they are getting the ball to him with a lead so often given the above.
Can I be confident that they will return to earth when they have to play 7 vs. the LA Angels of Anaheim/the real O.C./California/ USA/the planet Earth/our solar system/infinity?

The Mariners are doing it with a strong bullpen and an aggressive hacktastic offense, which have been enough to cover for their starting pitching … so far.
The site has some analysis of the Mariner offense and how it is able to produce runs.

Just a thought, but those of you who support the idea that Japanese veterans shouldn’t be considered for RoY also believe that the real home run record is held by Sadaharu Oh, right? Not trying to start an argument; just pointing out the logical conclusion. Between Japan and Seattle, Ichiro already has 2,700+ hits; it’s not unreasonable to think he may top Pete Rose’s career total — and will that be the record?
FWIW, my view is that MLB records are just that. So Hank Aaron is the home run king, Cal Ripken was the first to break Lou Gehrig’s record (not Sachio Kinugasa) and Matsui deserved consideration for RoY (and, frankly, should’ve won).

IMO, we should resist viewing Berroa’s ROY through hindsight; what has happened since doesn’t matter at all. Several other winners’ careers have gone south after a great rookie campaign.
“theres no doubt that a japanese player should in eligible in light of robinsons prior experience in the negro leagues.”
Great point, Ric. In fact 3 of the first 5 ROYs played in the negro leagues: JR, Don Newcombe and Sam Jethroe.
Did anyone else read somewhere that many scouts consider the level of play in japanese baseball just slightly higher than AAA?

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