The Best (and Worst) of 2000, part 2

by Warren Menzer

<!-- Article Starts Here --!> With the four major awards done, let's move on to the Rookie of the Year candidates...

AL Rookie of the Year
There seems to be six candidates for the awards this year - Kazuhiro Sasaki, Terrence Long, Mark Quinn, Barry Zito, Ben Molina, and Mark Redman. First, let's take a look at their numbers:

Terrence Long584.288.336.4525.53
Mark Quinn500.294.342.4886.03
Ben Molina473.281.318.4214.89
Kazuhiro Sasaki253.256136
Barry Zito742.72920
Mark Redman1294.761510

This is a great race, because the six candidates are so different - a center fielder, a outfielder/DH, a catcher, a closer, a starter who pitched brilliantly over a short period, and a starter who pitched pretty well over a whole season. This makes it hard to compare them to each other, but that's precisely what I'm going to do. First, I'm going to throw out Mark Quinn's name - he had a great year, but didn't produce that much better than Terrance Long, who plays center, while Quinn isn't particularly mobile. I'm also going to discard Sasaki, because while he was the closer for most of the season, he still didn't pitch as many innings as Barry Zito, or pitch as well. I think it takes a very special year for a closer to get a major awards, and Sasaki's, while good, wasn't at that level.

And then there were four. Let's toss Zito and Redman - Zito only pitched 92 innings, and Redman's ERA - 4.76 - isn't bad, but it's not really award-worthy. And between Long and Molina, I'll go with Terrence Long, who played a good center for the entire season.

NL Rookie of the Year
Let's go right to the numbers:

Rafael Furcal455.295.394.3826.20
Mitch Meluskey337.300.401.4877.41
Pat Burrell408.260.359.4636.07
Jay Payton488.291.331.4475.22
Rick Ankiel1173.50175194

Well, Rafael Furcal, as a shortstop/second baseman, hit better than Burrell and Payton. I think we can safely leave them out of this analysis. Meluskey does have more impressive offensive number than Furcal, even including Furcal's larger playing time, but Furcal's arm more than makes up for that small difference, in my opinion.

So Furcal or Ankiel? Both played the entire season, and both were among the best at their position. And they've both brought exciting things to watch - Furcal's arm and amazing speed, and Ankiel's curveball, which is so much fun to see. I'm going to go with Furcal - is there a better leadoff hitter than this guy? 40 stolen bases in 54 chances, and he knows how to get on base. Ask the Braves - having him batting ahead of the Joneses is a big step up from Gerald Williams and Bret Boone, who didn't get on base at a particularly high rate, and aren't in the same league as Furcal on the basepaths. Ankiel can have the consolation of knowing that he'd probably be the Rookie of the Year if he was in the American League...

Ahh, the always fun Least Valuable Player award. So many choices - so many bad seasons. Before discounting these players for the rest of their careers, remember that Darin Erstad was a major contender for this award last year, and he's going to be getting MVP consideration this year...

Homer Bush297.215.271.2532.29
Vinny Castilla327.223.257.3122.65
Ryan Minor84.131.170.1430
Mike Lansing504.240.292.3653.80
Todd Dunwoody178.208.238.2752.13
Ron Coomer544.270.317.4154.77
Roy Halladay4710.646744
Sean Bergman459.666835
Jason Johnson1107.1110779

Let me just say, "oh my". We have a "nice" sample of players who barely played but were almost unbelievably ineffective (Ryan Minor), who were starters all year, but probably shouldn't have been (Lansing and Coomer), and players who really wished they could have stayed in Colorado (Castilla). Minor and Dunwoody probably didn't play enough to qualify, but they still have a good case. At least Homer Bush can play defense, which is more than I can say for Castilla and Ron Coomer. And Mike Lansing - one of the many Dan Duquette mystery signings.

Then we have a trifecta of ineffective pitching. Roy Halladay looked promising coming into this season, but nothing seemed to go right for him. Bergman and Johnson can sympathize - I bet Bergman is silently praying that he somehow can find his way back to the Braves.

I'll go with Vinny Castilla for this dubious award, partly for poor offense and defense, and also to rub it in the face of the Devil Rays for acquiring him in the first place, and thinking that because he hit well in Colorado that he must be a good hitter.

I hope you can stomach what is about to follow:

Marquis Grissom595.244.288.3513.59
Brant Brown162.173.237.3092.41
Alex Gonzalez385.200.229.3192.34
Michael Barrett271.214.277.2882.60
Kevin Jordan337.220.257.3232.68
Omar Daal4196.1416796
Jose Lima7166.65196124
Vladimir Nunez067.906845
Ruben Quevado397.488363

Omar Daal didn't pitch that bad - I mean, not 4-19 bad. Between the pitchers, it's between Lima and Quevado - pick your favorite. Among the position least Grissom won four Gold Gloves. Michael Barrett is not the greatest defensive player, being a catcher/third baseman. It's so hard to choose, but I'll go with Barrett, and I have the feeling he'll turn out okay in the long run, so he won't feel the pain of playing this badly for too much longer.

Well, there you have it - the best and worst of the year 2000. I'll leave you with a final award - to Brent Mayne, for the greatest baseball moment of the regular season. In a season where two players played all nine positions, his pitching victory took the cake as the most remarkable, and odd, event of the season. I bet Roy Halladay would love to have a 0.00 ERA in Coors Field... <!-- Article Ends Here --!>

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