In what came as a surprise to no one, Kris Bryant was named the NL Rookie of the Year on Monday night, beating out the Giants’ Matt Duffy and the Pirates’ Jung-Ho Kang. The BBWAA results were the same as those of the IBWAA, though some of the intricacies of the latter had me a little worried that I’d need to be going after some members of the media. Two internet writers actually left Bryant off the ballot completely, and he was somewhere other than 1st on 8 of them.
The crusty scribes of pulp non-fiction got it right though, putting the Cubs rookie’s name in the #1 spot on every ballot. Duffy and Kang were pretty well cemented in at 2 and 3, but there were some surprises. Thor Syndergaard at 4 wasn’t crazy, but the Marlins’ Justin Bour getting votes was a bit odd. At least, inasmuch as a guy with a 0.3 WAR total that was 28th among NL rookies getting 2nd and 3rd place votes is odd. Who would do such a thing?
You can check the results for yourself, but I’ll save you a little trouble and tell you that Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cast the 2nd-place vote. Collier had Stephen Piscotty 3rd, if want to know the whole deal. And the other man who named Bour on his ballot? Why, that would be none other than the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan. Guess he got a few of those free drinks after all.
Back to Bryant though, the young man who was much more than just the slugger we were promised. Right, Bruce?
Bryant had 17 infield hits ,the highest percentage of such hits per safety's in MLB .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) November 16, 2015
Been hanging out with Sullivan again, I see. Seriously though, Bryant’s ability to leg out infield hits was an unexpected facet of his game that I really enjoyed. I doubt it was much of a factor in the unanimity of the vote in his favor, but it was a cool little wrinkle. But while I’m on the topic of votes and how some were sort of inexplicably handed out to unexpected names, how did neither Addison Russell nor Kyle Schwarber score even a single tally?
Wait, don’t answer that. I think it’s clear that some of these voters just look at the home run column to drive their decisions, so it means nothing that Russell put up 2.9 WAR while playing both middle-infield positions for a playoff team. Or that Kyle Schwarber had the 6th-highest Win Probability Added among NL rookies despite playing fewer games than anyone in the top 5. And other than Michael Conforto (56 games played), Schwarber’s 69 games played were at least 34 fewer than any of 10 rookies who bested his 1.9 WAR.
Oh well, no use getting mad online over the fact that no Cubs rookie not named Kris Bryant finished in the top 7 of the voting. You know who’s incredibly happy online though? This guy…
Sammy Sosa, Sultan of Swat
They may have taken his boombox’s life, but they’ll never take…its freedom! Or something like that. Slammin’ Sammy recently turned the page on the big 4-7 and he celebrated said cumpleaños with an intimate, laid-back little soire. In Dubai. With sparkler-festooned champagne bottles. Quite standard, really.
If you’re into pictures of your former favorite slugger dressed like a sheik and hanging out in the desert, Sosa’s Facebook page has got you covered. Regardless of your feelings about him now, there is one thing about Sammy that will always be true: dude knows how to party.
Beats the hell out of a post-game salsa party in the clubhouse.
Carlos Correa captures crown
I suppose this would have fit better either within or immediately following the Bryant ROY stuff, but I already had the Sosa stuff there and cutting and pasting is hard work. In truth, the AL race was much more exciting, with Correa receiving 17 first-place votes to edge out fellow Puerto Rican prodigy Francisco Lindor and his 13 votes. Miguel Sano, the oldest of the group (he turned 22 on May 11th), finished 3rd.
Lindor just turned 22 on November 14th and Correa has only been able to legally purchase alcohol since September 22nd. And if that’s not enough, 4th place finisher Roberto Osuna, a Blue Jays reliever, won’t be 21 for another 3 months. At 26, 5th-place Billy “Ball Buster” Burns looks like Old Man River next to these kids. That’s just a crazy amount of young talent and it’s scary to think that most of these guys are still years away from their respective primes.
Former Cub Rich Hill looks to secure deal
After pretty much being left for dead, former Cubs pitcher Rich Hill caught on with the Red Sox and spit hot fire late in the season to raise both eyebrows and his value. Hill went 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA over 195 innings for the Cubs in 2007, but things really went downhill after that. In the 8 seasons since, he’s thrown only 176.2 major-league innings, and that’s including 57.2 for the Orioles in 2009.
As far as Hill’s concerned though, only the most recent 29 innings matter. In 4 Red Sox starts this season, he went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, and a .141 batting average against. That should be enough to score the lefty a decent deal as he enters his age-36 season. While there isn’t a clear favorite to land his services, it’s said that the Red Sox are not in the mix and that the Padres and Rays have kicked the tires.
When I think of Rich Hill, I think of that wicked bender looping toward hitters on a cartoonishly parabolic arc. He’s obviously struggled with that pitch and others in the time since I last saw him, but MLB.com’s Mike Petriello provided some great insight on what Hill has done to foster the improved results:
These are the smallest of small sample sizes, granted, and yet there’s plenty of real, tangible evidence that Hill can be useful. His Statcast™ curveball spin rate of 2,705 rpm is the 11th-highest rate of the 111 pitchers who threw as many as he did, and the horizontal movement of 9.58 inches is the third highest behind Chris Bassitt and Aaron Nola. He also made a big change by moving from the first-base side of the rubber to the third-base side, going over 1.6 feet from 2014 to ’15:
I’m happy for Hill and hope he can parlay that hot finish into a multi-year deal.