For those that aren’t completely wrapped up in Peyton Manning and the Broncos, there was some noteworthy baseball news today. The awards for AL and NL Rookie of the Year were announced. The Rockies had a horse in the race – Wilin Rosario – but there was never really any doubt about this one. This was super hyped Bryce Harper’s award from the day he was called up. Now, that’s not to say it should’ve gone to Rosario, who finished fourth, but there is an argument to be made that Wilin should’ve been at least in the top three.
Before let’s go any further on Rosario, I would’ve voted for Arizona’s Wade Miley. Miley was quietly excellent this year, but, like I said, this was never going to anyone besides Harper. That’s a shame, too, because Miley certainly deserved it more. He was easily the Diamondback’s best pitcher, finishing the year with a 3.33 ERA and 3.15 FIP over 194.2 innings. (What we wouldn’t give to get that in Colorado out of someone next year.) He was tied for fourth overall in NL pitcher fWAR and ranked in the top five in walks per nine. Those are fantastic numbers. I think he was robbed.
As far as Rosario goes, I think you can make a pretty strong argument for third. While I think Harper was over-hyped this year, I can’t vote for Rosario over him strictly because Wilin had such a poor year defensively. However, I will say, I think there is a chance – though be it small – that Rosario winds up the more valuable of the two players. Harper’s youth makes him so promising, obviously, but Rosario is just 23. Sometimes we lose perspective on that. Yes, his D was far less than satisfactory last year, but he has so much room to grow and he’s very green. Still, he had a helluva offensive season this year — .356 wOBA, 111 wRC+, and 28 HRs in just 115 games. As far as power from a rookie catcher goes, Rosario’s only real peer is Mike Piazza. In other words, legit potential.
Beyond his defense, the thing critics like to point out about Rosario is his low OBP. However, as Tracy Ringolsby pointed out today, Wilin made some big strides in that department over the second half. Interestingly enough, he walked more in August and September than he did the rest of the season combined. Progress is all you can ask for from a 23 year-old catcher, and the fact that he finished the year strong despite playing such a rigorous position and dealing with such an awful pitching staff is even more encouraging. As he develops, I’m confident he’ll improve his plate discipline.
One idea being tossed around by many is to move Rosario to first base because of his defensive issues. It’s a terrible idea. Even if you don’t believe offense is more valuable at catcher than at first base – it definitely is by the way – you can’t give up on the kid after 115 big league games. It would be foolish to move him at this point. If, in a couple of years, he hasn’t progressed then you can talk about moving him. But for now, he’s right where he needs to be.
One final note on the ROY voting, and all of the baseball awards this year – for the first time the BBWAA is making their ballots public. Patrick Saunders voted Miley, Rosario, Harper. Another local writer, Jack Etkin, gave a third place vote to Jordan Pacheco. I have a lot of respect for Jack Etkin, but I can’t get behind that. Pacheco did a fine job learning a new position on the fly and was pretty serviceable at the plate, but there were a lot of rookies who had better seasons, including his teammate Rosario.
Another player I felt like deserved a little more recognition is Norichika Aoki for the Brewers. He had very solid rookie season as well.
There will be some other awards announced soon. Don’t worry though, no Rockies will be slighted on any of those. That much we know for sure. Unless of course they decide to give an award for biggest turnaround after being traded by the team that you quit on. Guthrie would win that one in a landslide.