The Baseball Writers Association of America announced the winners of the Jackie Robinson Award on Monday afternoon.
There should be no outrage at Hellickson’s selection. After a better than 5/1 K/BB ratio over nearly 200 innings and a 2.95 ERA, Hellickson is more than deserving of the award. Where I think Royals fans are upset is the standing of Trumbo over Hosmer. In 21 more games Trumbo had more home runs and RBIs but Hosmer had a better batting average, on base percentage and OPS. He also had more hits, a better walkrate, struck out a lower percentage of the time and was four years younger than Trumbo.
As Royals Review pointed out today, Hosmer’s batting average was better than Trumbo’s on base percentage.
But here’s the thing – yes, Hosmer may have had a comparable season to Trumbo and was deserving of the award, but long-term, Hosmer is the better player, better hitter, better prospect and has a much higher potential of performance than Trumbo. That’s the important part.
Winners typically fall into three groups – players who stick around for a while but never match their performance of that rookie season but remain decent pros, those who completely bust out after winning the award, and Hall of Famers. As would be expected, journeyman is the typical career path. Even Carlton Fisk had his best season as a rookie (7.1 WAR). But it’s no guarantee one way or the other.
What’s important is the next step.
I see this second place finish as a career highlight for Trumbo. He has great power (in 2010, Trumbo tied Mike Moustakas for the minor league lead in homers – Moose won that matchup with more RBI) and can produce, but he won’t hit for average, and unless his power really becomes elite, he’ll be an out machine – Trumbo walked just 4.4% of the time , though to be fair, Hosmer walked only 6% of the time in 2011. However, Trumbo never walked more than 10% as a minor leaguer. Hosmer exceeded that number twice in the minors, so he has shown that he can be patient.
Finishing third in the voting is a great accolade and Hosmer deserves the recognition, but the best days lay ahead of him. At some point, Hosmer will be in the discussion for MVP – and that’s a lot more significant than Rookie of the Year. Hopefully, it leads to some playoff games and a shot at World Series MVP.
But does it matter that Hosmer got snubbed? How about if I ask this way – did it matter that Ken Griffey Jr (3rd in 1989), Barry Bonds (6th, 1986), Paul Molitor (2nd, 1978), George Brett (3rd, 1974), Mike Schmidt, or Nolan Ryan (neither of whom received a vote) didn’t win the award?