With the gaudy Win-Loss record that Ivan Nova has put up so far this season, some Yankee announcers and many fans have been recently touting his candidacy for the Rookie of the Year award. My initial impression is that I don’t view him as the best rookie pitcher in the American League this year, with Mariners young stud Michael Pineda immediately coming to mind as far superior in his profile and skill set. But still, I wanted to double check my initial thoughts by looking at some of the other players who will be up for the award. With this in mind, let’s take a brief look at who some of his competitors will be, and what kinds of seasons they’re having. Fangraphs allows you to sort by Rookie status as well as WAR, so that’s the leader board I’ll be looking at.
First the top 4 AL Rookie positional players:
|Dustin Ackley||Mariners||66||276||72||5||33||32||2||10.9 %||18.1 %||.164||.351||.295||.370||.459||.363||133||1.5||1.4||2.6|
|Desmond Jennings||Rays||39||175||48||8||24||20||14||10.9 %||20.0 %||.257||.381||.324||.419||.581||.436||182||-1.8||0.6||2.2|
|Mark Trumbo||Angels||129||492||117||24||58||73||8||4.9 %||19.9 %||.220||.272||.254||.295||.474||.327||105||7.0||0.6||2.1|
|Josh Reddick||Red Sox||69||221||55||6||35||26||1||7.7 %||17.6 %||.185||.308||.275||.326||.460||.334||106||8.1||0.5||1.7|
Now the top 4 AL Rookie pitchers:
|Michael Pineda||Mariners||9||8||0||25||25||153.0||9.18||2.94||0.94||.256||69.5 %||35.1 %||8.9 %||3.71||3.41||3.51||2.9|
|Zach Britton||Orioles||9||9||0||23||23||128.0||5.84||3.38||0.63||.310||64.4 %||53.3 %||7.9 %||4.22||3.78||3.97||2.3|
|Ivan Nova||Yankees||15||4||0||24||23||138.2||5.52||3.05||0.78||.285||71.4 %||53.8 %||9.3 %||3.89||3.99||4.02||2.1|
|Jordan Walden||Angels||4||3||27||53||0||51.0||9.88||3.71||0.18||.301||77.9 %||45.8 %||2.1 %||2.65||2.37||3.25||1.9|
As you can see, Michael Pineda is the clear choice among Rookie pitchers. He strikes out many more batters, has Nova beat by over half a run in FIP and .8 WAR. Among hitters Dustin Ackley has been outstanding for the Mariners and would appear to have a strong candidacy as well. Combining the two leaderboards, Nova finishes 5th in terms of WAR tied with the Angel’s Trumbo. Zach Britton’s midseason demotion after experiencing early success has to hurt his candidacy. Nova was demoted as well, but it wasn’t based on poor performance as it was with Britton.
Looking at recent ROY winners and comparing to their place on WAR leaderboards, there isn’t always a direct correlation. Buster Posey won NL ROY in 2010 despite finishing well behind Jason Heyward in terms of WAR. Neftali Feliz (1.7 WAR) beat out Brian Matusz (2.7 WAR) for AL ROY honors the same year. The previous year, Andrew Bailey’s glittering 1.84 ERA seemed to have carried the day despite finishing tied for 7th on the AL WAR leaderboard.
Of course, playing time can greatly affect WAR, so a midseason call up who tears up the league will be hurt by lack of PAs, as was the case with Posey. But looking at wOBA, Posey still finished behind Heyward in 2010, in 09 NL ROY winner Chris Couglin finished 3rd and 08 NL ROY Geovany Soto finished behind Joey Votto in both WAR and wOBA. Clearly, we’re giving the BWAA voters too much credit if we expect the majority of them to be looking at advanced metrics.
So the question becomes something of a horse race. Will Pineda and Ackley split support among west coast writers since they’re on the same team? Will Trumbo’s 24 HRs further divide that support? Are there enough old school voters who don’t look at advanced stats and will be swayed by Nova’s win total? Looking at recent ROY winners, the guys with an easy selling point seem to carry the day. Being on a winning team doesn’t hurt either, though it really shouldn’t matter. I have to think Nova has an excellent shot to win ROY, despite the fact that Pineda’s proved himself to be the far superior pitcher this season.
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