Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 5, 2007
BASEBALL: Not The Year of the Rookie

After last season's bonanza of quality rookies, some letdown was perhaps to be expected, but I have been surprised at quite how badly so many of this season's rookies have played. Which is not to say they won't go on to successful careers, or even turn things around over the final two thirds of the season - but teams handing out a lot of playing time to rookies this season have inherited a lot of grief. Let's run down the NL rookies first, breaking them out by their level of success - I may not have caught everyone here who has pitched 10 innings and some of them did play last season but I think all these guys are still eligible for the Rookie of the Year award:

Success Stories

Batters

PLAYERAgePosTeamABAVGSLGOBPOther
Hunter Pence24OFHOU128.375.625.4035 BB, 21 K
Mark Reynolds233BAZ65.385.708.446
Josh Hamilton26OFCIN119.261.521.336
Tony Abreu223BLAD38.342.500.3330 BB, 4 K
Norris Hopper28OFCIN70.329.414.3564 SB

The pickings are slim here - only Pence and Hamilton have had anything like a full audition in terms of playing time, Hamilton and Hopper are too old to be prospects (although Hamilton is a unique case). Reynolds does look like a serious prospect, though, and if a non-pitcher is going to win the Rookie of the Year Award, he's probably as good odds as anyone, and way better odds than anyone but Pence. Not that I mean to slight Pence, who has really been tremendous. Hopper, of course, gets demerits for nearly killing Ryan Freel.

Pitchers

PLAYERAgePosTeamIPERABB/IPK/IPOther
Kevin Cameron27RPSD20.10.446.647.970 HR, 10 H
Micah Owings24SPAZ46.23.863.666.564-1
Joe Smith23RPNYM24.21.463.2810.2227 G
Manuel Corpas24RPCOL28.02.573.217.3928 G, 1 HR
Peter Moylan28RPATL28.12.543.184.13
Doug Slaten27RPAZ13.23.293.297.9021 G, 1 HR

Again, we have a collection weighted towards middle relievers already in their primes. Note the presence of two sidearmers (Smith and Moylan). Owings does look like a keeper, and we have not seen top pitching prospects Homer Bailey (soon to make his debut in Cincinnati) and Yovanny Gallardo of Milwaukee. Cameron will need to throw some strikes to be effective long term.

Showing Promise

Batters

PLAYERAgePosTeamABAVGSLGOBPOther
Chris Young23OFAZ167.269.449.3066 SB, 8 BB, 28 K
Carlos Ruiz28CPHI137.270.401.324
Fred Lewis26OFSF80.263.425.337
Troy Tulowitzki22SSCOL197.269.371.347
Jarrod Saltamacchia22CATL38.263.368.349
Michael Bourn24OFPHI35.257.314.366
Jesus Flores25CWAS45.222.311.352
Andy LaRoche233BLAD38.211.263.43615 BB, 5 K

Young is the stud prospect on this list, and does look like he will be a star if he can master the strike zone, but that's a work in progress. Ruiz, at 28, is as good as he will get. Tulowitzki's numbers look good for a 22-year-old shortstop with a cannon arm until you remember that he plays at Coors.

Pitchers

PLAYERAgePosTeamIPERABB/IPK/IPOther
Tim Lincecum23SPSF404.052.708.782-0, 29 H
Matt Lindstrom27RPFLA243.753.758.6326 G, 0 HR

Lincecum has had some rough outings but will almost assuredly be on the top chart by the end of the year, and looks like a coming star; he is probably the best bet to take the NL Rookie of the Year when all is said and done.

Struggling or Outright Failing

Batters

PLAYERAgePosTeamABAVGSLGOBPOther
Scott Thorman251BATL155.219.400.2567 BB, 34 K
Kevin Kouzmanoff253BSD146.205.363.273
Chris Iannetta24CCOL87.184.310.31815 BB, 29 K
Miguel Montero23CAZ78.205.308.278
Felix Pie22OFCHC59.237.390.2501 BB, 12 K
Carlos Gomez21OFNYM35.229.286.2633 SB
Kory Casto25OFPIT54.130.167.158

Like some of the success stories, a number of these guys have had so few at bats that you can't say much except that they haven't contributed anything. In Gomez' case, of course, he wasn't expected to make the majors and was called up before his time to plug an injury hole. Iannetta, by contrast, has had his struggles cost him playing time in a losing battle with journeyman Yorvit Torrealba. Kouzmanoff has been particularly disapointing given his minor league batting record.

Pitchers

PLAYERAgePosTeamIPERABB/IPK/IPOther
Matt Chico24SPWAS59.25.134.224.983-4, 9 HR
Mike Pelfrey23SPNYM30.16.535.043.860-5, 2 HR
Matt Albers24SPHOU34.06.353.714.501-4, 8 HR
Jonah Bayliss26RPPIT30.06.604.207.2031 G
Jon Coutlangus26RPCIN19,15.125.128.3826 G
Lavale Speigner26RPWAS28.29.105.974.4044 H

Well, rookie pitchers will always break your heart. Pelfrey did manage to keep the ball in the park well, but that's about it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:30 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Good to see an Astro on that list...maybe we can have one good thing come out of this season..ROY...ROY and Roy are about it...El Caballo being a nice addition as well..but what a sad season my Lastros are having...tough to be a fan sometimes...

Posted by: AstrosFan at June 5, 2007 3:15 PM

You forgot Alex Gordon in the Struggling/Failing section. It is hard to understand, he doesn't look overmatched, but he is not producing.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 5, 2007 4:13 PM

Gordon was very much on my mind - I didn't overlook him, but this is just the NL side.

Posted by: The Crank at June 5, 2007 4:22 PM

The Pirates might have tried to trade for Casto, but he is still on the Nats. You should give extra credit to Hopper for cheating worse than A-Rod and not taking any flak for it at all.

http://shakedownsports.com/2007/05/29/the-big-red-cheaters/

Posted by: aih at June 5, 2007 6:56 PM

Carlos Ruiz should learn how to not ground into double plays with the bases loaded and no one out. Maybe if he were as mature a rookie as Chris Coste, he'd have that figured out.

Posted by: hoyasaxa at June 5, 2007 10:47 PM

Add Ryan Braun to your showing promise list. 45 AB, 3HR, .311/.347/.578 and showing decent range in the field. He might be getting sent back down due to roster limitations/delaying arbitration, so he wouldn't have the stats to compete for rookie of the year but he does look like he's ready to make a big splash.

Posted by: Joe at June 6, 2007 12:21 PM

Kooz certainly got off to a rough start -- but if he keeps up the way he's been playing since about May 10 he'll finish the season with a batting average around .270-.280. His BA was was in the .108 on May 7 -- now it's .213. His BA for the Month of May was .303. So far in June it's .286.

I don't think he'll be rookie of the year, but I suspect by season's end his numbers will be respectable.

Posted by: Hoystory at June 10, 2007 12:26 AM
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