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