Apr 21, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario (20) gestures after getting a double in the third inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
Rookie of the Year is one of those hard awards to quantify. Is the award like the MVP/CY-Light? Do you award the player who had the best stats? What if it's a CF as compared to a 1B? Is it purely stats, or do Grit and Mettle factor in as well? Do you award the players purely based on stats, or does their maturity and composure factor in as well?
If numbers + hype alone made the award, Bryce Harper would surely win the NL's award. Harper is having a solid season, especially for a 19-year old. He's playing acceptable OF defense and has a decidedly above-average batting line. If the season ended today and Harper won the award, I wouldn't be too surprised or disgusted.
(FYI, Mike Trout might just pull an Ichiro and win both the Rookie of the Year award AND the MVP over in the AL - at age 20. He's leading the MAJORS in fWAR, has already stolen 30 bases, and is batting over .350 with a SLG over .600. Yowza.)
But the NL RotY race is far from decided. As of Thursday evening, Todd Frazier (who we're about to see) and Andrelton Simmons are leading NL Rookies in fWAR, at 1.8 wins apiece. Frazier has the batting edge, but Simmons' glove at SS has been huge for the Braves. Zack Cozart, also with the Reds, is right there with Harper at 1.6 fWAR - again, glove vs bat.
Once you get past those 4, you run into a handful of players who are kind of hit and miss. Norichika Aoki from Milwaukee is having a solid season at the plate, as well as Alexi Amarista from San Diego and Anthony Rizzo with the Cubs. Martin Maldonado and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (who incidentally went to my high school) are playing pretty decent ball at premium defensive positions (SS and C).
As it stands, Wilin Rosario is leading that "second tier" of rookies, showing an above-average bat but a lot of work needed defensively. He does lead NL rookies in homers with 16, and lord are they long homers, but his K rate leaves a lot to be desired, and we know that his work as a backstop also has room for improvement. By no means are these reasons to be DOWN on Rosario, but especially with catchers, bad receiving is one of those things that will turn off the voting sportswriters. Patrick Saunders of the Post acknowledges this and a lot of other criticism that Rosario will face when the voters make their decisions.
Whether or not Rosario even makes the top-5 in the NL RotY voting, I still think we have a pretty neat catcher in Rosario. Cannon of an arm, works hard to get better, seems to want it as much as we want him to want it. We need him to need it. We'd love him to love it. We're begging him to... uh... beg?
If I were to pick the NL RotY, I'd probably go with Frazier, just because I'm a stat monkey. But let's not forget that there are 2 months left in the season, and these relative rankings could change within the course of a week or two.
Long story short, Tulo wants to play. He always wants to play. It's admirable, the guy's drive, but really, the Rockies need to not take any risks here, whatsoever. They have a LOT of money locked up in this dude, and despite how much of a caged animal Tulo is when he's not playing, if he isn't undeniably 100% come September, don't let him play. There is no reason whatsoever to push the envelope on a lost season.
If you haven't had a chance to look at these pictures, make it a point to. It's a really great photo spread - and not just the standard "handshakes and autographs" you typically see from players visiting a hospital. There's a lot of real humanity in our ballplayers' faces, and it's almost tough to look at. It's pretty moving, to be honest.