As Major League Baseball nears the end of its road in 2013, the “awards season” is just about to get started. I figured I would take a look at the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and try to determine if there was any legitimate chance Cody Allen sneaks away with the award. For the record, I doubt many Tribe fans actually view this as a real possibility. Terry Francona has endorsed his stud reliever for the award, but obviously there is going to be some bias there. However, well-respected baseball columnist and analyst Buster Olney recently said his vote would go to Allen as well. Usually, non-closer relievers are not even considered for the award, but in a year where there is no Mike Trout (aka clear cut winner for the award), I guess anything is possible, right?
Well, I wouldn’t keep my hopes up. It’s not that Allen isn’t deserving, but it’s more because the award rarely ever recognizes relievers, period. If a rookie reliever is to win the award, it’s almost a requirement for him to be a closer. Since 1990, a total of 6 relievers have won the Rookie of the Year Award taking both leagues into consideration. However, all of those players were closers for their respective ballclubs. For the sake of argument though, take a look at the following table:
These are stats from those 6 players with Allen mixed somewhere among them. A cursory glance at these stats indicates that Player C and Player G have the weakest statistics in comparison to the rest of the group. Player G is the only player with an ERA over 3.00, and has the fewest IP. Player C is the only player with a BAA over .200 and also has the highest WHIP by a sizeable amount. Here is another table indicating how each player performed relative to the average statistics in the group. A minus sign indicates he performed worse than the average of these 7 players, while a plus indicates he performed better than average of these 7 players.
Again it looks like Players G and C have the weakest statistics of the group, as Player C falls below the standard in all categories and Player G falls below the standard in all but one category.
Now I want to add one more category to these statistics: saves.
With saves added into the picture, Player C clearly seems to have the weakest possible case for rookie of the year of the group. I’m sure many of you have correctly figured out that Player C is Cody Allen. Unfortunately it looks like he doesn’t meet the standard even when we’re not taking saves into consideration. Here’s who the other players were in case anyone was curious:
Player A- Scott Williamson
Player B- Huston Street
Player C- Cody Allen
Player D- Andrew Bailey
Player E- Neftali Feliz
Player F- Craig Kimbrel
Player G- Kaz Sasaki (Cue memories of Omar Vizquel’s game tying triple against the Mariners in the Tribe’s 14-2 comeback win in 2001!!!)
Again, while Allen had an outstanding season out of the Tribe’s bullpen, it doesn’t look like he meets the benchmark the BBWAA has set for relievers to win the Rookie of the Year Award. Though there’s no superstar rookie as in years past, there are still some viable options such as Wil Myers, who would probably be a lock for the award if he had played a full season in his rookie campaign, or Jose Iglesias, who combined his slick fielding with surprising offensive production for the Red Sox and Tigers this season. Chris Archer and Martin Perez had solid rookie campaigns as starting pitcher as well. Fair or not, hitters and starting pitchers are going to be favored to win the award unless a reliever does something incredible. Cody Allen was great and has the stuff to be a great MLB closer one day (that one day might be as soon as next year!), but it’s probably not going to be enough to change the way the writers vote for the award.