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Rookie Of The Year Battle: Jeff Niemann vs. Rick Porcello

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Not to go all FJM.com again, but seeing Rays players get no respect in terms of individual awards is frustrating. A few weeks ago, Joe Morgan said Ben Zobrist was not an MVP candidate. Wrong. Now we have Jon Heyman giving the AL Rookie of the Year award to Rick Porcello without even mentioning Jeff Niemann. Sure, Heyman mentions Elvis Andrus and Andrew Bailey, both favorites of mine, however nothing about the Big Nyquil.

While we like to look at the "progressive" stats here, most, if not all, BBWAA voters do not care about FIP, wOBA, WAR or things of that nature. For a batter they are all about average/homers/RBI and for pitchers wins and ERA remains king. Whether you look at Niemann and Porcello in advanced or traditional metrics, Niemann is still the better pitcher in 2009.

Niemann

Traditional

Porcello

12

W

12

5

L

8

3.67

ERA

4.26

154.2

IP

141.2

98

Strikeouts

76

49

Walks

43

15

Home Runs

21

Same amount of wins. Lower ERA. Less losses. More strikeouts, and less home runs given up despite more innings pitched.

Niemann

Saber

Porcello

4.14

FIP

4.88

5.71

K/9

4.83

2.86

BB/9

2.73

2

K/BB

1.77

0.87

HR/9

1.33

0.284

BABIP

0.28

2.6

WAR

1.4

Ok, so I can't leave these numbers out even though they won't help Niemann's case. While Niemann isn't as good as his 3.67 ERA, his FIP is still above average. Both have weak K/9's, but Niemann's is nearly a full K better. Niemann sports a better K/BB and a shinny HR/9 of 0.87. Their BABIP's are near washes so "luck" isn't a factor in the ERA difference. Last, but not least, Niemann has been worth a full win more than Porcello.

Sure, Porcello is a 20-year-old, and going forward I'd take Porcello over Niemann 100 out of 100 times. But it's not the Rookie of the Year who's going to be better in the future award. For those who point out the age difference, please remember that Ichiro was named AL ROY.  

The main difference between the two are Porcello is headed to the playoffs while Niemann is not. And since we are talking about Jon Heyman, I must mention that Porcello just happens to be a Scott Boras client. I'm not saying Niemann is the run away winner for the award, but Niemann must be in the conversation regardless if he wins or not.

(Numbers used are prior to last night's game.)