Nova Continues to Shine Among Rookie Class; Emerges as Award Contender

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).

Correction: Although listed as a rookie by several sources, including fangraphs.com, Alexi Ogando is not eligible for the award because the service time he accrued in 2010. As a result, all references to him as a contender for the award are invalid, which makes Nova’s candidacy all the more stronger.

For much of the season, most of the award-related speculation surrounding the Yankees has centered upon CC Sabathia’s pursuit of a second Cy Young and Curtis Granderson’s candidacy for MVP. However, without much fanfare, Ivan Nova has emerged as a dark horse candidate in the Rookie of the Year race.

Will Ivan Nova be tipping his cap when the ROY award is announced? (Photo: NY Daily News)

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Nova’s 14-4 season has gone relatively unnoticed. After all, back in July, he was demoted to the minors in favor of two struggling pitchers (AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes), so if the Yankees’ brass was slow to realize his contribution, it’s easy to why everyelse has been. Nonetheless, since returning from his stint in triple-A, the 24-year old right hander has won six consecutive victories (seven including a start before his demotion, besting Vic Raschi’s single-season franchise rookie record) to go along with a 3.60 ERA. As a result, Nova has emerged as the Yankees’ most reliable starter during a turbulent August that has seen the rest of the rotation struggle significantly.

Although Nova’s rookie-leading 14 wins are sure to garner votes from the more traditional voting bloc, his candidacy remains an uphill climb. Not only does he rank fourth in average WAR among AL rookie pitchers, but three position players also rate ahead. Granted, most of the beat writers casting a ballot do not necessarily consult sabermetrics, but the combination of underlying statistics and name value still make the rest of the field formidable competition. In particular, Mark Trumbo’s 23 HRs and 71 RBIs could counter the “face value” of Nova’s 14 wins, while the more heralded Desmond Jennings,Michael Pineda and Jeremy Hellickson could have a built-in recognition advantage.

Top-10 Rookies, Ranked by Average WAR (Position Player and Pitchers)

Position Player Team PO fWAR bWAR aWAR PA AVG OBP SLG
Desmond Jennings TBR LF 2.3 2.4 2.4 153 0.354 0.440 0.646
Dustin Ackley SEA 2B 2.2 2 2.1 256 0.282 0.359 0.445
Mark Trumbo LAA 1B 2 1.9 2.0 472 0.256 0.294 0.475
Josh Reddick BOS RF 1.8 1.5 1.7 211 0.282 0.332 0.471
Casper Wells SEA OF 1.5 1.4 1.5 206 0.258 0.327 0.473
Brett Lawrie TOR 3B 1.5 1.2 1.4 82 0.338 0.378 0.688
Mike Carp SEA 1B 1.1 1.1 1.1 194 0.292 0.351 0.472
Ben Revere MIN CF 1.6 0.4 1.0 361 0.255 0.301 0.294
Jemile Weeks OAK 2B 1.2 0.7 1.0 314 0.295 0.330 0.408
J.P. Arencibia TOR C 1.1 0.7 0.9 393 0.212 0.275 0.437
Pitcher Team PO fWAR bWAR aWAR IP W L ERA
Alexi Ogando TEX SP 2.8 3.3 3.1 151.1 12 6 3.57
Michael Pineda SEA SP 2.9 2.5 2.7 153 9 8 3.71
Jeremy Hellickson TBR SP 1.6 2.7 2.2 149.1 11 9 3.01
Ivan Nova NYY SP 1.9 1.9 1.9 131.2 14 4 3.96
Jordan Walden* LAA RP 1.8 1.7 1.8 50 4 3 2.70
Greg Holland KCR RP 1.5 1.9 1.7 49.1 3 1 1.82
Zach Britton BAL SP 2.1 1.1 1.6 122 8 9 4.28
Chris Sale CHW RP 1 1.9 1.5 58.2 2 1 2.61
Vinnie Pestano CLE RP 1.2 1.7 1.5 51.2 1 1 2.44
Aaron Crow KCR RP 0.5 2.3 1.4 56.2 3 3 2.38

*Jordan Walden currently has 26 saves.
Note: AvgWAR = (bWAR + fWAR)/2
Source: Baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com

As things currently stand, the Rookie of the Year is probably Alexei Ogando’s to lose (unless voters are hesitant to give it to a relatively older player). Of course, if Ogando continues to struggle in the second half (his ERA after the All Star break is over 5.00), he could very well do just that. If so, the balloting is likely to be very close, with the trio of Nova, Pineda and Hellickson featured prominently atop the final rankings.

One more interesting point to note about a potential September battle between Nova and Pineda for the Rookie of the Year is it could have been a contest among teammates if the Mariners had decided to accept the Yankees’ final trade proposal for Cliff Lee. Although Seattle may eventually be vindicated by the development of Justin Smoak, Nova, who was considered a secondary piece after Jesus Montero, has, at least for the time being, proven to be a more valuable commodity. With several other Mariners’ rookies listed among the current season’s leaders, the combination of Nova and Montero probably would have fit better into Seattle’s rebuilding process.

Of course, even if Nova wins the Rookie of the Year, that doesn’t mean the Yankees are better off. That determination will be made well into the future, and will likely also hinge heavily on the development of Montero. As good as Nova has been, Cliff Lee (assuming last July’s acquisition would have increased the chances of him signing in the Bronx) would still greatly enhance the Yankees’ chances of winning the World Series, which, after all, is the trophy that matters most.

Past Yankees’ Rookie of the Year Winners

PA/ AVG/ OBP/ SLG/
Player Year PO IP W L ERA
Derek Jeter 1996 SS 654 0.314 0.370 0.430
Dave Righetti 1981 SP 105.1 8 4 2.05
Thurman Munson 1970 C 526 0.302 0.386 0.415
Stan Bahnsen 1968 SP 267.1 17 12 2.05
Tom Tresh 1962 SS/OF 712 0.286 0.359 0.441
Tony Kubek 1957 OF/OF 475 0.297 0.335 0.381
Bob Grim 1954 SP 199 20 6 3.26
Gil McDougald 1951 3B/2B 473 0.306 0.396 0.488

Source: Baseball-reference.com

4 thoughts on “Nova Continues to Shine Among Rookie Class; Emerges as Award Contender

  1. Bpdelia

    Still irks me matsui didnt win. As for ogando doesnt matter if hes 45. He is a rookie. Im thrilled to watch nova developing into a legit mid rotation guy but imo he is really having the fourth fifth best rookie year.

    Awesome season for kids though.

    Every so often we go through one of these rapid changing of the guard periods and we are on the cusp now.

    Strasburg, harper, trout, stanton, heyward, kimbrel, sale, ackley, montero, smoak, moustakas, harper, duffy, pineda, vizcaino, teheran, delgado moore, helickson, britton, duffy and so many more. Exciting next few years

  2. mike

    Ogando is not considered a rookie, therefore ineligible for the award. Gotta check those facts before you publish things.

    • Fangraphs does have him listed as a rookie, which is probably what happened.

    • Hey Mike,

      As Moshe mentioned, several sources, including fangraphs have Ogando listed as a rookie, but as it turns out, you are correct. Ogando’s service time dictates he is not a rookie even though his innings total is below the threshold. Thank you for pointing that out.

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