numberFire MLB Rookie of the Year Race: Week 4
Now that we're past Easter, it's obviously time to start naming MLB's individual awards. I've got Charlie Blackmon as MVP and Martin Perez as Cy Young. These picks matter, gosh darn it, and you can't stop us from making them.
No matter how ridiculous it may seem, tracking the Rookie of the Year race is much more than a practice in futility. Do you want to be the guy who's chilling at the water cooler and has no idea who George Springer is? Not in this dojo, kemosabe. We've got you covered. We'll be tracking this race throughout the entire season with updates every other Tuesday. If you want to check out our rankings from after week one, you can click here.
While there is some room for judgement on these lists, I'm mostly basing them on numberFire's nERD statistic. If you don't know what nERD is or need a quick refresher, you can click here. Basically, it's a measure of how good you are using advanced algorithms that would give Charlie from Numb3rs a mini-aneurysm. Positive is good, negative is bad. Get it? Got it? Good. Let's ride.
1. Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees
nERD: 4.46 | FIP: 1.95 | WAR: 0.8
Tanaka is 'bout that action, boss. Through his first three major league starts, Tanaka has 28 strikeouts in 22 innings. Pretty good, right? Well, he also has only issued two walks. That's silly.
The coolest part about what Tanaka has done so far is that it's clear opponents have no idea what in the heck he's doing. Tanaka has baited batters into swinging at 45.0 percent of his pitches outside of the zone. That's the highest total in the entire league. Second place is Felix Hernandez at 39.2 percent. It's unreal.
Tanaka's name is also scattered among the leaders in several other plate discipline categories. Opponents make contact 69.3 percent of the time, which ranks fourth. Tanaka is also second in percentage of strikes that are swinging strikes at 16.1 percent. He's the one sober guy in a beer-league softball game, and that's why he's at the top of the list.
2. Yordano Ventura, SP, Kansas City Royals
nERD: 3.04 | FIP: 2.81 | WAR: 0.5
If it hadn't been for a bit of a shellacking at the hands of the mighty Minnesota Twins on Sunday, Ventura may have been able to give Tanaka a run for the top spot. Instead, he'll slide into a respectable second place.
Through his first 13 innings, Ventura had allowed one earned run on six hits with three walks and 13 strikeouts. He then walked four and allowed four runs in just four innings against the Twins, inflating his ERA to 2.65 to 0.69.
Overall, Ventura has been dealing some filth this year. His average fastball velocity has been 97.2. His average changeup velocity sits at 87.5, 9.7 miles per hour slower than his cheese. How do you plan on hitting that? 'Roids? Prayer? Meditation? No matter what, the odds may never be in your favor.
3. Yangervis Solarte, 3B, New York Yankees
nERD: 2.94 | wOBA: .397 | WAR: 0.4
"Boo, you worthless, Yankee-loving piece of poo!" - me, if I were reading this list. I promise, though, that this is what the computer says, and computer don't lie.
Make no mistake - Solarte has earned his place on this list with. Solarte leads all qualified rookies in batting average, is second in on-base percentage and wOBA, and is third in slugging percentage. A-Rod who?
With all of that said, Solarte has begun the harsh regression to the mean. After pumping out six extra-base hits in his first seven games this year, Solarte has now only had two in the last 11 games, and they both came in the same contest. We all knew his reign at the top of this list wouldn't last long, but it should be fun to see where he ends up after game 162.
4. Josmil Pinto, C, Minnesota Twins
nERD: 2.72 | wOBA: .411 | WAR: 0.5
As some of you may know, I grew up a Minnesota fan, so I have to be a biased load of junk to plop Pinto in here, right? Nope. The computer backs me up on this one, validating my decision to genuflect in front of a statue of Pinto every day during the off-season.
Pinto's got pop (four home runs, .535 slugging), but possibly the most impressive thing about him this year has been his patience. In 56 plate appearances, Pinto has drawn 13 walks while striking out 13 times. He has swung at pitches outside of the zone 27.6 percent of the time which, while not Earth-shattering, is a couple percentage points below average.
This reiterates the fact that this award on our site is strictly for offense as far as position players go. Pinto has played in 13 games, catching in only five of those while DHing the other eight. When Pinto has had a chance as a backstop, he hasn't fared too well. If nERD did include defensive aspects, Chris Owings and Abraham Almonte probably would have found themselves here instead of Pinto.
5. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
nERD: 1.66 | wOBA: .350 | WAR: 0.5
While Solarte leads rookies in most of the rate stats, Abreu leads in most of the beefy composite stats. Among qualified rookies, Abreu is first in home runs, runs scored and runs batted in. While this is largely dependent on the players batting in front of him, Abreu's 17 RBI's are 88.9 percent more than Solarte who sits tied for second in the category.
There are a couple of things that kept Pinto ahead of Abreu: Pinto's wOBA and Abreu's position. Pinto's wOBA is a full 61 points higher than Abreu's, and Pinto plays catcher, a position where offensive competency is much harder to come by than it is at first base. But if Abreu keeps chucking yack-jobs, he could very easily slide up this list.
So, there's what the computers say. What say you? Feel free to send a tweet to let me know why I'm an idiot and Xander Bogaerts is the next Roy Hobbs. Do it! We'd love to hear from you. And now that you're all edumucated, start a discussion on the numberFire Question Forum. If you don't, I question your commitment to America, bald eagles and making impossible predictions only 11.11 percent of the way into the season.