Friday, July 23, 2004

Bay Or Burnett For ROY

Aaron Gleeman has a new mini-study on the rookie Class of 2004. The gist is that it's a weak year for rookies, particularly in the National League. The preseason favorite, Kaz Matsui, hasn't been great, and the best performers so far have included relievers Akinori Otsuka and Ryan Madson. The Padres' Khalil Greene has been okay, too, but he hasn't burned down the house.

Gleeman looks at the Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) of the field of candidates. VORP is a cumulative stat that measures the offensive or pitching upgrade or downgrade (in runs) a player represents over a typical easily available backup or Class AAA callup. So a good player is likely to increase his VORP as the season goes on.

Jason Bay and Sean Burnett, who both missed a big chunk of 2004 to the disabled list or the minors, are already near the NL rookie lead in VORP. Bay is behind only Matsui on the offensive side, and Madson is the only pitcher ahead of Burnett. But Bay has played in only 55 games this season, compared to 94 for Matsui. Burnett has thrown 45.1 innings as a starter, versus 58.2 innings mostly as a reliever for Madson. What this means is that if Bay and Burnett stay healthy and play anywhere near as well as they've played so far, one of them will almost certainly win the Rookie of the Year award.

Bay and Burnett also have something else going for them: the prejudices of the voters. As Gleeman notes, the voters don't want to give the award to Matsui, who's an older Japanese player. And they'll be more likely to give it to an everyday player or a starter than a reliever like Madson.

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