So far I’ve looked at the Cardinals chances of bring home the MVP and the Cy Young in order to ease my pain as I watch the Cardinals lose game after game. Tonight, I will look at the final of the big 3 individual awards: Rookie of the Year.
The Cardinal contender in this category is Jaime Garcia.
Garcia, of course, is a pitcher. Therein lies the interesting thing about this award. In the MVP, we compared hitters to hitters and in the Cy Young, pitchers to pitchers. And all of the other likely candidates besides Garcia are hitters. Still, we will try and make a good analysis of this award.
The NL has a lot of great talent this year. In fact, there are many names, I won’t go into detail about, like Stanton, Colvin, Castro, Desmond, among others. I’m going to look at the top 3 hitters contending for this award, plus Garcia.
First, the hitters. They are: Jason Heyward (Braves), Gaby Sanchez (Marlins) and Buster Posey (Giants). The stats break down like this:
Sanchez 139 games .283 / .350 / .470 19 HR 81 RBI
Heyward 132 games .286 / .401 / .475 18 HR 71 RBI
Posey 97 games .324 / .373 / .522 15 HR 62 RBI
There are obviously a lot of other numbers too, but all of that will still point to the same thing. Sanchez and Heyward have played the entire year, while Boster Posey was called up at the end of May. Clearly, Posey has the better average, but is it fair to compare his 364 at-bats against the other guys who have around 500 at-bats?
Sanchez’ Marlins aren’t going anywhere, but that’s not why I wouldn’t give him this award. I think Heyward and Sanchez are pretty similar, but I give the edge to Heyward. I think he’s the overall better player, and has really delivered in the 2nd half for an Atlanta team dreaming of October.
It is a tough call between Heyward and Posey though. Both of these guys are good. And 80% of the time, I would give the award to the guy who has done the tough work of the 162 game grind that is baseball. But Posey may be that one exception to the rule. This is not just a guy with good numbers. This is a guy who has encompassed exactly what a catcher should be. He came in to replace Bengie Molina (not an easy task) and started playing like a seasoned veteran. He has led this team as a catcher, handling the pitching staff with ease. He has come through in the clutch many times. But if you want to talk numbers, let’s talk numbers. In all of those less at-bats, he is still only 3 homers and 9 RBis shy of Heyward.
So while I think you can make a case for either guy and I wouldn’t think it a travesty, if one guy got picked over the other, if it were my vote, I would cast it for Buster Posey.
So now, what about Garcia?
How do you compare his line with Posey’s? Obviously, you can’t. What you can do is look at what kind of numbers rookies need to have to get the ROY. It varies year to year, but at least we can get a ballpark. The last NL pitcher to win the award was Dontrelle Willis in 2003. But we have a couple more recent examples.
Last year JA Happ got 2nd in the vote and in 2006, Justin Verlander received the award for the AL. (Huston Street won it as a pitcher in 2005, but as a closer, which is a whole other dynamic.) Let’s look at Garcia compared with Verlander and Happ.
Jaime Garcia 28 GS 163.1 IP 13-8 2.70 132 K 64 BB
JA Happ 23 GS 166.0 IP 12-4 2.93 119 K 56 BB
Verlander 30 GS 186.0 IP 17-9 3.63 123 K 60 BB
His initial numbers are better than Happ’s, but of course Happ only got 2nd place. Verlander had an amazing 17 wins, but his ERA was astronomical. And Garcia kills them both in strikeouts.
The other question is, will Garcia pitch again this year? He has skipped two starts for “fatigue.” This is the most innings he has ever pitched and it’s catching up with him. Now that the Cardinals are out of it, management might feel it’s best to shut him down for the rest of the year. Garcia wants to pitch again, but they will be careful with the valuable southpaw.
Garcia’s number are great. But in a year, where there are many different worthwhile candidates, I don’t see the voters giving it to a rookie with his numbers. But if he pitches again (or even twice more) and adds 1-2 more wins and lowers his ERA even more, I think he forces the voters to take him seriously for the award.
It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. What’s your take? Who do you like for NL Rookie of the Year? Is there a guy on your team not getting enough love because he’s playing a non-contender?
The youngster has game,