Now we move on to Rookie of the Year picks, starting as always with the American League and working our way to the Neanderthal League. First I will give a long list of potential candidates with their RAR and RAA figures(for position players, they are versus an average hitter at their position):
ESPN.com has a page devoted to the awards with two writers making the case on behalf of two different players, and then a “third-party candidate”. For this race, the two major guys are Gomes and Street and the third-party is Iguchi.
The forgotten men in all of this are Joe Blanton and Gustavo Chacin. Blanton worked 201 innings with a 3.89 RA and Chacin worked 203 innings with a 4.00 RA. Both of them appear to have been “lucky”, with Blanton posting a 4.13 eRA and 4.93 GRA, and Chacin at 4.51/4.53, as Blanton gave up hits on 25.4% of his balls in play; Chacin at the league average rate of 29.8%. However, while Blanton and Chacin may not have pitched as well as it appears, when considering value this season, the runs are where it’s at. Blanton and Chacin project as solid starters, not aces, but they both deserve more consideration in the
The hitters are not particularly close to the pitchers; Iguchi, Gomes, and Cano are the only solid candidates, and Iguchi has the Japanese League thing working against him(although I don’t think it should). So it comes down to the pitchers.
Street at +37 RAR trails Blanton and Chacin, but is well ahead at +26 runs above average. He also worked in high leverage situations as a short reliever, but Baseball Prospectus puts his leverage index at just 1.19. Crain is behind in both and has a very low 21.6% $H. If you use the BP leverage result, and assume that Blanton and Chacin as starters had 1.00 LI, Street can move to +44/31. Combined with his strong eRA and GRA, as well as his youth advantage, is enough to win my vote:
2. Joe Blanton, OAK
3. Gustavo Chacin, TOR
Review of pre-season pick: Nick Swisher, OAK
As much as I'd love to pass out love to my fellow Buckeye, he is not worthy of ROY consideration. But he had a solid rookie season and should continue to improve and become a very good major league hitter. My favorite player in baseball.