OC Full-Season Awards: AL Rookie of the Year

Well here we go, guys. These were very popular when we did ballots midseason, and now, we’re going to take a look at the whole scope of the season, and just who the staff of The Outside Corner thinks should win the six major awards: MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year, in both the American and National League. We’re going to look at the rookies today, the pitchers tomorrow, and the MVPs will be on Wednesday. We’ve had some staff changes since the midseason voting, with only a nine man staff as opposed to the 13 we had back in July. As a result, I expanded the ballots to five for ROY and Cy, and ten for MVP. Right now, we’re going to take a look at the AL Rookie of the Year voting. This seemed like it would be a tight race, with no one really standing out from the pack, and the highlights of the rookie class being a few players who didn’t spend the full season in the majors. But at the end of voting, eight of our nine staff members voted one guy at the top of the pack.

Midseason winner: Michael Pineda, Mariners

1) Michael Pineda, Mariners (40 points, eight first place votes)
2) Dustin Ackley, Mariners (22 points)
3) Ivan Nova, Yankees (16 points, one first place vote)
4) Mark Trumbo, Angels (14 points)
5) Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays (13 points) 
6) Desmond Jennings, Rays (9 points)
7) Eric Hosmer, Royals (9 points)
8) Jeremy Hellickson, Rays (7 points)
9) Zach Britton, Orioles (5 points)

Well there you have it. Michael Pineda holds over his success from midseason, and remains our choice for AL Rookie of the Year. Pineda struck out 173 in 171 innings, and only walked 55. Compare that to Ivan Nova, who struck out just 98 in 165 1/3 innings while walking 57. Those differences in walks and strikeouts are more than enough to make up the difference in record, with Pineda only at 9-10 due in part to playing for an awful Mariners team, whlie Nova was 16-4 for an excellent Yankees team. Even if you look at ERA, Nova was ay 3.70, while Pineda was right there at 3.74. Pineda’s predictors were obviously better, with a 3.42 FIP and 3.53 xFIP compared to 4.01 and 4.16 for Nova. Pineda was worth 3.4 fWAR, highest among all AL rookies, wihle Nova was at 2.7. 

Hell, Nova’s 2.7 fWAR wa actually tied for second in the AL with the man who finished second, Pineda’s teammate Dustin Ackley. If Ackley had played a full season in the majors, he’d probably win the award. In 90 games and 376 plate appearances, Ackley OPSed .765 and was worth 2.7 fWAR while playing excellent defense. Ackley is going to be a dominant hitter for years to come in Seattle. Mark Trumbo finished fourth in our standings, with a .768 OPS, and AL-leading marks of 29 homers and 87 RBI. The biggest problem with Trumbo was his lack of ability to get on base, with a horrendous .291 OBP really putting a damper on his fantastic power.

Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays is another partial season candidate, who would have been a favorite for the award had he gotten a full season’s worth of plate appearances. In just 43 games and 171 plate appearances, Lawrie was also worth 2.7 fWAR. He OPSed an incredible .953, and showed an amazing glove at third base in his brief tenure in the majors after being switched off of second due to horrendous defense. In his 43 games, he homered nine times and stole seven bases. He could realistically be a 30/30 guy in the future, and I’m sure the Blue Jays would be perfectly happy with that. Desmond Jennings was another partial season contender, and Rays fans are wondering what their season would have looked like if Jennings got the plate appearances early in the season that went to Sam Fuld, who was useless after a good April. Jennings, the preseason favorite for ROY, was only in the majors for 63 games and 287 plate appearances, but was excellent for Tampa Bay, OPSing .805, homering ten times, and stealing 20 bases. Jennings also played good defense in left field. He really is like his predecessor, Carl Crawford. 

Our cumulative ballot finishes with three players who had a majority of the season in the majors, but couldn’t put together a slam dunk fantastic season. Eric Hosmer looks like a star in the making, with a .799 OPS in 563 plate appearances for a bad Royals team. The majority of Hosmer’s offensive value was destroyed by some absolutely awful defense aat first base, but with an equally inept defender in Billy Butler on the team, he’ll have to stick there. Jeremy Hellickson, who had a big September last year for the Rays, pitched 189 innings of 2.95 ERA ball, but only struck out 117 while walking 72. His FIP was 4.44 and his xFIP was 4.72. Numbers like that send up flares all over the place, and the low strikeout rate is curious for a guy who struck out over a batter per inning during his minor league career. Finally, we have Zach Britton of the Orioles. Britton actually had a higher fWAR than Hellickson despite a 4.61 ERA. The two had similar strikeout and walk rates, with Britton striking out 97 and walking 62 in 154 1/3 innings, but the major difference was home runs; Hellickson allowed 21 while Britton allowed just 12. 

To be honest with you, I don’t expect Pineda to win the BBWAA ROY award. We got lucky last year, with Felix Hernandez winning last year despite a losing record. But I think because of their similar ERAs, Nova will finish higher than Pineda. Trumbo could also finish higher, due in part to being the only rookie hitter in the AL who played a full season’s worth of games, and had solid counting stats. Just because they’re probably going to finish higher doesn’t mean that they *should*, though.

About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.