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2012 midseason awards: NL Rookie of the Year

Jul 4, 2012, 6:47 PM EDT

Bryce Harper Getty Images

If the NL is going to narrow the talent gap with the AL in the coming years, it doesn’t really show up here. Sure, there’s a likely superstar playing well in Bryce Harper, but the AL can seemingly cancel him out with Mike Trout, who is playing a whole lot better. Beyond Harper, it’s a weak class of rookies in the NL.

The candidates:

Zack Cozart (Cin): .250/.298/.403, 8 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB in 308 AB
Yonder Alonso (SD): .257/.338/.355, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 2 SB in 276 AB
Kirk Nieuwenhuis (NYM): .275/.335/.414, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 3 SB in 244 AB
Bryce Harper (Was): .276/.349/.478, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 8 SB in 228 AB
Norichika Aoki (Mil): .292/.355/.440, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 10 SB in 209 AB
Todd Frazier (Cin): .273/.342/.552, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 1 SB in 165 AB
Wilin Rosario (Col): .247/.280/.533, 14 HR, 36 RBI, 3 SB in 182 AB
Andrelton Simmons (Atl): .323/.364/.495, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB in 99 AB

Lucas Harrell (Hou): 7-6, 4.56 ERA, 65/35 K/BB in 102 2/3 IP
Wade Miley (Ari): 9-4, 2.87 ERA, 66/19 K/BB in 94 IP
Randall Delgado (Atl): 4-8, 4.52 ERA, 64/39 K/BB in 79 2/3 IP
Michael Fiers (Mil): 3-2, 2.29 ERA, 41/8 K/BB in 39 1/3 IP
Jared Hughes (Pit): 2-0, 1 Sv, 2.20 ERA, 21/14 K/BB in 41 IP

And here’s how Baseball-reference WAR ranks them:

2.2 – Miley
2.2 – Simmons
1.6 – Cozart
1.5 – Harper
1.4 – Fiers
1.2 – Aoki
1.2 – Frazier
0.8 – Nieuwenhuis
0.7 – Rosario
0.4 – Hughes
0.3 – Harrell
-0.2 – Delgado
-0.4 – Alonso

Yeah, WAR is that wild about Simmons’ defense. Most seem in agreement that he’s already one of the game’s best glovemen at short, and he’s been surprisingly productive offensively. Still, he’s played in all of 28 games this season, so I don’t think he belongs on the Rookie of the Year ballot just yet.

Like WAR, I think it comes down to Miley, Cozart and Harper. Frazier and Rosario are putting up great power numbers, but they’ve received only limited action and both could be called defensive liabilities. While Rosario has been above average at throwing out basestealers, he’s committed a major league-high eight errors behind the dish.

Miley gave up eight runs last time out, but he’s allowed one or no runs in eight of 13 starts. The Diamondbacks have scored a total of five runs in his four losses.

Cozart is miscast as a top-of-the-order hitter, but he’s been solid enough offensively and defensively. I don’t think he has much of a ceiling, but just being an average regular is good enough to get him a spot on the ballot right now.

And then there’s Harper. He’s not a superstar yet, but he’s been a whole lot better than I figured he’d be as a 19-year-old. He’ll probably show a bit more power in the second half, and he has to be regarded as the favorite to win the hardware in the end-of-season balloting. Right now, though, he’s the runner-up.

My ballot
1. Miley
2. Harper
3. Cozart

2012 midseason awards: AL Rookie of the Year

  1. hittfamily - Jul 4, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Why is it a weak class behind Harper?

    I’d say it’s a weak class behind Rosario!

    Rosario: 247/.280/.533, 14 HR, 36 RBI, 3 SB in 182 AB
    Harper: 276/.349/.478, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 8 SB in 228 AB

    One is a catcher. 1 is a right fielder. By no means am I talking about the rest of their careers, but so far this season, give me the catcher with virtually the same OPS and twice as many homers in fewer AB.

    The list of catchers with career .800 OPS is much smaller than the list of right fielders.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Jul 4, 2012 at 8:30 PM

      That OBP is truly horrendous, though. All things being equal, a .247/.280/.533 isn’t putting as many runs on the board as a .276/.349/.478 line, OPS be damned.

      Of course, the fact that Rosario is a catcher putting up those numbers mitigates that somewhat.

      There’s one more thing, though: Coors Field is back playing like a huge hitter’s park this season. Now, Rosario is actually putting up much better numbers on the road than at home, so it’s not doing him much good. However, it’s another thing that makes his line less valuable than it looks.

      • hittfamily - Jul 4, 2012 at 8:37 PM

        That is a terrible obp. However as a Rays fan, I am also aware that we have had 4 good right fielders come through our system (Huff, Zobrist, Joyce, Baldelli). Our best catcher ever, either through the system, trade or free agency, is ….Toby Hall, maybe Dioner Navarro…I don’t know, they’re all abortions. Rosario’s slugging % is slightly lower than our greatest catcher ever’s career OPS.

        The point is, is that right fielder with a .827 OPS is nice. It’s good, but slightly above league average. A catcher with an OPS of .813 is 8 years away from the HOF. Whatever he lacks in BB, he makes up for with 14 jacks in -200 PA.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Jul 4, 2012 at 8:46 PM

        Yeah, I’ll agree with most of that. In general, a catcher with an .813 OPS is going to be more valuable than a right fielder with an .827 OPS.

        FWIW, major league right fielders have a .780 OPS overall this year, while catchers are at .716. And this has been a very good year for catchers.

      • hittfamily - Jul 4, 2012 at 9:08 PM

        crap. I hit the wrong respond button.

    • hittfamily - Jul 4, 2012 at 9:06 PM

      Thanks for that info. Harpers has average defense combined with .047 pts higher of OPS compared to his peers. Rosario is a subpar defensive catcher with .097 pts higher of OPS compared to his peers.

      I think WAR really undervalues Rosario, but like I said…Rays fan. Jose Lobaton, John Jaso, Greg Zaun, Toby Hall, Kelly Shoppach (not this year), Dioneer Navarro…In my mind, any catcher who has a higher slugging percentage than ob % ought to be a finalist for the silver slugger.

      I wouldn’t disagree with Harper, but brushing off Rosario is overlooking a nice year at a premium position. How many rookie catchers are plus defenders anyways? None?

      Some days I hate Friedman, because Tim Beckham instead of Buster Posey may well bypass the major eff up that was him leaving Josh Hamilton unprotected, and has already bypassed his signing of Pat burrel to a 24 mm contract

    • detroitfanatic - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:17 AM

      Hittfamily is absolutley right!

      You guys pick and choose which stats you want to use! Rosario is better away from Coors field than he is at it. And yet you still discount his season because of it! You’d have discounted his year whether he was good at home, and bad on the road, and that statement proved it.

      Just because someone plays in Co, they are overrated.

      WAR has done it to Rays pitchers for years. Matt Moore has a negative WAR, with a 4 ERA , with the shittiest defense in baseball. Last year, with the best defense in baseball, his WAR would be almost .7,

      Wilin Rosario is not a good offensive catcher because Matthew said so, even with nothing to prove it.

      We all know defensive WAR can’t be known until their is over 2 years worth of data. At least that is what I am told every time I argue for Ben Zobrist.

      As far as I am concerned WAR is a great way of determining future value. K/bb, FO compared to SO, compared to line drives. However, When you start voting as to who the best player is, you have to vote on measurables, not fake measurables. The guy who had 20 HR is more valuable than the guy who should have had 20 hr.

      Wilin had the most HR. He had more RBI, He was the better player!!!!, regardless of what the should have beens say!

      Another thing about Matthew’s math: Averages can be done 3 different ways. Median, mean and mode. According to Median and Mode, Rosario is elite, and Harper isn’t.

      “Well, Rosario does play at Coors field”

      Next sentence : “but he is a better hitter on th road:

      Why is Rosario discounted because of that? You could say the same thing about anybody, but you don’t. You say ” David Price

      • paperlions - Jul 5, 2012 at 8:27 AM

        Well, let’s see.

        Moore has a 4.17 ERA, the AL average is 4.04. Let’s see, 4.17 is worse than 4.04, therefore even his ERA is below average.

        Moore also has advantages other pitchers that put up that 4.04 ERA don’t have. His defense is not the worst in the majors, the Tampa defense has been roughly average this year. Moore is walking 4.26 batters per 9 IP. That is A LOT. You can’t get guys out if you don’t make them swing the bat, those runners are 100% on the pitcher.

        Most importantly Moore pitched nearly 2/3 of his innings at home, which is a huge pitchers park, and his ERA is STILL below average.

        fWAR >> bWAR and fWAR had Moore at 0.7, which seems about right (league average for a year is roughly 2.0, so at this point an average pitcher should be the neighborhood of 1.0 WAR). Moore is actually close to average because of his above average K total, which has offset his high walk rate.

        Rosario’s .280 OBP is 12 kinds of horrible. That would rank 9th from last among regular players. OBP is the single most important offensive stat as it is most highly correlated with scoring runs. Plus, his defense is awful. He leads the league in pass balls and is 4th in wild pitches (while credited to the pitcher, catchers can prevent them) despite being 20th in innings caught.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Jul 5, 2012 at 11:04 AM

        Because regardless of how Rosario’s splits line up, the value of a run for the Rockies (playing half of their games in Coors Field) is still less than the value of a run for the Nationals or pretty much any other team.

        The fact that Rosario has been much better on the road than at home could be viewed as a good thing for his long-term prospects. Obviously, his power isn’t a Coors Field creation; the guy is a legitimate home run hitter.

        But from a value standpoint, it doesn’t matter much than the majority of his production has come on the road. That’s not a reflection on him, but on the value of his performance.

  2. stairwayto7 - Jul 4, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    If Rosario played in Chicago or New York he would run away with Rookie if year.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Jul 4, 2012 at 10:48 PM

      Damn right. Like last year, when they stiffed the small-market Dodgers outfielder and gave the MVP to the large-market Milwaukee Brewer. Curse you, BBWAA!

      The BBWAA certainly has its biases when it comes to voting, but it’s RBI and wins, not Red Sox and Yankees.

      • Ben - Jul 4, 2012 at 11:57 PM

        Rosario is a league-average hitter. 100 wRC+. That’s incredibly valuable out of a catcher, but his 4.1% walk rate saps a lot of his value, and it’s hard to imagine him raising that average much if he continues striking out in 25% of his PAs. But, as I said, a league-average hitter is a valuable piece. Just not a RoY.

      • detroitfanatic - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:40 AM

        Kinda like when Zobrist led all of baseball in WAR last year, but finished 16th in MVP vote, or was 2nd in all of baseall in 2009, but finished 8th in AL MVP voting?

      • detroitfanatic - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:06 AM

        Sorry ben. I missed your post. I am aware 100+ equals average. If a catcher ever hits 45+ hr (which is what Rosario is on pace for over 580 PA) the rewrite your + laws, becasue I’ll be sufferering from mental retardation! (somebody, nicerway of putting it for my future?)

      • jdouble777 - Jul 5, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        It’s both, lets be objective for a minute.

      • sabsguitarist77 - Jul 23, 2012 at 7:23 PM

        Lol the Brewers are a large market team?

  3. rickeye9 - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    all about Miley

  4. ezthinking - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    Matthew, you’re getting off the hook by these folks letting Cozart stay in the top 3 with crap numbers. Brag up D all you can, but teammate in Frazier smokes him.

    WAR, which ever BS version you use, is meaningless. The fact there are two versions that are divergent on their method for calculation invalidates the “scale.” It’s like saying 2+2 = 3.2 or 4.6 depending on …. Would you teach your kids this? At least OBP, BA, win%, k/9, etc. at least teach kids usable math.

    Rosario is the class of the crop so far.

    • paperlions - Jul 5, 2012 at 8:31 AM

      Just say you don’t understand what WAR tries to do and be done with it.

      WAR tries to estimate value of all contributions.

      BA tries to estimate value of offensive contribution, but does so poorly.
      HR tries to estimate value of offensive contribution, but does so poorly.
      RBI tries to estimate value of offensive contribution, but does so poorly.
      OBP tries to estimate value of offensive contribution, but does so poorly.
      SLG tries to estimate value of offensive contribution, but does so poorly.
      and so on.

      WAR does a better, but imperfect, job of estimating value than any of the traditional metrics….just like wOBA and wRC+ do better jobs of estimating offensive production than any of the traditional stats.

    • paperlions - Jul 5, 2012 at 8:33 AM

      …but I agree that having Cozart in the top 3 is silly. After a hot start, he’s been pretty bad, with about average defense….like many SS, he alleged “value” mostly comes from standing at SS.

  5. jdouble777 - Jul 5, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Bryce Harper is 19!!!!!!

    He is 14 months younger than Trout and about 3 years younger than Rosario. Can you imagine Bryce in three years????

    I know, I know…the debate is MOSTLY pertaining to who should nab the award for THIS season, but it was mentioned that Trout is playing “way better” so I thought it would be purposeful to chime in about a very important factor left out.

    RBIs and HRs are a huge part of a hitter’s ability, but getting on-base most certainly plays a part. B Harp has 41Rs while Ros has 29…really the difference is #2 holes v.s. #4. Bryce’s role is not to go up there and see how far he can hit the ball, if it was then being in Coor’s would help him I would imagine.

    So, let’s not discount everything for a player’s ability to just hack at everything that comes by. Moreover, Bryce is not just a better fielder he is an INSANE fielder with absurd speed and one of the most ridiculous cannon’s I have ever seen. In general, an elite defender in the OF is worth way more than on playing C and Ros is about average back there while Bryce is above average out there.

    All in all, as this season wears on and Bryce works his way toward turning 20 I think it is likely he will start to look more like Trout and less like everyone else.

  6. xjokerz - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:01 AM

    I don’t trust Miley … However Harper by the end of the year will have his Roy wrapped in a box that says ” I am the man “

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