The American and National League Rookies of the Year will be announced in a little more than an hour. In the AL, Dustin Pedroia, who hit .317/.380/.442 over 139 games while playing a strong second base, is the easy choice. Pedroia's case gets even stronger when you set aside his April struggles and consider that he hit .333/.389/.467 over the remainder of the season. Pre-season favorite Delmon Young's .288/.316/.408 just can't compete, nor can the performances of Pedroia's Japanese teammates Daisuke Matsuzaka (4.40 ERA, 15-12, 201 K, 80 BB) or Hideki Okajima (2.22 ERA in 66 relief appearances).
Though they really shouldn't even be in the discussion, the Yankees' best candidates in a year in which they had nine pitchers make their major league debut (six of them as starters) are Joba Chamberlain (0.38 ERA, 34 K and 6 BB in 24 relief innings over 19 appearances), Phil Hughes (4.46 ERA, 5-3, 58 K and 29 BB in 72 2/3 innings over 13 starts), and Shelley Duncan (.257/.329/.554, 7 HR in a mere 74 at-bats).
The NL's a far more compelling contest with four strong contenders topping a deep field that also includes Josh Hamilton (.292/.368/.554, 19 HR in 298 AB), Mark Reynolds (.279/.349/.495, 17 HR in 366 AB), James Loney (.331/.381/.538, 15 HR in 344 AB), Yunel Escobar (.326/.385/.451 in 319 AB), Peter Moylan (1.80 ERA in 90 relief innings), and Tim Lincecum (4.00 ERA, 7-5, 150 K, 65 BB in 146 1/3 innings). Here are those top four:
On raw numbers, Braun seems the obvious choice, but his defense at third base was abysmal, while Tulowitzki's play at shortstop was Gold-Glove worthy (though not Gold-Glove winning). Young nearly went 30-30 as a rookie, but his .237 average and corresponding sub-.300 OBP should eliminate him. Pence very well could have won this award if not for a broken wrist that cost him a month of the season beginning in late July. The big question is, can the tremendous chasm between Braun and Tulowitski's defensive performances overrule the fact that Tulo gives up 11 points of OBP and a whopping 165 points of slugging to Braun while also having been inferior on the bases?
Update: Turns out Tulo's defensive advantage was almost enough, but not quite. Braun won the NL Rookie of the Year by just two points over Tulowitski as he earned two more first-place votes. Of the 32 voters, 17 placed Braun first and Tulowitzki second, 14 listed Tulo first and Braun second, and one put Tulo first and Braun third. In the AL, Pedroia took it easy being listed first on 24 of 28 ballots. Delmon Young finished a very distant second followed by Brian Bannister (3.87 ERA, 12-9, 77 K, 44 BB in 165 IP), Matsuzaka, and Okajima. The first place votes that didn't go to Pedroia went to Young (3) and Bannister (1).