It’s that time again. The Umpbump writers are here to give you their picks for Rookie of the Year, MVP and Cy Young of each league. Let’s start with Rookie of the Year. Boo ya!
Rookie of the Year
For a few years now, we’ve been subjected to AL fans’ boasts about how superior their league is, as evidenced by the AL’s general dominance of in the World Series, interleague play, and complete ownership of the All-Star Game.
But it looks like the tide is changing. Just looking at this year’s Rookie of the Year nominees makes me smile, because the NL candidates are just head and shoulders above the AL candidates.
Fear not, NL fans. Better times lie ahead.
The National League
Not so long ago, it looked like there would be three top candidates for NL Rookie of the Year: Ryan Braun, Hunter Pence and Troy Tulowitski. But Pence got hurt. And then there were two.
So, let’s first look at Tulowitski, who plays a mean shortstop and hit for both average (.287) and power (24 HR) this year. Most years, he’d be your winner. His 98 RBI, 101 runs and .357 OBP are outstanding for a first year player. And he was one of the biggest reasons the Rockies were able to make their improbable wild card run.
But then there’s Braun, who was … he was … well, I really don’t know what to say about Braun, except that if I can find a way to get him on my fantasy team next year, I’m going to be a happy man. In only 112 games – 40 fewer than Tulowitski — he hit 34 HR and 97 RBI, with a .366 OBP. If he had started the year with the Brewers, we might be talking about Braun as an MVP candidate, and the Brew Crew might be gearing up for a playoff series.
I don’t think there’s any real debate here. It’s Braun all the way.
The American League
Matsuzaka and Okajima are bogus candidates (since they played many years of professional ball in Japan), but are candidates nonetheless. Matsuzaka had a nice little season, though he was being paid like a guy who was expected to be a little better than “nice”. Okajima was the real revelation, posting a 2.22 ERA and acting as a reliable set-up option for closer Jonathan Paplebon. Okajima loses points, since middle relief isn’t exactly a high-profile role, but between the two Japanese Red Sox pitchers, I think Okajima is the stronger ROTY candidate.
Delmon Young had a nice little season, with 13 HR, 93 RBI and a .316 OBP for the ever-improving but still not winning Tampa Bay “Don’t call us devils” Rays.
And then there was that other Red Sox rookie, Dustin Pedroia, who had 8 HR and 50 RBI, while playing a very solid second base. Pedroia’s power numbers obviously weren’t as good as Young’s. But maybe he just didn’t have as many opportunities as Delmon? After all, he was hitting second in Boston’s lineup, behind the worthless Julio Lugo, while Delmon was hitting in the middle of a solid Tampa Bay offense.
Uh oh. Wait a second, Boston fans. On closer inspection, we see Young had a much higher average with runners in scoring position — ..347 to .263, and that probably accounts for his higher RBI totals as much as anything.
Of course, it’s not all about power. Pedroia’s OBP was much, much higher than Young’s — .380 (compared to .316).
So who do we choose? The more clutch Delmon or more frequently on base Dustin? And what about the lights-out Okajima?
All things being equal, I’m going with Pedroia. That OBP is just too good to ignore. Plus, when two players are so close offensively, I’m prone to then look at defense. And Pedroia’s was better.
Long term, I think Young will be a more valuable player, at least for fantasy purposes. But this year, Pedroia was the man. And he’s your AL Rookie of the Year.