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AL Rookie of the Year: Who You Got?

This race has everything, including not one, but two Yankees! Double the pinstripes, double the fun!

Miguel Andujar by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

AL Rookie of the Year: Who You Got?


Estimated Reading Time: 8 Minutes

After covering the NL Rookie of the Year Race it’s only fair that we take a look at the American League finalists. This race has everything, including not one, but two Yankees! Double the pinstripes, double the fun! Let’s get down to business.

Gleyber Torres – 2B, New York Yankees

There are interesting players and then there’s Yankee infielders. I have always been fscinated by them. Sometimes they ascend to the highest heights of the game like Jeter, Soriano and even A-Rod. However, there’s no middle ground between the top and the bottom on the Bronx infield. You’re either golden or your garbage.

Gleyber Torres. Is he golden? He definitely could be. Is he garbage? Nah. Are you serious? Did you think I was gonna say he was trash? Get real. The guy’s a Rookie of the Year finalist. 

The casual baseball fan might remember Torres from such events as the 2018 MLB Season, but most likely is his departure from the Chicago Cubs in a 4-for-1 deal that sent former-ex-current Yankee teammate Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs would win the World Series and Chapman would help get them there, so technically, Gleyber Torres was helping teams win rings before he stepped on a Big League diamond.

Torres’ runway was cleared when Yankee GM Brian Cashman sent Starlin Castro to the Marlins along with a heap of treasures in order to retain the services of Giancarlo Stanton. This would mean that Starlin Castro was once again removed from his position to make way for Torres, marking the second time this has happened. Kinda rough for Starlin. Feels bad man. 

So Gleyber gets to the MLB and got off to a hot start smashing a slash of .340/.398/.649, with an OPS of 1.048. Not too shabby for a guy who was traded for a closer that was re-signed in the offseason. 

THIS VIDEO IS OF TORRES HITTING A NO DOUBTER OFF OF PROBABLY CY YOUNG WINNER BLAKE SNELL. MY GOD.

Gleyber’s an exciting addition to a young and exciting Yankees team and despite what the guy at the bodega will tell you, Gleyber’s 2018 had almost zero hiccups. Seriously. Aside from September and June, Torres put up serious numbers at a consistent clip, providing support for the rarely anemic Yankee offense. 

Things that should be noted: Gleyber Torres had a better year than Gary Sanchez, who was very bad both behind the plate and at the plate. 

Other things that should be noted: Gleyber Torres was 2nd in the league for errors made by a second baseman, which isn’t ideal, but what can you do?

Miguel Andujar -3B, New York Yankees

Miguel Andujar made a loud splash into the 2018 season by hitting an absolute moonshot in Spring Training. While everyone was waiting for Stanton and Judge to become the Bash Brothers 2.0, they forgot that Andujar existed and was ready to hit bombs. 

Miguel Andujar was ranked #5 in the Yankees system prior to the 2018 season, but there was a problem with promoting him: Chase Headley. Chase Headley was signed by the Yankees after the 2014 season, and was blocking the pipeline for Andujar. After playing like a Padre for 3 seasons in the Bronx, Headley was traded back to San Diego for Jabari “Pinch-Hit Strikeout Looking” Blash prior to the 2018 season. Andujar was given the hot corner. It was his to lose. 

He never relinquished control, and for good reason, he was almost unstoppable. Especially in the second half. 

Andujar’s first half wasn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination, slashing .279/.316/.484 with an OPS of .805. Andujar also smashed 12 homers and 27 doubles. 

His second half ended with his slash line looking SWOLE AS HELL: .319/.345/.575 with an OPS of .919. Andujar ended the season with 27 homers and 47 doubles, good enough for a tie of third place in the league, sharing the spot with MVP favorite Mookie Betts, not bad company for the burgeoning Yankee third baseman.

Did Andujar hit a billion home runs? No, he hit 27, which is very good for a rookie. So why does he deserve the honor bestowed upon Aaron Judge in 2017?

Doubles. Doubles.

Those 47 doubles are what really gets my vote personally. The double is a deceiving play. Sure there are stand up doubles, clearly smacked balls that get to the wall, or land in the gap. These are safe hits. However, on the other hand, there are less safe doubles. Balls that land just far enough in front of an outfielder playing too far back. Those are the tricky ones, and knowing the difference between a single and a double in those situations denotes a veteran eye well beyond Andujar’s years.

The Yankees haven’t had a third baseman like Andujar in a long time, and he’s not going anywhere. 

Shohei Ohtani – P/DH, Los Angeles Angels

Okay.

No.

In May, I wrote a piece titled “I’m Not Buying the Sho-Hype”  wherein I discussed my apathy for Shohei Ohtani and the over saturation of his dual player nature. 

“Look, I am all for Ohtani revolutionizing the way the game is played and how players are evaluated. What I am not for is the way his play has been reported. Yes, Ohtani threw Two 101 MPH fastballs. That’s great. However, he’s not the only player to have accomplished that feat. Aroldis Chapman is known for tossing gas on days that end in “y”. Then there’s Jordan Hicks, the rookie reliever on the Cardinals, who has done it SEVEN times this year. Tayron Guerrero, the young Marlins reliever holds the top spot with a 101.8 MPH pitch, but I didn’t get a notification on my phone about it.

Of course, the MLB is leaning into the unicorn quality of Ohtani, and I’m not knocking that. In a league where the perception is that the game is dying, they need to exploit their young talents and put them on a grand scale. The same thing happened with Maeda is 2016, and he went downhill after his first 6 starts.”

– Justin Colombo, 6 months ago

I stand by all of that. ALL. OF. IT. And I don’t think Ohtani has earned the Rookie of the Year Award, nor has he even earned the finalist nod.

Welcome to the Sho-Show.

1. Not A Finalist As A Pitcher

Shohei Ohtani is not a Rookie of the Year Finalist as a pitcher. Plain and Simple.The “Japanese Babe Ruth” only started 10 games, going 4-2 over 51.2 innings pitched, posting an ERA of 3.31. None of these numbers spell out excellence. 

The number I’ve seen thrown around is his 11 K/9 ratio. For the layman,K/9 is essentially a measurement of the average number of strikeouts a pitcher throws per nine innings. Got it? Good.

Shohei Ohtani has a K/9 of 11. That’s pretty good. However, let’s remember, he only pitched 51.2 innings. So… in reality, he’d only be able to pitch 6 full, nine-inning games this year to hold that number down. 

The interesting this about this number is that it’s also not terribly remarkable. Seranthony Dominguez, a rookie reliver for the Phillies, holds a K/9 of 11.5. Dominguez pitched in3 games, for a total of 58 innings., where he racked up 74 Ks while amassing 16 saves. 

Even in the AL, Ryne Stanek is tied with Ohtani, and he managed to pitch 66 innings over 53 games, and he racked up 81 Ks on his way to his 11 K/9. So that number is not remarkable. 

If he stays healthy and starts a full season, maybe this changes, but he didn’t. If he pulls off those numbers and is viewed as a pitcher, then yes he’s a finalist, but by any metric, he’s not the best rookie pitcher in the league, let a lone the AL.

2. Not A Finalist As A Hitter

This one’s gonna rustle some jimmies, but hear me out. Is Shohei Ohtani a better hitter than he is a pitcher? So far, yes, for sure. However, he’s still not top of the class when it comes to hitting. 

Okay, he’s pretty damn close, but he doesn’t surprass the other two finalists. For real, check it out. He doesn’t get past Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar. 

I could go on, but there’s one more important factor here.  

3. Joey Wendle

I want you to pick between Player A and Player B.

Player A: .285/.361/.564, .925 OPS, 93 H, 22 HR, 21 2Bs. 61 RBIs, 3.9 WAR

Player B: .300/.345/.435, .789 OPS, 146 H, 7 HR, 33 2Bs, 61 RBIs, 4.3 WAR

Now, some of you are going to look at those numbers and know who is who, but one of these players is Shohei Ohtani and the other is Joey Wendle, the Tampa Bay infielder who was unjustly snubbed from being a finalist. 

Now, on the baseline, they look pretty even, and that’s all well and good, but might I remind you that Joey Wendle is playing a full season, while Ohtani is only playing 65% of the season. So I’d much rather have Joey Wendle’s consistency on my squad everyday, than the inconsistency of Ohtani every so often. 

4. The Unicorn Effect

“Of course, the MLB is leaning into the unicorn quality of Ohtani, and I’m not knocking that. In a league where the perception is that the game is dying, they need to exploit their young talent and put them on a grand scale. The same thing happened with Maeda is 2016, and he went downhill after his first 6 starts.”

– Is Quoting Yourself A Weird Look?

I stand by this all day. Especially after this year, and Manfred’s beef with Mike Trout. The MLB and the BBWAA has the opportunity to show off the amazing talents of their players, not just the one guy who missed a chunk of the year because he’s trying to do two things. 

In the wake of that, Tampa Bay gets stiffed yet again, despite Joey Wendle going off this season. The MLB and the BBWAA have stiffed Tampa Bay in favor of a Los Angeles gamble. 

So who’s gonna win?

My mind is telling me Andujar, but my body is telling me Ohtani. If that’s the case, if you hear screaming coming from the New York City area, that’s just me and I’ll get over it. 

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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