In advance of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announcing the winners of the American and National League Rookie of the Year awards on Monday afternoon, SB Nation released its own awards based on the votes of its writers.
Not all that dissimilarly from our own Getting Blanked Awards (The Blankies), SB Nation’s fine scribes voted for Michael Pineda to receive their version of the American League Rookie of the Year award. However, the handing out of the pretend silverware wasn’t without its share of deep thought.
From Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing:
As I understand it, the Rookie of the Year award is supposed to go to the league’s best rookie. Consensus seems to be that “best” is some combination of performance and playing time. This is why Brett Lawrie doesn’t show up at the top of many lists. But why should playing time be that important? Brett Lawrie came to the plate 171 times and hit .293/.373/.580. That is an outstanding performance. An outstanding performance over a limited sample, sure, but a more outstanding performance than any other AL rookie, as far as I can tell. Why shouldn’t he get more consideration for the award? It isn’t the AL’s most valuable rookie. It’s the AL’s best rookie.
There does seem to be more attachment to playing time when it comes to the Rookie Of The Year award than other awards, and when you think about it, it makes sense. The idea in any award is to recognize the display of some level of true talent, and the more examples of that individual using his true talent, the easier it is to award him for it.
Rookies don’t have the same history that other players have and so the total amount of games that they played in their initial season is important in that, the more there is, the more likely it is that we’re seeing a true talent level. It’s easier to award the MVP to Josh Hamilton when he only plays in 133 games because we already know that Josh Hamilton is an excellent player based on the 335 games he played previously.
As Tom Tango explains:
If you had two plate appearances for Lawrie, then we attribute very little of the OUTCOMES to Lawrie. We just don’t know if he was being a good driver, or just happened to be in the driver seat at that moment in time. If he had 20 PA, then we attribute more of those outcomes to Lawrie. If he had 20,000 PA, then we’d attribute 99% of each of those outcomes (including those first 2 outcomes) to Lawrie.
It seems that the dependence on games played when it comes to the Rookie of the Year voting is one of the rare occurrence when the BBWAA has got it right. Playing time might seem like the sort of thing that’s erroneously considered around this time of year, but for Rookie of the Year specifically, it makes sense to have as wide a sample as possible.