The IPI Awards: NL Rookie of the Year
By Jim Piascik
October 7, 2012
To celebrate the conclusion of another baseball season, we here at Indians Prospect Insider have decided to give out our picks for the major awards. In the coming days, IPI will be rolling out our picks for AL/NL MVP, AL/NL Cy Young Award, Most Valuable Indian, and Least Valuable Indian.
Previous awards: AL Rookie of the Year
IPI writers Charlie Adams, Jeff Ellis, Tony Lastoria, Sean Mahon, Adam McGavin, Stephanie Metzger, Steve Orbanek, Jim Pete, Andrew Zajac, and yours truly all voted on these awards. Not all of them supplied write-ups, but those who did are listed below.
When it comes to the NL Rookie of the Year award, one name jumps out: Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. Plenty of this is due to the hype surrounding the 2010 first overall pick, but Harper did go out and play well in 2012. At an age where prospects are typically in A-ball, Harper played 139 games at the big league level, posting a .270/.340/.477 slash line, hitting 22 home runs, stealing 18 bases, and scoring 98 runs while knocking in 59. Harper also managed a 4.9 fWAR, the highest among NL rookies.
But despite what some people have been saying over the past few weeks, us nerds who like to use wins above replacement as a tool to evaluate players don't just hand the award to the person with the highest WAR total at the end of the season. An equally compelling argument can be made for Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley.
In his debut season, Miley pitched 194.2 innings, posting a 16-11 record with a 3.33 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 144:37 SO:BB, and 4.8 fWAR. Miley Among qualified NL starters, Miley placed 4th in WAR, 5th in FIP, tied for 6th in wins, and 10th in ERA. Miley has a very strong case to pick up Cy Young votes this season and is an equally deserving choice for NL Rookie of the Year.
So, will it be the young phenom, the older (but still only 25) starting pitcher? The IPI voters have spoken, and...
IPI's NL Rookie of the Year is... Bryce Harper
The IPI voters overwhelmingly chose Harper, with seven of the 10 votes being cast for the 19-year old. Two voters went with Miley, while one picked Cincinnati Reds infielder Todd Frazier.
For me, that's what it comes back to: Harper is only 19. The idea that someone so young could handle the majors at the level he has impresses me more than what Miley was able to accomplish out in Arizona. With both Harper and Miley turning in impressive seasons, age became an important factor in my view.
Here is what the rest of IPI has to say:
Charlie Adams: Bryce Harper. It was a very close call with Wade Miley, but you have to give the nod to Harper. He nearly went 20-20, he helped his team reach the playoffs for the first time in their history, and he played excellent defense while overcoming monstrous expectations. He will have some monster seasons in his future and could approach Trout on some seasons when a few more fly balls find the other side of the fence. He will be a perennial Gold Glover in right field if the Nationals can ever get a legit centerfielder in the fold and put Harper in his natural element. Miley was fantastic and a major reason the D-backs stayed in the wild card hunt for most of the season.
Jeff Ellis: Bryce Harper made this close by having a great last two months. He finally seemed to click and was showing the star skills that made him the number one prospect in baseball pretty much from the moment he was drafted. Wade Miley, though, was great all year. He is a top-10 candidate for the Cy Young and he was just really good all year, rarely walking anyone and racking up strikeouts. He had a 4:1 strikeout to walk rate; that's Cliff Lee-like numbers. Still, I nearly chose Harper, but at the end of the day, it was too hard to take an amazing two months and a bunch of average ones over a guy who was great all year.
Tony Lastoria: This was a very tough one to sort through as there was no clear cut winner this year as a case could be made for any of Bryce Harper, Todd Frazier, Wilin Rosario, Wade Miley or Michael Fiers. Considering they were all so close, I think playoff standing has to come into play. Miley and Rosario probably had the best seasons of the five, but Frazier and Harper made the playoffs and both were instrumental in getting their teams there. It was close between Frazier and Harper, as their stats in a lot of ways are identical, but I went with Harper simply because I believe the media will buy into his hype and name him the winner.
Sean Mahon: Bryce Harper. I remember when he was 16 on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Oh wait, that was merely three years ago. He's far from a finished product, yet he's already one of the finest rookies.
Adam McGavin: The trendy pick of this race will be 19-year old phenom, Bryce Harper. But I believe Reds rookie, Todd Frazier, bested him for two key reasons: he helped carry a Votto-less Cincy offense while the 2010 NL MVP missed nearly two months in the 2nd half with knee troubles and offered his team the flexibility to play first base, third base, and left field. Frazier edged out Harper in average (.273 to .270), OPS (.829 to .817), and RBI (67 to 59). The Nationals' outfielder had more homers (22 to 19) and steals (18 to 3), but did so with over 100 more at-bats than Frazier. The other worthy candidate, Rockies backstop, Wilin Rosario, also deserves consideration. He led NL rookies with 28 home runs and 71 RBI, but his OBP (.312) suggests he's leaning a little bit on the Coors Field effect. Wade Miley (3.33 ERA and 16 wins) and Lucas Harrell (3.76 ERA and 11 wins) also had fine rookie campaigns.
Steve Orbanek: The left-handed Wade Miley really was impressive this year. Not only did he finish 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA, but Miley also proved to be an absolute control artist on the mound, as he walked just 37 batters while striking out 144. A lot may look at Bryce Harper of the Nationals as a deserving winner, but Miley's performance cannot be denied.
Jim Pete: I've flip-flopped on this a couple of times, and really wanted to see how the season ended, so with that said, I've got to give it to Bryce Harper. The only problem I have with Harper's regular season this year is that he likely didn't live up to the Harper hype, and for sure not the Trout hype. He hit .270 on the season, with 22 homers and 59 RBI. He stole 18 bases, and walked 56 times, but struck out a hefty 120 times. He downright struggled in July and August, but over his final 31 games, with the Nationals battling for a playoff slot, he played his best baseball, hitting .330, with seven homers, 14 RBI, eight doubles, three triples and scored 27 runs. He hit 13 homers, and drove in 30 runs in his last two months of the season and is ready to really break out. Wade Miley is the other guy here and was my choice prior to this Sunday morning posting. He went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA. A great year, but just not as impactful as Harper.
Coming tomorrow: The AL Cy Young award. Will IPI go with the wins and ERA leader David Price? Will Justin Verlander's overall dominance be enough to get him (in IPI's view) his second consecutive Cy Young? Can Felix Hernandez's perfect game and ability overcome him being on the AL's worst offensive team? Come back to IPI tomorrow to find out.
If you want to follow Jim Piascik, he’s @DarkestDiamond. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at email@example.com
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org