Monday, November 04, 2013

IBA Ballot: Rookie of the Year

In the spirit of full disclosure of the type that no one would even care about, I did not cast a ballot in the IBAs this year; I was busy with some other stuff and forgot about the deadline. But this is how I would have voted if I did. I’m sure the voting went just fine even without my input.

It was not a particularly strong year for American League rookies. JB Shuck led AL rookies with 464 plate appearances, so there weren’t any full-time, full-season position players in the crop. Incidentally, I would love to be able to justify a vote for Shuck given his alma mater, but it wouldn’t be intellectually honest. He demonstrated the ability to be a fifth outfielder but little else, hitting .299 but with a secondary average of just .138 thanks to an .075 isolated power which ranked last among AL corner outfielders (only Ichiro at .080, Melky Cabrera at .081, and the cratering Nick Markakis at .084 failed to crack .100).

The position player who made the strongest case was Wil Myers, whose callup was delayed, holding him to 88 games and 368 PA. In that time, though, he easily led all AL rookies with 25 RAR and was one of the most productive hitters in the league, ranking twelfth with 6.2 RG. The best of the rest among the position players were middle infielders with Seattle’s pair of Brad Miller and Nick Franklin and Boston/Detroit’s Jose Iglesias. However, Iglesias’ fielding metrics did not match his defensive reputation; his BABIP-driven 12 RAR was very close to that of Miller (14) and Franklin (11). Both Miller and Franklin displayed impressive power for middle infielders (.154 and .157 ISO respectively); Franklin had 80 more PA but a BA forty points lower. Defensive metrics did not like Miller (-5, -2, -3 in FRAA, UZR, DRS) but had a mixed take on Franklin (15, -6, 3).

Myers’ best competition for the award came from his teammate Chris Archer, who led AL starters with 27 RAR. Archer’s peripherals were good as well (3.79 eRA), but his .258 BABIP results in just enough of a ding to edge Myers ahead for me. Dan Straily (21 RAR) and Martin Perez (20 RAR) similarly performed less well in DIPS metrics than in actual runs allowed/peripherals. Another Ray, reliever Alex Torres, was good enough to slip into the final spot on my ballot; a 2.02 RRA over 58 innings made him as valuable as Mariano Rivera, leverage and cheap rhetorical tricks aside (18 RAR).

1. RF Wil Myers, TB
2. SP Chris Archer, TB
3. SP Dan Straily, OAK
4. SP Martin Perez, TEX
5. RP Alex Torres, TB

If Wil Myers had played in the NL, he would be on the bubble for a spot on the bottom of the ballot. The top of the ballot belongs to Jose Fernandez, a legitimate candidate for the non-Kershaw division of the Cy Young discussion, who was simply superb with a 2.33 RRA over 173 innings. Say what you will about the way the Marlins organization is managed and the financial consequences of the decision, they were absolutely right that Fernandez was ready for the majors.

Behind him, the next two spots belong to the Dodgers’ key rookies Hyun-jin Ryu and Yasiel Puig. I don’t dock either of them for international experience. Puig only had 418 PA, but when you hit .328/.388/.548 that doesn’t really matter; a full season of that production would have made Puig v. Fernndez a very interesting case. I have Ryu just ahead of Puig in RAR (43 to 41), but Ryu’s dRA wasn’t quite as good as his actual runs allowed which is enough to scoot Puig ahead. Puig faired decently in defensive and baserunning metrics despite the well-publicized questionable decisions, leaving offense-only RAR as a decent gauge of his value.

Three other starters were in the mix, with Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller, and Gerrit Cole all topping 25 RAR, and there are also two more +20 RAR batters in Jedd Gyorko and Matt Adams. Throw in Nolan Arenado, who didn’t hit much (3.6 RG for 8 RAR) but won a Gold Glove and faired great on fielding metrics, and the NL crop puts the AL to shame. Even giving Arenado full credit for his fielding metrics (17 FRAA, 21 UZR, 30 DRS) is only enough to put him just ahead of Gyorko, so I’ll side with the hitting (Gyorko created 4.7 runs/game to Arenado’s 3.6):

1. SP Jose Fernandez, MIA
2. RF Yasiel Puig, LA
3. SP Hyun-jin Ryu, LA
4. SP Julio Teheran, ATL
5. 2B Jedd Gyorko, SD

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