The third of my random thoughts for tonight, again with possible quotes from the Joe Morgan and Jerry Crasnick chats from today (see this entry for links to the chats):
NL Rookie of the Year:
This was going hot and heavy for a while, when Jeff Francoeur was on a crazy tear, hitting ten home runs in the first 110 at-bats of his career. Since then, he has leveled off to the point that while his numbers are still good, they are no longer good enough to make up for the fact that he has played less than half the season.
The flipside of Francoeur is Willy Taveras, who has been a productive member of the Astros all season. Of course, you have to keep in mind that when it comes to the Astros, the word “productive” is all relative. His numbers are remarkably similar to Cano’s, except that he has no power but does steal a lot of bases. He does have history on his side, though. His numbers are very similar to a former Rookie of the Year, someone who also batted around .290 with with an OBP and SLG both in the low-to-mid .300s and stole quite a few bases. Who is it? None other than 1992 AL ROY Pat Listach! The difference? Listach’s OBP and SLG were each about 20-30 points higher than Taveras’, and he stole nearly twice as many bases. Let’s face it, someone who can best be described as “almost as good as Pat Listach” leaves a bit to be desired.
Then there is Ryan Howard, whose batting average is about the same as Taveras’, with an OBP about 30 points higher and a slugging percentage over 200 points higher. He has the same problem as Francoeur in that he has played about half the season, but he already has 20 home runs in that half-season, and has done a great job helping the Phillies get back in the wild card race. If not for Jim Thome’s huge contract, Howard would have 40 or 50 homers this year, and he is clearly the best rookie in the NL.
The Ryan Howard situation was also mentioned by Joe Morgan today, and although it was a passing reference, it still managed to be stupid:
Brad (Atlanta, GA): Joe, when I think of you, I think of The Big Red Machine. In 20 years when I think of A-Rod, I’m going to think of Mariners, Rangers, Yankees, and who knows what other teams….. What will be the long term affect of the free agency era? Will the fans lose their loyalty like the players have?
Joe Morgan: I think what happens is you lose loyalty to the teams, not so much the player. If you are a true ARod fan, you are his fan no matter where he goes. But it has changed the way fans view players somewhat. Some fans just can’t keep up with their hometown lineup anymore. The long term effect is that the players are really really rich. But FA has been good in a lot of respects. I was asked earlier about Ryan Howard and Jim Thome.. if the Phillies don’t have room for Howard, he can go somwhere else. In the past, he’d be sitting on the bench.
Umm, Joe, the only way Howard can “go somewhere else” is if he is traded, since he won’t be eligible for free agency for several years. And I hate to tell you this, but trades have been around for a long, long time. I seem to remember hearing about one involving the Red Sox, Yankees, and some dude named Babe.
My vote: Ryan Howard.