Now the NL
It pained me to include Taveras on the candidates list, because I don’t think he deserves a second thought. But he is widely considered a contender(he is the ESPN “third party candidate” in this race with Howard and Francouer as the top guys). However, I think there are a number of rookies I did not list such as Garrett Atkins and Victor Diaz just to name a few. Taveras hit 288/317/338 for a .092 Secondary Average. So he stole 34 bases and was thrown out 11 times. Even if you use the old generous Total Baseball weights of .3 for a SB and .6 for a CS, that’s 7 runs. Yippee. Yes, he played a full season while Howard and Francouer did not, but Howard and Francouer + replacement still add ten to twenty more runs then a full season of Taveras. And that includes a positional adjustment.
Anyway, the rookie crop fails to inspire anyway you slice it. The top rookie starter was Jeff Francis, who pitched 180 serviceable innings at Coors, which is commendable, but not award-worthy. Looking at the relievers, Tejada’s LI was only .44 according to BP, so he was mostly mopping up. Majewski and Qualls were each right around 1.3.
Ultimately, if I am given the choice for the
1. Ryan Howard, PHI
2. Jeff Francouer, ATL
3. Gary Majewski, WAS
Review of pre-season pick: JJ Hardy, MIL
Hardy may have cost himself the award by hitting 187/293/267 before the break. But he rebounded to hit 308/363/508 after the break which would have won it had it been over a full season. Of course, usually caveats about the word “if” apply. Hardy’s improvement coincided with a 42% decline in his walk rate, although his .086 W/AB ratio in the second half is still fairly good for a young hitter. Hardy was a solid player this year and though he may have to move off short some day, should have a very solid career and could also become something special.