Baseball Bloggers Alliance: 2009 NL Rookie of the Year

by on October 15, 2009 · 0 comments

[Ed. note - As a charter member of the St. Louis Cardinals chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) (along with fellow UCB members C70 at the Bat, Fungoes, and Stan Musial's Stance), PH8 been afforded the honor of carrying an official vote for a couple of the BBA's 2009 MLB Awards.  You can find more information about the project at the BBA site.]

We’re back today with another vote in the 2009 BBA Awards.  This time around we carry one of the official Rookie of the Year votes for the St. Louis Cardinals chapter of the BBA.

Many Cardinal fans (this one included) would have expected the eventual starting center fielder for the hometown club to be in the mix, but a chilly second half for Colby Rasmus ended any early momentum he may have carried toward winning some smooth Rookie of the Year hardware in 2009.

Not all of the National League’s rookies  cooled off down the stretch, in fact, some were tougher than ever.  With that as a prelude, here is our ballot for the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year:

3.  Tommy Hanson, Atlanta Braves

Hanson, the young Atlanta fire baller called up in June to bolster a pitching staff desperately in need of innings, surrendered seven runs in his first big league start.  It took six more starts before he would surrender another seven.  Hanson went on to finish 11-4 in 127.2 innings pitched with a rate of 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings.  Hanson contributed heavily to a late Atlanta surge in September and October, his performance belying his age and experience.  Despite spending April and May in the minors and only getting in 21 MLB starts, Hanson finished with 2.6 WAR, good for eighth best of any batter or pitcher on the Braves.

2.  Randy Wells, Chicago Cubs

Wells started his season better than Cubs fans could’ve hoped, with a miniscule 1.86 ERA through six starts.  The problem?  Either his offense wasn’t scoring, they weren’t scoring early enough, or the bullpen blew up once he left – or a combination of any or all of the above.  Through those six starts, Wells sat 0-2.  Fortunately for Wells, he eventually got some run support, and fortunately for the Cubs, Wells continued to pitch well.  Ending the season with a 12-10 record and a still very good 3.05 ERA.  Wells’ season could’ve finished much better on the win-loss ledger were it not for the Cubs’ late-summer collapse.  He was 7-4 through June and certainly pitched much better  in August through October than his 5-6 record indicates.  Just another reason why wins and losses are a poor measure of performance by a pitcher, right Pip?  Perhaps the biggest key to Wells’ emergence on the RoY scene?  Increased use of his slider, which was 19.7 runs above average.

1.  Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

McCutchen came up in early June following (or perhaps was the impetus for) the trade of Nyjer Morgan to the Washington Nationals.  To put that in perspective, Morgan wound up the season with 4.8 wins above replacement.  Most of Morgan’s value was in defensive runs where he led the NL running away with 27.4 runs above average.  Morgan appeared finally on the precipice of the breakout type of season Pirates fans had been hoping for when he was shipped to the Nats.  Insert McCutchen.  Cutch’s bat went to work immediately, with two hits in his first big league game (he also scored three runs, walked once, and stole a base).  He flashed both the power and speed Pittsburgh was hoping for, with 26 doubles, 9 triples, and 12 home runs in almost 500 at-bats.  Batting lead-off for the Pirates, the homers aren’t nearly as important to the club as the doubles and triples, the .365 OBP, and 22 stolen bases in only 27 attempts.  McCutchen showed great plate patience with only 83 strikeouts versus 54 walks and is poised to become one of the National League’s elite lead-off hitters.

Also in the running:  Garrett Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates; Chris Coghlan, Florida Marlins; J.A. Happ, Philadelphia Phillies.

Agree?  Disagree?  Join the discussion in the comments below, I’m anxious to hear what you think (good or bad) about my choices.

Thanks for reading.

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Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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