Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Great ROY Debate

There's been a lot of talk on twitter today about the NL Rookie of the Year award, Posey v. Heyward. Of course, all Giants fans, including myself, would like for Posey to win that award, just as we would like any player on the Giants to win an award they seem eligible for. But in the fervor over Posey's recent heroics, we at 8thInningWeirdness believe Giants fans may be going too far in handing the trophy to Gerald Demp already. A little perspective might be necessary.

Jason Heyward lived up to all the Spring Training hype when he homered in his 1st at bat of the season. He has been red hot of late, and a few weeks ago looked like the odds-on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award for the NL. However, recently our very own Buster Posey has been hitting monster home runs and throwing runners out with precision. It's suddenly become a much closer race, and in my view it is an absolute tie right now.

When it comes to discussions about regular season MLB awards, we have to always make the distinction of who WILL win and who SHOULD win. We know that the BBWA still has certain prejudices, which will be tested mostly in this year's American League Cy Young voting. While it is nice to be informed about who will probably win a given award, the much more interesting and substantive debate is about who, given the evidence presented, should win the award. Here are the points in favor of either Heyward or Posey:


  • Aside from a DL stint, he has played the entire season. Posey missed the first 2 months.
  • His offensive rate numbers are just as good as Posey's. Their wOBA's stand at .385 and .382 respectively.
  • His WAR (fangraphs) is 4.6, while Posey is at 3.9. WAR makes up for the fact that Posey plays a tougher position, yet Heyward is still ahead.
  • Heyward is going straight to Cooperstown. Okay, that isn't a very valid reason to vote for him for ROY this year, but it should at least be recognized. Heyward is one of a very select group of 20 year old rookies that had the kind of plate discipline he is showing. It's marvelous. Magnificent. Unreal. Guys this young just don't do this. Unless they are THAT great. His middle-of-career slashline has been predicted as .300/.420/.600. The numbers have shown that this year he has lived up to all the hype that surrounded him. Does his career projection matter when it comes to deserving the ROY award? No, not at all. But it could still be a factor in a voter's mind. And just the fact that he is a 20 year old rookie with a .400 OBP could be enough.

  • Posey missed 2 months, but that isn't his fault. His rate numbers might not be quite as good if he had played a full season, but it's possible his counting numbers would surpass Heyward. Possible.
  • Posey is behind in WAR, but a lot of that has to do with the playing time. In fact, it's amazing he is so close in WAR with 2 fewer months played.
  • The reason he is close to Heyward with WAR is because he plays catcher. Catcher is the toughest position to play, much harder than corner outfield.
  • WAR doesn't account for the handling of the pitching staff. Posey is the catcher for what now ranks as the best pitching staff in the league.

Looking at the arguments for both, I think it all comes down to one thing: how do you feel about Posey missing the first 2 months of the season? It was management's fault, not his, but still, shouldn't Heyward get credit for playing a full season? I don't know. If Posey had far surpassed Heyward in production, then yes, the playing time would be easy to overlook. But he hasn't. They are about the same. That's why at this point I think it's a tie, and whoever finishes stronger deserves the award.

There are, of course, some very BAD reasons to vote for either of them. A few were included above. Just because Jason Heyward might look like a future Hall of Famer, doesn't make him the Rookie of the Year. Buster Posey, like all catchers, deserves very LITTLE credit for the performance of the pitching. Either one might end up leading their team to the playoffs. We should all agree that is completely irrelevant for a regular season award. And then of course their is the strange, yet completely Brucean view from Bruce Jenkins in the Chronicle today, where he stated:

"If Posey doesn't win the NL ROY award, voters simply aren't paying attention. Jason Heyward is having a tremendous year in the Braves outfield...Posey is simply in another world."

As Giants fans, we need to realize something: Buster Posey is a terrific player. But compared to Jason Heyward, he is NOT in another world. It isn't surprising to see Jenkins going overboard like this, especially on Fire Joe Morgan Day over at Deadspin. I just hope that Giants fans can be a little more fair and honest. It's easy to watch a player everyday, and be in awe of his talent, and then assume that he must be the best (these kinds of judgments occur with the Gold Glove awards all the time). Perhaps Posey will be a more deserving ROY than Heyward on October 3rd. But it's very, very close.

20 minutes later...

I think I just realized: yeah, it would be great for Posey to win the ROY, but really, who cares? It's not that great of an award anyway. Bobby Crosby won it.

1 comment:

  1. Things I've seen that irk me about this ROY decision. (It's just a toss-up, so to see people be passionate about Posey has me go, "Stop, whoever wins it, it's okay.")

    1. "Pressure" of clean-up hitter on 1st place team over #2 hitter (JH). Hitters hit, that's it and that's all.
    2. Buster's "game-calling"
    3. People taking counting stats (HR, RBI) seriously. Related, "JH: .260, BP: .333!" Small sample size, but if you're gonna value actually getting on base, then value OBP before BA. (380 to 360 back in mid-July.)
    4. Whoever "leads" their team to the playoffs. Well, it's more of an in-season award.

    And personally, I'm waiting for the two to split votes, and someway, somehow -- Jamie Garcia squeaks away with it, and we all go apeshit over that.

    That'll be fun.