The Oakland Athletics are no stranger to the Rookie of the Year Award. They are the only American League team to win three straight awards, and, if you count Harry Byrd of the 1952 Kansas City A's, the organization is tied with the Yankees for the most AL rookie honors with eight (the Dodgers have 16 in the NL, and have separate streaks of four and five straight awards). Do the A's have any chance of breaking their tie with New York by winning a ninth Rookie of the Year award?
This year's AL rookie class doesn't have any obvious front-runners like Yasiel Puig and Jose Fernandez in the NL. No AL rookies have been worth even three WAR according to either Baseball-Reference or Fangraphs, so I'm going to start by seeing who is in the top ten on both websites' WAR lists:
- David Lough
- Brad Miller
- Brandon Barnes
- Jose Iglesias
- Wil Myers
- Chris Archer
- Brett Oberholtzer
- Alex Torres
- Martin Perez
- Dan Straily
David Lough, Brad Miller and Brandon Barnes all have underwhelming batting lines and derive most of their value from defense. I don't think that the Rookie of the Year voting has evolved to consider defensive metrics yet, so they're out. Brett Oberholtzer has made 11 really good appearances (eight of them starts), but he just hasn't pitched enough to enter the conversation. Alex Torres is a non-closer reliever, so he's out.
That leaves us with the following short list, in alphabetical order (with some relevant stats -- I included win-loss records for the pitchers because voters probably still care about that crap):
|Chris Archer||9-7, 3.03 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 20 starts, 116 innings, 84 strikeouts|
|Jose Iglesias||.315/.359/.402, 361 PA's, 3 homers, 29 RBI, 38 runs, amazing defense at shortstop|
|Wil Myers||.290/.351/.467, 308 PA's, 11 homers, 44 RBI, 37 runs, solid defense in right|
|Martin Perez||9-4, 3.60 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 16 starts, 100 innings, 65 strikeouts|
|Dan Straily||10-7, 4.11 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 25 starts, 140 innings, 113 strikeouts|
We have three pitchers and two hitters, and there is a solid case to made for each of them. Let's go one by one:
Chris Archer, TB
If you add the bWAR and fWAR of all five players, Archer's total is the highest. He has the best ERA of the trio by far, and has thrown two shutouts this year (including one in Yankee Stadium). His name sounds like a secret agent, and he's a hell of a dancer.
Jose Iglesias, Det
Each of the candidates plays for a postseason contender, but Iglesias is the only one who has played for two different contenders this year. He was excellent for the Red Sox, and has now plugged the hole left by Jhonny Peralta in Detroit. He's hitting for a high average, which makes his batting line look better than it is. He might already be the best defensive shortstop in the AL other than Brendan Ryan, and he regularly flashes his leather to make highlight reel plays. Speaking of flashing leather...
Wil Myers, TB
Name power. Lots of it. He was recently the number-one prospect in the entire minor leagues, and when he was traded for a really good veteran starting pitcher, everyone said that it was a great deal for the Rays. His OPS (818) is the same as Prince Fielder's, and better than players such as Shane Victorino, Torii Hunter, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. He's heating up in September, and racks up the kind of power numbers that get attention in award voting. He's not afraid of cameras.
Martin Perez, Tex
Perez has the best win-loss record, mostly because he has fewer losses. He has a solid ERA while pitching in the heat of Texas. Basically, he has the baseball card stats. He's beaten Felix Hernandez (twice), Chris Sale, and Bartolo Colon. His giant hat protects him from the sun, providing 50 SPF above replacement.
Dan Straily, Oak
He leads all rookies in wins, innings, and strikeouts. His ERA is a bit high, but even one good start could bring it down under 4.00. He pitches for the coolest team in the world and had an awesome/terrible mustache for awhile.
Clearly, this race is not over. Each player has strengths and weaknesses, and each one will be playing a key role down the stretch for a contending team. Any one of these players could get hot these next few weeks and set himself apart, so it seems pointless to make any picks right now. If I had to pick one, I'd probably go with Archer, although he plays for Tampa Bay which means that he doesn't get a lot of press. So, I guess I'd go with Iglesias because of his high profile and the way he replaced Peralta. But then, Myers is even more high profile and has the bigger power numbers. But screw all that, Straily's my boy and he's won his last four starts, so I'm going with him. Unless Perez keeps winning and finishes with a 12-4 record.
Oh man, this is impossible. I don't know who to pick. On last week's Phil Naessens Show, I went with Iglesias as my final pick, but that was more of a "if the season ended today" selection. If his batting average falls below .300, then his offensive numbers will start to look a bit more pedestrian. Myers, on the other hand, could surpass 15 homers in barely more than half a season. Between him and Archer, I think that the Rays will most likely take home the hardware one way or the other. I'll go with Myers, with his name power serving as the tiebreaker.
OK, so the A's may not win their ninth Rookie of the Year Award this year and break their tie with the Yankees. Don't worry though; Michael Choice should be in the running next year, with Addison Russell a possibility for 2015. Straily is probably more interested in winning one of these, anyway.
Who do you think will win the Rookie of the Year award? Do you think that Straily has a chance? Let us know in the comments!