Hulet: American League Rookie of the Year

 During the past seven seasons the American League Rookie of the Year award has been won by the likes of Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox, Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. The 2013 AL rookie class was not a strong one. The winner had few legitimate challengers, although he certainly deserves the distinction.

The Winner: Wil Myers, OF — Rays
The Good: Just 22, Myers hit for average and power and got on base at a decent clip. He also hit both right- and left-handed pitchers equally well. Although he appeared in just 88 games, the young player finished tied for seventh in the AL in fWAR (2.4) — and was 0.3 WAR out of fourth place — among right fielders with at least 300 at-bats.

The Bad: A former catcher, Myers is still learning the nuances of playing the outfield and isn’t much of a threat on the base paths, either, so his value is tied solely to his bat right now. He struck out almost 25 pecent of the time, and will probably have to trim that number to continue to hit for average on a regular basis, but it’s a reasonable trade-off for the power he can provide.

The Future: With each passing year, the Royals’ decision to trade Myers (and at least six years of control) for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis should get worse and worse. The freshman hitter should settle into the middle of the Rays’ starting lineup for years to come as the club’s key run producer.

The Next Three

2. Jose Iglesias, SS — Red Sox/Tigers:
Iglesias provided more offence in 2013 than anyone expected with a batting average of more than .300 but he was about league average when the season ended. The slick-fielding shortstop held his composure while anchoring the infield defense for two playoff-bound clubs while also filling in at the hot corner in Boston.

3. Chris Archer, RHP — Rays: Archer edged two other American League starting pitchers — Dan Straily of Oakland and Martin Perez of Texas — for the best rookie hurler in the AL. He had the best all-around numbers of the three and both his fastball and slider can be deadly weapons when they’re clicking. If he can find a weapon against left-handed hitters — such as an improved changeup — then he could become a true beast.

4. Danny Farquhar, RHP — Mariners: Farquhar led the AL in strikeout rate among rookie relievers (both starters and relievers, actually) with at least 50 innings pitched. He also had the edge in both FIP and xFIP despite a modest ERA. He was the only first-year reliever in the AL that was entrusted with regular save situations.

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Marc Hulet

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18 Comments

  1. Well Edman. I think your position is wrong. There are many many baseball players who come from overseas and who play in leagues overseas, especially Latin America and those players don’t have the same stringent conditioning programs that professional players from teams in the states have. Just because he didn’t have a conditioning program in Cuba doesn’t mean in any way that he lacks discipline.
    You know nothing about Abreu, nothing about his Cuban professional career, his Cuban professional team or his superiors and managers that dictate his baseball schedule.

    Did Yasiel Puig lack discipline? Because he was woefully out of shape, couldn’t run and was fat in Cuba. He comes here and works his ass off and becomes the next Bo Jackson. Why wouldn’t Abreu do the same? By all accounts Abreu has already started that process. Where has he conveyed any lack of discipline is beyond me and is a ridiculous assumption on your part. In fact his career reflects the opposite. He has obviously put the work, hard work to become a special baseball player. One who broke records in Cuba, one who is regarded as one of the greatest Cuban hitters ever and one who has just earned a 68 million dollar contract. Did he just get lucky? Did he sell his soul to the devil for baseball skills? Did the hand of God come down and touch his shoulder to make him into a professional baseball player? Or did he work hard his whole life to become a good baseball player?

    We will see. It will be fun to see who is right after next year. Your position is obvious and has been since Abreu was rumored to have fled Cuba. You hate the guy, think he’s garbage, has a slow bat, can’t hit, is out of shape, can’t field and can’t run. It will be interesting to see if you are right or if you are just conveying your usual pessimistic attitude about anything baseball, anything Mariner baseball and anything that could remotely relate to good baseball.

    Carry on with the self defeating narcissism, it’s becoming of you and fits you to a tee.

  2. First major difference, of course I don’t work out three-plus hours a day. Major difference is all Abreu does is play baseball, and get paid to do so, so yes, he had better be working out everyday. Doesn”t matter if it’s in Cuba or the USA. Very lame of you to defend his lack of discipline, based on what I do for a living, and its requirements. You’re just making an excuse to support your cause.

    So, you’re saying that teams should not have any concern, because suddenly he’s willing to get in shape because now it means $68 million to him? Of course they should, and I hope the Sox were smart enough to put a clause in his contract to assure that he doesn’t.

    I think it says something that a team like the Yankees, who need a firstbaseman, weren’t in on the bidding. Probably, because they see him as a DH only, as do other teams. Kendrys Morales is at least a legitimate back-up firstbaseman. From all I’ve read, Abreu doesn’t really have a position full-time position.

    Doesn’t matter, he’s going to Chicago.

  3. Edman,

    Below is a part of a Jerry Crasnick article. His reporting directly from a MLB scout who just witnessed Abreu says he’s in the best shape of his life. Why would a player decided to start working out when he didn’t before? There are many reasons and it has nothing to do with one’s lack of character. Do you workout everyday for 3+ hours? If so great, but if you don’t it doesn’t mean you lack character or don’t care. Now if you all the sudden were going to become a MLB and your agents and managers implemented a conditioning program and told you that you needed to take your conditioning seriously would you do it? I believe it actually shows that he does care about baseball because he is following instructions to get in shape. In my opinion if he remained out of shape it would show that he doesn’t care about baseball and lacks character.

    From Cransick:
    It’s noteworthy that the same concerns were expressed about Puig by critics who wondered why the Dodgers would give $42 million to an outfielder who was heavy and out of shape. As anyone who’s seen Puig this summer will attest, he’s the furthest thing from out of shape.

    Abreu already appears to have ramped up his conditioning as a prelude to his late-September showcase.

    “He’s a thick-framed guy,” said a Latin scout for an NL club. “But I just saw him in person and he was in the best shape I’ve ever seen. He’s trimmed down a lot.”

  4. So, you’re saying that every former baseball player, has the ability to evaluate a player’s talent based on video they watch and by reading the comments posted on places like MLB Rumors? You evidently feel highly about your skills as a talent evaluater. How many scout training schools did you go to? How many times did you pull out a stopwatch to time a swing, or evaluate his speed from home to first?

    If you think that you are any more knowledgeable than others on this site, do share your abilities.

    Also, please do feel free to provide links that indicate that Abreu has lost a lot of weight and is in better health than he was as a Cuban baseball player. So, you’re saying that before he had an opportunity to play in the majors, that he didn’t care about baseball enough to be in the best shape he could be in? That might be a concern for any team that signs him, since he could revert, AFTER he signs a big contract. Anyone can put on a show for a short period of time, it’s about being able to do it for a career.

  5. I haven’t seen Tanaka live, but he has No. 1-2 stuff and makes sense for a lot of teams. Considering the cost, I do not think he makes as much sense for Seattle, who need to spend the bulk of their resources on things not called starting pitching. They can’t ignore the rotation, but the bidding + contract is expected to approach Yu Darvish territory, if not exceed it (due to inflation and the market, not because he’s better than Darvish), so that does eliminate some clubs. For me, the M’s should be one of them.

  6. Jason,

    Assuming for a second that they could add Tanaka, do you think he’d be a good addition for the M’s?

    He seems to me like the best bet given his talent, age, and price. In terms of talent, he’s one of the few players in the free agent class that could be an impact guy. His age also fits well with the M’s current situation. The club isn’t a likely contender in 2014, and they need to be focused on the next five years. Tanaka will be 25 next year, so he fit well with the M’s in terms of peak years. Finally, he will cost a lot up front, but not so much down the road after the posting fee. Plus, he won’t cost a draft pick.

    I think he makes a lot of sense. I realize we need hitters more, but this seems like a great chance to get a guy who could be a solid #1 or #2 pitcher with a lot of years left in his tank.

    In fact, one potential strategy the M’s could adopt is to add free agent pitching, then trade for young hitters. By all accounts, Tanaka is a younger and better version of Iwakuma. If the M’s added Tanaka (and another pitcher like Phil Hughes) they could try to trade Iwakuma for a position player or two. Since the M’s seem to have a lot of trouble getting hitters to take their money (and there aren’t a ton of free agent positions players who would be good fits anyhow), this could work well for them.

    What do you think?

  7. Edman you talk about not having scouting reports on guys. But can’t you scout them yourself? Evaluate them with your own eyes?

    I can’ t remember: Were you a baseball player? If not I get it, you don’t necessarily have the acumen to scout a player by watching tape on him or watching him on TV.

    From what I’ve seen on Abreu and his Cuban stats back this up, is that, IMO, Abreu is a better hitter then Cespedes. In the tape I’ve seen between both guys via Cuban league or International Baseball, Abreu is a better hitter. Now Abreu doesn’t play a premium position and he isn’t in the best shape. But from all the reports I’ve read he has shed A LOT of weight and is taking this MLB thing very seriously. Remember Puig? When he was in Cuba before he came over he was WAY out of shape, fat even, he transformed himself in the first year he was in the states into a monster. Why? For the same reason Abreu is changing himself, because they are taking the MLB seriously.

    I’m not saying Abreu is going to become Ricky Henderson but he is turning his body into a more athletic minded machine which will make him run a touch better, make him a bit more nimble, make his bat speed a touch faster and make him have a bit more longevity.

    Some scouts aren’t blown away with Abreu but some scouts are, they really are blown away, it’s the same way scouts agree and disagree on most baseball prospects, some like them and some don’t.

    The M’s are sad sack franchise and until they replace their upper management they will be stuck that way. They miss on most of their high draft picks, miss on most of their trades, miss on most of their signings and can’t/won’t sign IFA’s from Japan or Cuba or Korea. All the afore mentioned spells disaster and success isn’t anywhere on the horizon unfortunately. The M’s are looking at another decade of futility and because of that you can see where fans such as Paul Martin are coming from. They just want good players. Well that isn’t happening in Seattle so no need to bash on a fan that wishes his team would go acquire good players.

  8. This is a ridiculous straw man argument. If you disagree with someone, you should address what was actually said. Instead, you mischaracterize the comments of others and refute things that nobody said. Its not very productive, and more than a bit annoying.

  9. Thanks for the insight Jason. My outsider impression was that the team only went after bargain bin international free agents. If they can get them on the cheap (Iwakuma) then they are all in, but the premium high dollar ones seemed to not even be seriously considered by the team.

    I hadn’t taken into the equation that the player would not come here regardless of the dollars…

  10. The Mariners did show interest in Cespedes. Cespedes’ reps, plural at the time, made it clear they weren’t all that interested in Seattle once multiple teams made it clear they had serious interest in the player.

    The Mariners did have interest in Darvish — they’re No. 2 int. scout saw his last several starts in Japan leading up the posting and bidding. The Mariners DID NOT submit a bid, contrary to mass reports at the time, probably because they knew two things. 1. The posting fee was going to be astronomical, and 2. Darvish wasn’t going to sign with Seattle, even for $150 million. He’d already narrowed it down to 4-5 teams he’d leave Japan for. M’s weren’t one.

    As for this year’s crop — Abreu doesn’t make a lot of sense for Seattle if he is what is being reported. A .250-.270 hitter with 25 HR power but a slugger-hacker mentality and athletic limitations that relegate him to 1B and DH. I’ve heard the term ‘severe fly ball guy’ from multiple scouts that have seen him hit. That doesn’t fit in Seattle.

    Tanaka is a different story. It’s more about the player’s interest in the team. I get the notion Seattle is a team that sees him as a starter — some, almost a third of the teams I have asked — see Tanaka as premium closer — but he’s going to be more expensive than any MLB free agent, and last I checked, he doesn’t hit all that well.

    The Mariners are in a tough, tough spot. They have zero cache with proven players, amateur included, so the money part never really becomes a factor. Sometimes the money portion of the equation would help Seattle, other times it wouldn’t.

  11. They are showing zero interest, because they haven’t leaked information to the press? Tell me, Paul, how do you know what interest they have, or have not shown? You conclude that because it didn’t get chatted up on MLB Rumors, that it must be that they had no interest? In case you missed it, Jack runs a tight ship and doesn’t let what he’s going to do, or not do, to the media.

    You draw a lot of conclusions based on what you don’t know. Because you think it, it doesn’t make it so.

  12. And your excuse for the team showing zero interest in Tanaka? And your excuse for the team showing zero interest when Puig, Cespedes, and Yu Darvish were out there?

    I understand your concerns on Abreu, but the team is never in on any of these guys.

    I would like to see the team sign Ellsbury too, but if the dollars get crazy they will not sign him. The team is much more likely to get outbid.

    I don’t see why the team can’t sign Ellsbury AND Tanaka, but we likely won’t get either…

  13. You have a full scouting report, to be able to identify the good ones from the bad? Because they get a lot of buzz on MLB Rumors, doesn’t mean they are good baseball players. Is it your assumption that there were MLB teams that didn’t bother to scout him? How come the Dodgers and several other teams passed him up, if he’s so talented?

    He may be a good player, but he’s not even close to being as good as Puig or Cespedes. Is he worth $68 million? Can’t say, but that’s a lot of money to gamble if he doesn’t pan out.

    Personally, I’d rather put that money toward a proven MLB player, not one with a potentially slow bad, and a physique that limits him to be a bad defensive 1B, and probably a DH only player. That, and as Jason mentioned, some question that he may in fact be older than his listed age.

  14. Nobody said that Edman. No one is advocating to invest on any Cuban. But the good ones, yeah, they might be worth looking into.

  15. Yes Paul, because the Mariners should invest in any Cuban, because they are just good.

  16. I feel your pain rjfrik!

    The Mariners are just not into the big dollar international free agents. When there is a Yu Darvish, Cespedes, Puig, or Abreu or Tanaka, the team is never linked to any of these guys. Someday we will get new ownership, but until then it just isn’t going to happen, regardless of how much sense it makes or how much you or I would like it to happen.

    Unfortunately look for Tanaka to sign with the Yankees, and anchor their rotation for years to come…

  17. Correction. It’s 6 years 68 million. Still about 11 million per.

    On another note. The Dodgers have DFA’d Alex Castellanos. If I’m the M’s I probably pick him up. He’s hit at every level he’s been at and looks to be a late bloomer who is much further along then Witherspoon. Might as well load up these type of OF’s and bring them in to compete.

  18. Well it looks like Jose Abreu is going to cost 11 million a year. 6 years 66 million to the Whitesox. 11 million a year in todays market is not a lot of money, not when contracts are going for 20 million plus regularly. We shall see if it pans out.

    I would have loved to have him in an M’s uni. Oh well.

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