The BBA’s Top Rookies

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance announced their winners of the Willie Mays award today, denoting the top rookies in each league. My ballot was here. Close enough in the NL, but not so much in the AL.

American League (first-place votes) points
Neftali Feliz, Texas (18) 102
Austin Jackson, Detroit (6) 78
Danny Valencia, Minnesota 16
 Brian Matusz, Baltimore (1) 12
Brennan Boesch, Detroit 11
Wade Davis, Tampa Bay 3
John Jaso, Tampa Bay 3

National League
Buster Posey, San Francisco (15) 103
Jason Heyward, Atlanta (10) 86
Jaime Garcia, St. Louis 20
Starlin Castro, Chicago 7
Ike Davis, New York 7
Gaby Sanchez, Florida (1) 6
Tyler Colvin, Chicago 2
Mike Stanton, Florida 2
Neil Walker, Pittsburgh 2

I’m a bit surprised by how wide the gaps were. Feliz got three times as many first-place votes as Austin Jackson even though the outfielder had well more than twice as many plate appearances (675) as the reliever had batters faced (269). Yeah, Feliz was awesome when he pitched, but that’s a massive difference in playing time. I just have a really hard time giving someone who plays so little so much credit. Looks like I’m still way out of touch with the mainstream in that regard, though I don’t think Feliz is actually a bad choice. I could easily have put him second instead of 4th (or whatever). Down ballot, Boesch got off to that hot start but finished with just a .265/.320/.416 line while playing a corner outfield spot (poorly, according to UZR). Not sure he would make my top 10. The lack of love for Jaso is pretty sad, as he only appeared on one other ballot.

In the NL, Heyward outhit Posey (even if only slightly) based on a big edge in OBP and also had more playing time. Still, both guys should clearly have been included on every ballot, right? Easy 1-2 (my opinion) or 2-1 (defensible enough). Apparently not. The Cubs ballot went Posey-Castro-Colvin, which I find disgraceful*. You want to employ some homer-ism and put a Cub on there, fine. But to leave Heyward off entirely in favor of two Cubs is really bad. An LA blog left Heyward off in favor of Sanchez and Garcia. A Phillies blog left him off for Garcia and Castro. People really were looking at Heyward’s batting average and RBI numbers while ignoring his OBP (4th in the NL – and that’s amongst all players, not just rookies). Guess advanced stats still have a long way to go. On the flip-side, the other Philles blog left Posey off for Sanchez (their top choice) and Davis. Sanchez (a first-baseman) had a .346 wOBA. Posey (a catcher) had a .368 wOBA.

* Maybe a little bit over the top. Sorry. I know awards voting doesn’t really mean anything, but still.

Credit to the majority of the NL blogs that had a “correct”* ballot.

* Yes I know how this makes me sound. Telling people they’re wrong isn’t a very effective teaching method, but… eh. I mean, come one; Heyward’s OBP was almost 80 points higher than Colvin’s. 80! And in over 50% more plate appearances!