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  • Ethan Semendinger

My IBWAA Ballot: NL Rookie of the Year

Updated: Nov 7

It's awards week! Today we start with the NL Rookies and the BBWAA/IBWAA nominees!


As is standard with the IBWAA, each voter was allowed a Top-3 vote for the Rookie of the Year. The 1st place player receives 5 points, 2nd place gets 3 points, and 3rd place gets 1 point.

 

3rd Place: Lars Nootbaar (St. Louis Cardinals)

Statistics: 108 Games, .228/.340/.448/.788 (126 OPS+), 66 Hits, 14 Home Runs, 40 RBI's, 51 BB's, 71 K's, +11.3 Off, 711.0 Innings, +4 DRS, +2.4 Def, +2.2 bWAR/+2.7 fWAR

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I am a biased voter. I can fully accept that. Who are my favorite baseball players of all time? Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki. What does Nootbaar have to do with those two Japanese legends? Absolutely nothing (as far as I know). But, as a little kid I fell in love with Matsui and Ichiro because they had cool names. I've held that same idea ever since. My favorite tennis player is Novak Djokovic. My favorite golfer is Xander Schauffele. My favorite football player is Tom Brady (he's an exception to the rule). All that being said, who has a cooler name in baseball currently than Lars Nootbaar?


Aside from that, I thought Nootbaar had a great season. He got moved around a good amount between the MLB and Triple-A (3 different times he was optioned down and called back up), during which he wasn't hitting. At all. (He had a .143 Average on July 1st). However, from July 1st on to the end of the season, he went on to hit .253/.374/.504 with 12 home runs. He forced his way to stay with the team. Was he really the 3rd best rookie from this season? Arguably not, but his second half had me rooting for him and I think it deserved recognition.

 

2nd Place: Michael Harris II (Atlanta Braves)

Statistics: 114 Games, .297/.339/.514/.853 (135 OPS+), 123 Hits, 19 Home Runs, 64 RBI's, 21 BB's, 107 K's, +24.4 Off, 1021.0 Innings, +8 DRS, +6.7 Def, +5.3 bWAR/+4.8 fWAR

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I am fully expecting some flak for placing Michael Harris II in the 2nd spot, but if we want to hold by the naming theme, it only makes sense! He goes by Michael Harris the 2nd!


Now, obviously setting myself up for that joke was not why I placed Harris in the 2 spot. By all standards and means of looking at how he played this year, he was one of the best in the entire game. He tied for the most home runs (with Jack Suwinski) by National League rookies, had the 2nd most stolen bases (he had 20), the best OPS+ (with players over 300 PA's), and was tops in a multitude of other metrics. However, this is also an important place to note that the National League rookie class of hitters was solid. Harris definitely separated himself from the rest of the pack- and did so with positive metrics on hitting, defense, and baserunning- but his peers kept to him closer than it otherwise may seem.


It's hard to defend a choice for 2nd place finish as it requires both a boost for a player and an understanding of why they just weren't good enough. For Harris, his case for 2nd place comes down to his relative statistics and underlying metrics (as you'll see later). He was good, great even, but didn't separate himself like my #1 NL Rookie of the Year...

 

1st Place: Spencer Strider (Atlanta Braves)

Statistics: 31 Games (20 Starts, 3 Games Finished), 11-5 Record (.688 WP%), 2.67 ERA (153 ERA+), 131.2 IP (1.83 FIP), 86 Hits, 45 BB's, 0.995 WHIP, 202 K's, +3.7 bWAR/+4.9 fWAR

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His teammate, Spencer Strider.


The decision to give the top spot to Strider came down to his stats relative to other pitchers and his playing into a rotation spot. While Harris hit to an OPS+ in the 130's, Strider provided himself an ERA+ in the 150's. That's an All-Star vs. MVP candidate type difference in play. This is even more impressive as Strider did it while- all in the major leagues- went from being a multi-inning reliever to a starting pitcher. That's an important piece of Strider's 2022 story and an important asset that he provided to his team.


When looking at his advanced metrics- namely his 1.83 FIP, 13.81 K/9, and .292 BABIP- also made this an easy case for Strider. We vote for awards on actual performance, but when a case is close it's also nice to see that his numbers look sustainable into the future. (Harris had a 4.8 BB%, 24.3 K%, and a .361 BABIP. Again, I am not holding this against him per say. I'm just giving Strider a benefit for his better underlying metrics.)


The story for Strider also helped give him that little extra boost for me over Harris. Either way, the Braves continue to develop incredibly good talent and have set themselves up to/will be a Stallworth in the NL East for years to come.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Brendan Donovan (St. Louis Cardinals)

Statistics: 126 Games, .281/.394/.379/.773 (126 OPS+), 110 Hits, 5 Home Runs, 45 RBI's, 60 BB's, 70 K's, +14.0 Off, 854.1 Innings, +9 DRS, -3.8 Def, +4.1 bWAR/+2.7 fWAR


Seiya Suzuki (Chicago Cubs)

Statistics: 111 Games, .262/.336/.433/.770 (116 OPS+), 104 Hits, 14 Home Runs, 46 RBI's, 42 BB's, 110 K's, +7.9 Off, 905.1 Innings, -4 DRS, -3.7 Def, +2.0 bWAR/+2.0 fWAR

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These are two other players who deserve some NL ROY recognition and very nearly made my ballot. If I was allowed to vote for 5 players, these two would have easily had my final two spots on the list.


Brandon Donovan had a very good hitting season and even earned a Gold Glove for his defense with the St. Louis Cardinals. It was also nice to see a player have such good offensive numbers (actual and sabermetrically) without selling out for the long ball. A very tough choice between him and Nootbaar for the 3rd spot on the list, but I didn't quite value his defense the same way others did.


Speaking of Nootbaar, Seiya Suzuki had the opposite problem of him. Suzuki came into the season with an amazing start and slowly teetered off what was promising to be a solid campaign for the Rookie of the Year award. In the first half of the season he was sporting an OPS in the mid-to-high .800's but just couldn't sustain it long enough.

 

Rookie of the Year Award Finalists:

Nominations are being announced at 6:00 PM on MLB Network today for all the major awards. Here are the nominees for the BBWAA and IBWAA!


BBWAA:

American League: Steven Kwan, Julio Rodriguez, Adley Rutschman

National League: Brandon Donovan, Michael Harris II, Spencer Strider


IBWAA:

American League: Steven Kwan, Julio Rodriguez, Adley Rutschman

National League: Brandon Donovan, Michael Harris II, Spencer Strider

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