Monday, November 15, 2010

Rookie of the Year Award - One Out of Two Ain't Bad

The Rookie of the Year Award was announced today and this writer can't quibble with the Posey selection in the National League. Posey and Heyward both would have been solid choices. Heyward played more and showed great patience at the plate, but injuries sapped him of some of his power during the season and left the door open for Posey to win. But, for the second year in a row, a relief pitcher (Neftali Feliz) won the American League award and you all know how the Fan feels about that. There is no way that 69 innings of relief can equate to the every day quality of Austin Jackson's year.

This Fan is nothing if not consistent in this belief. This space has been devoted a number of times to how no relief pitcher should be eligible for a post season award. Mariano Rivera, as great as he's been should never have won a Cy Young Award and he hasn't. Starting pitchers who win the award pitch from 200 to 230 innings a season. Rivera averages around 60 to 65. There is no comparison to the value. What Andrew Bailey contributed to the Oakland A's last year was no way near as valuable as what his teammate, Anderson, did as a starter.

The Fan has already run the numbers and presented the WAR of all the rookie candidates and won't rehash them again now. Youz guyz can go ahead and search the blog and you'll find it. Feliz came in third or fourth according to the Fan's research. You can argue until you are blue in the face and this Fan will never agree that a relief pitcher is as valuable as a good every day player.

The writers who make these selections have a majority of old school kind of guys. And for many of them, the value of a golden armed relief pitcher is just too glitzy to ignore. On the other hand, the young whippersnappers who make up the core of those great baseball analysts that have rocked our baseball world, tend to undervalue closers. The Fan falls exactly in the middle. Teams are devastated when a closer can't get the job done. But again, there is no comparison between getting three outs compared to 18 to 27 of them.

One group says that the closer is indispensable and the other says they are fungible. They are neither. This Fan truly believes that any great arm in a team's farm system can become a great closer. The difference between most of them is that Mariano Rivera has never faltered. But they aren't fungible either for the same Rivera argument. Very few closers keep their mojo beyond a few years...not Papelbon, not Nathan, not Fuentes, etc.

Neftali Feliz had a fantastic year. He saved forty games. He pitched 69, mostly great innings. But that intrinsic value just doesn't add up to what Austin Jackson did over the course of an entire season as an excellent outfielder and slightly above league average batting. But thank goodness for these post season awards. At least it gives us something to write and argue about.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

I definitely see your side of the argument, but the thing is Feliz and Bailey weren't just impressive as rookie closers. They were flat out dominant. I'm very high on Brett Anderson, but he wasn't dominant. His 1st half was actually quite mediocre. And Jackson played very well, especially in center field. But his slash line was barely above league average.