Monday, November 09, 2015

Hypothetical Ballot: Rookie of the Year

In the AL, only one rookie reached 500 plate appearances (five did in the NL) and none reached 150 innings pitched (three in the NL), so there is a dearth of full season candidates for Rookie of the Year honors. The only full-time rookie was Billy Burns, and his 20 RAR was good for just fourth among AL rookie hitters. Still, two rookie shortstops managed to stand out and rise above the pack as the clear 1 and 2 choices for the award. Offensively, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor had nearly identical production; Lindor's OBA was eleven points higher, Correa's SLG was twenty points higher. In ten more PA, Correa created three more runs, so the two were nearly identical in RG and RAR. Correa's 33 to 31 RAR lead doesn't hold up, though, when fielding and baserunning are brought into the equation. While both were average baserunners according to Baseball Prospectus (0 and -1 runs respectively), Lindor was +2 in FRAA, +11 in UZR, and +10 in DRS while Correa was -3, 0, -6. That's convincing enough to place Lindor ahead on my ballot.

One thing to note is that I think Correa's performance was more impressive than Lindor's in terms of "prospect" status, but I don't think that's what the award is for. Correa is a year younger and his offensive performance was less dependent on a high batting average (Lindor hit .313 with a .249 SEC, Correa hit .279 with a .339 SEC) and Lindor's power output was higher than most expected. But while that matters going forward, I think Lindor was a more valuable player in 2015.

Lance McCullers, Nate Karns, Andrew Heaney, and Carlos Rodon were all candidates for ballot spots from the pitching side. I chose to value Karns' 147 innings over Heaney and Rodon's better peripherals. Miguel Sano was sixth in the AL in RG among players with more than 300 PA (basically equivalent to Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista), but with just 333 PA and questionable value as a fielder or baserunner. So I have it:

1. SS Francisco Lindor, CLE
2. SS Carlos Correa, HOU
3. SP Lance McCullers, HOU
4. DH Miguel Sano, MIN
5. SP Nathan Karns, TB

The NL race is not close, as Kris Bryant put up a 50 RAR season and wasn't panned by the fielding metrics (-2 FRAA, +5 UZR, +3 DRS). Matt Duffy was thirteen runs behind offensively and was seen to be a good fielder, but even using the fielding metrics with no accounting for the additional uncertainty, Bryant would still be ahead. Joc Pederson and Jung Ho Kang are the other top position player candidates with 29 and 28 RAR, but FRAA hates Pederson (-19) while UZR and DRS just dislike him (-4 and -3 respectively). And yes I'm intentionally being silly by suggesting that the metrics like or dislike players. The consensus on Kang was slightly above average, which makes him the clear #3 hitter. Randal Grichuk is in the mix at 26 RAR, and one could certainly make a fielding case to put him ahead of Pederson.

Among pitchers, Noah Syndergaard's 29 RAR bests Anthony DeSclafani's 24, and Thor's peripherals are right in line with his RRA. So I see it as:

1. 3B Kris Bryant, CHN
2. 3B Matt Duffy, SF
3. SS Jung Ho Kang, PIT
4. SP Noah Syndergaard, NYN
5. CF Joc Pederson, LA

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