The Rookie of the Year race this year was as close as can be in both leagues. In the National League it could have gone four ways and in the American League I think it was totally up for grabs. Marlins’ outfielder, Chris Coglan, took the award in the NL and in the AL, it was A’s closer Andrew Bailey bringing home the award.
Let’s begin with the AL and here is how my ballot would have gone:
First place vote: Andrew Bailey
Second: Rick Porcello
Third: Elvis Andrus
When I initially thought AL ROTY, my first instinct was Porcello, who was solid for most of the season. Although by the end of the year, he only had the fourth best ERA in his starting rotation (behind Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and Jarrod Washburn) and it was 3.96. His strikeout numbers weren’t that great and he had a bad June and July. He is a groundball pitcher who will have success in this league but he won’t overpower anybody. This isn’t a knock on him, but expect a Derek Lowe type career from him.
And I see better things coming for both Elvis Andrus and Andrew Bailey. The reason I have Andrus third is because, with a .267 average, I’m not sure how much love you’re going to get. However he does have a solid glove and huge upside, the kid is only 21.
But Bailey flew under the radar all throughout the season and even at the end of the season, the casual fan still probably couldn’t tell you he was tearing it up in Oakland. The A’s weren’t all too great this year and they played in the western time zone so it makes a little sense if you didn’t know who the kid was. But the kid is electric. To go along with his 1.84 ERA, he struck out 91 batters in 83.1 innings. He was 26 for 30 in save oppurtunities and he didn’t get his first two saves until May and didn’t blow any saves after June 16. Talk about finding his place. It wasn’t that long ago that another A’s closer won ROTY as well, when Huston Street did it in 2005.
For the NL, it was a tough one and it really could have gone either way but here’s what I would have put down:
First: JA Happ
Second: Chris Coghlan
Third: Tommy Hanson
It was so close that I think I may have needed some hometown bias in this one. But really, Happ lead the Phillies starters in ERA, on a staff that includes a few All Star caliber pitchers. He threw two complete game shutouts, as a rookie, in the National League. He was the most reliable Phillies starter this season and always kept the team in the game. He knows how to pitch and he disguises his pitches well and he sure has a rotation spot locked up for next season.
But Coghlan won the award, who was equally as impressive this year, he barely beat out happ by 11 votes. He really came into his own in the second half this year after being called up mid-season. He is a true leadoff hitter as he was mentioned in many sentences this season with Hall of Famers and All Stars today regarding his hit totals. He drives the ball to all fields and takes a decent approach at the plate. He’s the tablesetter that Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu needed. Congrats to him for winning the award.
Althought however, Tommy Hanson and Andrew McCutchen fell farther back than I thought they would. I thought that this race was going to be a lot closer. Tommy Hanson has some dirty stuff and if he can avoid injury will post huge strikeout numbers in his career. The Braves are sure to have one of the best rotations in the league next year and Hanson will be a big part of that. Then there’s McCutchen who is a five tool player that, at the rate the Pirates are at now, will trade him for more three decent-but-nothing-special Double-A players sometime in the next few years. Kidding of course. The Buccos know they need to hang on to this kid if they ever want to be good in the next twenty years.
I’m expecting all four of these guys to have great careers.
The AL Cy Young announcement is tomorrow, I’m expecting it to be Zack Greinke. No one else is really too close. Then the Manager of the Year announcement is on Wednesday. Jim Tracy is going to run away with the NL while Mike Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire are my co-winners in the AL.
It may be too early to vote, but I got to show appreciation to the guys off to the hot starts so I voted. Here are my all stars as of today. I’ll just give you the starters and then I’ll do a complete all star roster (my opinion) when the full rosters are revealed.
1B Kevin Youkilis
.395 5 HR 15 RBI 1 SB
2B Ian Kinsler
.322 7 HR 20 RBI 7 SB
SS Marco Scutaro
.281 5 HR 15 RBI 1 SB
3B Evan Longoria
.369 6 HR 24 RBI 1 SB
C Victor Martinez
.386 5 HR 11 RBI
OF Jason Bay
.324 5 HR 19 RBI 2 SB
OF Torii Hunter
.325 8 HR 16 RBI 1 SB
OF Nick Markakis
.381 2 HR 22 RBI
1B Albert Pujols
.337 8 HR 28 RBI 4 SB
2B Chase Utley
.342 7 HR 20 RBI 2 SB
SS Hanley Ramirez
.289 2 HR 12 RBI 3 SB
3B Ryan Zimmerman
.289 5 HR 16 RBI
C Bengie Molina
.329 4 HR 18 RBI
OF Andre Ethier
.306 5 HR 22 RBI 1 SB
OF Raul Ibanez
.359 7 HR 17 RBI 3 SB
OF Manny Ramirez
.372 5 HR 15 RBI
Team Preview: Florida Marlins
Projected MLB Rank: 14th (t) — NL Rank: 9th (t) — NL East Rank: 3rd (t) — Record: (82-80)
The Florida Marlins may have silently become one of the biggest threats in the National League. The team’s built of young stars with a lethal combo of electric arms and powerful bats. I would not be suprised at all if they ended up playing playoff baseball–if they could stay healthy.
It starts with their studded young rotation. Ricky Nolasco solidified himself last year as the ace at the end of the season, when they have two other starters that could snag that title in the future as well. Nolasco got even better as the season progressed and finished off his 2008 with a 3.52 ERA, a 15-8 record, and 186 strikeouts next to 42 walks (12 in the second half). I would consider him to be my wild card to win the Cy Young award.
Josh Johnson might be considered the ace if he was healthy last season. In 14 starts he posted seven wins and only one loss. The 25 year old also held a 3.61 ERA and struck out 77 batters. The rotation continues with who I think could be the future ace of this staff, 22 year old Chris Volstad. Volstad came up midway through last season and in 14 starts and a relief appearance he compiled a 2.88 ERA while going 6-4. He rolls groundball outs like it’s his job and should improve his strikeout/walk ratio in 2009. Anibal Sanchez certainly has big punch potential but had a rough ten starts last season. The rotation finishes off with southpaw Andrew Miller, who came over in the Cabrera/Willis trade. He should continue to develop and one day will reach his potential.
The addition of Leo Nunez will help this bullpen. Nunez posted a 2.98 ERA in 45 games last season with the Royals. He even has the potential to move into the closer role if Matt Lindstrom can’t get the job done. Lindstrom saved 5 games last season when Kevin Gregg went down at the end of the season. In 66 total games last season he had a 3.14 ERA and is currently considered Florida’s closer. The rest of the bullpen is average. Logan Kensing and Renyel Pinto both had ERA’s over 4.00 and the addition of Scott Proctor who posted a ERA over 6.00 last year isn’t exactly an improvement.
The lineup is a serious threat. Hanley Ramirez was basically a star in this league before he even played a game in the majors. Don’t be suprised if he surpasses his 33 homeruns and 67 RBIs last season now that it looks like he will be batting in the three spot. Jorge Cantu was a nice suprise last season when he hit 29 homeruns and drove in 95 runs, and he’s only 27. Expect Dan Uggla to continue this season after he hit 32 homers with 92 RBIs and a .514 slugging percentage.
Leftfielder Cody Ross is a serious homerun threat and shouldn’t have to platoon this season as he did last year. Look out for him to top his 22 homeruns and 73 RBIs. Jeremy Hermida needs to step up his game if he wants to stick around Miami, or atleast start. He is supposed to be a power and speed threat but looked nothing like that last season with 17 homeruns and six steals.
This will be the first full season for John Baker, Cameron Maybin, and Gaby Sanchez. In 61 games last season, Baker hit .299 with five homers and 32 RBIs and will probably be the Marlins starting catcher come April. Maybin probably won’t hit at the rate he did last season for the eight major league games he played (16 for 32) but he’s said to be a future all star and he’s got speed. Sanchez would be a nice option to open up the season at first base but if he isn’t ready, the Marlins shouldn’t rush him. Cantu could simply start the season at first and the Marlins deep bench could fill the hole at third with Dallas McPherson, Wes Helms, or Emilio Bonifacio.
As I mentioned earlier, I would not be suprised at all to see this team winning the Wild Card. They key is for them to stay healthy and not to strikeout as much. Fredi Gonzalez has done a nice job thus far as the Marlins manager and the league should watch out this year for this team.
Oh yea, They will be staying in Miami now too.
Congratulations to Dustin Pedrioa, he’s the MVP, all five foot nine inches of him. He would have been my choice. He hit .326 and became the main producer while David Ortiz was hurt and Manny was just being Manny. In August and September, Pedrioa was third in the Majors in hits and was tied in second in runs scored. In 2008 he had the second highest batting average in th AL, two points behind Joe Mauer. He was tied with Ichiro for the league league in hits. He lead the AL in runs scored and was second in the majors behind Hanley Ramirez. He had the fourth most at-bats in all the majors, threw up 83 RBI, and stole 20 bases. His fielding was spectacular. His .992 fielding percentage was tops among major league second-basemen that started atleast 115 games. He turned 101 double plays and made only 6 errors in 733 total chances. That was the deciding factor in my choice of Pedrioa.
Here is how I would have cast my ballot–
First: Dustin Pedrioa (BOS)
Second: Justin Morneau (MIN)
Third: Carlos Quentin (CHW)
4th: Francisco Rodriguez (LAA)
5th: Joe Mauer (MIN)
6th: Josh Hamilton (TEX)
7th: Kevin Youkilis (BOS)
8th: Carlos Pena (TB)
9th: Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
10th: Evan Longoria (TB)
It looks as if Ryan Dempster is going to resign with the Cubs. The 31-year-old went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA. He wanted to stay in with the Cubs and it seems as if for roughly four years and 52 million dollars (with an option for a fifth year) he will keep calling Wrigley home. He comes back and joins a rotation that looks similar to the 2008 squad. I imagine it will go as follows…
Early Projection for Cubs 2009 Rotation:
1. Ryan Dempster (17-6/2.96/187 in 33 starts)
2. Ted Lilly (17-9/4.09/184 in 34 starts)
3. Carlos Zambrano (14-6/3.91/130 in 30 starts)
4. Rich Harden (10-2/2.07/181 in 25 starts (12 with CHC))
5. Jason Marquis (11-9/4.53/91 in 28 starts (1 relief appearance))
Jeff Samardzija is a wild card to join the rotation as well after he came up and did a nice job out of the bullpen. He had a 2.28 ERA in 26 appearances. Although it seems as if he may stay in a relief role now that they’ve traded away promising minor leaguer Jose Ceda. They do gain Kevin Gregg but my guess is that Samardzija stays in the bullpen unless there is an injury to the rotation, etc.
The Cubs could place Zambrano, Dempster, and Harden anywhere they wanted to within the 1, 3, and 4 slots. Lou Piniella tagged Dempster the starter in game one of the NLDS so that makes me think that as of right now, he has the most confidence in Dempster. The rotation will shape up after the spring.