I keep hearing how Cincinnati Reds 1B/3B Todd Frazier should win the National League Rookie of the Year award by a landslide.
That is a clown statement, bro.
At this point in time I would rank Frazier third on my NL ROY ballot. The two rookies I would have ranked ahead of him are Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley and Washington Nationals OF Bryce Harper.
I briefly will address Miley first since direct comparisons between pitchers and position players are next to impossible to accomplish. Miley's case is as follows:
Miley's ERA of 3.07 ranks ninth in the National League.
Miley's 15 wins is tied for fourth in the National League.
Miley's WHIP of 1.15 ranks 10th in the National League.
All of those numbers make Miley a fringe candidate to round out a National League Cy Young ballot. Any time you can say that about a rookie pitcher, he has to be at or near the top of the ROY ballot.
Frazier is absolutely not a National League MVP candidate, so you would have to give the edge to Miley by default.
Now for the more interesting comparison: Frazier versus phenom Bryce Harper.
Frazier has the advantage over Harper in BA and OBP to the tune of 24 points in BA and 13 points in OBP. A decent advantage, but certainly not an overwhelming one.
The only other category of significance where Frazier has an edge is RBI, where he is ahead by 14. That 14-RBI lead is not as impressive when you consider where each player typically bats in the order.
Frazier has gotten all but a handful of his at-bats this season anywhere from fifth to seventh in the lineup. Those are certainly positions where RBI are easier to attain, especially with the likes of Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen and Ryan Ludwick batting in front of you.
By comparison, Harper has hit almost exclusively out of the two-hole in the lineup. Racking up RBI from that spot in the lineup, especially in the National League where it is only two spots after the pitcher, is extremely difficult to do. The fact that Harper is only 14 RBI behind Frazier despite this disadvantage is impressive.
I should note that each player is tied with 18 HR before I move on to the areas where Harper crushes Frazier. I also should note that those 18 HR for Harper are the second-most HR by any teenager in the history of MLB (more than Ken Griffey, Jr., Mel Ott, etc.).
Harper's electric speed helps him dominate Frazier in several categories. Harper is a whopping 30 runs scored ahead of Frazier, and that alone closes whatever gap Frazier had ahead of Harper at this time in the comparison.
Harper is so prolific at scoring runs that he actually ranks 11th in the National League. The scary part is that the Nationals waited until the end of April to call up Harper to the big leagues. He averages almost 20 runs scored a month. When you factor that in, he could be leading the National League in runs scored had the Nationals broke spring training with him on the club.
Think about that for a second.
Harper's speed also has allowed him to steal 10 more bases than Frazier so far this season. For me, that further cements Harper ahead of Frazier.
When it comes to defense, Harper easily wins again. Frazier is by no means a bad defensive player in the field when he plays 1B, 3B or moonlights at various other positions. However, Harper's speed gives him incredible range in the outfield.
The topper is that Harper has a cannon for a right arm. He easily has one of the best arms for an outfielder that I have ever seen in my lifetime.
What makes Harper's defensive prowess even more mind-boggling is that he is not even a natural outfielder. He spent the majority of his time as a catcher before getting drafted, and he is learning the art of playing the outfield on the fly in the big leagues at 19 years old.
Although it does not matter a ton for me personally, it should be noted that the Washington Nationals have the best record in MLB and by extension the National League as well. You can call that the cherry on top of Harper's resume.
If you want to make a case for Wade Miley over both Frazier and Harper, you will not ruffle my feathers at all. The whole value comparison for pitchers and position players is tough. However, Harper has to be ranked ahead of Frazier on every ballot as it relates to position players for the National League ROY.
Fifty years from now I will not be bouncing my grandkids on my knee telling them how I saw Todd Frazier play back in the day. Chances are good I will be doing that for Bryce Harper, though.
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