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2012 Awards Series: Rookies of the Year

With the 2012 season behind us, it’s time for some housekeeping here at SABR Toothed Tigers. Shortly before the World Series, we published my 2012 predictions as heard on The Guy Show for how the divisions and awards would play out.

Now it’s time to hand out some hardware.

Rookies of the Year:

American League

Preseason Prediction: Matt Moore (LHP-Tampa Bay Rays)

Moore was one of the top prospects in baseball in 2011 no matter who you asked and burst onto the scene in grand fashion in the postseason last year. He was a popular pick heading into the season and I certainly thought he’d be a top contender for the award. Moore had some growing pains in 2012, but he actually did have a respectable season.

Moore made 31 starts and posted an 11-11 record in 177.1 innings with a K/9 of 8.88. He walked too many (4.11 per 9IP), but a 3.81 ERA and 3.91 FIP is a strong season for a young rookie lefthander. He posted a 2.3 WAR which was 5th among AL rookie pitchers (4th if you don’t count the seasoned Yu Darvish).

Moore’s season was nothing to sneeze at, but it was a far cry from earning him AL Rookie of the Year honors.

The Award Goes To…

Mike Trout. Obviously. Other rookies had good seasons. Darvish, Jarrod Parker, and  Tommy Milone from the mound. Yoenis Cespedes from the batter’s box. But, seriously, Mike Trout ran circles around everyone in this year’s award.

Trout posted an historic 10.0 WAR in 2012 which not only put him atop all American League rookies, it put him above every single player in Major League Baseball. Only three rookies have ever top 8.0 WAR, and none have ever exceeded Trout’s 10.0. The voting will be unanimous when the BBWAA hands out the award, but let’s just hit some numbers quickly just for good measure.

Trout led AL rookies in the following categories (these are just the ones I felt like looking up): hits, homeruns, runs, runs batted in, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, weighted on base average (wOBA), weighted runs created plus (wRC+), UZR, BSR (baserunning metric), and WAR. Pretty open and shut if you ask me.

The full ballot looks like this:

3. Yoenis Cespedes (OF-Oak)

2. Yu Darvish (SP-TEX)

1. Mike Trout (OF-LAA)

National League:

Preseason Prediction: Devin Mesoraco (C-Cincinnati Reds)

Mesoraco was another popular pick in 2012, so I was not the only one to miss wildly. Mesoraco played in 54 games and posted a pretty terrible 0.1 WAR. The .212/.288/.352 slash line doesn’t help either. The defense was unremarkable and the offense didn’t do anything to make up for it.

I wouldn’t call Mesoraco a bust by any means, but the 24 year old backstop will need to find his form if he wants to catch 120+ games next season. His minor league numbers certainly speak to his talent, so there’s plenty still to like about the Reds catcher.

The Award Goes To…

This one was a little tougher. Okay, a lot tougher. Two clear candidates emerged in my book: Bryce Harper and Wade Miley. Todd Frazier was an option as well, but he’ll have to settle for 3rd place.

Rookie of the Year can be a difficult award to hand out because you’re often comparing players who have totally different jobs. Harper hits second for a contending team and Miley is a starter on a middle of the pack club.

Their WARs were nearly identical at 4.9 for Harper and 4.8 for Miley. Harper played 139 games, got 597 plate appearances and turned those into the following statistical profile:

22 HR, 59 RBI, 98 R, 18 SB, .270/.340/.477, .352 wOBA, 121 wRC+, 9.9 UZR.

Miley made 29 starts and 3 relief appearance totaling 194.2 innings. His line looks something like this:

16-11, 6.66 K/9, 1.71 BB/9, 3.33 ERA, 3.15 FIP

Again, their WARs are almost identical and they have a totally different role. Statistically, it’s hard to really separate the two. I’m going to throw my support to Wade Miley for the following reason, but a vote for Harper is absolutely warranted.

Harper excelled amid a good team having a great year, while Miley picked up the slack for a decent rotation. Miley was the Dbacks best starter by a good margin. Harper was the Nats second best bat, but they also had such a great staff to back them up.

There’s nothing particularly objective about that reasoning, but it’s hard to make an objective case for either of them. I feel pretty confident that Harper and Miley should be 1st and 2nd on the NL ROY ballot, but I really don’t know what order they should be in.

The full ballot looks like this:

3. Todd Frazier (3B, 1B, OF – CIN)

2. Bryce Harper (OF- WSH)

1. Wade Miley (SP-ARZ)

Check back Wednesday for Cy Young winners.

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