14 October 2010
As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance for about a year now, I have the honor to participate in their postseason awards. There are four Twins' bloggers in the Minnesota chapter of the Alliance, and here you can find Seth Stohs' Manager of the Year ballot.
By clicking the "Read More" button below, you can find my choices for the Willie Mays Award, recognizing the top rookie in the American League in 2010.
3. Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers
Jackson losses points for relying heavily upon luck to artificially inflate his high batting average. He wins the durability award, with 675 plate appearances from the top of Detroit's batting order all season long. As a rookie thrust into the lead-off role, Jackson performed admirably. His actual numbers are very good, but he out-played his potential this season and is sure to regress.
This award isn't simply given to the player with the best stats; context and future ability are also factored in. Jackson may be a valuable league-average player, but he almost certainly won't be able to repeat his 2010 campaign, where he was nearly four wins above replacement. Those strikeouts will catch up to him sooner or later.
2. Danny Valencia, 3B, Minnesota Twins
Valencia's biggest knock is his lack of playing time. Participating in just 83 games this season, Valencia racked up just 322 plate appearances. During the partial season, though, Valencia raked opposing pitchers to the tune of a .311/.351/.448 triple-slash line. Valencia also hit seven home runs and a total of 26 extra-base hits.
Though he didn't have enough innings to qualify, Valencia was also one of the better defensive third baseman in the league. His 10.5 UZR/150 puts him between Jose Lopez and Evan Longoria on the American League leaderboard.
Valencia did a lot to quiet doubters this season, but at 26 years of age, is rapidly approaching his peak. If his defense can remain at a high level, Valencia could be a very solid major-league regular and provide the Twins with the long-term answer at the hot corner.
1. Brian Matusz, SP, Baltimore Orioles
That the Orioles didn't impress at all in 2010 shouldn't be considered a fault for Matusz. Rather, it's impressive that the 23-year old performed as well as he did in front of Baltimore's horrid defense and against the toughest opponents in the American League.
With a 10-12 record and a 4.30 ERA, few will be inclined to select Matusz as Rookie of the Year. After neutralizing poor defense and tough competition, Matusz's results aren't all that bad. His 2.7 WAR is the 25th in the league according to FanGraphs, and 24th as ranked by Baseball Reference.
Matusz has clear “ace” potential, and has the highest ceiling of anyone on this list. As a rookie stuck in Baltimore's undesirable situation, few could have done better than Matusz in 2010.
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