Awards Season

Awards season has arrived. Unfortunately, I don’t have a vote on any of the awards, so I have to reveal my choices here. So, dear readers, consider this a You’re Not a Golfer Exclusive!

I’ll do one every day or so, sometimes with more comment (NL MVP, Cy Young), sometimes with less (AL Manager).

Rookie of the Year is the first award announced, so it’s the first one I’ll weigh in on. It’s only a three-name ballot.

Here’s how I’d go in the NL.

1. Ryan Howard — I know he only had 312 at-bats. He was just a beast even so. A 288/356/567 line is awesome, as is 22 homers in 312 at-bats.

2. Jeff Francoeur — Just like Howard, it’s not the number of ABs, it’s what he did with them. Francoeur smacked 35 extra-base hits and slugged .549. I’ll take that.

3. Zach Duke — And another in the same category. Brilliance in a small period of time, to me, outweighs being decent over 500 at-bats or 150 innings.

I know most Cardinal fans would probably vote for Willy Taveras, after seeing so much of him. And if Taveras ever starts drawing some walks to improve on that OBP (.325 as a leadoff man? ouch), or adds some extra-base hits a la Carl Crawford, he’ll be something special. But for now, a guy with a line of 291/325/341 doesn’t impress me even if he gets 700 at-bats.

One other note on Taveras: some advanced metrics have ranked him as an excellent center fielder, but he never looks good when I watch him. He can fly, but he always looks like he takes bad routes to balls. I’d love to hear what people think of him defensively.

-M.

15 Comments

I definetly agree with Zach Duke for the award. He has great stuff, and it seems to me that no one really talks about him as they should. If he gets this, it will most certainly put his name out there.

damon has been the team’s 2nd best hitter this year, after a-rod. and gibami gets on base at over a 40% rate against lefties this year. you can’t bench both of these guys simultaneously in these types of games down the stretch. it is inexcusable to have melky and christian in the same lineup. next time he’ll probably put in molina too, and so maybe the offense will actually score a negatve number of runs.if he really felt that damon needed the day off, he has to put gibami in the lineup as the dh, with nady in lf with one of melky/christian on the bench. and if he really felt that gibami needed the day off, then damon needs to play for one of melky/christian. it’s one thing to do something like this if you have a 10 game lead on a playoff spot. but when you are desperate for wins you can’t put this kind of lineup out there, especially with the current state of the yankee pitching staff. the lineup has enough annoying issues when it is at full strength, what’s the point of weakening it so much against a team that is directly ahead of them in the wild card hunt? and if girardi is benching gibami because a lefty is on the mound, then girardi just hasn’t been paying attention to gibami’s performance against lefties this year.

Taveras did not have a great season….but give him a break, the guy completely skipped triple-A to play for the Astros. Plus, he did play the whole season, and led all rookies with hits. Sure, he may take bad routes to the ball and get bad reads, but it doesn’t matter as long as he makes the catch. I just want to see him steal more than 34 bases next season. For his speed, I want to see at least 50 SB out of him a year. The only reason I think he deserves to be rookie of the year is because he played all season, and came up from triple-A. Francour went cold at the end of the season, but imagine if that was midseason and he played the whole year. I don’t think folks would be talking much about him. And Howard was good, but I’d like to see him out of Citizens Bank ballpark, where balls flew outta there with regularity. Duke was good, and I’d see him to be the only one who should go up against Taveras.

Chris, “The Home Stretch in Houston”

Sorry, i meant he didnt come up from triple a….my mistake.

You have to give the rookie honor to Taveras. Anybody can be hot for a few months. Performing over an entire season is a different thing altogether, and Willie performed. Yes, he needs to take more walks, and yes, he’s still learning to play the outfield. But that speed… he brings intangibles to the game that add up. Staying out of double plays, messing with the minds of infielders and pitchers… he’s not perfect, but he’s proven himself more thoroughly than the other candidates. And he was improving toward the end of the year. Remember his extra-base hits in the series? Remember his catch on Tal’s hill against the Cards? He has the potential to be special with a little more experience.

Addressing a few points…

1. Here are Howard’s splits:

http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/stats/individual_player_splits.jsp?c_id=phi&playerID=429667&statType=1

He was just as good at home as on the road.

Here are Taveras’ splits:

http://houston.astros.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/stats/individual_player_splits.jsp?c_id=hou&playerID=430838&statType=1

He’s actually the guy who got the huge boost from his home ballpark. Take him out of Minute Maid and we’re not even having this conversation.

2. The postseason is irrelevant. The award is based on the regular season.

3. It’s also not about potential. It’s about what you did this year. And like I said, I just don’t think 291/325/341, no matter how many at-bats, helps your team win more than 288/356/567 over 310 at-bats.

I think Taveras has the potential to turn into a terrific player — if, as I said, he learns to take more walks and comes into a little power. If he turns into Carl Crawford or Kirby Puckett (amazingly, Puckett is No. 1 on his comparables list through age 23 at baseballreference.com), that’s a really special player. But if he doesn’t, then you’re talking about something more out of the Brian L. Hunter collection, and that doesn’t help you win a lot of games.

-M.

Why is it that people never give Houston players any credit? Willy Taveras is the rookie of the year he played all season long and he deserves it, and trust me he will be a terrific player in the years to come. One other thing you don’t have to have power when your a lead off guy as long as you can get on base that’s what counts, Astros will win the World Series in 2006 mark my words!!

The leadoff hitters job is to get on base, and Taveras isn’t particularly adept at that either. He only walked 25 times the ENTIRE season. Howard had more walks than that (33) in nearly half the number of ABs. Also, the best leadoff men do MORE than just get on base. Think about it, Johnny Damon, Carl Crawford, Ichiro Suzuki, David Eckstein, Grady Sizemore, Rafael Fucal, and Jimmy Rollins, all of whom are fantastic leadoff men, ALL have SLG% of at least .400 (except Eckstein who is at a comparable .395). Even Scott Podsednik, who had 0 HRs during the regular season, had a slightly higher slugging percentage than Taveras. Tavaras may be a great player in the FUTURE, but this award is based on the PRESENT, and Ryan Howard did everything a fine power hitter should do. He walked, he hit for a good average, and he mashed the ball. Willy Taveres did not do everything a leadoff hitter should do. He did not get on base effectively. It also certainly didn’t help that he didn’t hit for any power whatsoever.

One HUGE factor you’re overlooking… Taveras had to step in after the Beltran fiasco. Houston was devastated when Beltran was just dangling a hook with no bait. Here we have a guy who was expected to be sent back to the minors. I remember when he was first called into spring training. He was basically dismissed and expected to return to the minors. He didn’t. He stepped up BIGTIME! He may not have walked all that much but he was busy turning bunts into infield hits. 70 infield hits is absolutely insane! 30 of those coming from bunts. 172 total hits were good for 12th most in the NL. 12th!!!! Not 12th among rookies but 12th among the NL!! Houston players will just never be good enough for the rest of the world. That’s okay. They strive on adversity. This year’s overused word is resilient which is annoying me but I have to say it once more. Houston and Taveras…resilient. Count the Astros out. We love people counting us out but don’t strip Taveras of his well-earned ROY brcause of your ignorance. He had HUGE shoes to fill. Fill them he did.
–Mike

How about Ryan Howard filling the shoes of the injured Jim Thome, owner of two 40+ home run seasons in Philadelphia? Thome was seen as the biggest FA signing in Phillies history back in 2003 and delivered in full, Howard did exactly what a healthy Thome would have done and maybe even more. And please, stop it with this ridiculous “The Astros are underappreciated” ****. The Astros were the sexy pick going into the playoffs and were picked to win it all by many analysts. Baseball pundits drooled over the top 3 in the Houston rotation and Brad Lidge. The Astros were a great team which had a great season. Taveras was certainly a part of that, but did he perform better than Ryan Howard? No. Every conventional stat points to Howard. Tavares certainly had big shoes to fill, but so did Howard. Who filled them better? Everything indicates Howard did. Howard was nearly identical to a veteran stud power first baseman, everyone agrees that Taveras still needs to work on being a good leadoff man. I would be shocked if this award does not go to Howard.

Willy T really should have won the ROY for the NL. He skipped Triple A ball, filled in for Beltran, and though he didn’t have many extra base hits he performed a **** of a lot better than Beltran did this year. We only paid Willy around the league minimum while the Mets paid Carlos all that money for a long term contract and he did nothing for them. Willy was able to hit for a high avg., get on base and score runs in the leadoff spot, and in the #2 hole was able to bunt over runners easily and even reach base on a sac try because of his speed. He stole over 30 bases as well. He even did awesome in the playoffs. His defenses was stellar. Yes, at first, he was nervous and didn’t play so hot but as the season wore on, he made many great plays in center and stepped up for the Stros. He really deserved the ROY in my book. Howard was great yes, but what if he had played the whole season? He might have stunk it up. He also might have done well too. I just think that to win the award you should have to play 3/4 of season. However, hats of to Howard and Street.

What about Garrett Atkins, third baseman for the Colorado Rockies? He led all rookies in RBI’s and had one of the highest batting averages in the team. His fielding improved over the course of the year and he wasn’t even in the top 3 in the listing.

Atkins was brutal on the road. He hit 238/301/347 away from Coors Field, which is not good. On the road, he had four homers in 265 at-bats. He may turn into a fine player, but for now he’s not in the class with the other guys.

The last time I looked, the award was for “Rookie of the YEAR”. Key word here–YEAR!!!!
Not half a year, or 2/5ths of a year but a year. Willie Taveras put up some pretty good numbers but obviously not in the catagories that the voters look at. He helped the Astros get to the post season and to the series for the first time. Power is not everything. You have to get runners on base to drive them in. Ryan did’nt get the Phillies in the playoffs. Just another example of Houston getting snubbed. Yeah, he mis-read some fly balls but what is his status–

Rookie–and everyone knows that rookies usually make some mistakes.

But that’s just the problem — Taveras didn’t get on base. He had a .325 OBP. To put that in perspective, of the 66 players who had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, Taveras ranked 52nd in OBP. To put it another way, he was in the bottom quarter.

If Taveras had no power, the same defense, the same speed, the same number of plate appearances, but he’d gotten on base at a .370 clip, I’d have no problem making him the ROY. But a leadoff man with a .325 OBP is not helping his team.

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