It was the wise Gary Payton who once dubbed a young rook by the name of Steve Francis, a naïve mind of sorts, a “Punk-ass bitch” for dissin’ the then Vancouver Grizzlies and forcing a trade to the Houston Rockets – at draft night.
But this is UmpBump; and before I stray too far away from the point (because, frankly, I had to do serious homework for this one) I shall nominate my Rookie of the Year candidates and other Punk-Ass Rookie Bitches – otherwise referred to as PARBs.
Instead of concentrating solely on stats and numbers, I decided to look for names that, during the course of the season, caught my eye for having a certain level of maturity and consistency.
Players like Matt Cain, the Giants’ rookie starter, who came close to a no-hitter, but sucked balls for my Fantasy team when I added him soon after, will not qualify for my list.
I’ll briefly elaborate on the PARBs that I think deserve some recognition for their skills; but before that, here’s who I think will win the ROY award in each League.
Justin Verlander, SP Detroit Tigers
Verlander was unhittable during the first half of the season. A starter with a 95+ mph fastball is no joke. Being a rook, his arm fatigued towards the end, but his 17 wins will sure get him the ROY award.
Hanley Ramirez, SS Florida Marlins
So apparently, the entire Marlins’ infielder squad could receive the ROY award as a team, since they are among the top rookies in hitting. I had to pick one of ‘em, and what the hell, I went with Ramirez because he has the higherst BA amongst NL rookies (AVG .294 | HR 17 | RBI 59 | OBP .355 | SLG .485 ). I just as well could’ve picked Dan Uggla (AVG .282 | HR 26 | RBI 89 | OBP .338 | SLG .478).
Now here are who I think are other notable rooks:
• Joel Zumaya, RP Detroit Tigers
Buster Olney had a ho-hum feature for ESPN.com Insiders about the 20 best weapons in the post-season (I mean, c’mon, Chase Utley’s energy?!?), but he did strike a chord with Joel Zumaya’s fastball. The kid has a flame tattooed around his glove hand, so when he’s ready to delivery his 100-mph fastball, it looks as if he garners his strength from the flames around his glove. Nice.
He also leads the league in Holds with 29 (a semi dubious stat; but quantifiable none-the-less; and he’s tied for second in innings pitched with 79.0 (before Friday’s game).
It was common knowledge towards the end of the season that if a Tiger’s starting arm faltered, they only had to stay in the game until Zumaya was summoned.
• Melky Cabrera, OF New York Yankees
Suuuuure, tha Yankees are done this year, suuure with Matsui an’ Sheff done fo’ da year you can almost bet them’ Sawks will win the division.
And then The Milk Man came on the scene. Not only did Cabrera fill in nicely for Matsui, the Yankees had a hint of a Left-fielder controversy when Matsui was able to return. While his numbers were not astronomical (.279, 7 hr, 50 rbi, 451 ab, unlike, say Ryan Howard); his contribution was more than enough to solidify the Yanks’ conquest of the AL East crown once again.
• Anibal Sanchez, SP Florida Marlins
Well I gotta include the kid, the no-hitter kid; how could I not? His numbers are decent (10-3 with 114.1 IP and 18 starts), but remember, we’re looking at the bigger picture here. What rooks are going to have the composure to carry their careers into the next level. Besides, his middle name can only help.
Honorable mention: Francisco Liriano SP Minnesota Twins, Prince Fielder 1B Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Zimmerman 3B Washington Nationals.