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First-third awards: 2011 NL Rookie of the Year

May 31, 2011, 2:00 PM EDT

Craig Kimbrel AP

We’re one third of the way through the season, so it’s time to check in on the award races.  First up is the NL Rookie of the Year.

The candidates

Wilson Ramos (C Nationals): .252/.336/.403, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB in 119 AB
Darwin Barney (2B Cubs): .311/.333/.389, 1 HR, 24 RBI, 3 SB in 193 AB
Justin Turner (INF Mets): .337/.384/.467, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 2 SB in 92 AB
Danny Espinosa (2B Nationals): .205/.302/.420, 8 HR, 29 RBI, 4 SB in 176 AB
Jason Pridie (OF Mets): .239/.320/.413, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 4 SB in 92 AB
Juan Miranda (1B Diamondbacks): .250/.370/.490, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB in 100 AB
Freddie Freeman (1B Braves): .254/.335/.392, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB in 181 AB

Brandon Beachy (Braves): 1-1, 3.45 ERA, 46/12 K/BB in 44 1/3 IP
Josh Collmenter (Diamondbacks): 3-1, 1.49 ERA, 21/4 K/BB in 36 1/3 IP
Clayton Mortensen (Rockies): 1-2, 2.83 ERA, 21/15 K/BB in 35 IP
Sam LeCure (Reds): 0-1, 3.18 ERA, 30/8 K/BB in 34 IP
Craig Kimbrel (Braves): 1-2, 15 Sv, 3.00 ERA, 40/13 K/BB in 27 IP

Last year, the NL had a much stronger rookie pool than the AL did.  This time around, not so much.  It doesn’t help that two Cardinals who would be very much in the mix for the award, Allen Craig and Fernando Salas, are both ineligible because they spent too much time on the team’s roster last year.  Also ineligible are Houston closer Mark Melancon and San Diego reliever Ernesto Frieri.

That doesn’t leave us with a whole lot to choose from.  Let’s look at how WAR (Baseball-Reference’s version) ranks the candidates:

Josh Collmenter: 1.0
Wilson Ramos: 1.0
Brandon Beachy: 0.9
Danny Espinosa: 0.9
Clayton Mortensen: 0.8
Craig Kimbrel: 0.6
Sam LeCure: 0.6
Darwin Barney: 0.5
Jason Pridie: 0.5
Justin Turner: 0.5
Juan Miranda: 0.2
Freddie Freeman: 0.0

Craig would actually be the leader here at 1.1 WAR, with Salas right behind at 1.0.

But those two don’t count, and WAR isn’t really doing anything to distinguish the candidates. Based solely on the results so far, I’d have to give Ramos the nod, even though he’s struggled offensively all month and particularly so the last 10 days.

Beachy, who has been out since May 13 with a strained oblique, did enough in his first seven starts to justify a place in the top three. After him, it’s mostly about personal preference. Collmenter has the shiny ERA, but he has made just four starts since moving into the rotation.  Kimbrel has the huge strikeout total, but he’s blown four of his 19 save chances and the Braves may well have been better off with someone else working the ninth the last two months.

Espinosa gets points for defense and baserunning, and even though his slash line is mediocre, he has has driven in 29 runs in 53 games. Barney, the NL rookie of the month for April, is only really hitting for average and doesn’t measure up with Espinosa defensively.

As for the first basemen, they’re really not in the mix yet, but there’s fourth months left for that to change. Freeman has been a below average regular to date, and Miranda is just getting started now. San Francisco’s Brandon Belt could yet be a factor, as could San Diego’s Anthony Rizzo.

So here’s my current top three, with the caveat that I don’t think any of them will be at the top of the list when all is said and done this year.

1. Wilson Ramos
2. Brandon Beachy
3. Danny Espinosa

  1. mss16 - May 31, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    By August, Dom Brown’s name will be on top of this list.

    • Utley's Hair - May 31, 2011 at 3:20 PM

      Here’s hoping.

      • drmonkeyarmy - May 31, 2011 at 3:33 PM

        He has an odd way about him. Looks like he is off balance when he swings sometimes. However, the ball just jumps off his bat. I think he is going to be a good one.

      • drmonkeyarmy - May 31, 2011 at 3:33 PM

        He has an odd way about him. Looks like he is off balance when he swings sometimes. However, the ball just jumps off his bat. I think he is going to be a good one.

      • Utley's Hair - May 31, 2011 at 4:10 PM

        No matter where he is—box or field—he looks like he has no control over his appendages.

        And what’s with the double post? You trying to make me feel drunk without the pleasure of getting that way?

  2. sdelmonte - May 31, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    The very idea that Justin Turner’s name would be in this story boggles the mind. He is no ROY, but he’s been a very pleasant surprise so far.

  3. jimbo1949 - May 31, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    Natinals, 2 out of the top 3? Wait til next year.

  4. Utley's Hair - May 31, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    With a minute sample size, Justin Turner shreds Phightins pitching.

  5. bjavie - May 31, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    Again, why do people view WAR as an actual statistic? Or, anything with meaning?

    1. There is no agreed upon way to fgure the stat, so one has to disclose where they got it. Opening it up for scrutity based solely on who figured it. “Site A’s way of figuring a made up statistic sucks. Site B knows what they are doing.”

    2. It requires an adjustment. No ‘figure’ that requires an adjustment can be a statistic. It just can’t.

    Recall last year when some dude over at SI.com said that Roy Oswalt’s WAR was 1 compared to Jamie Moyer….ONE!!!! The Phils went something like 12-1 in the games Oswalt pitched. They would have been .500 at best if Moyer had pitched.

    Sorry folks, it’s not a real stat and is meaningless. Yet, it sems to be HBT’s new bible on greatness.

    • Matthew Pouliot - May 31, 2011 at 4:56 PM

      So let’s throw out the stat because “some dude” over at SI said something? Besides, either you’re misremembering or he got it wrong.

      WAR is a valid tool. But it’s just one in the kit.

      • bjavie - May 31, 2011 at 5:15 PM

        There are plenty of statistics that are valid and agreed upon, so it’s not just someone’s use that makes me dislike WAR. It’s more that, based purely on the way WAR is figured, it’s more “an opinion expressed as a number” than a stat. Not unlike saying that girl is an 8, while that girl is a 7.

        I can tell you that Player A’s Avg. w/ RISP is .450 and Player B’s is .325. That’s a fact and it cannot be disputed that Player A is a better clutch hitter.

        But, if you say that Player A had a WAR of 4 and Player B had a WAR of 3, I am not really sure that tells anyone anything other than one’s was higher than the other when you account for the required “adjustments.” I’d be interested in the difference between websites on WAR, from my understanding it is possible that there could be significant differences based on “how one chooses to figure the stat.”

      • umrguy42 - May 31, 2011 at 5:33 PM

        bjavie, just to play devil’s advocate, actually, Avg. w/ RISP could be disputed – what if player B gets a lot more ABs w/ RISP than player A? Especially if, say, player A’s average there seems to be more of a statistical fluke? Or if say, both aren’t everyday players (like backup catchers)?

    • Tim OShenko - May 31, 2011 at 5:36 PM

      I have to both agree and disagree with you here, bjavie. I disagree with your charge that WAR is meaningless. Even if it requires adjustment, it’s still a useful tool for comparing ballplayers – as long as we’re talking two guys who play the same position.

      However, I agree that it’s not the “be all, end all” stat that some may like it to be. And this chart is a pretty good indication of why. According to WAR, Ramos is leading the pack of NL rookies, even though Miranda has better numbers across the board. Why? Because Miranda plays a power hitter’s position, and is only doing what’s expected of a 1B.

      Ramos is awesome, and as a Twins fan, I wish they still had him, but I’m not ready to hand him the ROY award (or even the 1/3rd-season ROY award) when guys like Miranda and Turner are putting up better numbers.

  6. vforleo - May 31, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    What about Logan Morrison? Isn’t he a rookie? and even though he has a stint on the DL he is still putting up great numbers.

    • Matthew Pouliot - May 31, 2011 at 4:51 PM

      Morrison was well over the limit with 244 at-bats last year.

  7. spudchukar - May 31, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    A little more love for Darwin Barney, I should think.

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