The other night, my friends and I were at dinner (Five Napkin Burger in NYC is very good), and we were talking about the Rookie of the Year candidates in both leagues and who would win the awards. It’s a pretty interesting debate considering there are a lot of great rookies in baseball this year.
In the National League, we talked about J.A. Happ, Andrew McCutchen, Colby Rasmus, Garrett Jones, Chris Coghlan, Dexter Fowler, and Casey McGehee. The NL is chock-full of rookie talent this year.
However, when it came to the American League, we all kind of looked at each other with that blank stare similar to one we used to have in Spanish class back in high school. My friend Justin said, it has to be Andrew Bailey, right?
My first thought was Bailey is having a very good season, but there might be a better choice. Once I looked deeper into the numbers, however, I realized there might not be a better choice than the Oakland A’s closer.
His biggest competition will come from Elvis Andrus, Gordon Beckham, and fellow pitcher Rick Porcello. David Price and Matt Wieters will get some votes as well because voters will look at the names instead of the numbers.
Out of the above group of players, Andrus figures to get the most first-place votes. He has had a decent year offensively (.266 with 24 SBs and seven triples), and defensively Andrus has already established himself as one of baseball's top fielding shortstops. Andrus also plays on a contending team, which is a factor to his advantage as well.
Amongst all the qualifying shortstops in the AL, Andrus ranks last in batting average (.266), last in runs scored (52), last in hits (94), sixth in OBP (.331), and tied for first in SBs (24).
I am not sure if those numbers will win him the award.
Bailey, on the other hand, has really stood out amongst the game's best relievers and closers all year. He ranks third in closer's ERA (1.93), second in WHIP (0.91), first in strikeouts (75), third in games (55), and eighth in saves (19).
It’s the months of August and September where awards are won, and Bailey has really turned it on in August. He is five-for-five in save opportunities, opponents are hitting .069 against him, and he has a 0.00 ERA in nine innings pitched.
I know it’s hard to compare closers versus position players, but if I had a vote, I would vote for Bailey. Despite playing on a bad A’s team, he has had a great season and has been a stud at the end of games, and I think it should be recognized.