OK, the official rookie announcements are in:AL: Jeremy HellicksonNL: Craig Kimbrel
AL vote totals: Hellickson (102 points, 17 first-place votes), Trumbo (63, 5), Hosmer (38, 4), Nova (30, 1), Pineda (11), Ackley (6, 1), Jennings and Walden (one point each)
NL vote totals: Kimbrel (160 points, all 32 first-place votes), Freeman 70, Worley 40, Ramos 6, Collmenter 5, Espinosa 3, Barney 2, Jansen 2.
My quick take: No surprise that Hellickson was a pretty easy winner and not a big surprise that Kimbrel was unanimous. I think we can take this away from the AL vote: A lot of writers aren't putting much stock yet into sabermetric analysis. The idea that King Felix's Cy Young last year was a "victory" for sabermetrics and represented a turning of the popular mind-set just isn't the case. If so, we would have seen more support for Michael Pineda or for Danny Espinosa in the NL.
did ivan nova get any considerations?
Nova finished fourth, which I think is a fair result. I'm a little surprised he received only one first-place vote since I figured a few more voters would be overly impressed with his 16-4 W-L record and strong second half.
Is the drawn out search for a manager in Boston an indication that the job is not a particularly desirable one? The ultimately ineffectual smear campaign that attended Francona's departure might make candidates question if that's a place they really want to work...
I see two issues here: (1) I do think the so-called smear campaign against Francona is an issue; the one thing a manager wants above all else is support from the front office and ownership. With a new, unknown quantity in the GM office and an ownership group that let the door hit Francona on the way out, it's a problem.
(2) There is a lack of veteran manager on the market this year. With just a few openings, you're talking about interviewing first-time managers, not the recycled guys. With that, I think it's prudent for the the new front office to consider as many options as possible and conduct a wide-range of interviews. And I do think the job is desirable. Can you win there? Of course you can, and that's ultimately the goal of every manager.
What are the chances of Felix Hernandez being traded this winter?
I just don't see that happening and haven't seen any rumors that the Mariners are looking to deal him. The Mariners' rotation is actually pretty thin right now after Hernandez and Pineda, so trading Felix just opens up another gaping hole. Plus, with fan support already waning, trading Felix for a slew of prospects would be a PR disaster, even if it would be the right thing to do.
If you're in the market for an outfielder, who would you rather have for the next three years, Aoki or Cespedes? Can Aoki handle center and what does he offer offensively?
This is a better question for Keith Law. Norichika Aoki is a three-time batting champ in Japan, who draws comparisons to Shane Victorino for his all-around play. He'd be ready to step in right away. Yoenis Cespedes would likely need some time in the minors. He has big power potential, but it's a big step from the Cuban league to the majors.
How did Trumbo get so many votes for ROY? He basically had the same OPS as Ackley. I would have had Hosmer, Pineda and Nova in front of Trumbo.
Trumbo did deliver some big hits for the Angels, but voters clearly looked at just the 29 home runs and 87 RBIs and ignored the horrible .291 OBP. Obviously, he had the advantage of being there the whole season, but I'm with you -- not sure how you can put him ahead of those other guys. My ballot would have been Hellickson, Pineda and Hosmer (with Ackley and Nova rounding out the top five).
Early favorites for 2012 ROY awards?
Mike Trout and Jesus Montero will still be rookies in the AL, so I'd go with one of those two guys off the top of my head. Or Matt Moore, who will surely enter the Rays rotation. In the NL ... hmm, how about Braves pitcher Julio Teheran or Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco?
Do you see the Rays trading one of their starting pitchers for a SS or catcher during this offseason?
Yes, with Moore ready to step into the rotation, the Rays seem likely to make a deal. Question is: Do they trade James Shields? Trouble is, shortstops and catching is in such short supply, teams are unwilling to trade. Maybe there is a match with the Reds for one of their catching prospects.
Did the phillies overpay for Papelbon?
The general consensus is yes. The history of long-term contracts given to relievers is not good. See: Joe Nathan, Brad Lidge, B.J. Ryan and others. Most relievers just don't have long careers. Maybe Papelbon will prove as durable as Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, but $50 million is a lot to pay, especially since the Phillies' aging lineup will need some serious upgrades (and they still need to sign Jimmy Rollins or another shorstop). And Cole Hamels become a FA in a year ... will there be enough money to go around?
How would you grade Ruben Amaro Jr as GM of the Phillies thus far? The guy just seems to like throwing money around...
Like I said ... the Ryan Howard extention -- which JUST kicks in this season -- will prove to be a major albatross, $50 million for a reliever is excessive. On the other hand, the Pence trade worked out well, you can't question the Halladay deal, the first Cliff Lee trade (to Seattle) wasn't a good one. A very mixed bag. As long as the team has a healthy Halladay and Lee, it covers up a lot of Amaro's mistakes. I'm not sure he has much clue about how players age and the Phillies run the risk of becoming an aging, declining team in a couple of years. Overall grade: B-.
Are you hearing any chatter regarding the Giants signing another bat and/or 5th starter?
The Giants already picked up Melky Cabrera and they seem willing to go with Brandon Crawford at shortstop next year. For now, I think they'll be willing to live with Zito or Surkamp as the No. 5 starter, which makes sense to me -- they have a deep bullpen so you don't need much from your fifth guy considering the quality of the other four. I think they'll make a big pitch to keep Beltran. Clearly, they need another bat to go with Posey, Belt, Sandoval and Cabrera.
How in the world did Brandon Beachy not recieve any votes?
But Darwin Barney received two third-place votes! I thought that was the funniest part of this year's votes. He was on more ballots than Danny Espinosa. Absurd.
I don't think it's fair to say the voters disregarded advanced metrics just because support for Pineda was low. He had the same ERA as Nova in a pitcher's park and an easier division (by far) with better defense. If you add up FanGraphs WAR and BaseballReference WAR, Nova was actually the AL rookie leader (even though you dismissed him in your blog by claiming that he didn't have as good peripherals as Pineda).
Right, I shouldn't have dismissed Nova so quickly. My point was more: He didn't have Hellickson's ERA (or innings), so the "ERA voters" would all go for Hellickson. The guys who prefer FIP, SO/BB ratio and the like would go for Pineda (far superio to Nova in SO/BB ratio).
What ever happened to Ben Sheets? With the lack of pitching around baseball, is he someone who could draw interest this winter?
He was out all season after flexor tendon surgery. He's made 20 starts (all in 2010) over the past three seasons. If he wants to make a comeback, no doubt some team will give him a chance,, but at this point it's a long list of injury history to overcome.
Wells for Zito straight up... who says no first?
My head hurts just thinking about that one.
Who makes the Hall of Fame first: Edgar Martinez or Rush?
Wait .. Rush isn't in the Hall of Fame? No respect for Canada.
What's with ESPN bias against the Yankees?
What ESPN are you referring to?
Zero votes for Cory Luebke? Don't 10 K/9 and a 1.07 WHIP count for anything anymore? Was it pitching in Petco, pitching for a cellar-dweller, or pitching mostly in middle relief?
I think he just flew under the radar. 6-10 record doesn't get any attention. As much as we say W-L doesn't matter -- it still does in some regards.
Great to see Kimbrel and Freeman finish on top. Do you think they will find even greater success in the sophmore seasons? More power for Freeman and maybe some better control from Kimbrel?
Considering Freeman's age (just turned 22), he's young to take a big leap forward. He needs to cut down on his strikeout a bit. There is mixed opinions on how much power he'll developed, but some thought he'd be a 15-20 HR guy and he hit 21 as a rookie. Kimbrel ... not sure he can do much better. He did blow eight saves, so there is room for improvement there.
David, in your RoY preview argument, you cited Freeman's poor defensive metrics compared to Espinosa. But from watching almost all of the Braves games this year, Freeman looked superb digging throws out of the dirt. Is that not considered in 1B defensive metrics?
I believe digging balls is factored into the Baseball Info Solutions fielding metric. But there is actually a pretty small spread among first basemen's ability to dig balls -- fact is, most of them are pretty good at it. Mostly, it seems the metrics didn't like Freeman's range. I know must Braves fans raved or approved of Freeman's defense, so this is one where the metrics disagree (right or wrong) with the more general observations.
Rumor has it that the Braves were close to trading Jurrjens to the Royals, but the Royals turned it down due to the high asking price by the Braves... Do you think the Braves will trade either Jurrjens or Hanson this offseason due to their pitching depth? What likely will they be trading for (position-wise)? On another note, will the Braves try to sign Bourn to a longer-term deal this offseason?
Trouble is, with both guys finishing the year with injuries, why would another team pay top price to acquire either one? I think the Braves are better off keeping both and staying with a rotation of Hudson, Hanson, Jurrjens, Beachy and Minor, with Teheran starting the year in Triple-A (which I think he could use). Nothing wrong with having six (or seven) good starting pitchers. Bourn seems like a good fit for Atlanta, so, yes, I expect them to pursue that.
Would trading Prado be a good move for the Braves? It really doesn't seem there are many left fielders available that could produce more than he can.
Produce more than a .302 on-base percentage?
Cmon David, not all 1st basemen are pretty good at digging balls. Stop it. Not all catchers call games equally and not all players are equally adept in clutch situations. why are the sabermetric types so dismissive of such important parts of the game?
Neil, I'm just going on numbers I've seen. The spread in value is small. I don't have the exact numbers in front of me. Plus, you have to factor in the infielders. For example, I believe Derrek Lee had the most "digs" this year ... although he had the most opportunties as well (I'm going off memory here) thanks to Starlin Castro. But the actual value in terms of runs is only a couple runs either way. Insignificant? No. Hugely important? No.
It surprises me, but you could make a great case for Nova as AL Rookie of the Year even without looking at the W-L. Tops in average WAR (second or tied for second in both measures), very solid ERA in a tough division, and especially the low HR rate in a hitter's park. If there was such a big W-L or pro-Yankees bias among voters, he would have easily been first or second (and probably deserved it).
Looking ahead 3-5 years, I think Hosmer will be receiving more MVP votes than the rest of the 2011 AL ROY class. Am I crazy?
I was going to get into that in my post, but it was already over 1,000 words. Anyway, great question: I love Lawrie's bat as well. Both are 21 years old. I can see both developing into potential MVP candidates. Ackley would seem a clear No. 3 behind those two. Desmond Jennings is three years older, so I don't see the growth potential in him like Hosmer or Lawrie. What do you think, readers? Which AL rookie do you like long-term?
Who is most likely to have a bounce back season in 2012, Adam Dunn, Carl Crawford or Jason Werth?
1. Crawford. 2. Werth. 3. Dunn.
Great question. What would the Angels have to do to get Tommy Hanson in a Halo?
Hmm ... I don't think Vernon Wells will cut quite cut it. If you're the Braves, don't you ask for Mike Trout?
J. P. Arencibia didn't even get 1 vote for rookie of the year? How does that seem possible? I know he had a poor average but if you look at his power potential, he was at least a top 7 rookie candidate. What gives?
Too many other strong candidates. And a .219 batting average is just too much for voters to ignore.
Jason Heyward had a pretty bad 2nd season. What can Braves Nation except from Jhey next year? (Go Braves!)
I'm sticking in the Heyward fan club and expect a big season from him. Let's hope he can put the nagging injuries behind him.
Sorry to pile on with another Braves question but you didn't list Vizcaido on your list of starters. Any particular reason?
Aroyds Vizcaino. And Randall Delgado as well. I know, the Braves are loaded. I still think they would be more likely to trade a Mike Minor than Hanson or Jurrjens.
With the prices of closers rising, (see Papelbon's new contract and Madson's proposed) do you see someone like Brandon League who's only going to make around $5 million get traded for a top 100 prospect?
Good question. It seems GMs do still value a proven closer more than the stats analysts, so I could see a deal like that happening. Maybe the Red Sox don't trust Daniel Bard after his late-season swoon. Or maybe the Blue Jays fancy themselves contenders. They could use a closer. Note sure any other potential contending teams need a closer ...
I read the Giants might trade Lincecum rather than sign him to a long-term deal. Could you see that happening this winter?
I don't see the Giants trading him. Maybe he's a guy you just ride out for two more years, soak as much as you can out of him, and if you're worried about his long-term health because of his size, you let him walk then. But hope he wins you another World Series.
Prado's numbers dipped cause of the Staph infection. Takes alot outta of person. Look at his prior seasons. Expect a bounce back perfromance from Prado where ever he may be playing.
Gotcha. Thanks for the info.
Braves pitching depth is an embarrassment of riches but we can't score runs to save our lives. Should the Braves trade an arm(jurrjens) for a bat?
A lot of teams couldn't score last year! A better Heyward, an improved Freeman, a healthy Prado, a full season from Bourn -- all that will help a lot, so I'm not sure the Braves HAVE to make a deal. With offense down, it's not like a lot of teams have excess bats lying around either.
If reports are true that MLB will start punishing teams for going over-slot, who will be hurt most? I think the Red Sox go over slot far more than most, and the Yankees surprisingly don't seem to use that draft philosophy (preferring big splash international signings).
A good question for Keith Law. Without looking at all the numbers, I don't want to pass along bad info. The Tigers have gone over slot a lot (Rick Porcello being one example), certainly the Red Sox. Yankees have done it in the later rounds as well. Let me look into this a bit.
OK, have to run ... thanks for all the question. AL Cy Young tomorrow. Who do you think will win? I'll be back to chat again at 2 ET to discuss that and everything else.